Kellie Patterson Cuyahoga Falls School Board MemberExcellence, Accountability and Engaging the Public

0 There Is No Me In Non-Profit

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I was elected as the board’s president to organize and preside over board meetings. No special powers there, just a lot more work to help things run smoothly. I was elected as a member of the board of education to lead and have a voice for the people who voted for me and a few others who have vocal expectations regardless of the fact that they don’t vote (I know who you are!), they still pay taxes and want representation. So consider this my disclaimer. When you read my rants and raves on this page, they are NOT to be construed as a communication from the Cuyahoga Falls Board of Education, or have any official district affiliation. This is simply my way of communicating to people interested on my thoughts and actions related to the position I was elected to. If you question my information or have inquiries for my elected colleagues, you can find their e-mail addresses at this link, or, you can call them at 330-926-3800 and leave a message. You have to leave a message because we don’t actually have an office at the admin office. You can also e-mail staff members from this link if you have inquiries you think would be better served through them. I make this disclaimer because board members don’t always agree even though the goals of all may be common. I feel like I owe it to voters to know me and my beliefs when I ask them to vote for me. As you are about to find out, the hype about me versus the truth about me, varies greatly depending on the source.

 

“But that’s the way I’ve always done it!”

Can I just say how tired I am of hearing this excuse?  It’s like it’s the fail-safe phrase for anything and everything that’s ever done wrong. Would these same people accept that excuse from our children?  Just because I always go 70 mph in a 55 mph zone, do I get to tell the officer to stick his ticket, uh… back in his ticket book?

When I decided to run for a BOE seat, I took it very seriously. We are, after all, setting policy and goals that shape the future of our children. I try to be the example of what I expect from others.  For instance, I knew that there were a ton of rules and regulations related to election and campaign finance law, so I studied them, did my best to follow them, and asked questions of the proper authorities at the Board of Elections when I had questions. I do believe that picking up a telephone and asking the right question to the right person is a lost art. When you rely on information from your buddy, who has always done it “this” way – i.e. his way, that’s when you can get yourself in a pickle. Your buddy’s way may not be the right way, as the IMP has found out.

If there had been a regular “changing of the guard” involving IMP officers I could understand the lack of oversight of certain aspects of the responsibilities of running a non-profit organization. But in the case of our IMP, there is a regular core group of people that rotate through the officer and committee positions. So really there is no reason that the long standing members of the IMP “board” as they like to call themselves shouldn’t have been fully aware of their own policies, rules, and regulations. In fact, I find it insulting that one of their own officers felt the need to admonish the Board of Education on policy issues, considering their own shortcomings.

An IMP officer spoke up to point out the she is an administrator at a hospital and in fact her job is writing policies and procedures. It’s her job to see that the proper people are provided policy and abide by it. She went on to say that she wants to make sure people are doing the right thing. So it made no sense to me that she was upset with the board for doing the very things she mentioned. A copy of the district Bylaws and Policies, and Administrative Guidelines are available in every building. The BOE was made aware that the request for a field trip was not in compliance with board policy. Rather than consider a non-compliant trip and be forced to vote it down, we opted to have dialogue with the parties involved in the request and attempt to come to an amicable solution.  We wanted to “make sure people are doing the right thing” before considering this trip. Because, as she later pointed out, “we are the role models.”

Bigger than the policy issues though, are the legal and ethical questions surrounding the fundraising and application of funds toward individual accounts for this field trip. This is a little tid-bit that at least some of the IMP officers have been aware of for over a year but foolishly kept to themselves rather than sharing it with the membership. #shhh

The BOE, on the other hand, was not aware of the serious fundraising issues until mid-November 2013. We arranged for a board attorney to present the information to the booster groups and sent an invitation to all booster group presidents.  This included PTA’s, alumni groups, etc. The means and manner of informing their own membership of the meeting was left to them. I can tell you as a band parent, no information was sent to the IMP membership regarding this meeting, either before or after the informational meeting was held. #shhh

As a board member, it is not my job to inform booster group members that their officers are violating Internal Revenue Code. It’s not my job to inform members that the groups non-profit status could be revoked due to blatant disregard of the rules and regulations Yet, the board extended the groups the courtesy of the presentation from board’s attorney, with a lengthy Q&A session afterward, out of concern of the negative impact the known non-compliance would have on our booster groups.  There are very serious legal and ethical violations being committed by the IMP and it was my hope that they would take immediate steps to inform their membership that they have jeopardized the organizations non-profit status as well as compromised individuals’ tax filing statuses. But they didn’t. #shhh

They didn’t tell their membership that chaperones getting a ½ price trip is a no-no on several levels. The personal benefit is simply not allowed, by any member of the organization, regardless of their status or title. This includes IMP officers and band directors. They didn’t tell members that chaperones going for ½ price (or free), while telling children they are not welcome to participate because they didn’t fundraise is grounds to revoke the organizations non-profit status. They are not allowed to make fund raising a requirement for participation in any event held in their name. #shhh

I think I should remind you here that some of the booster officers knew this since 2012. Contrary to media reports and social media site comments, this was not something they “just found out.” #shhh

But the big ticket item that has an impact on the most members is the IRS issue. There is no such thing as fundraising for yourself using the name of non-profit so that you can personally go to Disney. Period. There, I said it. YOU CANNOT HAVE INDIVIDUAL FUND RAISING ACCOUNTS. They don’t exist in the eyes of non-profit compliance, nor does the IRS recognize them. What the IRS does recognize is personal income. And that is what the IRS calls it when you work or sell products to earn money for yourself. The IRS likes income earned by you because they are owed a portion of that income. Even worse, you owe the IRS the tax on the VALUE of the goods or services. So, let’s say you worked 5 hours at a carwash, but only earned $12 in donations. You will owe incomes tax on earnings of $39.25, because that’s what 5 hours of work at Ohio’s minimum wage was worth in 2013. Oh and those Pampered Chef sales? Hope you charged sales tax. Because in addition to being liable for the income tax on what you earned, you could also owe the State of Ohio sales tax on the merchandise sold. Because you weren’t selling for a tax exempt non-profit. You were selling for you to go to Disney. #shhh

I’m going to end Part II here. It’s a lot to absorb and sadly, I’ve hardly scratched the surface. The lawsuits that the IMP has filed against parents over these extravagant trips are disturbing. Especially with the knowledge that they had no right to demand money from the parents they sued in the first place. More about that and the Candy Caper Cover-up in Part III.

I’d like you all to contemplate something over the next several days because I know what I’ve already told you is hard to believe. The Board of Education was aware of these and many more issues surrounding this trip for less than two months. The reluctance to consider this trip was well founded. The board was forced into discussion and made every attempt to discreetly see that the trip be compliant by at least being inclusive of all band members. The board also took the brunt of the criticism for jeopardizing the trip, when the reality is the true reluctance was the board’s knowledge that the boosters face serious fines, penalties, and loss of non-profit status for what they unknowingly did. Imagine the culpability involved when it can be shown that they were well aware of their duties and shirked them anyway. Would you want to approve the trip now?

Which brings me full circle back to the IMP self-proclaimed policy and process expert. While she was busy pointing her finger at the board, she needs to point it in the mirror instead. She was the one remiss in her duties to the membership of her own organization either by knowing the above information and keeping it on the down low, or, by being totally unaware, despite the availability of this handy-dandy booklet- – Compliance Guide for Tax-Exempt Organizations.  I Googled® it J Even better, I found The NonProfit Law Blog which in this particular post, Gene Takagi details a few of the no-no’s our own booster groups are “guilty” of committing.

1 Setting The Record Straight

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I was elected as the board’s president to organize and preside over board meetings. No special powers there, just a lot more work to help things run smoothly. I was elected as a member of the board of education to lead and have a voice for the people who voted for me and a few others who have vocal expectations regardless of the fact that they don’t vote (I know who you are!), they still pay taxes and want representation. So consider this my disclaimer. When you read my rants and raves on this page, they are NOT to be construed as a communication from the Cuyahoga Falls Board of Education, nor have any official district affiliation. This is simply my way of communicating to people interested on my thoughts and actions related to the position I was elected to. If you question my information or have inquiries for my elected colleagues, you can find their e-mail addresses at this link, or, you can call them at 330-926-3800 and leave a message. You have to leave a message because we don’t actually have an office at the admin office. You can also e-mail staff members from this link if you have inquiries you think would be better served through them. I make this disclaimer because board members don’t always agree even though the goals of all may be common. I feel like I owe it to voters to know me and my beliefs when I ask them to vote for me. As you are about to find out, the hype about me versus the truth about me, varies greatly depending on the source.

I’ve kept too much to myself for too long. I thought I was doing it for the right reasons. There are a lot of good people in our community and in particular, in our booster organizations, that are being misled and outright lied to by a small, but persuasive group. If their intent is to do good for children, they have a funny way of showing it. The focus on me, the malicious attacks on my kids by posting their education records on-line, constant attempts to make me look bad – none of this helps anyone outside of the egos involved in perpetuating it. The fact that I’ve let it go on for so long is regrettable. But I did because of their positions in our booster groups and the awareness of the damage it could do to the long time public trust many before have built in those groups and organizations. The result? Smart, unknowing people fall for the rumor and innuendo concocted and many in our district just hope it will all blow over. The reason that these unsuspecting people fall for this is because it is coming from a few vendetta obsessed officers. So in regard to the band trip, I’m going to throw out the “rest of the story” as I see it.

I can’t figure out what’s so hard to understand about the board’s reluctance to approve this trip. I may have to make this a three part series there are so many issues. That alone should make it understandable. Let’s start with the simple. The application for a field trip had no administrative signatures. Why? Until we entered the board room, no one was comfortable recommending the trip to the board. The next issue? The board still had MANY unanswered questions that everyone was aware of and I assumed were getting the answers. When the agenda was prepared, it was determined by the superintendent that this item was not ready for his recommendation. The message apparently didn’t make it to the band director. Instead of following the proper channels and making an inquiry to the superintendent as to when the trip would appear before the board, he sent an e-mail to the entire band “family” encouraging them to attend the board meeting, pointing out that the trip was not on the board’s agenda, even though he had submitted it to administration for consideration.

This put the board in an awkward position on several levels. Besides the situation I describe above on needing more information, the insurance coverage for this trip was not valid. It concerned me but could have been overlooked if the renewal had taken place before board consideration. I chose to not mention this during the January 21st meeting because, #1 the crowd was ready to lynch the board as it was, and #2, after almost three hours of conversation, it was pretty clear that there were very few people in the room concerned with following rules or laws. Frankly I was tired of being the only person willing to step up and point out the never ending mistakes and mis-steps with this field trip. Did I mention that the band director knew he had submitted a field trip with no insurance coverage, he also knew valid insurance was requirement to submit the trip, but smugly sat there and acted like he had followed all the rules in front of his band “family?”  I’d like him to know I let him think he pulled the wool over my eyes because I didn’t want to feed into the “why’s everybody always pickin’ on me” atmosphere he helped create.

I find it odd that the band director is the person who asked for the discussion, called on his posse for backup that night, and then called his union rep to complain that the board had the discussion he asked for. If not for his actions, the so-called interrogation wouldn’t have taken place.

I’ll end Part I here. Tomorrow we’ll talk about the booster club and fundraising and why I used the hashtag #shhh

Be careful what you ask for…

2013June18Blog

0 The Public Record

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I wonder if Therese Dunphy, Todd Alvis, Sandy Nowak, Kryste Lillquist, Karla Duvall, Rob Reinhold, Autumn Tidd, Jennifer Lowry or anyone else holding personal information regarding my children would find it acceptable to have their own children dragged into Therese Dunphy’s vendetta? This is what members of our PTA’s, booster groups like the IMP and our athletic boosters, members of S.T.A.N.D. and Upstanders groups do in their spare time? You would embarrass and expose a child to your sick obsession to what end?

1 The Public Record

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The factual inaccuracies recently reported in the Falls News Press have caused me great concern.  I have been trying to ignore much of the hub-bub surrounding the release of cut and paste segments of an email exchange between myself and Dr. Nichols.  But now that a misleading, “anonymous” Facebook page has tainted a new source reaching all Cuyahoga Falls residents, I feel I must expose the sources behind the Facebook page, as well as what I feel are their reasons for causing such an uproar.  Please note that the on-line version of the Falls News Press story has been corrected, but the print version is wrong forever.  It is my belief that reporter Ellin Walsh was misled by people she once considered credible sources. She should have done her homework. I blame 90/10 for her lapse in judgement.

I’ve been debating since April 25th whether or not to publish this e-mail from Todd Alvis.  It only confirms what I suspected and warned Dr. Nichols about in this e-mail.  You will notice this statement from me- “His group started rumors and now he wants answers? HA!”  So let’s talk a little about “His group” and what the real motive behind the Facebook page is all about.

For the last year the Cuyahoga Falls Board of Education has performed its duties like a well oiled machine. In fact what has become glaringly obvious is that the problems this board had are in the past.  A quick review for those who aren’t up to speed:

  • 2006-2007 BOE members- Dunphy Grimes Gunter Heath Patterson
  • 2008-2009 BOE members- Dunphy Grimes Gunter Patterson Rump
  • 2010-2011 BOE members- Dunphy Grimes Gunter Rump Petty
  • 2012 Half Year members- Grimes Gunter Rump Petty Patterson
  • 2012 1/2-2013 BOE members- Gunter Rump Petty Patterson Schofield

The first 6 years of the above list was fraught with board turmoil,Sunshine Law violations, micromanaging, committees that went nowhere, failed initiatives like 90/10, and personal agenda’s out the wazoo.  So what solved the boards problem? Therese Dunphy bowing out and Curt Grimes resignation is the answer. Face it, since they’ve been gone there have been no headlines. No snide remarks or yelling at meetings. No controversial votes. In fact since they’ve been gone, there has been cohesiveness, goal setting, follow through, and most importantly, a realistic look at where we stand academically and where we need to go.  We have a superintendent with a vision for future generations; the knowledge, experience and expertise to improve our academic standing, as well as unprecedented board support in his endeavors.  We have a board that is prepared to give direction and then step back and let our employees do their jobs.  

I dare say that the current members of the BOE have accomplished more for the taxpayers and students of Cuyahoga Falls than any board in recent history.  So why does this bother Therese Dunphy?  Because she spent 6 years trying to convince the public that I was the problem on the board.  The only problem with that philosophy is that I was off the board for her final two years as president, but the board still had major problems. In fact it was during her term as president that 4 key employees left for greener pastures. First was the assistant superintendent, then the superintendent, then the HR director, and finally the treasurer.  It was also during her term when I prevailed in a Sunshine Law case and appeal initiated by Therese Dunphy.

So, a quick review- There was plenty of board dysfunction with Dunphy on the board, even when I wasn’t on the board, but there is no board dysfunction with Therese Dunphy off the board.  Well there was still a touch of dysfunction until her trusty side-kick Curt Grimes resigned, but like I said earlier, for the last year things have been peaches and cream.  My theory is that Therese Dunphy couldn’t stand seeing the new and improved board succeed where she had failed for so long, so she decided to create a different form of dysfunction. Whisper campaigns and an “anonymous” Facebook page are her vehicles. She gets her friends to do her dirty work (like the Todd Alvis record request), starts a Facebook page using partial email snippets to stir the pot. Even though she and/or Mr. Alvis gave the “anonymous” impression that I sent an inflammatory e-mail to a “concerned” parent, the reality is I vented to the superintendent about a man who has harassed and publicly insulted me for years. Had the e-mail been from a truly “concerned parent” rather than from someone with an ax to grind I would not have responded to Dr. Nichols in the manner that I did. I won’t apologize for venting my frustrations about a group a people that were spreading rumors, gossip and lies and at the same time, demanding answers to the confusion they were creating.

Therese Dunphy couldn’t create havoc among board members so she created havoc among the public instead. Publishing the e-mails that she asked her friends to write and another friend to request served no public good. What did it prove? That I was fed up with 8 years of bullying by the same group of people? That I found Rob Reinholds “concerns” absurd considering his history of harassing me? I knew that his e-mail was a set up the moment I laid eyes on the author. Recent events have proven my instincts in this April 14th email were correct.  The Dunphy/Alvis record request came through 1 week later. The Facebook page popped up soon after Todd Alvis received his response of records.  Needless to say I am more than fed up with Therese Dunphy’s unhealthy vindictiveness.  Her constant trouble making only serves to harm the children of the school district.

 

0 Notes…

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Just wanted to drop a quick line about a few events and items of interest.

First tonight, Tuesday, August 9th is a Meet the Candidates night.

From 6-8 pm you can stop by Donato’s Pizza, 1710 State Road in Cuyahoga Falls and meet the 5 known candidates running for the two seats on the Cuyahoga Falls Board of Education.  This is a meet and greet event, not a debate or Q&A moderated session.  You can come and go as you please, ask questions of the candidates and their committee’s, get information on the people as well as how you can help.

Another interesting thing I ran into this week is what appears to be a new blog start up.  It’s name is R U Informed. I debated on whether to link this or not.  So far it seems like someone that is generally concerned about where our district is headed.  My biggest concern is why the anonymity?  Stand up for what you believe in.

0 Ooops I Did It Again…

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Monday’s board meeting was fairly run of the mill.  Tuesday’s was déjà vu.  In fact one member called it embarrassing.  Embarrassing doesn’t even begin to describe the goings on.

It was the new superintendent’s first official board meeting.   It was also what’s known as a “Special Meeting”.  This type of meeting requires that a notice be given to the general public.  The notice must state the reason or reasons the “Special Meeting” is being called.  The board may only discuss the items stated in that notice.  Why?  This prevents boards’ from calling a meeting under the guise of a work session and actually voting to close school buildings or put a levy on the ballot.

At the very start of the meeting there was a question of proper notice by a board member.  The notice for the meeting stated there would be an executive session regarding “employment.”  Yet the agenda for the board that night included an additional item of “compensation” followed by a vote to renew the treasurer’s contract.  When the board president balked at changing the agenda to reflect the notice given, the member pointed out that having just lost a lawsuit on this very same issue, she was aware that the law was very specific about separating personnel items.  The president then threw her arms up in frustration and suggested cancelling the meeting.  Apparently the real reason for the meeting was compensation and renewing the treasurer’s contract, neither of which was mentioned in the notice.  Other members felt the executive session was needed so they voted 4-1 to seclude themselves in the comfort of the new superintendent’s office, for the purpose of “employment” only, by the way.

Shortly afterward they emerged and much to my amazement the board president announced that a board attorney had been called while they were sequestered and a majority of members were not comfortable moving forward with discussions.  In fact, quite a bit more of the supposedly CONFIDENTIAL executive session discussion was divulged.  I was reprimanded for allegedly divulging CONFIDENTIAL information, weirdly enough, involving the treasurer’s contract, so I would think it should follow that the board president will be getting a reprimand soon.  After all, I didn’t hear the board vote that gave her permission to divulge not only executive session discussions, but attorney-client communications as well.

The biggest surprise?  The members were handed a draft copy of the treasurer’s new contract that night.  Did I mention that it was on the agenda to be voted on?  I must admit I’m kind of sad they tabled the vote for this one.  I would have loved to see which of our elected officials would have voted to approve a contract they were just handed.  Oh yeah—I already know. Three of them would.  I almost forgot that they did the exact same thing a few months back with their former superintendent.  You’d think somebody would learn that some people like to read the contracts they are expected to sign.

Now to top it off with the icing on the cake.  This whole meeting was a waste of time for two reasons. One- the treasurer’s contract doesn’t expire for another year.  The board has until February 29, 2012 to renew the treasurer’s contract that expires July 31, 2012.  And two- if the meeting had simply been properly noticed for the real reason it was being held, all the business the board president wanted to conduct would have happened.  The notice given as “employment” is hardly the transparency and openness promised.

The cherry on top?  The board president closed the meeting by forfeiting her pay for this meeting where “nothing was accomplished”—as she should have.  Her failure to properly notice a meeting wasted everyone’s time.  Her lack of thinking things through and realizing that this was an item that could have, and obviously since a contract wasn’t even given to members until that night, SHOULD have waited until at least the next regular board meeting August 8, 2011.

Sheesh!

 

0 S.O.S.

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Where to begin?  There are so many changes in the district I can’t keep up.  What is causing the mass exodus of employees?  I would guess it’s the leadership, or lack thereof.  The board has been routinely ignoring contract renewals.  Either someone wanted to start with a clean slate or someone’s not doing their job.  I guess the buck stops with the board president.  She acted like a deer caught in the headlights when Dr. Holland announced his candidacy for the Cuyahoga Heights Superintendent position.  She ignored the fact that his contract was up for renewal, then threw one together of her own making at the eleventh hour, expected the board to acquiesce to her wishes with no input from other members (that we know of anyway), and seemed perplexed as to why two members voted no.  Not that it mattered. This board couldn’t get near the salary offered to Dr. Holland by Cuyahoga Heights.  Not only is he taking his talents to Cuyahoga Heights, he’s taking other Cuyahoga Falls talent with him.

Then the board president tried to woo our former assistant superintendent back home.  Problem was she tried to do it behind closed doors, unbeknownst to some, but not all, board members.  Then she made the “mistake” of convening a meeting of her ill-formed committee behind closed doors, and a violation of the Sunshine Laws.  After much adieu the board voted against sharing a superintendent.  Later that week the former assistant superintendent was quoted in The Falls News Press- It “reminded me that the Board of Education was one of the major reasons I left the Cuyahoga Falls City School District after 21 years of service,” Davis said.

Somewhere during all this the treasurer applied for a job in Ravenna.  I noted to myself that her contract was up for renewal and no apparent signs of contract talks had taken place by the board.  She went from a large field of applicants, narrowed down to two.  That means one of two things happened.  She was offered the job but didn’t take it because of the pay or – She applied because a 10% cut in pay was better than working here but wasn’t offered the job.  Knowing her as well as I do, I have to assume she was offered the job but turned it down.  Ravenna can’t match what she’s making here.  She is one of the best in her field and extremely personable.  In my opinion losing her now would be devastating to the district.

Then last week, the Director of Human Resources turned in her walking papers.  She is a talented lady and will be sorely missed.  She is easily one of the most professional, educated, and resourceful women I have ever had the privilege of knowing.

Alongside her was the Director of Teaching and Learning.  I can’t help but wonder if they walked in arm-in-arm like a weight had been lifted from their shoulders to hear their resignations approved by the board.

In addition to the key staff mentioned above, we have had several principals resign or retire.  At some point you have to ask yourself what is causing this mass exodus?  Are our employee’s abandoning a sinking ship?  Do they know something we don’t know? Getting out while the getting’s good?  We were one of the few districts that could boast high employee retention.  Now I think we’ve set a record for key position turnover.

0 Deceptive Bargaining Agreement

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I hope by now you have checked out the information on BuckeyeInstitute.com.  If you haven’t, you should.  The database is invaluable to the taxpayer.  I like to know where my money is being spent.  I like to be able to sort the fact from the fiction.  The Buckeye Institute makes it easy to do this.  For instance, this blog I wrote last year was made easy by them.  Without it, I would have had to make a Public Records Act request, wait a few days, and pay five cents per page to find the few pieces of information I needed.  The teacher in question lamented that she was one of the lowest paid teachers in Summit County.  I was able to check the Buckeye Institute’s database, and prove several things to myself.  One- if this was the lowest paid teacher in Summit County, she wasn’t doing so bad, and two- the myth of our teachers not receiving raises over several years was busted!  Thanks Buckeye Institute!  Why do I bring this up again?  Because of the way the new teacher’s contract for Cuyahoga Falls was written.

You won’t read this in any local newspapers because they are too understaffed to do any real reporting or research.  Seriously though, they just don’t care to report on the real news.  It’s too uncomfortable to hold these people’s feet to the fire and ask them- What were you thinking?

I’m talking about the 2% lump sum bonus each year.  Why doesn’t anyone want to call this what it is?  A raise.  But it’s a raise that will not be reflected in a teacher’s base salary.  So when we as taxpayer’s research the salaries of our school district employee’s it will appear that they haven’t had a raise in years.  It always smoke and mirrors with these people.  This does not save money.  It’s a blatant deception tactic that should be made illegal.  Don’t the rest of us have to earn a bonus?  You get a bonus when sales were good, you get a bonus when you land a big account for the company, my paralegal friend gets a bonus when her boss wins a lawsuit ;) …but I don’t know anyone in the real world that gets a bonus guaranteed to him or her years before performing their job.

Is this the kind of transparency you expect?  I hope this isn’t in the new superintendent’s contract or everyone will expect a taxpayer funded bonus/raise.

 

Since a check is finally in the mail to settle up my successful Sunshine Law case against the Cuyahoga Falls City School District, I began the process of purging.  You would not believe the amount of paperwork one person can amass.  I came across some documents I had saved in case I needed them for evidence and decided to hang on to a few but tossed the rest.  I must have been channeling Madame Kellie and didn’t realize it because below is one of the doozy’s I saved Saturday night.  Talk about Karma!  It’s like I somehow knew…

I read the Falls News Press this morning and couldn’t believe my eyes. I almost choked on cappuccino foam when I saw the letter to the editor from board member Curt Grimes.  Mr. Grimes is concerned about conflict of interest?  Laughable when you read his e-mail below.  As far as my “spin” on what happened regarding the hire of Mr. Davis, the boards actions speak for themselves.  I didn’t imply that a Sunshine Law violation occurred.  I stated in fact a violation did occur.  The Falls News Press put the “spin” on it by changing my letter to give the impression that I am somehow unsure.  Giving over your notes and informing the press and public after the meeting has taken place, does not mean the violation didn’t happen.  It just means that you’re trying to implement a CYA (cover your arse) policy in case anyone notices you have violated the law.

So anyway after reading the comments from Mr. Grimes, I felt the need to point out how hypocritical his letter really is.  Before you read the e-mail below, I have to give you some background information.  At the time this e-mail was written, Mr. Grimes wife was a paid childcare provider for Mr. Harrison.  Mr. Harrison, at this same time, was the Executive Director of the Schnee Learning Center.  To give some current perspective, the athletic program hasn’t improved in the 5 years since Mr. Grimes had his buddy hired.

"Constant Micro management?

Did I forget to say that Mr. Harrison got the job?  How could he not?  A board member that was part of the majority vote on Dr. Holland’s upcoming contract renewal wanted a favor. I’m sure Mr. Grimes realized that an increase in Mr. Harrison’s paycheck, could result in an increase in his wife’s earnings, especially if he was directly responsible for Mr. Harrison getting the job.  You may think this comment is outrageous, but keep in mind what a astute businessman Mr. Grimes is.  He even points it out in his own letter to the editor this week —  ”In my opinion, the potential ethical issues were not worth the risk and not good business practice.”  Since we can all agree he knows good business from bad business, I have to assume that he knew exactly what he was doing when he wrote the 2006 e-mail to Dr. Holland.  Or, we could assume that after I raised a stink about the e-mail back then, he learned what ethics mean and has since changed his ways.  I doubt this is the case though.  Why do I doubt it?  Because after three years of arguing with me in court over Sunshine Laws, and being part and parcel to the school district having to pay over $100,000.00 in attorney fees and expenses, they still don’t get it and continue to violate.

But — I digress–back to the e-mail.  I remember this incident well.  It caused quite a stir at the time and divided quite a few long standing supporters of the athletic program.  It also resulted in a beloved district employee resigning from the district after over 20 years of service.  A directive to the superintendent thinly veiled as a letter of recommendation isn’t an ethical violation.  But offering employment to someone you personally profit from is.

The question I would like Mr. Grimes to answer is this;  Why are you capable of making decisions regarding friends and family but feel that Mr. Davis wouldn’t be?

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