The New GPS Board Should Call for a Do-Over of Kishimoto’s Contract Renewal

As 2016 winds down, and the current president of the Gilbert Public Schools governing board prepares to decamp after her bid for reelection was decisively defeated by voters, GPS Top Dogs have descended to new depths of depravity. The *Superintendent Evaluation Instrument and Performance Pay Measures and Weights* were approved at the November 22, 2016 board meeting, but the public is not allowed to see this document. Secrecy and the rush to get this done before the new board is seated combined to raise distrust and rancor to new heights, especially considering that Christina Kishimoto’s contract had been suspiciously renewed just months before.

Anything having to do with Christina Kishimoto’s on-the-job performance now is locked away, out of public view. The rubber stamp GPS governing board doesn’t want you to know how much their rogue superintendent collects in annual performance pay, let alone allow the public to glimpse how they decide to give all that money to her. Never mind that there’s a really big chunk of taxpayer money tied to the superintendent’s annual evaluation. The sum is most likely five figures, but taxpayers who provide those funds are kept in the dark. If you have a question, like, “Is this five-figure bonus ON TOP OF Christina Kishimoto’s outrageous annual salary and benefits package?” the answer is, “You can’t handle the truth.” Or something like that.

The new board that will be seated in January 2017 could decide that since there is a GPS policy and exhibit that covers the superintendent’s evaluation in great detail, the top-secret *executive content* evaluation instrument should be declassified for public perusal … because the exhibit to the GPS policy is a public document. That would make a lot of sense, because *executive content* is NOT a category of public records that is protected from disclosure by Arizona public records laws. GPS has cited *executive content* in refusing to provide public records to the public, but it wasn’t lawful then and it isn’t lawful now.

New board members: Heads up, you’re going to have a lot of questions to answer about public records that GPS has been withholding to keep some Top Dog *dastardly deeds* and factual misstatements under wraps. You, too, will be considered intellectually incapable of handling the truth.

GPS Policy CBI allows a lot of secrecy in evaluating the superintendent. It’s really unfair that members of the public have demanded complete personnel files of many GPS employees, including their evaluations, and the district produced them all as public records. The superintendent is treated differently. Her evaluations are secret … probably because her poor evaluations led to being fired from her last job. That Hartford board was full of meanies! Maybe Christina Kishimoto will start crying … again … if she thinks new GPS board members are being big ole meanies when they perform their duties of oversight. Heaven knows, Christina Kishimoto’s rubber stamp board members contorted themselves into pretzels to avoid seeing what was right in front of them, ethically speaking.

Westie to GPS Top Dogs: We dare you to claim that GPS has not provided those personnel files and evaluations as public records to various requestors on numerous occasions. Bring it!

Westie to New GPS Board Members: Of course we’ll share the public records that prove this claim!

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto has unclean hands in this travesty … she was not only fully complicit in the back-room maneuvering, she used her power as the top administrative officer in the school district to enrich herself. Self-dealing is forbidden for persons who control public funds. Christina Kishimoto’s role in extending her contract can be explained by hubris:

Hubris denotes overconfident pride and arrogance. Hubris is often associated with a lack of humility. Sometimes a person’s hubris is also associated with a lack of knowledge.The accusation of hubris often implies that suffering or punishment will follow, similar to the occasional pairing of hubris and nemesis in Greek mythology.
… in his two-volume biography of Adolf Hitler, historian Ian Kershaw uses both ‘hubris’ and ‘nemesis’ as titles. The first volume, Hubris, describes Hitler’s early life and rise to political power.

When have we seen hubris and this exact GPS power play in the past? Just like what happened in June 2016, former GPS superintendent Dave Allison had his contract renewed in a similar smoke-filled-back-room, take-it-or-leave-it demand on October 26, 2010, just before the election in November 2010 that put Staci Burk and Shane Stapley on the GPS Governing Board. It’s no accident that GPS Policy CBI was last revised on November 23, 2010, after Burk and Stapley were elected, but before they took their seats on the board. It’s also worth telling the GPS scalawags that Dave Allison was denied his performance bonus just three days before the board accepted his resignation. Here’s a key fact: student achievement did not factor into the superintendent’s bonus back then. What do you bet that a big factor in all the secrecy about Christina Kishimoto’s standards of evaluation is that she is not held accountable for student achievement? Just pay her and be done with it, right?

That sleazy 2010 contract renewal maneuver for Dave Allison was widely condemned by the public, and most likely influenced the 2010 election. Tram and her 2016 political stunt were equally reviled by taxpayers; it’s apparent that consequences have begun and can be expected to multiply and metastasize. We all know that the contract extension period was incredibly painful for Dave Allison, because his abuses of his public office were disclosed to the public. It was not pretty. From the Arizona Republic:

The Gilbert Public Schools governing board on Thursday unanimously accepted Superintendent Dave Allison’s decision to retire June 30 after a tenure that was rocky at times, marred by criticism of some parents and community activists who claimed poor management and lack of financial transparency.

Contemporaneous commentary from Westie:

Contrary to the wishes of many ill-wishers in the district, the board once again acted correctly, in this case following district policy by reviewing the status of Superintendent Allison’s employment before January 31, 2013:  “The current board met Tuesday night [January 29th] in a 90-minute executive session to discuss Allison’s contract. District policy dictated that they needed to decide whether to renew his contract by the end of January. Tuesday night they postponed the vote until Thursday night [January 31st].”

Let’s look at GPS Policy CBI, which was lauded in 2013 and was intrinsically intertwined with hiring Christina Kishimoto in March 2014: On or before the end of January, the board shall offer a contract for the next school year to the superintendent if the administrative contract is in its last year, unless the board gives notice to the superintendent of the board’s intention not to offer a new administrative contract.

GPS Policy CBI is very helpfully accompanied by an exhibit, CBI-E, which consists of … wait for it … the superintendent’s evaluation form! The title of the evaluation form that is presently online, CBI-E 2015, is unequivocal evidence that Christina Kishimoto and her Rubber Stamp Board must have reviewed this policy within her first year of employment. But there’s more!

In the metadata of the document, the date last modified is June 18, 2016 at 16:12:06 GMT… just before the June 28, 2016 GPS board meeting where Christina Kishimoto’s new three year contract was prematurely approved. We all know that GPS often *disappears* evidence that might get Top Dogs into trouble, so we very helpfully saved an image of the online exhibit with its metadata.

If there is a written evaluation for the superintendent, it is a public record, just like it is for other GPS employees. What do you want to bet that the Rubber Stamp Board NEVER put it in writing to preclude public scrutiny?

What we have right now in GPS is a lame-duck governing board that made critical decisions for those board members who will work with this rogue superintendent for the next three years. What if those decisions were not made lawfully?

The fact that Kishimoto and Tram colluded to renew the superintendent’s contract outside of the explicit provisions of GPS policy gives the new board more than enough reason to call for a do-over. They can do this within the time limit contained within the policy: on or before the end of January. To do that, the new board will have to be proactive about electing a new board president, setting the date of a public meeting and executive session and holding said meeting on or before the end of January. There’s no time to waste.

New board members, you have evidence at your fingertips that the board did not have independent legal advice before voting to give Christina Kishimoto a new contract. The board did not have their own lawyer … actually, the board had no input into the contract itself, because Christina Kishimoto negotiated with herself and told the board to sign what she had come up with! Self-dealing with public money is a subject we’ll be visiting many times in 2017. Pinky promise.

Kishimoto told the board on Monday that she wanted this contract approved on Tuesday night. Christina Kishimoto dictated the terms. Julie Smith tried to table the agenda item so the board could discuss certain terms of the dictated contract, but alas, that failed on a typical 3-2 vote.

Here’s the crux of the collusion between Kishimoto and Tram: the premature three year employment contract guarantees that Christina Kishimoto will be able to cash in on her GPS employment with big bucks from ASRS: “Members can retire with a lifetime benefit as early as age 50 once they have acquired 5 years of service credits.” Note that this illegitimate employment contract puts Christina Kishimoto at exactly the right spot to cash in. This big fat slurpy kiss from outgoing GPS board president Lily Tram will cushion Christina Kishimoto’s retirement for the rest of her life. Without that contract, Christina Kishimoto might have been required to actually do her job to acceptable standards.

It’s really inconvenient for the lame-duck GPS governing board that a board member enshrined this travesty in the public record, documenting that the lawyer that Kishimoto provided to *answer legal questions* was there to tell the board that the contract was a legal contract. The lame-duck board, with Christina Kishimoto’s three rubber stamp votes, was not allowed to discuss the terms of the contract the superintendent and the lawyer put in front of them. They were not allowed to even consider negotiating or even discussing the provisions of the employment contract.

Fortunately, there is a video archive of this entire board meeting, which Westie helpfully archived on a non-GPS server, just in case the Top Dogs once again destroy a video because it proves what actually happened. Watch Julie Smith explain how the board was treated during the executive session before the vote to renew Christina Kishimoto’s contract and the usual 3-2 vote that followed.

Here’s hoping that the newly elected board that will be seated in January 2017 will be more than just a rubber stamp for superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s ridiculous and irresponsible management of a once-stellar, A-rated public school district. New board members will have an opportunity to respond to the community … who threw Lily Tram off the GPS governing board for stunts such as this.

Kishimoto Replies to Public Uproar, but It’s Too Late, Baby, Now It’s Too Late*

Superintendent Christina KishimotoSuperintendent Christina Kishimoto’s death-grip on school design has caused collateral damage in what once was famous as an A-rated district. Who would have thought that Gilbert Public Schools would set out to engineer race and national origin discrimination against Hispanic students on the west side of the district? She has done it before and she’s doing it again. The public sees clearly how Christina Kishimoto’s school design philosophy works: starve the targeted schools you want to reform, then claim victory when you reform that school. 

Citizens have discovered that Christina Kishimoto made a decision that was not hers to make, and now she’s trying to stuff that toothpaste back into the tube. A comment on social media explains the community’s perspective:

The program is already in place, no need to go school wide when there’s been no driving force behind magnetizing schools other than Kishimoto. The program isn’t the problem. The blatant disregard for anyone but herself is the problem. The lying is the problem. The deception is the problem.

From her defensive crouch, Christina Kishimoto tried to build support for her failing initiative. She sent a Staff Brief to all GPS employees on November 16, 2016. Click here or on the image below to open an enlarged copy of Kishimoto’s letter to employees (you may be able to click the enlarged image in the new window to enlarge it further). We’ll continue our comments below the image, giving you time to read the letter.

Click to enlarge

From Kishimoto’s letter: “First, approximately $500,000 of Site Improvement Funds were transitioned from District Office oversight, to school-based oversight. This empowered Principals to make their own decisions about the professional development offerings that they want to provide to their staff.”

The response of Westie’s birdies: “That’s a LOT of catered meals that principals now can give out!” Right on, birdies! Those principals will follow the example of their boss, the superintendent, who gives out catered meals at taxpayer expense at every opportunity. Kishimoto must have made a promise to herself to not buy a single meal when she can pay with GPS funds, not only for herself, but also for her *friends* on the governing board and in her cabinet. Sheeeeeesh.

Finally, Kishimoto’s closing statement is really out of whack: “We will be the district of first choice for parents and students and be the premier public education system of the State of Arizona!” Sure. <eye roll> Girlfriend, GPS USED TO BE the district everyone wanted their kids to enroll in AND the district everyone wanted to work in. That was before you got here. You took a district with moderately declining enrollment and made the decline an across-the-board reality in your first two years, losing thousands more students and hundreds of staff. But we’re intrigued by your hint that your aspirations are now circumscribed to the state of Arizona, not the entire nation, as in the past. Maybe that was just a slip of the tongue caused by *unexpected* election results. IOW, your candidates lost across the board and now your future isn’t quite as bright as you thought it would be.

The rest of this post wrote itself. Once again, Westie shares social media comments made by this newly engaged citizenry reacting to the dual language school design that Christina Kishimoto imposed on Gilbert Elementary School, one of the aforementioned schools with a large Hispanic enrollment. Let’s start with boundary review, a subject that has become critical because it is the basis for the lopsided student enrollment pattern that is now a crisis for GPS:

Here’s part of the reply I got from Christina Kishimoto: “We don’t have “magnet” schools in GPS, but this will be a theme-based school that will continue to serve neighborhood students and continue to allow the current practice already in place to allow any open seats to go to students beyond the neighborhood or even beyond district boundaries. Families who do not want this particular model will continue to have the option to apply for open seats in other schools. There is a current discussion in progress to think about a broader boundary to include multiple schools rather than defining a boundary around a single school. That work is in conversation at the school level and has not yet been proposed to the board.”
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Parents spoke at both public forums asking for boundaries to be reviewed and changed. Were told by Charlie Santa Cruz and Lily Tram that boundaries would be done this year. Even Charlie Santa Cruz said after the vote in April, that boundaries would be done. Nope. Every report regarding MJHS/GCA says boundaries need to be addressed to protect MHS and the schools on the west side of the district. Boundaries have been on the strategic plan since 2013. This is not a new concern. The fact that GPS now claims to just now be hearing about boundaries is so frustrating!
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Dr. K’s new excuse is that she wants to implement these school designs first. That will push kids who don’t want these programs into other schools. Then she wants to wait for enrollment to “stabilize” before boundaries are addressed.
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The community is rightly enraged that GPS, under the *leadership* of Christina Kishimoto, is usurping the duties that Arizona law reserves to the GPS governing board. Westie snarkily warned about this back in January 2016 as Kishimoto unveiled her plan to destroy a junior high school on the western edge of the district and give the campus to Gilbert Classical Academy:

Isn’t it a good thing that GPS has spent thousands of dollars buying new software to help the superintendency decide where the new boundaries will go? Once you start changing the junior high school boundaries to give the entitled personages at Gilbert Classical Academy a new campus, who knows where it will end?

The fondest hope of a newly engaged GPS citizenry is that Christina Kishimoto claims victory and rides off into the sunset sooner rather than later.

This isn’t the first time that something has been implemented without (before) board approval. There’s a long list! Like ALP and SpEd teachers who were told that they didn’t have a job any more BEFORE the board voted on the budget that cut those programs. Like a board member telling me that Chomebooks were a “done deal” a full month before the first board vote to approve their purchase. Like School Councils being formed and members of those committees being asked to sign district-provided bylaws months before the board approved the purpose of those committees (BTW, the bylaws I signed don’t align with what the board ended up approving). Many more examples. This is just how Kishimoto works. Cram something through and ask for board approval later. She needs to be stopped. She’s destroying our schools and we’re losing students and GREAT staff because of her.
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The issue here is that the administration hasn’t brought on board the parents whose children aren’t currently in the program. Gilbert El is a community school, and they deserve to have a voice. We have seen backlash kill the best laid plans in this district. I say properly market the existing program. Allow it to grow naturally. But don’t send students and staff to other schools if they are not on board for the program. This been in place for nearly 20 years. Clearly there is a following interested in it.

A person inside Gilbert Elementary School, one whose voice has been silenced by the Top Dogs of the district, sounded an alarm. What’s new is the revelation that the curriculum already has been bought. GPS now has the problem of attracting teachers for this cart-before-the-horse reform:

What is being presented now is not a true dual language program. It is a watering down of the program. Children need to learn to read in their native language. At Gilbert El, we had native Spanish speakers and native English speakers. It can only be called dual language if you have that. Otherwise, it is a Spanish immersion program.

We had some students who could not function in this program for various reasons. So we would move them out into “traditional” classrooms. It was not a program for children who have IEP’s etc. In the early 2000’s, the state of Arizona passed an anti bilingual bill which made it difficult for us to have Spanish speakers in this program.

The biggest difficulty was that once a child left the program, we couldn’t replace them in later grades because they couldn’t all of a sudden be able to learn in Spanish, leaving our 4th- 6th grades groups undersized.

I always appreciated that the District supported this program. But it is not for every child. I believe in it so much but it needs to be a choice and the District needs to support it in that way.

Curriculum has to be purchased in both languages and it is costly. And teachers are hard to find. I absolutely support this as a choice, but not as a mandate. I think it could be marketed and grown by the District, but it should never be the only option.”

Some citizens offer advice to Kishimoto and to the board:

We should be concerned because if you do the research on these “portfolio districts,” they are not overwhelmingly successful. We as a district should not be offering more of the same. We are NOT charters and we should be proud of that. GPS has been so special and so successful because we are neighborhood schools in a town founded on welcoming, safe, connected neighborhoods. We are why most families chose Gilbert. That’s what we need to capitalize on.

You want innovation? Have our graphic design students and social media expert students running our website, managing our social media. Have our kids who want a future in sustainable agriculture or animal medicine partnering with our local farmers and ranchers. Develop 7-day-a-week community school centers; research those. Build exciting programs. Don’t fix something that isn’t broken with already-failed reform strategies.

A former board member offers valuable insight to newly elected board members:

No one on this social media thread is questioning the value of the Gilbert Elementary program. In fact, since its began around 20 years ago, those of us on the GPS school board at that time welcomed it with open arms when it was established by the amazing principal Sheila Shannon Rogers as a fantastic option for kids on the Gilbert El campus and throughout the district. We all celebrated the diverse cultures and opportunities it affords students on that campus, as has every board since that time.

The issues are that the community has had little to no opportunity to give input about expanding the dual language program school wide, and the administration is trying to push it through although there is no data to support the expansion. Matter of fact, although everyone still wants to keep the optional program there, in reality the data from the numbers demonstrate that enrollment in the program has been declining.

It is to be hoped that the current governing board will slow down the process, question whether correct procedures have been followed in this process and take a good look at the facts before blindly following administration recommendations to try to rush it through before the new board is seated.

Coincidentally or not, the same Sheila Shannon Rogers mentioned above was just elected to a seat on the governing board and Lily Tram was dumped.  #SaveOurNeighborhoodSchools

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*Big Fat Asterisk: It’s too late, baby, now it’s too late. All hail the fabulous Carole King!

Christina Kishimoto Denies Her Staff Admitted GPS Is Being Investigated

GPS Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and CFO Tom WohlleberChristina Kishimoto wants the Governing Board of Gilbert Public Schools to believe that her flunkie, Chief Financial Officer Tom Wohlleber, actually did not say what he said at the October 2016 GPS board meeting. Christina Kishimoto is trying to deny that there is ANOTHER investigation into GPS shenanigans at the White Castle. The reality seems to be that federal funds are involved, so the district’s go-to lawyers might not be able to use their friendships with the Arizona Attorney General staff to sweep things under the carpet. Wooo hooo! Let the finger-pointing begin! 

RESPONSE TO BOARD QUESTION
[from Christina Kishimoto]

E-Rate, WAN and RFP Process

On Tuesday October 25, at your monthly Board business meeting, when we were presenting on the quarterly financial report, Mrs. Smith asked Mr. Wohlleber about a complaint against the district and the subsequent investigation indicating that she understood that there was an issue with the bidding process of our recent new telecommunications contract {Cox Communications} and that the district most likely would lose e-Rate funds. Mrs. Smith wanted to know if this was true. She additionally asked when I as Superintendent was intending to notify the Board of this complaint. Neither I, nor Tom Wohlleber, nor Jon Castelhano, could answer this question since we were not aware of any filings or claims.

On Wednesday and Thursday I met with my team and reviewed our records, and I have verified that there is no such claim filed against the district challenging our award to Cox Communications nor a challenge to our E-Rate funds.

The only request that we have received is a request for information from Century Link – who did not receive the award. Such requests after a bidding process are standard practice.

Century Link has requested procurement records related to the WAN RFP for the purpose of, and I quote from Century Link, “In no way will this information be used to protest the award; CenturyLink is only interested in understanding how it can become more competitive in the future.”

Now watch the video of CFO Tom Wohlleber answering Julie Smith’s question by saying, “It’s just an inquiry at this point.” We call that hairsplitting, quibbling and evasion to avoid saying the word “investigation,” but nevertheless, it is an admission that someone or some agency has been *inquiring* about GPS E-Rate matters. Unsurprisingly, Wohlleber’s admission was followed by superintendent Christina Kishimoto scolding a GPS board member for having this conversation in public.  Egads, the public might find out GPS is in trouble again! <sarcasm>

Brief transcript:

Julie Smith: I have a question about the cash control fund, E-Rate. … Given the complaint against the district and the subsequent investigation, finding that there is an issue with the bidding process of our recent telecommunications person that we’re switching over to, that the district will most likely lose this fund for possibly up to the next five years. Is that true?
00:30  Tom Wohlleber: I’m not aware that, that, that the bidding process. It may have some impact at some point if it’s decided that the procurement process needs to be redone as part of that. As far as I’m aware it’s an inquiry at this point, an inquiry as to the bidding process and we will provide them that information through this process…
2:55  Julie Smith (turns to Christina Kishimoto) Please try to keep the board abreast instead of a member of the community, through a public records, you know, alerting, I would appreciate, because I was very concerned and had questions about this presentation and how it may impact the budget.
3:18  Christina Kishimoto:
I do provide everything the Friday before or the Thursday before to the board, so we can actually have this conversation before it is published to the public.

How in the world could Christina Kishimoto VERIFY that there is no claim filed? Answer: she can’t. If you read carefully, she merely said “no such claim filed against the district challenging our award to Cox Communications nor a challenge to our E-Rate funds.” Maybe Kishimoto means that there hasn’t been a Notice of Claim filed against GPS. That’s not saying much, but board president Lily Tram has stated in the past that the board won’t take any action on a complaint unless the complainant files a Notice of Claim. Both Kishimoto and Tram seem to be very fond of the expression, “So sue me.” Maybe they just don’t understand that citizens have resources other than filing a civil lawsuit when their frustrations boil over because GPS refuses to follow the law.

Fortunately for the public, and for taxpayers in Gilbert, Arizona, there are people in the community who know a lot about the ways in which the GPS administration flouts laws and commits such things as mismanagement of funds, conflict of interest, self-dealing and abuse of public office. Persons who know about the federal E-Rate program have dropped hints that there may be different complaint(s) than the bid rigging complaint that GPS CFO Tom Wohlleber mentioned. How all five board members could “have this conversation” with the superintendent without violating AZ Open Meeting Laws is another concern. But this is GPS, and Christina Kishimoto could give a flying flip about such things as following OML when she wants to talk about laws that GPS may or may not have broken. Sheeeeeeeesh.

Does it appear to you, a reasonable person, that nothing is going on with respect to GPS and E-Rate and inquiries or investigations? There’s an inconvenient procedural history of federal investigations under the False Claims Act: according to federal officials, “The complaint is sealed during the investigation so the government can build its case and consider civil penalties or criminal charges.” If investigators have been making *inquiries* that GPS top level administrators like Tom Wohlleber admit, what are the chances those investigators might be talking to people who know what actually goes on in the White Castle? Any bets as to whether investigators may have discovered *interesting* documents regarding the former GPS employee with whom Christina Kishimoto was engaged in an *alleged* inappropriate relationship? Kishimoto’s rationalization just begs so many questions!

That other E-Rate complaint, apparently, might be something more along the lines of what went down in the Tucson Unified School District a few years ago. 

In March 2004, two TUSD Technology and Telecommunication Services (TTS) employees independently called the federal whistle-blower hotline, concerned with how district officials planned to use the federal funds they were seeking … a federal statute called the False Claims Act lets anyone who discovers fraud involving federal funds file a civil complaint. The complaint is sealed during the investigation so the government can build its case and consider civil penalties or criminal charges.

2005 audit of TUSD, by Heinfeld, Meech & Co., TUSD’s auditors, found that the 2004 E-Rate application was handled by TTS, not TUSD’s purchasing department, and, therefore, wasn’t subject to proper oversight. The report also stated that TTS had few records of its 2004 E-Rate application. The audit said the problems didn’t merit notifying federal officials, but it recommended a significant policy change. It could be months, if not years, before the federal and state investigations conclude.

It is essential that board members, elected officials charged with actually EDUCATING STUDENTS, actually KNOW what top level administrators are doing. Apparently, board member Julie Smith asked the question in public because the superintendent wouldn’t answer it in private. Newly elected GPS board members could be in for nasty surprises after drinking a superintendent’s Kool-Aid, just as the TUSD board member was surprised about the E-Rate investigation:

Until contacted for this story, TUSD Governing Board member Judy Burns said she’d only heard rumors of a federal investigation. “The district is going to suffer and the students in class will suffer for not doing this in a legitimate, businesslike way,” she said.

That TUSD E-Rate investigation did indeed drag on for years. In 2006, TUSD officials requested that the Attorney General investigate the district’s procurement of technology and E-Rate consulting services.  In 2008, that investigation expanded to include an examination of TUSD’s procurement of interactive white boards. Old timers (like Westie, but not the current top level inhabitants of the White Castle) remember that GPS was involved with the same white board vendor, and allegedly participated in the same conduct that the AZ Attorney General cited in a lawsuit against TUSD. Finally, on January 29, 2009, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard announced a settlement with TUSD. The public deserves to have confidence that our public officials and employees are careful stewards of the public funds entrusted to them,” Goddard said.  “School districts and vendors who circumvent procurement requirements harm competition and violate the trust of our citizens.”  Note this was a CIVIL suit, not criminal charges, which might have been pursued separately. Also, the agency administering E-Rate contacted at least 190 applicants in at least 27 states who applied for funding on services provided by the vendors involved in the TUSD investigation.

As posted on social media, citizens of Gilbert have very definite opinions about the ridiculous antics within the GPS top levels of administration and they most definitely believe the public trust has been violated. The following post was prompted by ousted board president Tram’s claims that she balanced the GPS budget:

The current board balanced the budget by breaking the law. They will soon be served yet another subpoena for Mismanagement of Federal Funds. That was the one they were expecting at the last meeting. They were instead served a subpoena for a Civil Rights Violation. There is also the bid rigging charge in a case with Century Link & Cox. She shouldn’t be proud of balancing the budget by breaking multiple laws.

Actually, GPS was served with yet another civil rights LAWSUIT at the October board meeting. Just before that board meeting, Christina Kishimoto informed the board of two active complaints with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, both related to Special Education services. Apparently, Christina Kishimoto negotiated a settlement with OCR in one of the cases for “an approved plan for targeted teacher training around particular special education support mandates.” Kishimoto further informed the board, “OCR is also going to review our GPS policies and make recommendations for language clarification; this is a process that we have worked on with them in the past. In summary, this is a good outcome for our high school complaint. The complaint at the Junior High level is still at the investigation level and we will work hand in hand with OCR.”

You can’t help but wonder, how long was all this going on before Christina Kishimoto decided to inform the board? Recall that former superintendent Dave Allison once signed a consent agreement with OCR without the board’s knowledge … that dastardly deed came to light via public records, of course. Sheeeeesh.

Don’t you think these shenanigans put a new perspective on Julie Smith’s suggestion that Christina Kishimoto inform the board of investigations before constituents start delving into public records? Apparently, there were investigations other than the E-Rate *inquiry* that the board didn’t know about as they occurred. New board members should get used to hearing educrat double-speak rather than responsive answers to their questions. In other words, superintendent Christina Kishimoto is desperate: “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” Westie explains this for Silly Jilly Humpherys’ benefit:

** You could use that phrase to mean the jig is up. You figured out that the magic is just smoke and mirrors? Well, maybe I’ll tell you to pay no attention to that man behind the curtain, even though I know I can’t really hide the truth from you any longer.
** People use others as puppets, manipulating and such. And others try to make themselves look bigger and better than they really are.
** Frank Baum understood that people are often motivated by fear and the perceived authority of others. Through simple manipulation of minds, and the twisting of moral right and wrong, the wizard convinced three weary travelers to commit murder, and the subsequent theft of the property of the “Wicked Witch” to win favor.

It’s too bad that that GPS destroyed the Livestream video of the September board meeting in a thinly veiled attempt to provide Lily Tram some deniability for her comments that GPS teachers already make enough money. It would now be a whole lot better for Christina Kishimoto if GPS could now destroy the videos of the October board meeting … except that The Westies just happened to record the October board meeting in case more video archives went missing.*

So superintendent Christina Kishimoto is stuck, and newly elected board members must decide who they are going to believe: Christina Kishimoto or their own lying eyes and ears and video archive of the October board meeting? Newly elected board members should also get used to the time-honored GPS Mushroom Treatment, as cogently explained by a former GPS board member:

What the heck is the “Mushroom Effect?”  First introduced to the term by a teacher who himself had heard the term from another teacher as far back as the 1980’s (so it’s been going on for some time now).  It goes like this … speaking of how district administration handles school board members … “They are ‘kept in the dark and fed a bunch of crap.’”  And so it is!

I can tell you with undeniable certainty that at certain times, top district officials “circle the wagons to get their story straight” and deliberately seek to mislead board members either by leaving out important facts, or burying them in mountains of info on other matters.  Everything runs so much smoother if you don’t give board members enough information to begin asking questions.  Cultivate board members who are willing to smile for the camera and represent the district in the best light… even support board members who currently work in education, whose resume benefits from being a board member in one of the most prestigious districts in the state … give those members The Mushroom Treatment and the effect pays off.

GPS is in a bigger mess than Christina Kishimoto will admit. That’s probably because she is acutely aware that her *national reputation* is at stake. We’d prefer a superintendent who does the job of actually managing the school district, but what do we know?

We can hardly wait to hear more at the November board meeting!  #SaveOurNeighborhoodSchools

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Big Fat Asterisk: October 2016 was the first board meeting the Westies have attended since June 2012. Nevertheless, Christina Kishimoto perjured herself in court by insinuating, in January 2015, that the Westies were responsible for unruly board meeting behaviors since she became superintendent. Kishimoto made a lot of other allegations that easily were provable as false, which are preserved on the audio recording of her court hearing. Luckily, the judge denied the request for a temporary restraining order. Otherwise, the Westies would have had a full-fledged court hearing to prove Christina Kishimoto’s lies … in public.  In retrospect, that would have been a much better outcome for the taxpayers of Gilbert, Arizona who are now paying the price for Kishimoto’s profligate spending and continuing lawlessness. Pay attention, newly elected board members!

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto Destroys Another Neighborhood School

Continuing our report on GPS superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s in-your-face rogue administration, we’ll show you exactly how she used her puppet Justin Sremba, principal of Gilbert Elementary School, to ram through a so-called reform without the knowledge of the GPS governing board.

Smoke and mirrors are an important part of Christina Kishimoto’s hell-bent mission to *reform* Gilbert Public Schools, disrupting student learning and destroying neighborhood schools in the process. When you see the documents liberated through public records requests, you understand why ousted board president Lily Tram resisted any semblance of transparency to GPS management.

The decision to reform Gilbert Elementary School into a Dual Language School for all students has been documented back to January 2016. You can bet the ground was plowed well before then; Christina Kishimoto probably salted the earth as well so that the newly elected board that will be seated in January 2017 would be intimidated if they tried to change things.

In response to a barrage of citizen complaints, GPS board member Julie Smith contacted the superintendent and asked for a report that addressed specific questions:

Governing board members should not be finding out about school-wide changes from members of the community. I am requesting a report to the board completed by Friday, November 4th containing the following information:

** What changes are being made to Gilbert Elementary school as a whole and what is the target initiation date?
** How will this affect current staff at the school and their job status?
** Where are families who do not wish to participate in this program being told to enroll?
** Why were the steps of an application to administration and then the governing board skipped?
** What is the cost of initiating this program?

Christina Kishimoto took false umbrage at the suggestion that this entire fiasco skipped the step of going to the governing board for approval. In her argument, Christina Kishimoto admitted the proposal was not submitted to the board, but might be submitted, if she decided she liked it. Note that this whole shebang is just a *pwocess* and not a done deal, or so Christina Kishimoto tries to imply:

Most of the questions posed by Julie in her email are part of the application that will come to the Board. The question regarding “skipping the Governing Board” approval is not accurate – since draft applications to me are due in December and then they go to the Board if they reflect substantive programmatic/design changes … The board will receive a school design presentation in December or January when the school-based teams have completed their research work. Please let me know if you have any further process questions.

The problem for Christina Kishimoto was that she indisputably was caught in lies and deceptions. She tried telling part of the truth in order to sleaze out of the mess she had made.

A liar knows that he is a liar, but one who speaks mere portions of truth in order to deceive is a craftsman of destruction.”

First, superintendent Christina Kishimoto apparently didn’t know that the principal of Gilbert Elementary School had informed parents that the Dual Language School was already set in stone. Second, she didn’t seem to know that board member Silly Jilly Humpherys had already informed the public that if students at Gilbert Elementary didn’t enroll in the the dual language program, they would be bused off to Burk Elementary School. Third, It’s a sure bet that Christina Kishimoto never expected some “Gilbert Elementary School Council Meeting Minutes” to be produced in response to a public records request.

We have our doubts about the authenticity of the Gilbert El site council minutes. The propensity of GPS administrators to forge signatures and *create documentation* when confronted with their own truthiness has been a subject of much discussion in recent years. Let’s just say that even if these minutes are indeed authentic, they still destroy Kishimoto’s proclaimed consensus for the Dual Language School at Gilbert El. Those minutes show that just a few people (the principal, two teachers, two parents, one classified staff member and one community member) decided to make this major change for an entire campus because it “fits within” Kishimoto’s philosophy.

The site council minutes show the principal presented the entire thing as a done deal from the beginning, and discussions were merely brief pro forma sessions designed to deceive the GPS governing board:

January 27, 2016: Mr. Sremba continued by giving an overview of school enrollment explaining that Gilbert Elementary did have a declining enrollment. He said that the Dual-Language program is very important to the school as it attracts many out of boundary families to the school … In further discussion of the dual-language program Mr. Sremeba said that it fits within Superintendent Dr. Kishimoto’s philosophy on schools and giving choices to families.

February 24, 2016: Mr. Sremba presented the council with the preliminary school design proposal. It is a detailed document with many questions designed to assist schools in moving forward with their design.

March 30, 2016: No discussion about the new school design for a Dual Language School.

April 27, 2016: Mr. Sremba continued by outlining the format for the Dual-Language program for 2016-2017. The fifth grade portion of the program will be cut for next school year due to the number of students.

September 21, 2016: Mr. Sremba continued the meeting with a school design update for the council. He discussed the grant awarded by GPS and how it would be spent on staff development, conferences, site visits and curriculum.

October 19, 2016: Mr. Sremba gave the council an update on the school design time line. He indicated that he would be at a dual language conference on October 20 and 21 so he was waiting to send home letters to families until he returned so he would be available for questions … He went on to tell the group about several school visits he had lined up with staff members to observe dual language programs. He also indicated that he and Mrs. Parra had recently given a presentation at a GPS Principal’s meeting.

Principal Justin Sremba indeed sent letters to families in October. An uproar resulted, which is how the community came to know about this massive change to a school that Kishimoto had orchestrated, using her pet principal as a puppet.*

Email to parents: Over the summer, Gilbert Elementary received a $15,000 school design grant from GPS to help propel our school with the transition to become a dual language school, beginning in the 2017-2018 school year.

For the 2017-2018 school year, kindergarten and first grade (current kindergarten students) will transition to the two-way dual language model … Throughout this process, we will hold informational meetings where you can ask questions and learn more about this exciting transition. We will also keep you informed on the transition through email, letters in backpacks, and through our our school’s webpage.

NOTE: The Gilbert El Principal’s Corner, a major source of communication to parents, welcomes families to the 2015-2016 school year. Sheeeeesh. We’re sure Justin Sremba’s other promised communications will be just as useful [not]. And as easy to find on the school’s webpage [not]. What we have here is another GPS marketing failure within a ridiculous but expensive new website. Double sheeeesh.

It doesn’t sound like there are any decisions yet to be made, does it? As we’ve already seen, it’s decided and done. Obviously, Christina Kishimoto never expected to have to turn over documents proving she lied through her teeth about how the Dual Language School originated. Kishimoto wrote:

The Dual Language School design suggestion came from parents, teachers and community members in the Gilbert El community who cited existing full school design models in neighborhood districts where fidelity to the Dual Language program is stronger and more consistent.

Justin Sremba apparently sent out a survey to Gillbert El parents AFTER the controversy erupted. There’s no date on the form, but it’s the last document in the public records produced, so we figure it was done as window dressing.

If you live in the school’s boundaries  but don’t want your kids immersed in this Dual Language School, Christina Kishimoto has a few words for you:

Families who do not want this particular model will continue to have the option to apply for open seats in other schools.

A member of the community who also is a GPS parent translated: 

So you have a comprehensive, neighborhood school that also has a special program that draws in more kids. Then you make a change that the staff and community don’t want and essentially ask students to leave if they don’t like it, just hoping that they end up at another GPS school instead of a charter, private, or home school. And you say that you’re doing it to address declining enrollment? Since when do you address declining enrollment by telling students to leave? I guess no one in this admin has a marketing degree … or a brain.

Here’s the coup de grace: the student enrollment data for Gilbert Elementary’s Dual Language program doesn’t show the program is popular enough to transform an entire campus into a crucible of Spanish instruction. There aren’t enough enrolled students to show anything at all, actually. This sounds like the smoke and mirrors, errrr, *dater* behind Christina Kishimoto’s push for a new home for Gilbert Classical Academy, a project that’s now estimated to cost more than $5 Million this year to turn out some 50 graduates a year in the future. The problem is that losses of a few students at every GPS campus, which is the reality the governing board faces this year [again] costs the district MILLIONS OF DOLLARS in state funds.

Gilbert El had 548 total students enrolled on the 40th day in 2015; 537 were enrolled this year at the same point. The 40th Day enrollment figures are a very important aspect of state funding for GPS.

Gilbert El Dual Language Program Enrollment:
2012 / 2013 – 94 students (K-5)
2013 / 2014 – 86 students (K-5)
2014 / 2015 – 100 students (K-5)
2015 / 2016 – 102 students (K-5)
2016 / 2017 – 94 students (K-4)

Question: How much money is enough for GPS? Answer: There never will be enough money to fund Christina Kishimoto’s quest for a national reputation.

Question: How do you *reform* a school? Answer: First, you fire all the adults. From her own mouth:

Be scared, Gilbert El teachers and staff.  #SaveOurNeighborhoodSchools

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*Big Fat Asterisk: Start your day smiling with a mental picture of Christina Kishimoto with her puppet principal, Justin Sremba. With her arm up his @$$ like comedian Jeff Dunham and Peanut. Or Bubba J. — we all know Kishi’s not smart enough to handle Walter.

At Stake in the GPS Election: Controlling a Rogue Superintendent

Superintendent Christina M. Kishimoto, Ed.D.Citizens decry that their public school superintendent is lying to the board and to the public about one of her pet projects (again). Explosive discoveries in recent days show GPS superintendent Christina Kishimoto operating behind the backs of duly elected members of the governing board, while at the same time bamboozling the community in her zeal to destroy neighborhood schools as part of her *reforms.* We’ll share texts of public records that show exactly what citizens have reported as Kishimoto’s dishonest and unethical behavior.  As a citizen wrote, “This election is more important than most realize.”

This post will be long, but you can copy and paste the text of emails posted below and share with anyone! Also, there’s a nifty timeline with emails you can print.

Guide to emails shown below:

** Email from principal of Gilbert Elementary School: decision has been made to transition to a total dual language program.
** Email from board clerk Jill Humpherys confirming that decision has been made; the school will close otherwise.
** Email from community member stating parents and staff were not consulted before this decision was made.
** Email from board clerk Jill Humpherys reconfirming decision and stating that students who opt out will be bussed to Burk Elementary.
** Report of email from board member Julie Smith: decision was made outside of board discussion or approval.
** Email from board member Julie Smith to Kishimoto challenging her unilateral decision and asking questions about due diligence matters
** Email from Kishimoto saying she did not make the decision that the Gilbert Elementary School principal and Jill Humpherys already disseminated to the public.
** Email to board from a citizen who FOIAed public records and chastised board members for allowing Kishimoto to usurp their powers.
** Kishimoto’s email with educrat verbiage explaining that the community is too stupid to be trusted with making decisions, so she *empowered* the principal through a *board process* … so sit down and shut up, you fool!
** Citizen’s gutsy reply to board: you should answer my questions.
************************

Back to Guide of Emails

The story begins with an email principal Justin Sremba sent to parents of students at Gilbert Elementary School just before Fall Break, October 10-17, 2016:

Dear Gilbert Elementary families,

I want to thank you for your continued support of Gilbert Elementary. This is an absolutely wonderful school with a lot of meaningful traditions. One of the many traditions we have at Gilbert Elementary includes the dual language program, which has been in existence for nearly 20 years. Over the years, the program has had a huge impact on students and families at Gilbert Elementary.

Over the summer, Gilbert Elementary received a $15,000 school design grant from GPS to help propel our school with the transition to become a dual language school, beginning in the 2017-2018 school year. The money from this grant will be used to help market and promote dual language at Gilbert Elementary, send teachers and staff to receive professional development, meet with other dual language schools to learn best practices for implementation, and purchase a Spanish curriculum. The Spanish curriculum will make language learning a cultural adventure, explore language and culture through explicit presentation, supports all students from beginners to heritage speakers, from struggling to gifted, allows for differentiated instruction, embeds the culture within the world language, aligns with Arizona College and Career Readiness Standards, incorporate the Arizona World Language Standards, and contains assessments.

Currently the model that is being used at Gilbert Elementary is called a one-way model, where one teacher is teaching both languages. This model is not as effective as the two-model, where English learners and native English speakers together, provide high-quality language arts instruction in both languages, while integrating thematic units.

For the 2017-2018 school year, kindergarten and first grade (current kindergarten students) will transition to the two-way dual language model. For example, there will be four teachers in both kindergarten and first grade. Two teachers will be the Spanish teachers and other two teachers will be the English teachers. Students will receive English instruction for 50% of their day and Spanish instruction for 50% of their day. The students will spend the morning with the English teacher and the afternoon with the Spanish teacher (or vice versa). English instruction will include English language arts, writing, social studies, and reinforcement in science and math. Spanish instruction will include the majority of math, Spanish language development, and science. For each year after the 2017-2018 school year, we will add a grade level until we fully transition to a full PreK through 6th grade dual language school in the approximate year of 2022-2023.

There is a very exciting time at Gilbert Elementary where our students will have have an opportunity to be global leaders and compete for future jobs with others from around the world who are also Spanish-speaking. Along with the excitement, there will also be some questions. Throughout this process, we will hold informational meetings where you can ask questions and learn more about this exciting transition. We will also keep you informed on the transition through email, letters in backpacks, and through our our school’s webpage. Please feel free to call or email with any questions you may have. Also, see the back of this letter for more information about dual language. [Duh…this was an email…]

Yours in education,
Justin Sremba
Gilbert Elementary Principal

Back to Guide of Emails

Members of the public contacted board members and the school administrative office and got different stories about this letter from the principal of Gilbert Elementary School. Following is an email from Silly Jilly Humpherys, who obviously was operating without a prepared script:

I had a terrific discussion with [principal] Justin [Sremba] when I was at Gilbert El in September, and we did talk about changes to the Spanish Immersion program. The questions you are asking can be best answered by the principal.

The fact is that we have declining enrollment in our district and we have to take action to turn that around. We must find ways to bring students to our district. That means trying some things that we haven’t in the past.

Spanish Immersion at Gilbert El is one of the oldest emersion [sic] programs in the East Valley; until now the district has not put much effort into helping this program grow. Why would anyone have a problem with working to make a program with a track record for success more well known so that people are aware that they have that option for their children?

I am a big fan of neighborhood community schools! I want to keep schools open and available for our students. I would rather work hard and take some risks than watch schools continue to decline and then close.

If you private message me your phone number, I would be happy to talk with you about any concerns or suggestions you may have. Signed, Jill Humpherys.

Silly Jilly Humpherys wants to talk to people on the telephone because otherwise, people might share her ridiculous written attempts at  justifying anything and everything Christina Kishimoto is doing to destroy neighborhood schools in GPS. We’ll save you the trouble of googling.

Jill Humpherys phone number: 480-633-0792

Back to Guide of Emails

A parent continued trying to get information about the program at Gilbert Elementary School after learning that students who did not want to be immersed in the dual language set-up would be sent to Burk Elementary School.  The email to Silly Jilly Humpherys on October 28, 2016:

So were you not aware of this transition? This is kinda a big transition, I mean you’re talking about possibly moving some population to Burk. According to your other emails you said the board would discuss and vote on larger transitions. I’m seriously concerned that you had to call a principal to find out about this program change. I am hearing parents and staff were not brought into the decision making process. I am literally begging you to go to the campus and ask for the minutes from these meetings (as they are required by law). There will be an exodus of staff if this goes through let alone students. Please follow up on it. Don’t take someone’s word for it. Talk to parents at Gilbert Elementary.

Here’s a gem from the email above: citizens have been searching for minutes of the meeting where this decision was made. The people at the White Castle (GPS district offices) said they don’t have it, go ask at the campus. The folks at the campus claimed none existed. That’s why the parent asked Silly Jilly Humpherys to try and get those minutes herself … the minutes are public records, of course, and the parents stated keeping them is “required by law.” Later in this saga, you will see Kishimoto’s own words to a citizen who filed a formal request for those public records, justifying a decision her minions made to keep those public records secret until after the election.

Citizen: This makes me think it would be bad for Lily’s campaign if those were made public before the election. What is in those minutes? [full email appears below]

Back to Guide of Emails

Again operating without a script, Silly Jilly Humpherys replied, making a bigger mess than before. Notice the cognitive dissonance: “Enrollment at Gilbert El has continued to decline” contrasted with “Many families already seek out Gilbert El for this opportunity.” Then there’s the threat, again, that Gilbert Elementary School will be closed if Christina Kishimoto does not get her way.

I called and talked with Principal Justin Sremba. Gilbert El will be moving to a model of Spanish Language Emersion [sic]where the Kindergarten and First Grade students will have a Spanish-speaking teacher for half the day and an English-speaking teacher for half the day. Mr. Sremba said that he took some of his faculty to visit this type of a program, and they are every excitied [sic] about it. The program will expand by one grade level each year. It is true that those who do not want Spanish emersion [sic] in Kindergarten or First Grade will be bussed to Burk Elementary, and those at Burk who want Spanish emersion [sic] will be bussed to Gilbert El. Students currently at Gilbert El can finish their elementary experience there, regardless of whether they are involved in Spanish emersion [sic] or not. He said that his school site coucil [sic] and community have weighed in on this and are excited about the opportunities. They will also keep the Leader in Me program, as all materials are available in English and Spanish. Enrollment at Gilbert El has continued to decline, so he feels this is a good opportunity to boost enrollment.

I am not a person who likes change, but I also want to win students back to our district. Many families already seek out Gilbert El for this opportunity, so I think this is a logical step to building up a school that we may otherwise end up closing. If you are concerned, I would be happy to arrange an appointment for us to go visit with Mr. Sremba. Signed, Jill Humpherys.

Back to Guide of Emails

A parent emailed GPS governing board member Julie Smith and received quite a different story: 

Hold on to your hats, this is part of the response I got from Ms. Smith. …“This decision has been made outside of board discussion or approval therefore I am unable to answer any of your specific questions. I will be contacting the superintendent about this decision which skipped board approval. From the standpoint of school capacity, Burk has more availability than the other schools you listed which may be the reason for administration’s decision. I apologize that I do not have answers to your questions. Please keep me informed if you are not satisfied with administrative responses.”

Back to Guide of Emails

So Julie Smith emailed GPS superintendent Christina Kishimoto with some direct questions. Thank you, Birdies, for sharing these emails where we could find them!

I have been receiving phone calls, e-mails and individuals approaching me in public about the decision you made to apparently change Gilbert Elementary to a school-wide dual language immersion program.

Governing board members should not be finding out about school-wide changes from members of the community. I am requesting a report to the board completed by Friday, November 4th containing the following information:

** What changes are being made to Gilbert Elementary school as a whole and what is the target initiation date?
** How will this affect current staff at the school and their job status?
** Where are families who do not wish to participate in this program being told to enroll?
** Why were the steps of an application to administration and then the governing board skipped?
** What is the cost of initiating this program?

Provide any supporting documentation showing school committee meetings building to a consensus of this school program design decision.

Respectfully, Julie Smith

Showing that GPS administrators working for Christina Kishimoto have adopted her scofflaw attitude about providing public records on request, Westie has been informed that the minutes of the school committee meetings where these decisions supposedly were made will not be released until after the election. Recall that Christina Kishimoto’s secretary routinely tells parents that the superintendent will not speak to them. Apparently, no one in GPS wants to get caught answering questions from members of the public. Once in a while, though, someone gets some answers. Thank goodness they share!

Back to Guide of Emails

It’s obvious that when she sent this email to board members, Kishimoto was not aware that Silly Jilly Humpherys had gone directly to the Gilbert Elementary School principal for answers to questions. This is how arrogant public officers (that would be none other than Christina Kishimoto, in case you were wondering) are caught lying to elected officials charged with oversight of Gilbert Public Schools.

On Wed, Nov 2, 2016 at 1:53 PM, Christina Kishimoto <christina.kishimoto@gilbertschools.net> wrote:

Board Members,

In response to Julie’s request for clarification, I am sending a response to the entire Board so that we are all on the same page.

During the summer retreat I shared with the Board the process by which schools will submit requests for partial or full school design implementation models. School Principals and their Councils were highly encouraged to explore this process and to use the School Design application to document and investigate their ideas. We had a discussion at the retreat that anywhere from 5 to 7 schools would explore this process and there likely would be three to four submitted applications. Most of the questions posed by Julie in her email are part of the application that will come to the Board. The question regarding “skipping the Governing Board” approval is not accurate – since draft applications to me are due in December and then they go to the Board if they reflect substantive programmatic/design changes.

Gilbert Elementary School is exploring taking their model of dual language to a full school design rather than continuing with an on-again, off-again partial model with incomplete curriculum. While the school is completing their exploratory work, I have received one question about neighborhood district lines, but all of the other comments that I have received have been excitement for a renewed emphasis on language learning.

By allowing Principals the time to share and explore ideas, and engage in research, we can push our thinking around designing schools around students and effective models. I have not approved anything, but I have supported Gilbert El in exploring and documenting this design. In addition, several of our schools presented ideas to one another at the October Principal’s Conference so that they could get peer feedback. Out of this discussion and collaborative, Gilbert El and several other area schools have shared ideas about shared communities.

The board will receive a school design presentation in December or January when the school-based teams have completed their research work. Please let me know if you have any further process questions.

Christina Kishimoto believed she could tell board members this was just another *school design* as if it were just an exploration rather than a done deal. Notice that Kishimoto ignored Julie Smith’s questions.

It’s clear that Kishimoto did not know about the letter to parents sent by the principal — the *done deal* was already set in stone at that point. Silly Jilly Humpherys confirmed not only the *done deal,* but also the fact that students would be pushed out of Gilbert Elementary School if they chose not to be immersed in the dual language program and those students would be bussed to Burk Elementary School.

The GPS community is really, really dissatisfied with this situation: it exposed Kishimoto as operating solo, making decisions and usurping the powers that Arizona law reserves to elected officials, the members of the GPS governing board. The effects on GPS students, parents and taxpayers will be long lasting and expensive … probably long after Kishimoto and her carpetbagger administration high-tail it out of Gilbert, Arizona.

Back to Guide of Emails

Here’s an email sent from a constituent to the GPS governing board:

I have been investigating the Gilbert Elementary decision and have come across some disturbing facts that I want to make you aware of.

As you know, the Principal of Gilbert El already announced to families and staff that the school will begin transitioning to a full dual language school next year. This decision is final and they already have the $15,000 from the grant in the bank.

You are supposed to be voting to decide who receives these grants in December. The principal is scheduled to present to you for approval then even though he already has the money in the bank. Why does he already have the money if there hasn’t been a vote yet? Why have families and staff been notified if there hasn’t been a vote yet?

I sent a FOIA request for the site council minutes. I was told by Gilbert El that they are sitting on the Principal’s desk but that they are not turning them in until Election Day. Why would it take until Tuesday for them to go next door? Couldn’t they also be emailed? This makes me think it would be bad for Lily’s campaign if those were made public before the election. What is in those minutes?

I spoke to someone at the school who serves on the site council. She said they have been discussing it for some time and they did vote to go ahead with it. She also confirmed that nobody outside of that site council of six people had any input; not staff, not parents, and not the board.

Dr. Kishimoto works for you, not the other way around. She cannot make these decisions without your approval.

There are only two explanations that make sense:
1. She is colluding with some board members and not all board members to get this pushed through in December.
2. She is lying to all of you and going behind your backs.

Either of those is unacceptable and extremely unethical.

I have called Dr. Kishimoto’s office to try and get the facts straight from her but Michelle [Coen, Kishimoto’s secretary] told me that she [Kishimoto] wouldn’t talk to me.

I would like a response from each of you explaining your understanding of this matter.

Back to Guide of Emails

Kishimoto talks only to GPS board president Lily Tram, or so we’ve been told, and as the email above implies. Hold on to your hats — this situation has become such a mess that Christina Kishimoto actually answered that email from a member of the public! Gasp!

On Fri, Nov 4, 2016 at 12:33 PM, Christina Kishimoto <christina.kishimoto@gilbertschools.net> wrote:
Please note that your FOIA request was received by district office. FOIA is a district matter, not a school matter. As is our best practice, we will be responding as quickly as possible within our legally required time frame.
[Keyboard: We all know how GPS responds *as quickly as possible* to public records requests. Sheeeeesh.]

The Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board adopted a new Theory of Action codified in GPS Policy Manual BA in 2014 that places greater autonomy on schools, which states in part, “Empowerment and autonomy place decision-making authority at the school level which is closest to the students for effectiveness and efficiency.” When the Board went into retreat to discuss, and at a later Board meeting approve, this policy, there was consensus Board support for this new empowerment approach. In fact, the Board members discussed the GCA and Neely Tradition models as examples of this empowerment approach.

Gilbert El is going through a school design conversation that will be documented and brought to the board for discussion and consideration when they have completed their work. The Board does not pre-approve whether a school community is allowed to have a discussion and complete their research on an instructional model. The time frame for the school design process was discussed in detail with the entire Board at their August 2016 retreat, including the notice that Gilbert El was exploring a whole school Dual Language design. The school will be supported in completing their due diligence in this process and will be allowed to get their work done.

The school did receive a $15,000 planning grant to support their existing Dual Language Program and to explore an expansion into a full school design. Planning grants were also provided to other schools to prepare their research and materials for future Board presentations: Mesquite Jr, Gilbert Jr., Patterson Elementary. The Dual Language School design suggestion came from parents, teachers and community members in the Gilbert El community who cited existing full school design models in neighborhood districts where fidelity to the Dual Language program is stronger and more consistent. I applaud the Gilbert El teachers for wanting the quality and consistency in program that is best for students.

Back to Guide of Emails

Refusing to be buffaloed by a superintendent who is not even licensed in Arizona, the citizen responded to Kishimoto:

To: Christina Kishimoto <christina.kishimoto@gilbertschools.net>

Why then is Gilbert El saying it’s a done deal and that it is happening next year for sure? The principal already sent out an email to families. You are saying one thing they are “having a conversation” and they are saying the decision has been made. Which is it?

Also, I addressed this to the governing board and would like to hear from them.

[Keyboard’s response to courageous citizen: Don’t hold your breath waiting to hear from Kishimoto’s BFF, Lily Tram, or Dr. Charles Santa Cruz who suddenly became missing in action when the heat got too hot.]

Soon all this election excitement will be over. Westie is voting for Frank Underwood this year. FU 2016.   #SAVEourNeighborhoodSchools 

Lily Tram: Please Forget My Dismal Record as a GPS Board Member

Lily Tram wants to be re-elected to the Governing Board for Gilbert Public Schools. Lily Tram hopes that citizens don’t have very good memories of her time on the board.  Please forget that Tram was placed on the board in sleazy political processes that could have taken place only in a smoke-filled back room. Most of all, please forget that Lily Tram made promises to raise GPS employees’ salaries … which she gleefully abandoned at the behest of her new BFF, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto.

First and foremost, please forget that Lily Tram pulled a bait and switch maneuver with money from Proposition 123:

Here’s what the community is saying about the long, long wait for putting Prop 123 funds in teachers’ hands and into classrooms (at least, the part of the funds that are going to classrooms, but that’s another story: 

I fully understand the skepticism of the public regarding 123 funding when too much of it is going outside the classroom. Prop 123 was sold as the way to improve teacher pay, and hopefully in the next school board election, voters will support candidates who will give much more to teachers and staff.
*****

This is why we have lost community support ~ every time you tell the public that this proposition or that bond will help teachers in the classroom and they vote for it, then the teacher doesn’t actually benefit, voters get mad…I don’t blame them. Misrepresentation has degraded community trust.
*****
Spending way too much on technology. Any successful business person will tell you the most important piece to a company is people. Business drives technology. Technology should never drive business. [Also true in public schools!]
*****
Kishimoto had her contract renewed a year early and included for herself a substantial raise. This seems woefully backwards; our teachers still make less than the surrounding districts and there is a huge turnover rate with both teachers and within the business department.

Voters were sold a bill of goods, empty promises that the new funds from Prop 123 would be used for teacher pay and in the classroom. So what did Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and Her Three Votes on the GPS governing board do? Board president Lily Tram made sure the board took those new Million$ and parked them in slush funds! See Board President Tram Falsely Claims GPS Budget has $4.5 Million Deficit.

Lily Tram also wants you to forget that she helped GPS incur huge legal fees that have been paid to her BFF attorneys.  Tram was famous for complaining about the cost and inconvenience of complying with public records laws, but please forget that little detail.

More Monkey Business with Public Records in Gilbert Public Schools:  As for all the redacting, plenty of it was to hide the fact that board member Lily Tram had filed an Open Meeting Law complaint  against a fellow board member. Good Old Lily Tram thought she was being anonymous (or at least, the complaint was not signed) and she got pretty p*ssed when the whole board found out about it.  

Good Old Boys Are Proud of Destroying Public Records:  We wondered why Jill Humpherys and Lily Tram are keeping the public in the dark and objecting to a police investigation about what happened to a GPS server that housed Electronically Stored Information (ESI) that was part of the public record that the GPS board is charged with preserving.

Tram’s disdain for complying with Arizona’s Open Meeting Laws was on full display in November 2015 when she tried to brush off OML violations substantiated by the Attorney General’s Open Meeting Law Enforcement Team. Tram knows full well that when the Attorney General dismisses a complaint without findings that OML was violated, there is no question that there was no violation. Click the link to see a letter about 2014 OML complaints that were not substantiated. Compare that to the letter putting the GPS board and superintendency under six months of OML monitoring. One more comparison: the letter telling GPS to talk about their OML violations during a public meeting because they continued to violate OML.

Please forget *Tram’s Rule* that turned parliamentary procedure into a Rubik’s Cube of maneuvering to prevent board members from putting stuff that Tram didn’t like on board meeting agendas. Tram has been board president a few times, and she’s famous in Gilbert political circles for Tram’s Rule, where she refused to put anything on the agenda for a board meeting until the board members first voted on putting that topic on an agenda. Arizona’s Open Meeting Law doesn’t allow board members to discuss something that’s not on a properly posted agenda, so GPS board members had to vote on whether or not to consider agenda items without knowing what the proposed discussion would be about. Convoluted? You betcha!

Lily Tram wants you to forget that she didn’t show up for some important votes during her years on the GPS Governing Board. One of her most infamous absences was the original vote to close Gilbert Junior High School and *repurpose* the campus for Gilbert Classical Academy.  That vote infuriated voters, who promptly removed two board members who were running for re-election. Lily Tram also managed to alienate a broad swatch of the citizenry with her attitude toward a major controversy, the same controversy that swept EJ Anderson from her seat on the GPS governing board. Westie shared a series of communications between Lily Tram, journalist Hayley Ringle of the Arizona Republic, and a parent of a student at Gilbert Junior High School about Lily Tram making accusations against Gilbert Junior High School parents:

How can you have an opinion that GJH parents are trying to stall when you weren’t at the board meeting when this was decided AND you never bothered to attend any transition committee meetings to see where everyone was coming from? Your presence would have made YOU better informed and then you wouldn’t have accused the GJH parents of trying to “sabotage the focus of student education and in this case students at Gilbert Junior.”

Lily Tram wants you to forget the years she has been on the GPS Governing Board. No wonder citizens are rallying against her!  #SAVEourNeighborhoodSchools

Christina Kishimoto’s New Contract: She Can’t Be Fired. Thanks, Tram!

Many have asked, “Why did GPS board president Lily Tram bully other board members into giving Superintendent Christina Kishimoto a new contract?” Concerned citizens cite such anomalies as the fact that Kishimoto’s contract already ran to 2017, more than a year into the future, when Tram pushed the despicable vote during the normally uncontroversial summer vacation season of 2016. Taxpayers decry Tram’s successful coup: Tram tied the hands of a future board and slipped the noose of Kishimoto’s new contract over their necks.

UPDATE: A few sycophants are claiming that the vote to approve Kishimoto’s new contract was 5-0. Not true, the vote was 3-2, according to the Livestream video and the minutes of the June 28, 2016 board meeting. Note that the new three-year contract was signed by only two sitting board members: Tram and Humpherys. 

During the quiet summer months, Tram rammed through a new contract for Kishimoto, even though Kishimoto’s original contract had more than a year left to run. Now it’s obvious that Tram and Kishimoto have seen the writing on the wall: Tram’s seat on the board is at risk because she double-crossed GPS employees about increasing salaries of teachers and support staff, commonly known as putting dollars into the classroom. Nope, Tram had other priorities! Now, her priority for GPS is MAGNET SCHOOLS!!!

To attain this abhorrent goal, Tram had to ensure Kishimoto wasn’t fired when her contract ended. Apparently, that writing was on the wall, as well. So Kishimoto has a new contract and Alex Nardone, Chief of Staff, (whose position in GPS was justified for just one year when Kishimoto arrived in 2014), is still here and they’re both continuing to make *great progress* in ruining a once stellar school district.

Tram wanted to ensure that Kishimoto’s disgusting school reforms would continue whether or not Tram was successful in her bid for another term on the GPS governing board. Tram and Kishimoto read the tea leaves even before Kishimoto’s disastrous attempts to sway local elections.  The proof is in the text of Kishimoto’s new contractIn addition to usual terms, which of course include both specified and secretive raises for Kishimoto, Tram wanted to be sure Kishimoto could not be fired:

6. TERMINATION OF CONTRACT.
B. Discharge for Cause. The SUPERINTENDENT may be discharged for just cause. Cause shall include, but not be limited to, conduct that is seriously prejudicial to the District, including a serious violation of the Job Description or BOARD policies, procedures and regulations, insubordination, gross negligence in the performance of material duties, SUPERINTENDENT’S willful dishonesty, fraud or misconduct, material breach of this Contract by SUPERINTENDENT, issues involving moral turpitude, issues which constitute a crime or any other behavior that would jeopardize the reputation of the District. Discharge for cause does not include mere mistakes of judgment which do not seriously impact SUPERINTENDENT’S ability to conduct the affairs of the District.

In other words, no matter what Christina Kishimoto does as Superintendent of Gilbert Public Schools, she cannot be fired as long as she claims she made *a mistake in judgment.*  Just imagine what could happen:

Memo to the board: Sorry I had an *alleged* inappropriate relationship with one of my subordinates. Ooops, I gave him a raise; you’ll need to backdate some approval for the $10,000.00 that became public knowledge. I can’t remember what other *special* good deals I gave him. He just wasn’t all that memorable.  Now that I have repented of my little mistake in judgment, it’s all good.
BTW – so what if he answers the door at my house? It’s not like there’s a *moral turpitude* clause in my contract, is there? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
Love, Christina

**************

Memo to the board: Hey, guys, I need some cover on this. The auditors just wrote me up for all kinds of *minor* issues with our financial controls, so you need to tell the Arizona Auditor General that you made changes so these things won’t happen again. That’ll get the bastards off my back while I figure out new ways to do what I want to do. BTW, I have lined up a five star chef to cater your next board retreat and arranged for some *entertainment.* They don’t call our next facilitator Magic Mike for nothing! We’ll go to Peoria this time and make it even more difficult for the public to attend. I’ll forget to post the public notice until someone complains to the Attorney General, then I’ll backdate it. Nothing to see here! <snort>
Love, Christina

Let’s change focus and discuss the damage done by magnet schools, which is becoming all the more evident as GPS showers Gilbert Classical Academy with attention and millions of dollars while watching enrollment plummet at Gilbert Junior High School and Mesquite Junior High School:

The magnet system is further segregating the school systems by worsening the regular public schools in neighboring areas. What must not be forgotten are the existing schools that the less successful and less motivated students are left to attend, and the damaging effects that they face as a result of the magnet school system. Even when a magnet school has no such highly selective admissions criteria such as test scores, most of the students are select: with very few exceptions, students with failing grades, or records of bad behavior or truancy, do not get selected in magnets.

It is the parents’ responsibility to locate the school, assess its offerings, and, from there, make sure that the student fits the criteria to win admission. Interestingly, “another study…found that parents of low socioeconomic status could not participate as often as middle-class parents, due to commuting problems and inflexible work schedules.” Parental involvement as the means for children to enter the magnet school is not a reliable tool. Resting solely on the initiative of the parents, admission has meant only the best and brightest are chosen and the rest are left behind, in isolation.

Getting to what really  matters about Christina Kishimoto’s *school design* mantra and its inevitable failure: 

Designed as a thematic approach, the curriculum of a magnet school generally focuses on the areas of math-science or performing arts programsMagnet schools that draw upon the most successful and highly motivated schools are also thriving on their creed to provide better and specialized education that cannot be attained in an ordinary public school. Given the hopes that these highly motivated children will produce test scores that will attract more dedicated students, it is important to note that the magnet schools have failed to do this.

Unfortunately, magnet schools have directed their focus toward one subject, grouping similar students, but because they focus on the this one major topic, students are failing to gain an education that is equivalent to that of a regular high school regardless of race. Despite the attempt to create an environment that focuses on its academic prowess and providing students with an education that is specialized and unique regardless of race, magnet schools fail to meet their expectations in the main areas of philosophy and purpose, admission and entrance to the schools, and curriculum.

No wonder the public wants Christina Kishimoto fired! Birdies chirp that Kishimoto was a *founding member* of Tram’s re-election committee. Does anyone think that might be another abuse of power by the gal with a master’s degree in Public Policy, obviously intended to keep Tram on the GPS governing board?

Keyboard: That reminds me of the saying, “Tit for tat.”
Westie: Don’t even go there…

#SAVEourNeighborhoodSchools

Gilbert Public Schools: “We have to destroy the district in order to save it.”

Buzz words floating around Gilbert Public Schools among the *superintendency* and the infamous Rubber Stamp Governing Board relate to school design and education reform. GPS is repeating history: “We have to destroy the district in order to save it.” Saving the district amounts to destroying schools with larger populations of economically-disadvantaged students in order to bring *choice.* 

The word *choice* means *magnet schools.* Incumbent board president Lily Tram spilled the beans about the high-faluting eduspeak spewed forth by GPS Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, her Carpetbagger administration and Her Three Votes on the Rubber Stamp Governing Board:

Tram spilled the beans about Kishimoto’s grand scheme of *school design.* Who knew that *school design* is just *magnet schools* warmed over? Now that Tram is basing her campaign for reelection to the board on letting Kishimoto turn what used to be *neighborhood schools* into *magnet schools,* we finally learn what those words mean! Thanks, Tram!

Who would have thought that the Puerto Rican chica from the Bronx would double down on policies and actions that penalize brown kids from Arizona in the name of education reform? That’s exactly what has happened in GPS! First, Kishimoto’s chief minion, Alex Nardone, conspired with newly-elected board member Charles Santa Cruz to shut down the campus of Gilbert Junior High School and *repurpose* it for the special snowflakes that attend Gilbert Classical Academy. Fortunately for the public, a hot-mic accident laid bare their disgusting maneuvers to accomplish Christina Kishimoto’s not-so-secret goal.

Caught red-handed, Kishimoto upped the ante:

Christina Kishimoto is going balls-to-the-wall and Her Three Votes on the Governing Board will do whatever she already told them to do. You would think that these clowns would have some fancy data and technology as window-dressing  for what will be one of the stupidest unnecessary decisions in the history of Gilbert Public Schools, negatively affecting 14,259 students and their families. Again, you would be wrong.

What we are witnessing is GPS pitting neighborhood against neighborhood, parents against parents in a lose-lose situation that will negatively affect every junior high school in the district. Closing  a junior high school in GPS is a knee-jerk reaction to an imaginary problem. Why? Because the numbers show the situation is the exact opposite of what the superintendent and the governing board have been saying in public. A demographic study commissioned by Christina Kishimoto and paid for with your taxpayer dollars shows, “Enrollment at the elementary level is expected to continue to decline, while gains are likely at the middle school and high school levels.”

There’s a dark cloud of institutionalized discrimination within the sunny Town of Gilbert, at least where public schools are concerned, especially now that Christina Kishimoto is superintendent. Kishimoto’s first fusillade was aimed at two junior high schools with the greatest population of Hispanic students, meaning *economically disadvantaged* and defined by the number of free and reduced price lunches served to these students.

Availability of transportation is a major factor for lower socio-economic students. The reality for families in the Gilbert Junior High School community is that allowing students to walk to school greatly affects the education opportunities they receive. Income limitations seem to be something GCA families don’t face. How lucky for the 1% <sarcasm>.

Magnet schools are a failed attempt at social engineering with money that taxpayers intended to be used for public schools for all students.  The Town of Gilbert often claims their highly successful neighborhood schools are a major reason people move to this town. Gilbert attracted affluent residents by the hundreds of thousands with that claim, which used to be true.

In terms of electioneering, we’ll see if Kishimoto continues to bat a thousand … so far, her preferred candidates that she so publicly pushed have been defeated at the polls. Karma!

What happened at the GPS Convocation before school started for 2016-2017, when Queen Christina Kishimoto addressed her loyal subjects and gave them her *charge* to propel their forward motion, would have been funny if it were not just another example of Kishimoto’s arrogant flouting of Arizona laws. Let’s take a look at how she’s so practiced, she can amass countless violations without even breaking a sweat. In other words, it’s business as usual in Gilbert Public Schools, especially since the arrival of Superintendent Christina Kishimoto.

Christina Kishimoto’s preferred candidates sat in the audience during an event she herself convened: “this is not a meeting open to the public.” The audience was not the general public or taxpayers or ordinary citizens of Gilbert. The meeting Christina Kishimoto convened was a private affair in front of some 5,000 employees of Gilbert Public Schools, who now know the selected candidates favored by their Dear Leader. To be sure the message was clear, Christina Kishimoto posted her *endorsement* of Christine Jones for Congress on her own SuperDork Twitter feed. You really can’t make this stuff up!

The utter stupidity of Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s attempts to affect the outcome of the election are surpassed only by the sheer brazenness of GPS Board President Lily Tram’s claims to have lifted GPS out of the gutter during her years on the GPS Governing Board.

Don’t forget about the GCA forum for candidates to the GPS governing board: November 1, 2016, 6:00-8:00 pm, in the GCA Multi-purpose Room. Ask Lily Tram which GPS school is next on the chopping block for *reform.* See if you get an answer!

#SAVEourNeighborhoodSchools

Gilbert Public Schools: Pay Our Teachers, Fire Lily Tram

It’s really this simple … with three open seats on the Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board, voters have two choices with regard to the GPS Rubber Stamp Governing Board:

** Fire Lily Tram — elect three new board members and hope good things will happen, or
** Re-elect Lily Tram — let Kishimoto’s Three Votes destroy neighborhood schools in the name of *reform.*  

Campaigns against incumbent GPS board president Tram and her BFF, GPS Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, are highly visible. As signs posted around the district show, Tram betrayed the constituents who voted for her four years ago:

WE NEED A NEW SCHOOL BOARD
LILY TRAM VOTED DOWN TEACHER PAY AGAIN!

WE NEED A NEW SCHOOL BOARD
PAY OUR TEACHERS – FIRE LILY TRAM

The only reason we haven’t posted videos of GPS Board President Tram caustically saying, “Teachers are paid enough,” is because GPS helpfully destroyed the LiveStream video of the board meeting where she said that. Unfortunately for Tram, many GPS voters were watching the LiveStream video before it was destroyed, and they have not been shy about reporting Tram’s perfidy.

For anyone who is undecided (if that’s even possible at this stage of the election), there’s another GPS Governing Board Candidate Forum scheduled for November 1, 2016. The PTSO folks at Gilbert Classical Academy are hosting this event in the GCA Multi-Purpose Room from 6:00 til 8:00 PM. They say that the public is invited, so here’s your chance to see if the GCA campus is as gross and rundown and inadequate as GCA students claimed when they were campaigning for a new campus back in February of 2016.

The GCA PTSO has a few problems associated with hosting this event … even if *invited,* the public is doubtful. With Tram pushing publicity for the forum, as she has done on her Facebook campaign page, the public is right to be suspicious.

Advocates for Mesquite Junior High School, whose campus is being ravaged for the benefit of the special snowflakes who attend GCA, have stated loudly that they are not co-hosting the event, as the GCA PTSO claims. MJHS folks might attend, but they are right to withhold their endorsement of this goat-rope of an event. In case you’re wondering, we’re not even going to speculate about how legal and lawful this assembly will be, considering how A.R.S. 15-511 regulates election activities at public schools. Tram and her pals defy Arizona laws regularly, just because they can. Why expect anything better from GCA?

Citizens have pointed out that this so-called forum reeks of more GPS Thumbs on the Scale … aggressively weighing in to try to change the reality that GPS top level administrators have screwed up the entire project of reforming MJHS and the campus to placate GCA students, parents and staff, who demand more, more and more of taxpayer-funded resources. Kishimoto and her Carpetbagger Administration can’t make up their minds about what they’re going to do. But, by golly, they’re going to do it come hell or high water!

Some folks are hoping to put Tram on the spot for some of the stupid stuff she has presided over as board president. As if such an experienced politician as Tram would ever deign to answer a question she didn’t like! Nope, she’ll rattle on and on about anything else.

Don’t expect to hear Tram talk about *magnet schools,* even though she already published talking points saying that’s exactly what GPS has done and will continue to do so long as she can cling to her seat on the governing board. After all, Kishimoto really, really needs to keep Tram in the role of board president in order to continue the destruction of neighborhood schools in GPS.

Expect to hear claims that even Tram can’t possibly believe are true. For example, according to her LinkedIn profile, Tram’s job is “Work at ASU Financial Services and handle the accounting for the university. Areas of responsibilities: Accounts Payable, Travel, Financial Controls, and FS/PD Business Operations Center.” Clear as mud, right? It doesn’t help matters that Tram posts that she earned a “Post Baccalerette, Accounting” from ASU West, exposing her illiteracy to the professional world.

The most laughable claim Tram has made is that she has used her accounting and finance skills and knowledge gained as ASU Director to benefit GPS. Circle back to the areas at ASU that Tram *stupidvises* regularly: Accounts Payable, Travel, Financial Controls. When was the last time GPS even attempted to claim those processes were alive and well? Yeah, even the highly paid auditors keep pointing out to GPS that financial management is a joke. Remember, those are your tax dollars that are being wasted, folks. You can expect an accounting in one hand and _(fill in the blank)_ in the other and see which fills up first.

In case you forgot, Tram has a temper … which comes to the forefront when she is challenged. Notice how *nice* Tram has been since her BFF Kishimoto has been stroking Tram’s ego. That says a lot, doesn’t it?

Just remember, folks, that Westie already explained Tram is pretty much removed from reality. Tram’s downright illiterate, as well. That makes her a perfect fit for the position of BFF to Christina Kishimoto, doesn’t it? Birds of a feather flock together

******************
*Big Fat Asterisk: Folks asked if Westie made up those 13 Reasons Voters Are Rejecting GPS Incumbent Lily Tram. No, a concerned citizen wrote that list. It was posted on GPS board member Jill Humpherys’ perpetual campaign Facebook page. Being Silly Jilly, the guest post was removed post haste, but Westie had already scraped the comments for another installment of *a post that writes itself* at Your Favorite GPS Watchdog Blog.  #SAVEourNeighborhoodSchools

13 Reasons Voters Are Rejecting GPS Incumbent Lily Tram

Election Season in Gilbert, Arizona: for Gilbert Public Schools, the utter stupidity of Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s attempts to affect the outcome of the election are surpassed only by the sheer brazenness of GPS Board President Lily Tram’s claims to have lifted GPS out of the gutter during her years on the GPS Governing Board. As you can guess, Tram’s boasts are so ridiculous, citizens have mightily trashed those claims.

Let’s get this show on the road: Thirteen Reasons to Reject Lily Tram’s Candidacy! Once again, this is one of those posts that wrote itself … so take it away, Exalted Voter:

Reasons why I WILL NOT be supporting Lily Tram:
1. Because Superintendent Christina Kishimoto is actively involved in Lily Tram’s campaign, which in a huge conflict of interest.
2. Because Lily Tram has become buddies with Christina Kishimoto and her loyalties have switched to her BFF and not our students, staff, or district.
3. Because Lily Tram fully supports Christina Kishimoto’s Strategic Plan and I think it’s destroying our once-great district.
4. Because I think our staff deserves more … like Prop 123 funds … and Lily Tram thinks they’ve gotten enough.
5. Because I don’t think that Christina Kishimoto should have been permitted to write her own contract extension a year before it expired, giving herself not just an extension, but a raise, and Lily Tram supported her and voted for it.
6. Because having Christina Kishimoto and Lily Tram control the board meeting agendas means that we’ve had things like public comment on the budget put off until the day before the budget was due to the state (just one example of many).
7. Because community schools are what made GPS great and our kids used to get the same education regardless of the demographic of our neighborhood. But Lily Tram and Christina Kishimoto think we need to replace our community schools with magnet schools.
8. Because programs have been cut and class sizes increased due to hard financial times, but Lily Tram and Christina Kishimoto show no indication of restoring programs or reducing class sizes now that more money is available.
9. Because Lily Tram supports spending more money on Chromebooks and less money on teachers, which means our kids are getting more entry level teachers and more screen time.
10. Because we have massive incompetence in several areas of district administration and Lily Tram doesn’t seem interested in holding Christina Kishimoto accountable for those staffing decisions.
11. Because Lily Tram claims that one of her campaign priorities is to address boundaries, but she’s following Christina Kishomoto’s lead to implement magnet schools first and address boundaries after enrollment has “stabilized.”
12. Because it’s common knowledge that Lily Tram knew about Christina Kishimoto’s *alleged* inappropriate relationship with a district employee and helped to cover it up for months. Again, friendship coming before Lily Tram’s responsibilities to this district.
13. Because Lily Tram doesn’t return emails to concerned constituents.
I’m just getting started. I could go on forever! I will NOT be voting for Lily Tram.

Westie performed an autopsy on the GPS 2015 all-mail election that Lily Tram thinks she won single-handedly: 

We’ve already discussed how the Superintendent’s leadership has contributed to the dysfunction of the Governing Board and its disconnect with a large swath of the Gilbert community. Now we have the 2015 divide and it is uglier than before, especially since the statewide school funding lawsuit has been settled. No matter: the usual suspects are still complaining that schools STILL don’t have enough money.

Check out Reason #4 to Reject Lily Tram above: Funds from Proposition 123 have been a political football. At the September 27, 2016 GPS Governing Board meeting, there was an attempt to INCREASE the stipend amount paid to teacher. The facts at the moment included that teachers STILL hadn’t been paid the stipends that had been promised to them from Prop 123 monies. Other Arizona school districts had long ago distributed Prop 123 monies to their teachers; GPS appeared to be holding those funds back for an October surprise to boost Lily Tram’s candidacy.

At the board meeting, President Lily Tram must have been incensed that one of her archenemies, Board Member Julie Smith, proposed to add to the stipend and pay Prop 123 funds to teachers immediately. Why in the world did the Gruesome Twosome of Tram and Kishimoto place this item on the agenda? Ridiculous claims and nonsensical rationale issued forth:

Kishimoto made it VERY clear that she doesn’t think the staff needs ANY more money. For teachers who want to know exactly what she thinks, check out about 2:20:00 into the meeting. She said that the $11 million already given to staff was the “most aggressive adoption” under this board and that it puts them “on par or ahead of their peers in other districts.” Sorry staff, according to her, you don’t deserve anything more than what they already gave ya.

Parliamentary silliness ensued:

Agenda Item 7.03 – Discussion and possible action for teacher stipend enhancement. Mrs. Smith motioned to give the teachers an additional stipend. Seconded by Mr. Colvin. Mrs. Julie [sic] spoke about giving the teachers an additional $250. Each board member made a comment on this item.

Dr. Santa Cruz motioned to table the item to obtain additional information. Seconded by Mrs. Tram.
Final Resolution: Motion Fails
Aye: Mrs. Lily Tram, Dr. Charles Santa Cruz
Nay: Mrs. Julie Smith, Mr. Daryl Colvin, Mrs. Jill Humpherys
Original motion to give the teachers an additional stipend is on the table.
Final Resolution:Motion Fails
Aye: Mrs. Julie Smith, Mr. Daryl Colvin
Nay: Mrs. Jill Humpherys, Dr. Charles Santa Cruz, Mrs. Lily Tram

Someone with half a brain figured out that having Lily Tram on record AGAIN voting against more money for teachers was not very smart in the run-up to Election 2016, when Tram’s seat on the board was already in peril. But, as the comment from a citizen quoted above shows, the superintendent and the governing board were not about to use the Prop 123 monies as promised. What to do so citizens can’t snip perfidious comments and post videos on Youtube to be mocked by thousands upon thousands of voters?

Simple answer, and quite typical of the dysfunctional GPS leadership under President Lily Tram: DESTROY THE TAPES! And it appears that’e exactly what they did. Displaying their shriveled cojones for the wrong reason, GPS hid a message where people were not likely to find it.

Please Note:  The Board Meeting video for September 27, 2016 was not properly saved and therefore was not archived.  A backup file was also corrupted. 

So there! Just try to find the 2:20:00 link to the video that the citizen had posted on social media!

Remember what happened to the Prop 123 money that taxpayers were assured would be used to increase teacher salaries? GPS found *other priorities* for more than half of that money:

Regarding Reason #12 above, you really have to wonder why Lily Tram enabled her BFF Christina Kishimoto in Kishimoto’s  *alleged* inappropriate relationship with subordinate Charles Stevin Smith.

Keyboard: Maybe they let Lily watch.
Westie: Nothing else makes sense. But that’s how GPS rolls these days. 

#SAVEourNeighborhoodSchools


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