GPS Protects a Rogue Teacher’s Disability Harassment of an Elementary Student

Some people have forgotten that educating students is the purpose for which taxpayers pay a THIRD OF A BILLION DOLLARS in public funds to a group of public employees who have lost the trust and confidence of citizens. The story of how badly one child and her parents were treated shows exactly how craven the administration of GPS has become under Superintendent Christina Kishimoto.  “There ought to be a law!” citizens cry. There are laws, but GPS violates them with impunity. Kishimoto’s attitude: “So sue me.” 

One of the laws is FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which gives parents certain protections with regard to their children’s education records. These include report cards, transcripts, disciplinary records, contact and family information, and class schedules. To protect your child’s privacy, FERPA generally requires schools to ask for written consent before disclosing your child’s personally identifiable information to individuals other than you. In the situation discussed below, another statute, Section 504, Education of Children with Disabilities also applies, which GPS also violated without regard for the rights of this student and other students in the class.

The story begins with Patterson Elementary School teacher Bonnie Hickman’s open declaration on Facebook and in her classroom of how many of her students that year had ADHD. One of the students reported to her parents times where her teacher called her out in class for having ADHD, something which should have remained private — this was personal information protected by FERPA. The child also reported to parents that Bonnie Hickman called out other students, in front of the entire class, for their ADHD status.

Further, on many occasions, Bonnie Hickman questioned … in front of the entire class … whether or not those ADHD students had taken their medication. This attitude soon spread among students, who started asking those students identified by Bonnie Hickman as having ADHD if they had “taken their meds yet.” Other times, Bonnie Hickman publicly asked the student who was harassed for having ADHD if her actions in class were the result of not having taken her medications that day. Can you imagine being the child ridiculed by the teacher, in front of the entire class, because the teacher didn’t like something you said or did? Can anyone in their right mind claim this was NOT targeting a child over her disability? [The answer is NO.]

Unbeknownst to the parents who were hearing about this situation from their child, Bonnie Hickman was posting on social media on August 28, 2015 about her students [see image at right]:

Bonnie Hickman:
28 students…11 diagnosed ADD/ADHD (plus me). Yeah, it’s going to be an interesting year.
Jessica Archambault:
One tiny moment at a time. You will impact these kids because you are passionate about what you do. thank you.
Bonnie Hickman:
Yup…one moment is about the amount of attention span we have! So far so good though!
Michelle Stewart-Casillas:
Sorry B…. sending you some patience.
Bonnie Hickman:
Patience! Heck, we need prozac in the air vents!

The fact that Bonnie Hickman was in a position of power over all of her students made disability harassment not only possible, but utterly devastating for her victims. Do you imagine for even a minute that there was only one child in the classroom ridiculed and taunted over the protected personal information about their disability and medical conditions? Can anyone in their right mind claim this was NOT disability harassment? [The answers are  NO and NO.]

Parents reported the situation to Patterson principal Lucas Blackburn on September 25, 2015. At that point, parents just wanted to see the inappropriate comments and harassing behavior stop rather than make a formal complaint. A month later, when parents again approached Lucas Blackburn, he told them a meeting with Bonnie Hickman was already planned. These parents later learned that other parents had reported their concerns about harassment in Bonnie Hickman’s classroom.

Lucas Blackburn met with Bonnie Hickman on November 3, 2015; she took the next day off. When she returned to her classroom on November 5, 2015, Bonnie Hickman told students she had been absent because she was so upset that someone had reported her to the principal, and therefore, certain privileges would no longer be available, particularly to the ADHD students in her classroom.

While the class had free time on November 13, 2015, the targeted student asked Bonnie Hickman if she could assist with anything. Hickman replied, “No,” and asked the student to sit down and read. The child complied, but approached Bonnie Hickman a few minutes later with a question about the book she was reading. Bonnie Hickman replied that she couldn’t help the student just then, and in the student’s words, Bonnie Hickman “hit [me] under my back pockets” and told the child to sit down.

The student wrote a note and left it on Bonnie Hickman’s desk:

“Mrs. Hickman,
I’m sorry I might be sensitive, but that kind of hurt my feelings. You were telling me to read and I asked you a question about my book, you just hit under my back pockets. And it made me uncomfortable. Then you told me to sit down. I am so very sorry for my rudeness. I hope it is ok that I told you. Let me know in private if I was rude or oversensitive. I hope you forgive me.
My apologies,
Student Name”

Bonnie Hickman called the student up to her desk and stated that the child’s note offended her. Bonnie Hickman said, “I will NOT lose my job because of you. I know you were the one that told on me to Mr. Blackburn. You’re going to tell everyone I hit you.”

This was a very, very bad situation, but what happened after the top administrators of Gilbert Public Schools got into the act was just unbelievable. We’ll share more of this story in our next post.

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Calendar alert! October is ADHD Awareness Month. If your child, or someone you know has ADHD, please help them through research, compassion and caring. There’s a special place in heaven for people who overcome disabilities to find love and success in their lives!

If you child has been harassed because of a disability, get invaluable advice here.

Christina Kishimoto Turns a Blind Eye as GPS Violates Privacy Laws with Impunity

Let’s talk about laws that Superintendent Christina Kishimoto flouts: laws protecting the privacy of students and their parents in educational institutions, such as Gilbert Public Schools. Some of these laws are based on civility. However, in the GPS culture as it exists today, administrators and staffers in Gilbert Public Schools  do whatever they want, and they don’t give a flying flip about who gets hurt. After all, someone who has a disability or is homeless should get off Christina Kishimoto’s lawn!

In spite of mixed metaphors above, this is a serious subject, and GPS is doing great harm to vulnerable people. From all that Westie can fathom, it’s the culture of GPS to flip off and disregard any law, comment or criticism that Christina Kishimoto doesn’t like, such as Arizona’s Open Meeting laws. Today, we’ll examine how carelessness, laziness or just plain old orneriness determines what GPS puts into public records … which results in embarrassing and humiliating students, their parents and everyday citizens.

Green Bar reports, also known as vouchers, are published into the public sphere, and the GPS governing board approves those vouchers, most often without comment. One member of the GPS governing board is tasked with reviewing those vouchers before the board votes: that’s Board Clerk Jill Humpherys. Silly Jilly has made many excuses about how hard it is to do her job … man, it requires looking at NUMBERS and doing some critical thinking, and no one applauds, so to hell with it.

Before Silly Jilly Humpherys was Board Clerk, GPS staffers were really diligent about redacting student names, because board members reviewed line items and called out questionable entries. Now that Lily Tram is Board President, Silly Jilly Humpherys is Board Clerk and Christina Kishimoto is Superintendent, there’s a culture of indifference about releasing students names. With that introduction, you know we’re going to focus on evidence of violations of law shown in those vouchers, don’t you?

In recent months, GPS has been releasing the public records in those green bar reports in ways that violently trample personal privacy for vulnerable people. Some such victims are students with disabilities, some are parents who are reimbursed for transporting their differently abled children to schools (and saving GPS some big bucks by doing so). When the green bar reports show the name of the parent who is reimbursed for transportation expenses, it’s easy to extrapolate that their children have some sort of disability. Some people, including Westie, believe this violates privacy and flies in the face of civility. Do you really care if your neighbor down the street is transporting their disabled child to school? Why would GPS want to publicly reveal that information?

Sometimes, GPS posts the names of students in the green bar report. We are not going to show examples in this post; when GPS does this, it’s a repugnant violation of privacy. Even worse, it violates federal laws that protect personally identifiable information about a student. That law is FERPA, but it has no teeth because there’s no private cause of action for parents whose children’s privacy has been violated. The biggest deal is that maybe the federal government will withhold federal funds … and pigs will fly. You get the idea.

Examples of GPS detestable violations of privacy in June 2016 include a Psychoeducational Evaluation for a named student, “not to exceed $1,800.00.” There’s a transportation reimbursement not to exceed $700 to a parent whose child’s name is helpfully placed in parenthesis in the line item. Actually, there are several ways that GPS makes sure the child’s name is connected to a parent who was reimbursed for providing disability transportation.

There are several entries for “McKinney Vento” in the green bar reports. That’s not the name of a parent or child, that’s the name of a program that provides federal funding to states for the purpose of supporting district programs that serve homeless students. GPS has no compassion for homeless students; they just put the names of some of those kids out in public and make sure everyone knows they’re McKinney Vento kids. Sometimes, GPS tells you what school a homeless child attends. Are you disgusted yet?

These children and teens, 29,537 total, are enrolled in our public schools and many struggle daily, isolating from peers, missing class, repeating grades, and even dropping out of school entirely. The devastating impact of homelessness creates a wedge to social relationships and learning.

It doesn’t have to be a total invasion of a student’s privacy to cause irreparable harm; teenagers are notoriously easy to humiliate. An example: GPS told a story about WHY the parents received a refund in a Green Bar comment: “Parents pulled the student off the **** team due to grades.” No, the redaction isn’t a vulgar word, it’s just a type of team, but including it here might embarrass said student, who might have given a completely different reason to teammates and friends for being off the team.

More examples, going back to September 2015: nursing services for a number of GPS students, identified by name, school and cost of services provided to the student. Some are eight hours a day, five days a week at various GPS schools; most are listed as costing thousands of dollars. There’s another Psychoeducational Evaluation for a named student, “not to exceed $2,175.00.” Plus an IQ test for $300.00 for a named child. The list of  “student refunds” and “student lunch account” refunds name individual students and their parents.

GPS can do whatever Christina Kishimoto says (or turns a blind eye to), so suck it, parents and kids! There’s a densely worded policy that allows Christina Kishimoto to give away or sell your child’s personal protected information and you will never know about it.  A GPS permission form is sent out each year. Or not. It’s an opt-out policy, so good luck proving you never saw this form, parents! Obviously, anyone can set up bogus bank accounts or get a drivers license or do any number of nefarious things with the protected personal information parents gave GPS, expecting that such information would be actually PROTECTED:

STUDENT RECORDS (GPS Policy JR-EB)
Designation of Directory Information

During the school year, District staff members may compile nonconfidential student directory information such as: The student’s name, date and place of birth, address, telephone number, grade, school of attendance, most recent school attended, diplomas, awards and honors received, major field of study, and record of participation in officially recognized activities (sports and school events), such as weight, height, and team number.

According to state and federal law, this directory information as identified above may be publicly released without permission of parents. However, if you do not wish any or all of the above information released about your son/daughter, you may so request by signing the form at the bottom of this page and returning it to ____________, principal, within __ days. If this notification is not received, we will assume that your permission is given to use your son’s/daughter’s directory information as described above.

Even the GPS go-to attorneys warn against the kind of thoughtless, lawless  and cruel conduct that GPS has institutionalized as district policy. Here’s what GPS attorneys advise … advice that GPS and Christina Kishimoto ignore … because they can:

Personal Information

It is important that information that would personally identify the student be kept private. This means that information cannot be provided to the public if a person would be able to reasonably identify the student from the information provided.

When a complaint regarding student privacy arises, it must be handled appropriately. All complaints need to be taken seriously. Immediate action is required. First, steps must be taken to ensure that there is not a breach of security. Then, the complaint should be researched to determine exactly what the complainant alleges was improperly disclosed. Some complaints can be easily resolved, while others may be serious and require the involvement of the school or district’s attorney.   Administrators should have a plan in place to resolve complaints.

GPS doesn’t need parental consent to release this information, either. Because Christina Kishimoto says so. Suck it, parents and kids! The lawyers say otherwise:

Freedom of Information
Information is allowed to become public unless it falls into a protected category. Student information generally falls under the category of a protected interest, which is personal privacy. Providing personal information to the public could be harmful to the child, even if he is no longer a student. The files are deemed private forever. It is essential that only specified employees have access to school records.

Perhaps you can guess that Westie’s next posts on FERPA violations are going to be fugly, as opposed to the *minor* examples discussed here. Stay tuned!

Gilbert Public Schools Has a New Logo!

Communications is a real problem for Gilbert Public Schools; this hapless school district is in desperate need of true professionals to bring order to the current chaos. Since GPS can’t seem to manage its way out of a paper bag, it’s Westie to the rescue! 

GPS doesn’t understand *branding* or marketing or public relations, so we’ll start helping by giving GPS an image that is spot on. Announcing the NEW GPS LOGO and marketing slogan!

Gilbert Public Schools: S.H.I.T. Happens Here
Scholarship, Honor, Innovation, Technology

Notice that this new logo introduces a concept that is totally lacking in the hierarchy of GPS, starting with the governing board and continuing to the administrators residing in the White Castle: HONOR.  When was the last time you associated the word honor with GPS? We thought about wrestling with the word INTEGRITY in the new GPS logo, but it would be a bridge too far for now. In the past two years, have any of those Top Dogs in the White Castle shown any familiarity with the word INTEGRITY?

You can see why we figured that adding HONOR would be such a stretch for the current crop of GPS Top Dogs, but going for INTEGRITY would be just too much for these bumbling fools.  We’ve all seen how Christina Kishimoto pats herself on the back and takes credit for all the work that other people do, and rewards only those persons in her line of sight. It takes a *special* kind of manager to be so obtuse, but Kishimoto’s got it down pat: lots of resources for the special few, and kicking out kids who cost too much or might bring down the district’s ratings. The top priority of the current group of scalawags and carpetbaggers in the White Castle seems to be the *national reputation fixation* that’s so important to Kishimoto. Sheeeeesh.

Communications failures are nothing new; that’s one of the big reasons Christina Kishimoto was fired from her last job as superintendent on a 7-0 vote. Let’s look at contemporaneous reporting from 2011 about Christina Kishimoto’s failures in Hartford, Connecticut, before she was hired on a 3-2 vote to be Superintendent of Gilbert Public Schools. What was her biggest failure? Communications. In her own words:

Kishimoto: I think the piece that I would agree with, that we often hear about that we did not deliver on as strongly and need to correct very quickly is our whole communications plan that’s the backbone of our school reform work. We did a lot of communication, but in a very piecemeal manner and not necessarily with a full communications team or a full-fledged communications plan. 

Communications is the Achilles Heel for GPS, current marketing failures are intrinsically related to this concept as Kishimoto repeats her personal history without learning from it. Anything to do with marketing Gilbert Public Schools isn’t even on the horizon until Kishimoto figures out what she’s selling in terms of what GPS can offer students and their parents.

For example, in pursuit of new marketing ploys and inept communications practices GPS has a new “Full Time Multi-Media Journalist.” Introducing Eduardo  [or Ecuardo, depending on which GPS document you see] Hernandez, whose new salary officially is $47,476.00. This being GPS, you never know how many *stipends* and *bonuses* are handed out in the Line-of-Sight Management that prevails in the White Castle, so his total pay might be a whole lot more.

[Go ahead and weep, GPS teachers … this dude is paid more than you are. Since he’ll be in Christina Kishimoto’s line of sight who knows how many wonderful bonuses and promotions are in his future?]

Want to see what he does for a living now that he’s ensconced in the GPS Temple of Doom? Here you go: For GPS’ Transportation staff, safety begins before school does!  Here’s another apostrophe pretender, apparently hired by the inept GPS Director of Communications to make herself look better in comparison. You could ask if the new community relations staffer is being paid by the word, which would be completely justifiable given the text of his article linked above, but we already told you Eduardo Hernandez has quite a hefty annual salary. So does his boss, Irene Mahoney-Baloney-Paige, even though she’s proven her ineptness in countless ways. BTW, dude, we hope GPS gets your name right on your paychecks! You might be luckier than the many GPS employees who STILL are not being paid all they’re owed. Sheeeeesh.

[GPS teachers, if you prefer a good crying jag to simply weeping, we totally understand.]

UPDATE: Now we know why GPS wanted to get some *good news* out in public about the GPS school bus fleet: Arizona school buses failed almost 30 percent of safety inspections in 2015. You know Westie will dig into this heaping pile…

Things are so bad in the White Castle, Christina Kishimoto decided to send Irene Mahoney-Baloney-Paige to *finishing school* at the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce *Academy.*  Christina Kishimoto must be banking that no one will ask HOW or WHY attending the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce finishing school contributes to the GPS mission of educating students. At least, that will get Irene Mahoney-Baloney-Paige out of the Community Relations office a lot. GPS probably is paying Irene Mahoney-Baloney-Paige’s $800.00 tuition fee, so keep a watch on those Green Bar Reports!

Earlier this year, when the board was pretending to consider how to use new funds from Proposition 123, many members of the community were telling the GPS board and superintendent that the new budget proposed by Christina Kishimoto was wrong for the district. The *official* GPS administration response: telling teachers to quit writing to board members.

Here’s a sample of what teachers and community members were writing, which is far superior to what the GPS Communications Department puts out:

Please put prop 123 funds where they were advertised to go … to teachers, support staff, and our classrooms. New positions in the district office are not a priority. A videographer is not a priority! A $100,000 Marketing plan is not a priority. Salaries and class sizes should be the priority!
*****
Please do not pass the proposed budget as submitted. Our staff and our classrooms deserve to be a priority. Adding district-level positions is not our priority.
$100,000 for a marketing plan is not a priority (or even necessary, period!).
*****
I really think you need to stop the district spending flood gates and readjust the priorities. The past year’s spending has produced nothing but issues and even more spending. For example the Chromebook purchase turned out to be the biggest waste and most of them are damaged or don’t charge anymore. Now GPS has to go out and spend even more money to buy new Chromebooks with no guarantee that they will be any better. Our communication and marketing department staff has proven to not be qualified for their positions. They have produced many materials with many errors and poor quality images that reflect poorly on our district and its not working. As a result, we are losing more and more students.
*****
I know many have contacted your over the Proposed Budget. One of the items listed I am concerned about is the $100,000 for a marketing plan. For the last two years many have shared concerns regarding our PR department, with little to no improvement. Please look over the existing Marketing Plan. It seems very little of it has been executed over the last two years. What has been executed has been questionable quality. Social media is free and we can’t seem to get that right.
*****
WE ALREADY KNOW WHAT WE SHOULD BE DOING. Why would we pay someone to tell us that we should be posting student and staff accomplishments on social media? It’s FREE, it’s easy, and we know we should do it. BUT WE’RE NOT DOING IT.
*****
Yesterday, I took the third GPS parent survey in a couple months. First an email survey, then the phone survey, and now another email survey. Is anyone else wondering the same thing as I am? If this administration is so concerned about knowing what we think, why did this Superintendent kill the long-standing Parent Superintendent Council? She inherited a group of 41 parents who were involved in their school communities, who sat in a room with the superintendent and assistants once a month specifically for the purpose of sharing information. Previous administrations knew what we thought — because they asked us. Two-way communication. It was good and it was FREE. But because this Superintendent has intentionally isolated herself from parents, she’s now spending time and money to conduct survey after survey to find out what we think. Or perhaps it’s not about finding out what we think, but instead, being able to say that she’s “improving communications” in order to get her performance pay.

Folks are going to continue jumping ship and leaving GPS. Nothing is going to get any better until Kishimoto and her minions finally accept that without honor as part of the equation, GPS has nothing to offer. Zip. Nada. Zilch. When public employees have no concept of of their word is their bond (i.e. HONOR), no one in the community will believe them. No one wants their children to be educated in such an immoral environment.

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Below is a larger image of the new GPS logo. Use it when ever and where ever you wish! Email Westie if you want the new GPS letterhead.

GPSlogoLG

 

Happy Birthday – Westie Connect is Four Years Old!

As always, we are truly grateful to our audience for hanging in and hanging out with us. This birthday, just like those in the past, comes with the same old stuff from Gilbert Public Schools:  wrongdoing by a coterie of self-important educrats in ways that boggle the mind. With rampant secrecy and self serving behavior, GPS is bound and determined to continue violating laws [with little or no consequence … sheeeeesh] and commencing with even more than the *usual* profligate spending of public funds to benefit a favored few. 

In the past year, GPS has racked up some incredible charges to taxpayers, spending thousands upon thousands of dollars of public funds, for CATERING — mostly for Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and her Top Dogs in the GPS administration, but also for the GPS Governing Board. Catering for the Governing Board probably would add up to more money if there were more than five people on the board. They must love to eat! The GPS staff especially enjoys the superintendent’s meetings at restaurants at public expense. Lower level admins mimic their boss. Even Student Funds have been used to pay for staff meals! Some standouts:

*** Speaking of stuffing faces at taxpayer expense, Silly Jilly Humpherys was so impressed with Christina Kishimoto’s third annual convocation, Silly Jilly took photos of the muffins served at the event and featured them on her Facebook page.
*** Generous Christina Kishimoto also spent $3,557.00 [no purchase order, either!] for *signature pins* at her convocation. Nothing is too good for GPS employees, right?
*** Superintendent Christina Kishimoto spent $218.82 for flowers for her coronation  convocation. We can’t have board members attending this outdated assembly without wearing corsages and boutonnieres!* Again, Silly Jilly Humpherys put photos on her Facebook page so you can determine for yourself if those corsages  did anything at all towards educating students, which is the mission of Gilbert Public Schools.
*** Somehow, that *non-public* coronation event became a political beauty pageant for various political candidates who kiss Christina Kishimoto’s ring (the one in her back pocket).
*** Favorites among GPS employees (mostly Top Dogs) traveled near and far as part of their usual taxpayer-funded extravaganzas. Hello, Tucson! Hi there, Baltimore! Napa Valley for the win! ¡Muchas gracias, Albuquerque! You get the idea…

Even though voters passed Proposition 123, which GPS and other educrat organizations advertised as essential for putting more money into teacher salaries, the GPS board had other plans, and there was nothing the public could do about it. Here’s how Lily Tram crafted the GPS  governing board’s budget for that bucket of money:

UtilizationProp123Funds

Funny thing, there were bits and pieces of Million Dollar Proposed Expenditures that fell short of the total amount of funds that supposedly were available. What’s a few hundred thousands of dollars when they get siphoned into slush funds controlled by the Superintendent or Her Designees? Yep, *Her Designees* are official in GPS now … *Her Three Votes* said so. Anyway, it’s all irrelevant because the board is laser focused on Christina Kishimoto’s *national reputation fixation.* Everything in GPS was devoted this past year to giving GCA a new campus, even as its national rating plummeted. You didn’t really believe Kishimoto’s guesstimates of just a few Million Dollars for this Great Mesquite Junior High School Annihilation boondoggle, did you?

Everything GPS touched seemed to turn to ___(fill in the blank)___. None of the big initiatives worked. GPS lost more than 500 students that the carpetbagger crew expected to enroll in August 2016, and they don’t know why.  Kishimoto spent $MILLIONS of DOLLARS on Chromebooks for all and new payroll technology, but GPS still can’t figure out how to pay employees the wages they are owed. GPS admins seemed to have no concept of the irony as they bragged about Kishimoto’s new and improved website. Silly Jilly Humpherys wanted to send all the idiots in GPS to work at Walmart. Christina Kishimoto bragged that the Hostage Clause binding employees to the district worked; in the end, GPS simply didn’t list all employee losses in the usual public records, so the local news media assumed employee losses were a thing of the past. Too bad this was never true. In fact, GPS started the new school year with an unprecedented number of classroom vacancies because smart educators know better than to cast their lot with these GPS morons. Slime Bucket Suzanne Zentner found new and improved ways to disguise the slippery slope decrease of employee experience levels in HR reports. Was it just a coinkydink that her little feat of legerdemain also made it difficult, if not impossible, for GPS employees to compare notes on what salary levels were awarded new hires? Especially after that wage inequality had become a HUGE morale buster in the past two years?

Christina Kishimoto, whose contract had another year to run, was gifted a completely new three year contract by her Rubber Stamps … with a nice fat raise that was cutely hidden in the *fine print* of all the legalese that promises she can get away with murder and still be superintendent. Thanks, Lily Tram! Silly Jilly Humpherys giggled her way through board meetings and ignored her duties as board clerk (all those big numbers!) but she sternly lectured the community when the superintendent was called out for her *alleged* improper relationship with a subordinate … who apparently was promoted and given a big fat raise that was never approved by the governing board. These events occurred some time after Christina Kishimoto kicked her disabled husband to the curb. Good Old Charlie Santa Cruz, elected as the loudmouth gang’s great hope to knock some sense into GPS, spectacularly failed to do as he was charged by the electorate as he struggled to string together enough words to make a complete sentence. To be fair, Charlie’s still searching for the balls he lost somewhere along the way.

When will GPS shed this mantle of corruption and focus on educating students? ¡Cuando Colón baje el dedo! And if you complain about Christina Kishimoto’s *alleged* inappropriate relationship with her subordinate, or criticize anything else she has done as GPS superintendent, she’ll cry. So take that, you meanies!

Happy Birthday to Westie! There’s still a lot of work still to be done. Here, have some cake. [No, Christina, you already had yours.]

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*Big Fat Asterisk: Kishimoto and her gal pals are now more than ever in serious need of fashion advice. The sad thing is, these apparel offenders come from six-figure households. They can afford better [many teachers and most support staff cannot afford to indulge in high fashion, we know]. The bottom line is that showing up at an event looking like you just rolled in from working in your yard is not respectful. Maybe Adelaida Severson could tutor those GPS women, or at least share the name of her personal shopper.

Gilbert Classical Academy: It’s not just state rankings that are falling!

With the focus on a new home for Gilbert Classical Academy consuming all the oxygen at the White Castle of Doom (i.e. GPS district offices), you would expect that GCA must be thriving and accomplishing magnificent achievements worthy of great praise. It’s not. This mindless pursuit of more, more and more money for GCA just happens to suit Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s wild-a$$ed quest for a *national reputation* so she can move on to greater things in life. 

GCA’s decline in terms of SAT scores has been staggering. The good folks at Phoenix Business Journal have been keeping tabs on the rankings of high schools throughout the state of Arizona for the past few years. From the link, you can access ratings going back to 2012, which show a loss of almost 200 points on the SAT (not that most reasonable folks believe a child’s future should be so dependent on one standardized test):

The stats show consistent declines in statewide rank as well as average SAT scores:

~ In 2012, GCA ranked #4 in the state with an average SAT score of 1904.
~ In 2013, GCA ranked #5 in the state with an average SAT score of 1832.
~ In 2014, GCA ranked #10 in the state with an average SAT score of 1793.
~ In 2015, GCA ranked #12 in the state with an average SAT score of 1719.

In a map showing the top 10 public high schools in the Phoenix valley, GCA doesn’t even appear. Yeah, we all know that GCA operates like a charter school by throwing out students who might bring down ratings  but GCA doesn’t even come close to achieving what the top rated charters accomplished, as shown in these rankings.

Christina Kishimoto’s maniacal focus on making GPS a district of magnet schools is based on her ridiculous quest for a national reputation, destroying neighborhood schools in the process. Citizens of Gilbert will see their children’s bright futures fade as Kishimoto and her Rubber Stamp Board focus on lavishing money and perks on Top Dogs in the district staff … and on GCA.

Charter schools have made it to the top of the rankings, and their progress over the past few years (at least, according to Phoenix Business Journal) has been steady and unassailable. Gilbert Public Schools, on the other hand, has lost students and staff at unprecedented rates, while the GPS Governing Board blindly follows the path laid out by the superintendent.

That path, however, hasn’t led to glory, although you would never know it by the way Kishimoto brags about the smallest *accomplishment* that occurs on her watch.

“Hey, I held an employee health and wellness fair!”
“The exciting new website …. never mind.”
“I was nominated for businesswoman of the year by my pals at the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce!”
“One day, parents will come to my parent university, since I built it (with your money).”
I discovered the Internet!  I bought 30,000 Chromebooks and by golly, your kids are going to use them!”

More about 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.

We’re already seeing the devastating effects on Mesquite Junior High School as part of the Great GCA Annihilation of that traditional campus. No more popular electives … Christina Kishimoto has decided GPS needs ANOTHER school specializing in Athletic Training! Obviously, students at Mesquite Junior High School, which ranks on the lower scale of socio-economic status in the district, won’t be able to attain academic excellence in the range that will boost Kishimoto’s national reputation, so who will notice when GPS sticks it to those poor  brown  lesser kids?

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 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.

A parent nails it: 

When Kishimoto says it’s what the “community wants” what she means is that it’s what SHE wants and she doesn’t give a &$#@ what the community wants. Time to wake up, GPS board member Jill Humpherys. Kishimoto’s been pushing magnet schools ever since she got here and she’s had your full support. The “community” has been yelling for 2 years that we want comprehensive schools where our kids get the same education regardless of our neighborhood or income level. We’ve always had schools that had unofficial specialty areas, but they’ve always also offered well-rounded programs to address the needs of all students. That’s what made Gilbert great. When will this admin figure out that they’re causing the mass exodus by these decisions?

So what’s next for GPS? Kishimoto will build schools for gifted students … because Silly Jilly Humpherys wants them. “Let’s warehouse the gifted kids, like we ship off the Special Education kids! This way, gifted students will know just how *special* they are.” Pay attention, citizens of Gilbert, Arizona: birdies chirp that students and staff at Canyon Valley School will be moved to the dilapidated campus that GCA vacates … so the Canyon Valley campus can be *reformed* as a gifted academy. As we’ve seen many times, Christina Kishimoto is hell-bent on *reform* … those  poor  brown  lesser kids don’t deserve the campus they have now, so we’ll give it to the gifted kids! In other words, the  poor  brown  lesser kids won’t even notice the squalor that GCA students described:

Kids’ reports included mice sitting on the flag pole in the classroom during the Pledge of Allegiance. Roach infestations, along with ants and spiders. Big spiders. Mold issues that have not been addressed. Floors so decrepit, masking tape defines the places to NOT step because your foot will go through the floor. The portables are falling apart, and students can punch holes in walls that are barely held together. Their chairs break with such regularity, one GCA student said it’s a game to see whose chair will break next.

Earth to Jill Humpherys: there’s more than just a slight chance that those  *fabulous* GPS gifted kids will find themselves at serious risk when they go to college. Like GCA students, they’ll have an academic upbringing as *special snowflakes* who were pampered at school as long as they made the grades expected of them. One university’s experience is a cautionary tale, showing what could go wrong in an educational environment like what GPS is going to build, come hell or high water:

East Carolina University is offering a new program for its students: “Adulting.” The idea is to teach kids coping skills, including how to deal with the trauma of getting a “C” grade. That’s the generation arriving at college now, unable to cope with a rotten roommate, or rude remark. We raised them to depend on adults to solve their problems, so it’s no surprise that that’s exactly what they’re doing.

More about Lily Tram and the Looming GPS Magnet Schools Implosion

The Governing Board President of Gilbert Public Schools recently let the cat out of the bag in her campaign to retain her seat on the board: Lily Tram clarified for everyone in Gilbert, Arizona (and parts of Mesa, Arizona that are in the GPS district boundaries) that Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s grand *school design* scheme is simply a warmed-over version of MAGNET SCHOOLS.

Yep, that failed vision of education reform, magnet schools, is coming to GPS with a vengeance. Say goodbye to your neighborhood schools. They’re going to be replaced with magnet schools, because Christina Kishimoto is going to be superintendent until 2019, thanks to Lily Tram’s *bleedership* on the GPS governing board.

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.

Click the image above for an expanded story of how magnet schools have morphed into something that was never intended:

We should recognize that it never made sense for one warehouse of a school to hoover up such a big chunk of the city’s whiz kids. Better to spread gifted and talented kids across a wide range of schools offering different instructional models, each of which will do a better job of meeting their students’ needs … none of which, hopefully, will pride itself on its “eliteness.”

Apparently, Kishimoto didn’t tell Her Rubber Stamps, especially Tram, that magnet schools SUCK! They don’t work as advertised, but they consume countless of millions of dollars as some corrupt school district superintendents burnish their reputations so they can get higher-paying jobs. The key is for said reputation-burnisher to get out of the magnet school district before the truth becomes known:

When educational leaders decided to create magnet schools, they didn’t just get it wrong, they got it backwards. They pulled out the best and brightest from our communities and sent them away. Schools adapted, and quickly. We tightened security, installed metal detectors, and adopted ideas like zero-tolerance. And neighborhood schools, without restrictive admission policies based on test scores, quickly spiraled downward — somewhat like an economy.

Now, hundreds of millions of dollars later, we are no closer to meeting the needs of the struggling student, but the system has created collateral damage, namely the great middle, who are forced every day to go to class in a school that is more unchallenging, unwelcoming and dangerous than it has to be.

The system as it is stratifies communities. By the time they graduate high school, many of the brightest kids already feel alienated from their neighborhoods; after all, they spend the majority of their day somewhere else.

Even former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan calls the magnet school efforts a failure in terms of desegregating urban schools:

Duncan said the department poured millions of dollars into magnet schools, public schools with a specialized focus or curriculum designed to draw a diverse group of students. Some, like those in Hartford, Connecticut, are making a big impact, but the program largely failed to make a noticeable difference integrating the country’s schools. “I don’t so much blame those districts and schools,” he said. He posited that perhaps his department didn’t ask grant recipients the right kinds of questions, or didn’t give the money to the right places … The country “can and should do more” to integrate schools, both by race and income, he said.

Let’s look at Hartford, Connecticut, from whence Kishimoto hails, to see how magnet schools made “a big impact,” in Arne Duncan’s words. We already know the end of this story. Countless students are *counseled out* or fail out of magnet schools, and they transfer to comprehensive schools. GPS has been running this same scam in Gilbert Classical Academy for the past ten years, and boasting about how GCA ranks nationally AFTER culling the crop of students each year. There’s a reason school districts engage in this misleading and despicable practice, and the folks in Hartford know it well:

The school where students are enrolled at the end of their fourth year of high school is accountable for their graduating or not. To illustrate this, picture a comprehensive high school and a magnet high school both starting with a class of 500 students. Both successfully graduate 80 percent, or 400, of those students. After their second or third year, though, 100 students who are getting behind at the magnet school transfer to the comprehensive high school.

Because they are behind, they do not graduate within four years from the time they started high school. The comprehensive high school would be reported as graduating 400 of 600 students or a four-year cohort graduation rate of 67 percent. The magnet school would be reported as graduating 400 of 400, or a four-year cohort graduation rate of 100 percent.

After assessment of the entire system surrounding the magnet programs, one may conclude that magnet schools are better defined as another segregated school within a segregated system.  A Refining of Magnet Schools: The Segregated System.123HelpMe.com. 15 Aug 2016      

A school district in Florida provides a cautionary tale for citizens concerned with Kishimoto’s *school designs* for Gilbert Public Schools. Read the whole series of articles and weep — this is what Tram and Kishimoto plan for GPS: 

On Dec. 18, 2007, the Pinellas County School Board abandoned integration. They justified the vote with bold promises: Schools in poor, black neighborhoods would get more money, more staff, more resources. They delivered none of that. This is the story of how district leaders turned five once-average schools into Failure Factories.

Vote for Westie for Superintendent on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. 

Tram Spills the Beans About *School Design* … It’s Just Magnet Schools

Election season has become quite partisan and personal in Gilbert, Arizona, and this year is no different. Three open seats on the Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board are on the ballot in the November 2016 election, a situation that Superintendent Christina Kishimoto is desperate to control so she can continue to have a rubber stamp for her destructive policies, programs and politics … and keep that taxpayer money gravy train chugging along. 

Every once in a while, a politician screws up and lets the truth out. That happened this year when the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce held a forum featuring candidates for school board in the Gilbert and Higley school districts. It seems to be a tradition that the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce starts their electioneering really early. So early, not all candidates have filed their election papers making them official candidates for the GPS Governing Board. But that doesn’t bother the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce … they put their thumbs on the scales and don’t care who is watching or which candidates they *accidentally* omit. Election year after election year. Sigh.

Current GPS board president Lily Tram apparently wrote her own talking points for the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce. Most people already know Tram isn’t very literate, as Tram’s talking points prove anew. What’s surprising is that Westie hadn’t realized how much Tram is simply a disingenuous mouthpiece for GPS superintendent Christina Kishimoto and her inept staff. Yes, we had our suspicions about who was driving this bus, but Tram’s talking points gobsmacked ole Westie with the highly unusual candor in addition to the usual inanity. Now we all know exactly what Christina Kishimoto’s plans for GPS are … straight from the horse’s mouth.*

Tram spilled the beans about Kishimoto’s grand scheme of *school design,* the words that her sycophants burble every time one of them gets promoted or hired into an administrative position in GPS. 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!

What are the top two (2) priorities you would push to accomplish during your term as a member of the Governing Board?

Lily Tram:
1. Intra-district choice – Intra-district choice can be created with school design (old school terminology would be magnet schools). Intra-district choice will provide opportunities for students to learn and experience a skill, field or interest early on in education. It can provide a jump-start or foundation in the field of interest and prepare the students for career or college ready.
2. Review school boundaries – school boundaries should be reviewed every few years to identify schools with low or over capacity and potential growth or decline areas. GPS should continue the periodic demographic studies and trend analysis/projections, work with the Superintendent on boundary adjustment recommendations, and communicate and engage with employees, parents and the community on proposed boundary changes.

The first iteration of magnet schools, of course, is Gilbert Classical Academy, which is the recipient of unknown sums of millions of dollars in the Great Mesquite Junior High School Annihilation. We’ll be taking bets on whether or not construction overruns will push the tab into eight figures before it’s done. That’s pretty much a given, since Christina Kishimoto has told the board she doesn’t need no stinking Construction Manager at Risk to keep the project costs on track. Nope, it seems to be part of the plan that cost overruns and change orders (the stuff that makes for guaranteed profits for contractors) are in the future for Kishimoto’s Favored Few. Again.

Showing how much fun ordinary people can have during election season, let’s watch the principal of Mesquite Junior High School, Dan Johnson, grovel before his boss, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, and the members of the GPS Governing Board. Most people think *grovel* is a figurative reference, but Dan Johnson shows that is not always the case … he actually gets on his knees to be at the *proper level* to talk to the august assemblage about getting rid of the most popular courses at Mesquite Junior High School so that the *new and improved Gilbert Classical Academy* can have gas lines for their STEM classrooms. It’s a done deal, Mesquite folks. You never had a vote, and you won’t get to vote on what happens to Mesquite Junior High School.

This is all about the GCA Ascendancy as Dan Johnson sacrifices his school to Christina Kishimoto’s *school design* fixation. Dan Hood at GCA is telling his constituents (the loudmouthed GCA parents) pretty much everything that is happening in the GCA takeover of Mesquite Junior High School … they’re getting everything they had on their wish list and lots more, it appears. Dan Johnson seems to be keeping mum about the details of the Great Mesquite Junior High School Annihilation, most likely because he’s close to having an open revolt on his hands. That’s the kind of thing that happens when you sell your soul, Dan. As you watch the video below, you might feel like crying in your beer to see a grown man prostrate himself literally and figuratively before his masters:

Thanks, Tram! The public owes you big time for clearing up confusion about what Kishimoto intends to do to this once-stellar school district. We didn’t ignore your comments about changing school boundaries. We know that Kishimoto already bought the software and intends to put that project into the hands of her band of scalawags and carpetbaggers. Since the Great GPS Board Retreat, we know that boundaries and school design are the #1 goal of the governing board for 2016-2017. Weep for your neighborhood schools, citizens of Gilbert, Arizona.

It’s invaluable to know that those old traditions of neighborhood schools and boundaries that were done *the Gilbert way* are going the way of the albatross, sacrificed for Christina Kishimoto’s national reputation fixation. Thanks again, Tram! By the way, we’re really, really, really impressed that the board listed *increased visibility* as a goal. We’ll do all we can to help your visibility!

******************
Big Fat Asterisk: Confess: you thought it would be a different part of anatomy, didn’t you?

GPS Puts Thumbs on the Scales for Election 2016

Election season is here! Signs are popping up on every street corner. Candidate emails are hitting inboxes with a fury. It’s a *fun* season of the year, and Gilbert, Arizona has its own traditions of *fun.* Signs pop up, signs disappear; once in a while, a camera nabs scurrilous partisans in the act of sign stealing. 

It’s the time of year when the ends justify the means for many people. One example is that GPS sent out emails with the subject line “Legislative & Congressional Candidates Meet & Greet” on August 3, 2016, the very same day that Westie posted about how Irene Mahoney-Baloney-Paige gives out free advertising using the GPS email database and email servers. That was a a bit of incredible stupidity that you can’t make up. Maybe the political action committee bought the GPS database so they could send their invitation using email addresses collected from parents of GPS students, purportedly for official educational purposes.

We won’t get into the ethics of using personal protected information gathered under false pretenses for nefarious political purposes right now. We just think there ought to be a law about that … oh, wait, there is a law about using school district resources for electioneering! GPS Top Dogs must figure their lawyers will get them out of trouble … again. Maybe Kishimoto just sold their database to a political action committee that hosted the Meet & Greet.  That woman sure does love revenue streams!

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.

(1) Kishimoto claimed the convocation was NOT a public meeting. Au contraire, girlfriend: any time you invite all five board members to any event, you should have a notice posted on the GPS website home page that a quorum of board members may attend. If you took that simple step, the Arizona Attorney General wouldn’t have nearly so many investigations of Open Meeting Law violations … for which taxpayers foot some hefty legal bills, including paying for Open Meeting Law monitoring under an agreement with the Arizona Attorney General. This is what Christina Kishimoto sent to the GPS Governing Board on July 21, 2016: “This is not a meeting open to the public; this is a targeted Superintendent meeting with my teachers and Principals.”

ConvocationInvite-July21

(2) Kishimoto changed her mind, but still didn’t give public notice that a quorum of the GPS governing board was attending her “targeted Superintendent meeting” — which automatically transformed the meeting into a public meeting, according to Arizona Open Meeting Law. This is what Christina Kishimoto sent to the GPS Governing Board on July 29, 2016: “Mayor Daniels and several Town Council members will be in attendance.”

ConvocationInvite-July29

(3) Those reserved seats in the front for Board members expanded exponentially — attendees included several candidates for various open seats on the GPS governing board and on the Gilbert Town Council AND in Congress … the U.S. House of Representatives, to be precise. Oh my goodness, apparently not all of the candidates for these various offices were invited! Only certain candidates appeared, which technically included Mayor Jenn Daniels, but she was running unopposed in the August 30, 2016 primary election, so maybe you can give her the same pass Kishimoto gave Lily Tram, who is running to keep her seat on the GPS governing board.

Birdies chirp that Christina Kishimoto immediately was trying to deflect the blame for this fiasco, news of which spread far and wide very quickly. Once again, think of the stupidest thing GPS (and Christina Kishimoto) could do, and they’ll exceed expectations every time … with even greater stupidity. For example, when Christina Kishimoto pulled this stupid stunt, the date to turn in petitions to qualify as candidates for the GPS governing board was still a week into the future. “But I didn’t invite them,” she reportedly told a non-invited candidate for the GPS governing board. Oh no, we’re sure that she PERSONALLY did not make those phone calls or click the send button on her email software. That’s what *agents* are for. That Christina Kishimoto is one slippery little sucker!

GPS posted photos of Queen Christina’s Third Coronation, including photos that prove the truth: some candidates for public office were seated in the front rows of the audience, and some were introduced to the audience. A candidate for Arizona Legislature was introduced by her husband’s previous title, while his successor sat in the front row. A candidate for the Arizona Senate sat nearby. GPS Chief of Staff Alex Nardone genuflected in front of a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. A candidate for Gilbert Town Council was locked out of the auditorium.

An illegal quorum of Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board at Superintendent Christina Kishimoto's *non-public* convocation, August 1, 2016

In other words, 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!

Convo-Nardone

It gets worse: the candidates themselves boasted on their campaign websites and Facebook pages that they attended the GPS Convocation, celebrating that they had been anointed by the Dear Leader herself, including the candidate before whom Alex Nardone genuflected. In other words: “Nanny nanny boo boo” to those who were not thusly raised above the others.

The absolute worst (that Westie knows about right now) is that Christina Kishimoto DID IT AGAIN on August 3, 2016 for the First Day of School Bus Tour! Note the two candidates featured by a Town Council member: Joel Anderson and Christine Jones (again).

Bustour-Peterson

We know the candidates and Gilbert Public Schools will appreciate the extra audience reach of Westie’s posts. We figure that these guys were just being honest about what happened when Christina Kishimoto gave them preferential treatment so that GPS employees would get the message and vote accordingly.

ConvoFrontRow

Convo-Lindblom

BTW: Silly Jilly Humpherys posted photos of the muffins served at Christina Kishimoto’s Coronation. We can’t make this stuff up!!!

GPS Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s Education Reforms: Pokemon GO

Students pay the price when the school district is adjudged criminally incompetent by citizens; those kids will never get back the years of their lives and educational potential that were squandered by a high-priced *reformer* whose sole objective, apparently, was to shake things up to see what would happen. Now that GPS Superintendent Christina Kishimoto has an employment contract extending through 2019, she might have to do something she’s never done before: clean up her own messes. 

Unfortunately for GPS, Kishimoto has shown no capability of recognizing, let alone repairing, what’s now broken in the formerly “A” rated school district that has suffered greatly under her *bleedership.* The picture of Kishimoto’s presentation at her expensive convocation is worth a thousand words: Christina Kishimoto is going to *reform* education in Gilbert Public Schools through Pokemon GO. What more could go wrong in a school district where parents are already upset with catastrophic failures of porn filters on student electronic devices and GPS email systems? So now GPS believes that Pokemon GO is the answer to the dilemmas inept admins faced with bringing 1:1 technology to students:

Every virtual Pokémon placed around the world is free advertising for toys, clothing, accessories, movies, apps, videos, games, and more.  Policy changes will only come about through a concerted and coordinated effort from advocates currently working on seemingly diverse issues such as protecting children, privacy, and public space, and limiting corporate power, commercialism, and excessive attachment to screens.

Gilbert Public schools just can’t figure out how to use all that technology taxpayers bought with a tax override and new bond issue. An example: it’s been more than a month since the new website was *revealed,*  and the new website still sucks, even though Christina Kishimoto promised the board back in May 2016 that the new district website and school sites would be ready for the first day of school. That’s what happens when an ignorant superintendent (who thinks she discovered the internet) puts a technology project into the hands of incompetent sycophants (who don’t know their elbows from their asterisks) in the name of “communication matters.” This ridiculous situation was entirely foreseeable, but no one in the GPS administration will even admit how badly screwed up things are. Yet they wonder why students, parents and teachers are leaving the district in droves.

Things are so bad in terms of the GPS website and related technological incompetence, Kishimoto’s minion Irene Mahoney-Baloney-Paige sent out an email to parents on August 4, 2016:

Good Afternoon Parents,
We hope you had a successful start to the new school year.  As you may be aware, we have launched a new website for Gilbert Public Schools.  It is still a work in progress as we migrate a massive amount of content into the new sites.  We appreciate your patience as we continue to improve this great new website.  If you can’t find something, please do not hesitate to call your school, or send an email to webmaster@gilbertschools.net. As a reminder, please clear out your favorites tab, bookmark, cache etc., and re-enter www.gilbertschools.net.  That will ensure you do not have the old site pop up.  Once our sites are fully operational, we will offer Parent night training to help you get the most out of the new sites.
Thank you again for all of your support.
Irene Mahoney-Paige
Director of Communications

Seeing as how the *great new website* shows the public just how inept the current GPS administration is, you would think that even the most bumbling idiot would try to give the struggling webmaster some space. Then maybe, with the magic of unicorn farts and pixie dust, the poor webmaster could just focus on trying to get current information online. But no, since the *under construction* website was made public, and even now that the *under construction* signs have been removed, various GPS admins tell anybody and everybody to email the webmaster so said GPS admins can claim that it’s all someone else’s problem, but they *solved* it. Yeah, sure, and one of these days, maybe all of the web pages will function properly and have relevant content.

Maybe someone should tell Superintendent Christina Kishimoto that the public does the ROFLAO number every time she talks about the new and exciting GPS website. Yeah, that will really happen. No one is going to tell Queen Christina that she has no clothes.

“The Emperor Has No Clothes” is often used in political and social contexts for any obvious truth denied by the majority despite the evidence of their eyes, especially when proclaimed by the government.

And maybe Christina Kishimoto will realize she is the root cause of what’s wrong with GPS now that she’s had two years on the job. Here’s a tip: it doesn’t matter how many times you say something that’s not true, it won’t become true simply because you are wishing really, really hard. [See above commentary about unicorn farts and pixie dust, which won’t work in this case, either.]

With what taxpayers are paying Christina Kishimoto, you would think things would be better than the current GPS Management by Wishful Thinking. A prime example is the new influx of money from Prop 123 — which won’t hit teacher’s pockets until the end of October.  It’s pretty clear that Kishimoto wanted to hold that money back while she waited for the results of the November 2016 election, but the criticism got to be too much for Her Highness. To be sure, Kishimoto has played fast and loose in local election politics in the past, so why stop now?

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.

We’ll close with prescient words from local media celebrity Mike McClellan:

The board majority seems to have bought into the Innovation/Technology emphasis the district administration has pushed. Two things about that.

One is that if GPS believes that those two areas will make us competitive, I’d like to know which of the district’s competitors are outstanding in those areas. Which districts and charters are leaders in those areas, taking kids from us? I don’t believe the district has done any kind of formal exit interviews with parents who are taking kids out of GPS, so I wonder why innovation/technology became the big emphasis.

And secondly, and more importantly, a district can have all kinds of bells and whistles, but the district needs outstanding teachers and building administrators to make those bells and whistles work. I don’t believe the board majority understands that, though I’m not sure about Dr. Santa Cruz, because every time he speaks, he speaks in educationalese that often is difficult to parse.

Again, if the board in fact will have the almost $3 million from Prop. 123 funds next year that they are using this year for the trust fund, that money should be used for salaries, excluding the superintendent and cabinet, who are already well-compensated. Why? Because at the bottom, parents and students bond with teachers and principals and not bells and whistles. Keep our outstanding teachers and building principals and you have a better chance of retaining students. Dr. Santa Cruz ought to know that.

The simplest tasks become impossible in the hands of  idiots, even if they generally are well-meaning people. Board member Jill Humpherys thinks those idiots should be working at Walmart. We agree: send the GPS Top Dogs (who are most assuredly NOT well-meaning people) to work in Walmart!

To Parents of GPS Students: Watch Your Kid’s Chromebook and Your Wallet!

To parents of 8th graders who will be getting their same Chromebook back from last year: check your child’s Chromebook for damage as soon as it is issued to your child. The district had so many damaged Chromebooks that they couldn’t repair all of them. They repaired just ones that didn’t work. Those that were damaged but still worked (like those with cracked cases) were sent back to schools without being repaired. WARNING: those Chromebooks are being given back to students as-is. Parents who sign the form accepting responsibility for damages should know that you might be getting a Chromebook that already has unrepaired damages from last year.

This is vital news for parents of students in Gilbert Public Schools: Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s new revenue stream for Chromebook *insurance* was designed to grab MORE of your your money … because she can.  Parents are warning each other about the immutable, built-in *extra money for GPS* aspects of this nefarious Chromebook Protection Plan, so pay attention and spread the word!

This obvious money-grabbing ploy begs the question: If GPS Tech Services didn’t have enough staff to repair damage to two grade levels of Chromebooks last year, how will they repair twice as many this year? Remember, for the 2015-2016 school year, GPS issued Chromebooks to 7th and 8th graders only. Unofficial reports indicated a 75% damage rate for the devices … during the first year of operation, while the Chromebooks were under warranty.  There are no *official* reports of Chromebook unreliability, because GPS doesn’t want that information out in public. Nope, it would prove that the GPS Great Chromebook Rollout was never going to succeed because GPS admins didn’t know what they were doing. They just flew by the seat of their pants. Now their pants are on fire.

One of Christina Kishimoto’s demands before this school year started was to authorize a new repair technician position — obviously, even Queen Christina was aware that her Chromebook initiative was flailing and failing. The GPS governing board, as always, granted Kishimoto’s wishes. Unlike the previous school year, not all of this year’s Chromebooks are new and under warranty. So there’s ONE new repair technician in GPS Tech Services, but more than TWICE as many Chromebooks issued to GPS students. Use your critical thinking skills on this question: “How can Kishimoto’s Chromebook initiative succeed under these circumstances?” Answer: “It won’t.”

Apparently, one way Kishimoto’s money-grubbing Top Dogs have figured out to take your money is by issuing a broken Chromebook to your student (don’t think for a minute that GPS will limit the distribution of broken Chromebooks to 8th graders who had the same Chromebook last year). When the least little thing goes wrong with that Chromebook if you didn’t pay GPS protection money, and POW!!! Parents are on the hook for unlimited repair costs, solely determined by the technician whose job might depend on amassing enough fees to pay for that *repair* position in GPS Tech Services. Most likely, since this will be another unaccountable slush fund, Christina Kishimoto will scoop it up for other purposes, like the free lunches she feeds herself and her favorites pretty much every day of the week.

Board President Lily Tram will go all out to give cover to her BFF, Christina Kishimoto, as usual, even though Tram knows full well the intricacies of publicly funded educational institution financing. In her day job, Tram is responsible for a lot of the financial oversight at Arizona State University that Gilbert Public Schools has never seemed to implement. To be fair, Tram has run interference this way for other GPS superintendents, but never on the scale of corruption that has become the norm since Christina Kishimoto appeared on the scene.

A message from GPS board member Julie Smith shows that Kishimoto’s staff already hogtied parents with this protection racket is the answer to, *What’s the worst that can happen?* The worst is that Kishimoto’s new revenue stream scheme already has been adopted as GPS board policy and there is NO LIMIT to the amount of so-called damages that parents can be assessed, starting with an over-priced assessment for a new Chromebook. They’re counting on the fact that parents won’t know what Chromebooks actually cost on the open market ($150) or what private insurance would cost for a Chromebook ($25-$40). Parents have no recourse and kids can’t bring their own Chromebooks to school, ether.

Dear Parents,
Thank you for the questions and feedback on the Device Protection Plan. While answering questions concerning a lost device, we discovered a discrepancy that caused confusion. The Device Protection Plan does NOT cover a lost device. If the device is lost, a fee of $200 will be assessed.
Click here for the GPS Student Device Handbook 16-17

Brilliant, GPS. Let’s continue with what parents are saying about this atrocious Chromebook Revenue Stream:

Yes, there’s something about a police report needs to be taken if it is stolen. Can we file a police report on an item that doesn’t belong to us?
*****
Yes, you’re reading it right. Also, if you sign the paper and accept one without purchasing the protection plan, you entrust the GPS techs to determine if damage is under manufacturer warranty, or if you have to pay for the repair. Each repair can have a new fee, so no limit to possible repair bills in a year. You’re free to purchase your own so you have something to show for your money – but you can only use it at home, not at school. You can’t bring your own device to use at school. Oh boy.
*****
I don’t know that I trust them to determine the origin of damage. They didn’t do a good job of this last year.
*****
I was told 1,500 of them were sent back to the manufacturer under the warranty, but 90% were beyond repair.
*****
This year 7-10th grade will receive Chromebooks. All but one grade will receive the ones they received last year. The cracked/damaged ones will be given to the elementary schools. One issue with this is the district didn’t plan for the charging carts going to elementary schools. Therefore they will be getting a lot of Chromebooks but no way to charge them.

The life expectancy of the Chromebook varies depending on who you talk to in the district. I have been told two years as well as four years. I would love to know how many of these Chromebooks ended up in what’s been titled “The Chromebook Graveyard.” Last year, my child’s Chromebook broke four times. GPS finally gave a a loaner, in December. By January our school was out of loaners. My child used that loaner until the end of the school year. GPS never brought back the original Chromebook.
*****
The estimates for Chromebook damages is around 70%. They were not well vetted and GPS still does not have an IT department capable of handling this much technology, but they do have several other new administrative positions! Oh, and Kishimoto had her contract renewed a year early and included for herself a substantial raise. This seems woefully backwards to me, as our teachers still make less than the surrounding districts and there is a huge turnover rate with both teachers and within the business department.
*****
I was contacted by the ASBA who tried to contact our superintendent. They were surprised to be told she doesn’t call parents back. She told me by law the Superintendent has 10 business days to respond to parents. News to me!
*****
The term *textbook* includes digital files. The students are required to use Google Classroom on the Chromebooks, so I would venture to say that the Chromebooks could fall under the textbook definition as students are accessing course material on them.
*****
The term textbook does not include digital files, as interpreted by GPS. Textbooks are required to be approved by a parental board. They have not put the Chromebook programs under the same scrutiny because they are not “textbooks.” It is a loophole that we currently don’t have any laws to cover.

Far too much is done behind closed doors at GPS. It’s hard to know how they interpret the laws, because they don’t just come out and say it. I am aware that the digital textbooks they are using did not go through a parental board for approval.

Hey Jon Castelhano, Executive Director of Technology: were you blindsided by this outrageous scheme to take more, more and more money out of the pockets of parents of GPS students? Or were you in on it from the beginning? Citizens will be watching to see what YOUR reward from your boss will be. Especially since she *allegedly* couldn’t keep her hands off her subordinate  *allegedly* already engaged in an inappropriate relationship with your predecessor dude.

Gilbert Public Schools: one hundred years of tradition unhampered by progress. Or morality. Vote for Westie for Superintendent on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. 


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