Fox C-6 Watchdogs
Have individuals with this watchdog group been libeled by public school administrators?

 

The Fox-C-6 School District is in Arnold, Missouri, just outside of St. Louis in Jefferson County.  Individuals from the Fox-6 Watchdogs have been investigating and reporting on what it considers nepotism and lack of transparency from the school board, superintendent and administrators.  Computers owned by school administrators (according to ISP addresses revealed via a lawsuit filed by citizens) were found to have been used to make libelous remarks about several individuals questioning administrative and district actions.  The taxpayers were accused of scandalous acts in Topix, an online chat room by then anonymous sources in 2013.  From stltoday and Derisive website comments linked to home of Fox school chief:

JEFFERSON COUNTY • Computers traced to the homes of Fox School District Superintendent Dianne Critchlow and another Fox administrator were used to make nasty allegations about three critics of the district, said an attorney representing those critics in a libel lawsuit.

Dan Herman filed suit in February on behalf of Arnold residents Sam Ferry, Rich Simpson and Michelle Tyler. All have been critical of the Fox School District, which sent them letters in recent years warning them to tone down their behavior or face legal action. They say they have become the victims.

But the defendant in their suit is listed as John Doe because they did not know who made the comments on a website. Now they do, Herman said.

He said the comments had been traced to computers registered to Critchlow’s home address as well as that of Angela Burns, who is married to Dan Baker, an assistant superintendent. Burns is an assistant principal in the district, Herman said. They also were traced to the home of William Brengle, who retired as an assistant principal at Fox High School in 2009 after more than 30 years in the district.

The lawsuit contends that false and humiliating comments were made about the plaintiffs on the Topix website and were signed “Seriously” and “must be drugs”.  According the article, some of the comments charged the plaintiffs with having sex with animals and possessing child pornography.

I’ve followed the Fox C-6 Watchdog blog site for some time now, and the answers and information they are requesting from the district seems reasonable: financial transparency, following school board policies and adherence to state statutes.  The taxpayers have not been treated with professional behavior in many circumstances by administrators and bureaucrats.  From Fox C-6 March 19, 2013 Board Meeting Report:

Last month our superintendent wanted to make sure that the community knows how great a job our school board is doing right before the election. She has been doing this for years in the local papers. She needs to keep the incumbents in place. I am sure that everyone in the community has already forgotten about the recent decision by our school board to hire the daughter in law of our school board president as the district’s new Director of Food Nutrition Services for $65,000 a year. Linda Nash’s daughter in law has a high school diploma and had worked at McDonald’s for 17 years.

This month I felt that I needed to address my concerns regarding the Cease and Desist letters that the district has been spending taxpayer dollars to send out to citizens in our community for voicing their concerns and opinions and for asking the school district to be accountable and transparent. These letters were sent to try and silence those being critical of our district.

Public Comments
There is not a whole lot you can say in 3 minutes to get your point across to the school board and administration and inform the Public. It slows the progress of change by restricting what can be conveyed to the board and the public. That’s also why there are blogs like this so more information can be conveyed to the public; and, so they can become more educated on the process and what is really happening within our school district.

Since this was the last board meeting prior to the election, I felt that it was really important to point out a systemic problem that has been occurring for more than 2 years. It is the fact that there have been individuals posting in an online forum known as Topix. I happened upon this website in October 2010 while researching information about the district to send to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (ED OCR). It is like the gossip channel for communities across the nation. Comments can be posted anonymously. This allows anyone to say anything about anyone without fear of reprisal to the real poster of the comment. In fact, I have been the subject as well as my parents of many false, defamatory and slanderous comments over the past couple of years because of my efforts to educate our school board and inform the public. What was my major point in telling the board about this? Despite the false accusations and claims that I was certain posters in this online forum, I have not posted on Topix in over 2 years. So, while individuals were mad that people were speaking about them over the last couple of years, I have not been the one posting those comments nor did I ask anyone to post comments on this site for me. The first slanderous comment directed at my parents and I was posted only a week after I spoke at the December 2010 school board meeting and 2 days before an article was published in the Leader newspaper about the newly appointed head football coach at Seckman High School. What a coincidence! Especially given the fact that there were only 7 people in attendance at the December 2010 board meeting besides the board members and administrators. Those in attendance included myself, a reporter from the Leader and a few students and a couple of accountants. The board meeting minutes didn’t get posted for over a month and then there wasn’t any detail in those board minutes.

Recently, the personal attacks made against me have really picked up after I spoke at the December 2012, January 2013 and February 2013 board meetings. Those personal attacks have also been directed at others who have voiced their concerns about our school district, superintendent and school board. I believe as well as many others in our community that there are only a few people that would be so upset over critical comments made of our superintendent and school board. The language in the posts and the people that have been attacked speaks even stronger as to who might be posting these defamatory and slanderous comments. Even more telling is the fact that some of the information posted would have only been known to school administrators. As I stated in my public comment at the board meeting, remarks such as those being made online would lead to the dismissal of any educator who would make such comments. Rather than calling people names and making false accusations, they should be addressing the problems and criticisms rather than risking their careers.

Here is what I read at the March 19, 2013 school board meeting.

March 19, 2013 Fox C-6 board meeting Public Comment

I would like to report that I have been getting a lot of positive feedback from the community and from teachers and staff and even retirees for my efforts in helping to bring accountability to our school district. It is good to see that the public is becoming more aware of how our school district leadership and school board has been conducting business compared to other school districts under our current administration. I think it is very important for the community to know that using taxpayer dollars to send out cease and desist letters to individuals in the community who voice their concerns at board meetings and in the community is unacceptable. It is also very unacceptable for individuals who are very well in the know of actions being taken by our administration prior to them even being public to be making slanderous comments about individuals in online forums anonymously. Well, actually they use a variety of different names all within minutes of each other but spreading the same message. This type of conduct will eventually lead to the dismissal of educators within our district if proven to be who everyone now believes to be the person or persons posting these messages.

I would like the school board to know that I have never made ANY defamatory or derogatory comments at school board meetings or to school board members as was misrepresented in the cease and desist letter sent to me by our school district last fall. I would also ask that our school board read up on Missouri’s Anti-SLAPP law regarding this topic. Our school board and administrators should also know that I have not posted anything on the TOPIX online forum for more than 2 years. I made a total of 18 posts between October 2010 and January 11, 2011 providing statistical data and information from Missouri DESE and school board meeting minutes and information regarding a District Wide Compliance Reviews that was being conducted by the Office of Civil Rights of our school district. That Compliance Review has been ongoing since March of 2010. I certainly have not deserved the crude and slanderous remarks that have been made against me and my parents for my advocacy efforts and efforts to hold our school district accountable. You have some very serious issues to deal with and I am glad that the community is beginning to realize that things aren’t as glowing and as positive as you would like everyone to believe.

So, in closing would like to say that I certainly hope that the upcoming election will bring a new set of faces to our school board and that our district begins to head in a new direction. It will take a concerted effort by our community to encourage a change in leadership. It will also require that our school board and school administrators conduct themselves with the Character traits of Honesty and Integrity that they so often tout.

Thank You!

 

Fox C-6 is not the only district in which taxpayers are discounted.  Read these emails from Otterville (MO) School District Superintendent Matt Unger regarding an invitation to attend a Common Core discussion by taxpayers.  This invitation was sent to superintendents in the surrounding area of the conference.  Note Superintendent Unger’s response was sent via the school district email address:

 

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Email #1:

 

On Mar 24, 2014, at 8:36 PM, Ron Swift  wrote:

On April 3, 2014, at 6:30 p.m. at the Columbia A.R.C, 1701 Ash St., you will have another opportunity to learn the WHOLE truth about what the Common Core is doing in and to the schools in Missouri, and why its implementation in Missouri MUST be stopped.
This learning session is being conducted by Ed. PhD. Mary Byrne, who has led similar information sessions across the entire state and throughout the country. 
Many superintendents, school board members, and administrators have attended these sessions. We invite you to be among them.  We simply are asking you to attend and listen to the presentation.  When you do, perhaps you will become as concerned about the matter as are an ever growing number of your taxpaying constituents.  Be assured, there is much to be concerned about. 
Simply stated, those of us resisting the implementation of Common Core in MO are fighting on your behalf to maintain local control of our schools.  No one blames any superintendent or school board member for the mess we will most certainly be in if we cannot derail the Common Core in MO. None of you asked for the unintended consequences that we will experience if we go forward with the Common Core.
Again, the opportunity to learn in Columbia is:
        THURSDAY, APRIL 3, 2014
        COLUMBIA A.R.C., 1701 W. ASH ST.
        6:30 P.M.
Please join us for this educational experience, and would you kindly forward this e-mail on to your school board members and administrators after you read it, so they might have the opportunity to attend as well?
Ron Swift
The United States Constitution (c) 1791. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

Email #2:

 

From: Matt Unger <munger@ottervillervi.k12.mo.us>
To: Ron Swift 
Sent: Monday, March 24, 2014 8:46 PM
Subject: Re: The WHOLE Common Core Truth Exposed Learning Session

FAKE OUTRAGE!  Your email should have included ‘this message paid brought to you the tea party’ 

Sent from my iPad
Email #3:

On Mar 24, 2014, at 8:49 PM, Ron Swift  wrote:

This is an issue that is of great concern to all liberty lovers, including Tea Partiers like myself.  It should also be of great concern to you. I am unsure why it isn’t. Help me understand.
Ron Swift
The United States Constitution (c) 1791. All Rights Reserved.
Email #4:
From: Matt Unger <munger@ottervillervi.k12.mo.us>
To: Ron Swift
Sent: Monday, March 24, 2014 10:04 PM
Subject: Re: The WHOLE Common Core Truth Exposed Learning Session
Fairly simple explanation is that it was NEVER an issue until the current President was elected. Your ‘Fake Outrage’ came alive because it is politically convienent.  Be honest with yourself and openly admit that you hate democrats more than you love ‘liberty’.  Thats really your fight here!  Now lets talk Liberty.  Liberty is defined as “being free of conditions or control’ Liberty is a conerstone of our great nation but in its pure form it runs contrary to the notion of ‘Government’ which is ‘The act or process of governing, especially the control and administration of public policy in a political unit.’  Enough of that, lets get to the main point of your ‘Fake Outrage’
You and your ‘FAKE OUTRAGE’ are validated by simply looking at the lack of outrage with NCLB or no child left behind. Not a peep from the extreme right with that piece of legislation. Why? The plausable explanation is that it was not politcally popular enough, polarizing enough and it was brought to us by a republican President.
Educators have been writing curriculum, using textbooks/materials written and marketed toward heavily populated states, using standardized test that have misleading, biased test questions for the past 40 plus years.  Yet I never heard a peep from the extreme right.  Not until, a democratic President gets into office and champions a change to the learning standards that are supported by a majority of states, does the extreme right create enough ‘Fake Outrage’ that they can whip up a fire storm with like minded people and suburban soccer moms.
In conclusion, This an issue to you not because of you principled constitutional beliefs or because you are acting with students best interest in mind.  Instead, it is about politics and your hatred of the President.  That is why it is FAKE OUTRAGE! 

Sent from my iPad
Email #5:
From: Ron Swift
To: Matt Unger <munger@ottervillervi.k12.mo.us>
Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 1:39 PM
Subject: Re: The WHOLE Common Core Truth Exposed Learning Session
I don’t EVER think of this as being a political issue AND not once have I tied this to a political party.  I seriously doubt if any other anti-Common Core activist has done so either. There is far more to be concerned about than which political party happens to be in control at any given time. Fact is, this issue had underpinnings as far back as the 1980’s and has continued through today. 
I truly don’t understand our educator’s blind devotion to standards developed by people who have no background in child development and no K-12 teaching experience.  I surely hope you don’t believe this to be “state led” as is being promoted by DESE; it definitely is not.  And if you want to talk about OUTRAGE, wait until your school district and taxpayers get the bill for the cost of implementation.  Then you will see serious OUTRAGE. Even at that, a concern we all should have is the use of our children as lab rats for the sole purpose of data collection for the corporations who will then take the data and develop tests that are sold back to our states for millions.  As the leader of a school district, you should share these concerns.
Come see the Common Core for exactly what it is, in Columbia on Thursday, April 3 at 6:30 p.m. or in Tipton on Thursday, April 24 at 7 p.m.  You will hear the entire history from A to Z and you will clearly see the consequences of our failure to stop it. 
Ron Swift
 
The United States Constitution (c) 1791. All Rights Reserved.
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Is Mr. Unger’s rant against a taxpayer indicative of the character education espoused by his school district in 2006?  Is accusing a taxpayer of “fake outrage” (while not attending such a meeting to determine if taxpayer concerns are valid) a positive trait of a school administrator?  I would remind Mr. Unger that many on the right were indeed concerned about NCLB, and it was bi-partisan legislation of George Bush and Ted Kennedy.  Are these accusations from Mr. Unger based on facts or his own opinions as a school administrator?
As Otterville is a small rural school district, at least Mr. Unger’s rant will not insult any white suburban soccer moms.  Those in the Tea Party or those not affiliated with the Tea Pary who understand that Common Core is a circumvention of the political process that hands public education’s control to private organizations with no voter/legislative accountability might just have issues with Mr. Unger’s baseless accusations.
The actions of Missouri administrators against the taxpayers who pay to keep these people employed is increasingly worrisome.  Why are bureaucrats attacking citizens who question how their money is being spent, why statutes aren’t being followed and how their children are being educated?  It’s time to put a stop to this bullying by school administrators.  These administrators indicate they are not interested in transparency or diversity of thought.
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UPDATE:
Here is a link from Fox 2 news with an interview from the attorney for the plaintiffs from the Fox C-6 district:

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