Gilbert Public Schools Must Fix Salary Inequality First!

As Gilbert Public Schools considers a budget for the 2015-2016 school year, we’re seeing more of the same old stuff: Superintendent Christina Kishimoto recommends an across-the-board salary increase for all employees. Problem is, the amount will be miniscule for most of the support staff while the top dogs grab the lion’s share of the salary *bucket* for themselves.

The Good Old Boys couldn’t have done it any better. Oh wait … that’s exactly what the GOBs did in the past. Reward themselves first. Make excuses. Rinse and repeat.

It looks like GPS employees are in for a classic misdirection deception with a bucket of public funds known as “inflation funds” in the GPS budget matrix. This money is coming from settling a lawsuit. All public school districts knew it was in the pipeline when they first developed budget recommendations. The big question was how much taxpayer money would be in the bucket. As the State of Arizona budget was pushed through the legislature, school districts were complaining mightily that they needed more, more and more money.

GPS Superintendent Christina Kishimoto joined other superintendents across the state in lobbing hand grenades as part of a funding attack against the legislature. Great way to win friends and influence very important people, Kishi. [Her tone deafness is amazing!]

Kishimoto notes that the district is already facing an $8 million budget deficit, and that the school board is working on ways to insulate classrooms from the cuts. She doesn’t tell parents that the district is facing that deficit because voters refused to approve a budget override. Lawmakers had little to do with that. Furthermore, if the district can handle $8 million in cuts without teacher layoffs and closed schools, how does an extra $2 million force such nuclear options? She doesn’t explain.

With that grenade launched, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto targeted the GPS Governing Board. During a monthly work-study session [she swears it’s not a *real* board meeting] Kishimoto told board members what they were going to vote on at the next *official* meeting on March 31, 2015. Things did not go exactly the way Superintendent wanted them to go. It seems that Superintendent Christina Kishimoto has already decided what GPS will do in regard to employee salaries and contracts, and she expected board members to fall in line immediately, no questions asked.

Fortunately for students, parents and GPS employees, two board members questioned the Supreme Leader Superintendent’s recommendations, and did so in nice ways. Personally, Westie believes the time is long past for being nice about basic salary inequities in Gilbert Public Schools and superintendents slapping the faces of loyal employees every year during the budget process.

Board Member Daryl Colvin (summary): “Correct the pay inequity we all know about between our new hires and our loyal employees who have been with us for years. Do that first before we do any across-the-board salary changes.”

Then comes the weaseling and misdirection. CFO Jeff Gadd wrings his hands about the puny 1.6% number. Not that he tells anyone what the *bucket* is that contains 1.6% for GPS. No siree, he wants you to just wring your hands, too.

CFO Jeff Gadd: “The inflation factor at 1.6% gives us relatively small amount of money to work with and if we were to give employees just a minimal raise without that consideration it will take all the 1.6. If we were to do some consideration of what you talked about, I suspicion (sic) we would have almost no salary increase money left for any other employees.”

Now that the CFO has teed up the ball, the big misdirection can begin with Superintendent Kishimoto’s edu-jargon making the false choice case that would result in no raises at all for the loyal support staff employees. Never mind that no one has been talking about the fact that 1.6% of $9.00 per hour is something like fifteen cents an hour. Whoop de doo!

On the other hand, 1.6% of Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s $200,000 salary* is a pretty big chunk of change. Her newly hired top dogs that work in the Great White Temple of Doom are enjoying salaries at the six-figure level as well. An across-the-board salary increase is really nice for those at the top, but it sucks for those who are trying to put food on the table for their families on budgets below poverty level. Cue the crocodile tears and misdirection.

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto: “I’d like to just reemphasize that my recommendation still stands at doing an across-the-board increase because we are limited in the dollars that we have to allocate and we have a number of staff members, particularly our non-certified staff, who have had no increase in several years and so we do want to correct some of our inequities as you phrased it, the work with the stepless salary schedule is looking at how do we do that over the course of the next two years or more years because I don’t think we can do that correction immediately in terms of salaries.

Perhaps Superintendent Christina Kishimoto just misunderstood what these two board members want in the next budget. Board member Julie Smith seemed to accept that possibility, however remote, and try again to make the case that the board should remedy salary inequities first. Here’s Julie Smith making a strong case for fixing salary inequities as the top priority for the GPS budget for 2015-2016. As she explains how the inequities came into existence, Julie Smith asserts, “Loyal employees who have been through thick and thin” with the district deserve better than the salary inequity that now exists. She urges board members to address those inequities before “rewarding those at the top,” none of whom have been with GPS for very long.

Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto will have none of that *equity* talk on her watch! No siree, in response she instead makes fallacious arguments about the funds deficit that GPS is facing, asserting that salaries cannot be remedied by cutting administrative costs. Kishimoto also attempts to drive a wedge between employee groups, saying that support staff hasn’t had raises, either.

Kishimoto refuses to address current salary inequities, saying to do so would “differentiate” among employees. That’s exactly what board members Daryl Colvin and Julie Smith have proposed: bring loyal employees’ salaries up to the level of new hires BEFORE giving across-the-board raises that perpetuate existing inequities.

Sheeesh, things are worse than ever in Gilbert Public Schools! Superintendent Kishimoto and her top dogs don’t seem to understand that as the largest employer in the Town of Gilbert, what GPS does in treating employees badly has a HUGE detrimental effect on public perception and the reputation of the district. It’s almost as if the Town of Gilbert is a company town in all the worst ways that old concept worked.

Contrast Kishimoto’s intransigence and her inability to comprehend board members’ concerns for salary equity for loyal employees with Mesa’s Superintendent, whose actions and words speak volumes to his employees: 

On the surface, it’s hard to find a more respected leader in Arizona public education than Mesa Public Schools Superintendent Michael Cowan. During a time of complaints that administrations are overpaid, overstaffed and overrated, Cowan seems to buck the assumptions.  In the past three years, while other administrators were eligible for annual salary raises between 1 and 3 percent, Cowan declined the boosts in pay for himself.

As the leader of the state’s largest district of 64,000 students, Cowan’s $180,000 base annual salary is less than superintendents of some smaller districts [that would be GPS, you know]. “How can I take a raise when our teachers have been through so much?” Cowan told the Arizona Republic last summer, adding that he is committed to the Mesa community where he was hired as a teacher and grew up professionally.”

Here’s what GPS stakeholders had to say about Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and her top dogs during that news cycle:

We have a superintendent who is a politician-turned-educator. Just read her strategic plan. She has brought her Hartford CT plan to GPS and is implementing it whether it’s what we need/want or not. She has no idea what made GPS great in the past, nor does she seem to care. Her focus is clearly not on retaining our great staff members. Time to put pressure on our GPS board to run the show, instead of letting this superintendent continue to run off our great people.

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Seems ironic that we hired a new, expensive superintendent (“expert”) who is not an educator and was never a teacher to come in and run off our great teachers by showing them such disrespect … then have her tell us that her strategic plan values our staff. NEWS FLASH … what parents value the most is our teachers and staff!!!! We want admin to give them reasons to stay! Or at least act like they care. GPS families are loyal to GPS because of our great staff!! It’s insane to chase away our experienced people (by changing the promises you made to them when you hired them!) then turn around and tell us your “great” ideas for improving our district. Fed up with this new admin already. Hope our GPS board realizes that THEY are in charge and stop this insanity! (I’d like to think future override funds or inflation $ would go to our staff, but don’t trust this admin. They’d probably buy more Chromebooks instead.)

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I do NOT trust this administration or her cabinet. They do NOT have the district’s best interests in mind – or they would have better communication with parents and staff. They take any feedback and use it to ‘troubleshoot’ any arguments, NOT to actually listen to the input and make adjustments.

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Coming next: more edu-jargon explaining why Superintendent Christina Kishimoto wants across-the-board pay increases of 1.6% for all GPS employees. Right from the horse’s … mouth.

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Big Fat Asterisk: $200,000 is just Christina Kishimoto’s base salary. She really is paid far more than that. KishimotoContract.

Dr. Christina Kishimoto Wins Award during Sunshine Week

Westie is proud to join in the National Sunshine Week celebration, March 15-21, 2015.

Though created by journalists, Sunshine Week is about the public’s right to know what its government is doing, and why. Sunshine Week seeks to enlighten and empower people to play an active role in their government at all levels, and to give them access to information that makes their lives better and their communities stronger. Participants include news media, government officials at all levels, schools and universities, libraries and archives, individuals, non-profit and civic organizations, historians and anyone with an interest in open government.

In honor of National Sunshine Week, we hereby award Dr. Christina Kishimoto, Superintendent of Gilbert Public Schools in the Town of Gilbert, Arizona the first annual Darkest Recesses Award.  This award recognizes the public official showing the most *creativity* in intimidating citizens who dare attempt to access to public records.

It’s a difficult job, but Christina Kishimoto took up the challenge shortly after ascending to the throne of Gilbert Public Schools in July, 2014. Since that time, her accomplishments have been legendary. She truly embodies the Darkest Recesses spirit when it comes to keeping public records out of the hands of citizens, the media and parents of students in Gilbert Public Schools or delaying access to those records. Earning this award was not something Christina Kishimoto did on the spur of a moment. No siree, it took years of planning and practice.

We have been posting about how Superintendent Christina Kishimoto recently went to a secret court hearing against someone she accused of a dastardly crime: *requesting public records,* as it is called in Arizona. (FOIA, Freedom of Information Act, is a federal thingie.) It appears that Superintendent Christina Kishimoto decided to trot down this path in retaliation for an Open Meetings Law (OML) complaint that local blogger DWestie had filed with the Arizona Attorney General. Setting up her vengeance, Kishimoto first filed a police report against the Westies, then she filed a civil lawsuit against the Westies, and she followed with a Petition for an Injunction against Harassment in the Gilbert Municipal Court against TWestie.

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto sought to enjoin the statutorily and constitutionally protected rights of citizens to review public records by citing exercise of those rights as harassment. Her petition shows why Superintendent Kishimoto felt she needed this court order: “The Green’s [sic] were in my office bldg at 140 S Gilbert reviewing public records.”

[Keyboard to Westie: You would think one of those high school outspoken Language Arts teachers would tutor Superintendent Kishimoto on the correct way to form the plural of nouns, even when they’re proper nouns that appear to be difficult. It ain’t rocket science, it’s basic apostrophe application. Dr. Kishimoto’s elementary level literacy failings are embarrassing for an educator.]

Superintendent Kishimoto does not approve of citizens requesting the public records she and her staff create. In fact, Christina Kishimoto has shown that she will prevaricate, distort and embellish events in pursuit of her goals, such as trying to get an Injunction Against Harassment against someone she has never even seen.

But this wasn’t Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s first attempt at stifling journalistic coverage of what she wanted to do behind closed doors. No sireee, our gal Christina had a lot of practice in Hartford, Connecticut before she pulled these stunts in Gilbert, CT* Arizona:

Feb. 17, 2012, 12:19 p.m. This week, Hartford Superintendent of Schools Christina Kishimoto decided to bar the media from school board meeting about pending school leadership changes. According to Connecticut’s Freedom of Information law, these meetings are supposed to be open to the public. In his post for CT Confidential, Rick Green argues, “ The point is not whether Kishimoto’s lawyers can find legal justification for blocking reporters from a discussion about taxpayer financed schools. The point is that school government and school decision-making should be done in the open and not in secret. Public employees like Kishimoto should want as much open government as possible if they want parents, city residents and the state taxpayers to support the high-cost experiment going on in the city.”

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto calls herself a school reformer. So it shouldn’t come as any surprise to the good people of Gilbert, Arizona, that she intends to change the way public schools are run … as fast as she possibly can. Here’s the North Star guiding Superintendent Kishimoto’s real agenda:

Corporate education “reformers” attempt to convince Americans that public education is failing, many teachers are incompetent, and parents need market-based “school choice.” Their solution to improve education is removing schools from community control and handing them over to private management. It seems, however, that voters are not buying the corporate reform narrative.

There was a lot going on in back rooms while Christina Kishimoto was the superintendent in Hartford. Contemporaneous articles in the media show that issues usually vital to a community were made in secret in 2013 while Kishimoto was the boss. In one example, two different communities revolted when Christina Kishimoto recommended closing their neighborhood schools and turning them over to a private company. Kishimoto did this without getting public or board buy-in. From all appearances, Kishimoto was gaming the system to reward a principal who was at the same time a public school employee and also the head dude of one of the private companies Kishimoto favored. Public outcry was deafening, so the board retreated from their hasty initial decision. Media reaction was scathing:

The board subsequently met in private and emerged with another “turnaround plan,” which offers additional funds to a community school only if it is “redesigned” and offers “choice.” The only way parents will get more resources is to acquiesce to a redesign that will disrupt their school community. That is not school choice — that’s extortion.

Coming soon to a Gilbert Public School near you – school reformation. Coming soon to the next person who attempts to inspect public records that our gal Christina Kishimoto doesn’t want to release to the public – retaliation.  You see, Superintendent Kishimoto really wants to win the Darkest Recesses Award again next year!

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* Big Fat Asterisk: Christina Kishimoto doesn’t seem to know she’s not in Kansas Connecticut anymore. In her Petition for an Injunction Against Harassment, she wrote that she lives and works in Gilbert, CT.

More About Superintendent Kishimoto’s Romp through Gilbert Municipal Court

bigbucksWe’ve been posting about Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s jaunt from her office at Gilbert Public Schools to the Gilbert Municipal Court House, where she embarked on a collision course with the legal process and what it was intended by law to achieve. Kishimoto sought what she could not legitimately do otherwise: retaliate against citizens, shut down public criticism and thwart access to public records.  Let’s explore *abuse of process* and *malicious prosecution* through the lens of Christina Kishimoto’s actions. As we posted earlier:

We expect that Superintendent Christina Kishimoto will take up the judge’s *invitation* to come back with more *evidence* sometime in the future. The problem is, it appears that Kishimoto thinks she has a friendly judge who showed her the ropes this time so she can *do better* next time. The next time may not be against the Westies; it could be against anyone who gets in Christina Kishimoto’s way.

** Christina Kishimoto’s Very Bad Day in a Secret Court Hearing
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Superintendent Kishimoto Gets Mad, Calls the Police and Goes to Court

It was apparent that the good judge was prepared to believe Christina Kishimoto’s allegations that TWestie was harassing her and that she felt she and her family were in danger. Unfortunately for Superintendent Kishmoto, her petition and testimony never met the legal definition of harassment. That fact didn’t stop Superintendent Christina Kishimoto from trying harder.

Kishimoto gave a whole lot of sworn testimony that was something less than “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s allegation that TWestie harassed her while he was constantly in her office was never true.

***  Kishimoto omitted the clearly relevant information that the Westies are escorted by her staff the entire time they are in the GPS offices, that they speak only when addressed and that they do not seek out persons with whom they do not have an appointment.

***  Christina Kishimoto’s other purposeful omissions in her testimony are glaring: she did not testify that she has never met either of the Westies and she probably wouldn’t know either of them on sight.

Kishimoto embellished her testimony beyond factual statements. When asked if there was any reason TWestie would have been taking photos in the parking lot, Kishimoto replied, “No,” and then further testified, “During the most recent time that he came into the building, he was observed by staff members taking pictures of my vehicle.” She added, “Potentially even inside the vehicle.”

***  It is doubtful the Westies could have photographed “inside” her vehicle from a distance of about 50 feet away, which is the closest they came to her vehicle. DWestie was interested in photographs of the sign, “Reserved for Superintendent.”

Kishimoto’s testimony included that staff members described TWestie as “looking at them and kind of smiling at them.” OMG – that *elderly* man smiled at someone! Call the cops again! Not one to end her story without a flourish, Kishimoto embellished with her conclusion that TWestie was “taunting them, you know in the looks back and forth.”

***  The people in the parking lot were never closer to Westie than approximately 100 feet. It would take something like Superman’s visual acuity to conclude that alleged smiles were “taunting,” a description that is both conclusory and defamatory.

Christina Kishimoto testified that her reason for being concerned and taking action “immediately” was that she takes her daughter and her husband back and forth in her vehicle and that she works “late in the district alone.”

***  A parking space marked by a sign, “Reserved for Superintendent,” is functionally a billboard announcing Kishimoto’s presence in her office at any hour of the day or night.

That glaring public announcement flies in the face of fears for her safety Kishimoto expressed to the judge and her assertion that she acted “promptly.” Christina Kishimoto waited until a week after we took pictures of her sign, actually. But she flounced down to the courthouse shortly after the nice police officer told her how to file for an injunction against harassment.

Previous Superintendents did not have a sign reserving a prominent parking space. In fact, the space that previous superintendents used is located just steps away from a locked entrance to the building, which might be safer for Christina Kishimoto, too.

We promised earlier to explain why the good citizens of the Town of Gilbert cannot turn a blind eye to their knowledge of Superintendent Kishimoto’s false testimony in an ex parte hearing. In this repugnant situation of her own making, Kishimoto defiled the courtroom through intentional, repeated false testimony under oath both in court and on her petition.

As we reported to the Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board, that’s no mistake of judgment…that’s a felony offense. The recording of the hearing shows there is no question that Kishimoto knowingly and willfully testified falsely. Kishimoto gave false testimony in an ex parte hearing, apparently expecting that we would never know about it because she failed to secure an injunction. That doesn’t change the nature of her misfeasance and her intentional misconduct.

We have no doubt that Superintendent Christina Kishimoto committed offenses against the integrity of our justice system and corrupted the legal process. Kishimoto used a legal process for some purpose other than for which it was intended by law, namely, for retaliating against a “constituent” for the purpose of silencing him and his family, and attempting to intimidate our daughter, who is a GPS employee.

We believe Christina Kishimoto unlawfully retaliated against DWestie for filing an OML complaint, which is protected activity. We believe 7-0 Kishimoto’s surreptitious behavior in filing a Petition for Injunction against Harassment and her illegitimate goal of getting an injunction through an ex parte hearing constitute abuse of process and malicious prosecution.

According to GPS Policy KDB: “The Board will keep in mind that maintaining the confidence and respect of the community is of paramount importance to the success of the educational program of the District.” We expect that the public and elected leaders will be dismayed to learn that Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent Kishimoto used a legal process for something other than what is intended by law. Then there’s the problem of her untruthfulness under oath.

As we reported to the GPS Governing Board:

The recording of the hearing shows there is no question that Kishimoto knowingly and willfully testified falsely, which is shocking for a person in Kishimoto’s position. We are well aware, and we expect that the Board is equally aware, that a felony offense such as perjury, which involves moral turpitude, constitutes grounds to deny or revoke state professional licenses such as teachers, administrators and school district superintendents must possess.

In violating GPS Policy CBA, Kishimoto failed to maintain “high standards of ethics, honesty, and integrity in all personal and professional matters.” Her conduct in the courtroom hardly inspires others to highest professional standards. There can be no doubt that Superintendent Kishimoto does not model values the Governing Board requires of GPS students and employees. That’s just the GPS internal stakeholders.

GPS Policy KE-R required that we tell the Governing Board the action we desire. We asked that the Governing Board follow GPS Policy GCQF and dismiss Kishimoto as they are required to do under statute and the terms of her contract:

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 District 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.

Bottom line: we believe that Christina Kishimoto purposely jeopardized the reputation of Gilbert Public Schools and compromised her ability to conduct the affairs of the school district. We also reported to the Governing Board that we believe Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s purposeful misconduct compromises her ability to partner with state and local elected officials, other public officers, and local business leaders. The reputation of the District has been damaged by Kishimoto’s immoral and unprofessional behavior as she committed offenses against the integrity of our justice system and corrupted the legal process.

Christina Kishimoto’s Very Bad Day in a Secret Court Hearing

The Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent recently had a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day in Gilbert Municipal Court. 7-0 Kishimoto convinced a judge to listen to her in an ex parte hearing, meaning that she filed a civil lawsuit against the Westies, but we didn’t know anything about it … yet. The secret hearing (ex parte in lawyer lingo) was for Superintendent Kishimoto to tell the judge why she needed an Injunction against Harassment order against someone she’s never even met.  It was just Christina Kishimoto and the judge, and fortunately, an audio recording system.

** More About Superintendent Kishimoto’s Romp through Gilbert Municipal Court
** Superintendent Kishimoto Gets Mad, Calls the Police and Goes to Court

Remember, the police report shows that 7-0 Kishimoto did not express any fear, describe any harassment, or allege that she was being followed. Listening to this Legend-in-Her-Own-Mind superintendent person testifying in court, note that 7-0 Christina Kishimoto had no details at that point, either; she appeared to rely solely on her credibility as Superintendent to take revenge on the Westies to get what she wanted from a sympathetic judge.

The first incident of harassment Kishimoto alleged was simply that Westies were reviewing public records at the district offices of Gilbert Public Schools on January 13, 2015. The second alleged harassing incident in Kishimoto’s petition was that the Westies were seen taking photographs of her vehicle in the GPS parking lot. Kishimoto alleged as a third incident of harassment that several staff members provided written and/or verbal testimony “about the incident and their concern for my safety.” Right … Kishimoto was *so scared,* she waited a week before she called the police and then trotted down to the courthouse, claiming that a whole bunch of folks had encouraged her to file for an injunction “right away.” So it must be their fault, too, that things didn’t go very well for 7-0 Christina Kishimoto.

Superintendent Kishimoto must have been stunned, because [spoiler alert] the judge didn’t fall for her hastily-contrived fears for her safety. Nope, the good judge decided the law was the law, no matter how many times  7-0 Kishimoto tried to claim that inspecting public records is harassment. It could not have helped that her Petition for an Injunction against Harassment was pretty much illiterate. [Extra credit for correcting all the ridiculous mistakes!]

Christina Kishimoto had asked that TWestie be ordered to stay away from the GPS offices “at all times, including when I am not present.” Had the petition been granted, TWestie would no longer have been able to inspect public records at GPS offices, which seems to have been Superintendent Kishimoto’s real purpose in all this nonsense. Plus, it was a great way to retaliate against DWestie for filing that pesky complaint with the Attorney General about Christina Kishimoto’s many violations of Arizona’s Open Meeting Law. (“I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!“)  Sheeeesh.

Christina *7-0* Kishimoto gave a whole lot of sworn testimony that was something less than “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” Maybe if Queen Kishimoto had consulted one of those high-priced lawyers who are at her beck and call, that lawyer might have warned her about making stuff up that can be easily proven to be false. It looks like Christina Kishimoto instead took to heart the this advice: “The bigger the lie, the more it will be believed.”

When the judge asked what TWestie had done that made her feel she needed an injunction against him, Kishimoto replied that TWestie “is constantly engaging in FOI or Freedom of Information requests… he is constantly in my office building and at board meetings.” Kishimoto further testified, “They come in on almost a weekly basis. I’m sorry, HE comes in.” A lawyer’s review of GPS records would have shown that Christina Kishimoto’s allegation was untrue.

***  Prior to January 2015, DWestie (not TWestie) made seven public records requests after Kishimoto became superintendent. After January 13, 2015, DWestie made four public records requests. Two of those requests were related to Kishimoto’s police report and her Petition for an Injunction Against Harassment.

***  Since Kishimoto became Superintendent, the two Westies have been in the district offices only three times and only by appointment:  July 23, 2014; September 9, 2014; and January 13, 2015.  TWestie has never gone to the district offices alone.

***  TWestie has never emailed Kishimoto. DWestie makes public records requests using the GPS online submission form; she follows up with an information email. GPS Policy KDB-R states, “Requests for access to records shall be directed to the office of the Superintendent.”

Kishimoto stated under oath that TWestie “is involved by attending board meetings, and thus, is a constituent.” Kishimoto clearly relied on the good judge believing that TWestie’s conduct at board meetings was harassing or otherwise uncivil.

***  The truth is that neither Westie has attended a public meeting of the Governing Board since June 2012.

Unfortunately for Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, sitting members of the Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board could have told her that the Westies haven’t attend board meetings for quite a while. Since it appears that Superintendent Kishimoto was hiding her clandestine legal adventure from her bosses, she missed an opportunity to discover that inconvenient fact.

Kishimoto further *testified* with a vague assertion that she had been “informed by staff members and community members” that she “was told” she was being followed. When the judge asked what evidence Superintendent Kishimoto had that TWestie followed her, who saw him following her, or how he followed her, Kishimoto stated, “The allegations have been that they have been involved in setting up who is following who and keeping track of one another.” First, she did not give a direct answer to the good judge’s question. Second, with absolutely no evidence, Christina Kishimoto described collusion among persons who have allegedly followed her and attributed the coordination of those persons following her to TWestie, in an attempt to paint him as a stalker.

***  The truth is that TWestie has never followed Kishimoto. He has never colluded with anyone to have her followed, assuming Kishimoto has indeed been followed by persons she never saw following her.

Kishimoto grumped that she doesn’t like getting public records requests. She testified, “When they come, when HE comes in to review records, I get emails accusing the school system, accusing potentially me of not releasing those records appropriately and so there’s just an email history, that is a long standing history in terms of public records requests.” The good judge told her that complaints such as Kishimoto described would not justify an injunction.

The problem for Superintendent Christina Kishimoto is that she veered into statements that could be quickly proven as false testimony.

Kishimoto falsely testified, “As I came into the district, I received emails from [TWestie] asking for information and accusing the district of not following through on those FOI requests.”

Kishimoto presented further false testimony, “There has never been a decision made that we haven’t been following up on those FOI requests as required by law.”

***  First, TWestie has never emailed Christina Kishimoto. Not once. Second, it was through public records that we learned GPS had lost at least one request by automatically sending it to an email account that GPS had forgotten about.

The actual and factual history: four parties brought a legal action in December 2012 against GPS and its agents responsible for producing public records. There was a judicial determination in November 2013 that GPS had failed to produce public records promptly; Plaintiffs [we] were awarded attorneys’ fees in January 2014. The lawsuit ended in April 2014, with the Defendants [GPS] paying additional attorneys’ fees and producing public records to settle. The lost online request for public records was important evidence in that lawsuit.

It’s clear that Superintendent Christina Kishimoto thought no one would know about her covert adventure in Gilbert Municipal Court.  Maybe she didn’t know what a favor the judge had done for her: if he had granted Superintendent Kishimoto’s petition, a full hearing would have followed with TWestie not just present in the courtroom, but allowed to present evidence showing Kishimoto’s sworn testimony to have been false from the get-go. Christina Kishimoto must have expected her adventure would remain secret since she was unsuccessful and her revenge against the Westies was thwarted.

We expect that Superintendent Christina Kishimoto will take up the judge’s *invitation* to come back with more *evidence* sometime in the future. The problem is, it appears that Kishimoto thinks she has a friendly judge who showed her the ropes this time so she can *do better* next time. The next time may not be against the Westies; it could be against anyone who gets in Christina Kishimoto’s way.

There’s a lot more to share about Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s testimony in that secret ex parte hearing. You all know how we love to share! ‘Til next time, keep on chirping, birdies!

Until then, it’s Oh Mexico. Trivia: did you know that James Taylor performed on the Queen Mary 2? Coming in the fall, it will be Crosby, Stills and Nash on QM2. It’s a great time to be an “elderly couple.”

Superintendent Kishimoto Gets Mad, Calls the Police and Goes to Court

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto doesn’t want the public to know that she parks in a special reserved parking space in the GPS parking lot, which is marked by a sign “Reserved for Superintendent.” That’s because the public might know when she is at work (and when she’s not). What is this, megalomania? Does her staff  make an “Elvis has left the building” announcement when she leaves?  Sheeesh.

Inquiring minds wanted to know if 7-0 Kishimoto’s newly reserved parking space took the place of a handicapped parking space. This *special* parking space is closest to the steps leading to the main doors  of the GPS White Palace. Short answer: no. There are still reserved parking spaces for handicapped visitors, but they’re not as close to the main door. We didn’t see any indication that Queen Christina’s new parking space was anything other than just a regular space that 7-0 Kishimoto happened to covet. It looks like the *special* parking space previous superintendents used wasn’t good enough for Her Newness.

** More About Superintendent Kishimoto’s Romp through Gilbert Municipal Court
** Christina Kishimoto’s Very Bad Day in a Secret Court Hearing

We agree with folks who don’t appreciate spending public money on a “Reserved for Superintendent” sign while school principals have been asking (over and over) for donations of reams of paper for their campuses. Remember when Good Old Charlie Santa Cruz was a candidate for a seat on the Governing Board, he asked his supporters to show their enthusiasm for him by contributing a ream of paper to the school of their choice? #IChooseGPS indeed. The Reserved for Superintendent parking space is just a silly distraction from the main event, though. You can see that we took a photo of the sign. Oooooh, that set off 7-0 Kishimoto! She’s mad at us. What she did about that madness is even sillier.

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto called the police to complain about us taking a picture in the parking lot. Yeppers, she called the School Resource Officer for Mesquite High School to launch her complaint. We can tell you, we were just flat-out scared to death to have a police officer call Westie. You see, Westie had hugged a friend in the parking lot that day, and it was possible this call from the police was about a charge of assault and battery for hugging. That police officer had a different mission, though.  He wanted to know why we were taking pictures. So we told him the same thing we posted here.  He wrote a report.

That should have been the end of the story, but this is when it got really interesting. As usual with Gilbert Public Schools, you can try to think of the stupidest thing the Good Old Boys might do, but they’ll amaze you every time with their ability to do something far more stupid than you could ever imagine.*

Christina Kishimoto flounced up to Gilbert Municipal Court and filed a civil lawsuit against the Westies. It seems that the nice police officer told her how to file for an injunction against harassment when he took her complaint about us taking pictures in a public parking lot. It was just amazing how 7-0 Kishimoto was merely mad at us when she called the police officer up to her private lair office and demanded that he find out why we were taking pictures. By the time she got herself up to the courthouse, she was in fear for her life, or something like that. An elderly couple with a camera must be terrifying, right? [face palm]  Sheeeesh.

By the time 7-0 Kishimoto filed for a  Petition for an Injunction against Harassment,  her story was a whole lot different from what the nice police officer reported about their encounter. Suddenly, Good Old Christina Kishimoto had to come up with a “series” of harassing events in order to get an injunction against that terrifying elderly couple. Well, actually, she couldn’t get an injunction against both Westies, so she made up a bunch of stuff about TWestie, someone she has never in her life met. Probably has never even seen him. [The same is true about DWestie, but her name got crossed off Kishimoto’s petition.] TWestie had no opportunity to contest her allegations because he was not notified of the hearing or of Kishimoto’s petition. Does that sound fair?

Then the problems snowballed for Superintendent Kishimoto, who had decided to represent herself rather than consult the many lawyers she keeps at her beck and call on the public dime. First of all, the power to sue is specifically reserved to the GPS Governing Board, not to the Superintendent. Inquiring minds want to know: did the Governing Board know that Queen Christina was in that courtroom during school hours? It sure looks like Good Old 7-0 Kishimoto didn’t want the board to know about her excellent adventure. Others ask if the highest paid superintendent in Arizona took personal leave to go romping down to the courthouse.  That’s doubtful, since the superintendent can sell back any and all of her leave for full price, which happens to be something like $1,000.00 per day. But we digress.

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto took an oath under penalty of perjury when she signed her petition, swearing her evidence was true to the best of her knowledge and that she requested an injunction “as allowed by law.” She also swore that the testimony she was going to give was “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” Then she swore out loud that the contents of her petition were true and accurate to the best of her knowledge. How do we know these things about the secret little hearing Christina Kishimoto finagled? We asked for a copy of the audio recording of the 13 minute hearing. As always, Westie loves to share.

Her Newness introduced herself as the “Superintendent of Schools.” Oooh, it must have burned when the judge didn’t know who she was, how *special* she was, or even what school district she was from. Queen Christina just barreled forth with all kinds of sworn testimony about how scared she was of the guy whose act of harassment was this: “The Green’s [sic] were in my office bldg at 140 S Gilbert reviewing public records.” OMG! Call the cops! [Oh wait, she did that already.]

We’ll post more about Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s sworn testimony in a court of law and why it’s important that the citizens of The Town of Gilbert, Arizona know that if you p*ss her off, she will come after you. You know you’ll be laughing your heads off. It will be a little *light* reading for Spring Break.  

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* Big Fat Asterisk: As Dave Barry says, you can’t make this stuff up:

“Get up-close with Dave as he examines UFO thrillseekers and Elvis- worshippers, plays lead guitar with a horrifying rock band that includes Stephen King, and swears to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth . . . so God help you!”

GPS Superintendent Kishimoto’s Secret Spending Plans Exposed

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto has been brazenly violating Open Meeting Laws and Arizona Public Records Laws since she took the helm of a school district that had been run by clown car group of administrators. Now Good Old 7-0 Kishimoto has gone where those others feared to tread.

On January 13, 2015, we reviewed the “minutes” of the December 2, 2014 work study session, consisting of 4 cassette tapes described by GPS as having been “recorded using outdated equipment.” When we made a formal request using the GPS Public Records online form on December 9, 2014, it was already past the statutory requirement that minutes be available to the public. Gilbert Public Schools and Superintendent Christina Kishimoto had already hung their hats on the false premise, “it’s not a public meeting because no legal action will be taken.” In addition to state law, there’s also GPS policy that’s being violated. Here’s what the Community Relations staff emailed to us:

Please let me reiterate that there are no formal minutes from the 12/02/14 Work Study.  There are Board member responses to the Budget Process and Dr Kishimoto’s SOP’s. In regards to Policy BEDG, this Work Study in question does not apply to GPS Policy BEDG.

In other words, 7-0 Kishimoto has taken the dicta of her hero to heart:

I’m the commander, see. I don’t need to explain — I do not need to explain why I say things. That’s the interesting thing about being the President Superintendent. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don’t feel like I owe anybody an explanation.”

Here’s what GPS Policy BEDG says: “The video recording of the meeting shall be available for public review on the district website three working days after the date of the meeting, except for confidential executive session minutes.” We saw that 7-0 Kishimoto took all the credit when the February 10, 2015 work study session was Livestreamed, but thanks anyway to whoever made that happen.

We helpfully listened to the entire work study session and recorded it so we could share it with our beloved Birdies. The links will appear at the bottom of this post;  they’re painful to listen to, we warn you. It seems that GPS either can’t or won’t save audio and video recordings in a way that you can listen or watch and not suffer through unreasonable and irresponsible *technical difficulties.* Then, of course, there are the self-inflicted *technical difficulties* of just turning off microphones and/or cameras, or creating a gap in the record for an undetermined period of time. Sheeeeeesh.

We extracted three audio clips that should scare anyone who believes in transparency in government. The work study recordings reveal why GPS makes it difficult for the public to discover what board members discuss with the superintendent. This explains a lot about why Gilbert Public Schools went back to the Stone Ages in terms of open government — and why it took so long for us to get our hands on this information.

“This is still a dangerous world. It’s a world of madmen and uncertainty and potential mental losses.”

For example, 7-0 Kishimoto discussed having the board commit to allocating $1.5 Million to $2 Million each year in the future for curriculum when board members determine their budget framework for the next school year. Did you know that priority is now set in stone for at least three budget cycles? Once again, we feel outraged on behalf of the loyal GPS employees who believed that salary increases would be the first priority for this new bought-and-paid-for board. Click to listen.

 

Of course, there’s more: with these clowns, there’s always more. We shall now unveil 7-0 Kishimoto’s *process* for marketing Gilbert Public Schools. Superintendent Kishimoto said she is developing a marketing proposal to go to the board in January [it’s already a day late and a dollar short in mid-February, but who’s counting?].  Kishimoto stated that the marketing plan was being developed “at no cost” by “silent partners who are working with me right now, who are experts.” Kishimoto also said, “We have engaged some of these folks. We are putting a plan together…so the board will be able to see where the funds are going.” Click to listen.

 

It’s alarming to hear that initiatives for spending potentially millions of dollars are being developed in secret by “no cost silent partners.” Their conflicts of interest could be enormous. Are these silent partners consultants who are already “engaged” being paid with public funds? What’s happening behind closed doors?

Hey, wait a minute! Could this be the reason that The Arizona Republic started publishing puff pieces about how *civilized* GPS board meetings have become under the *leadership* of Lily Tram? Could it be that The Republic stands to gain big bucks from 7-0 Kishimoto’s new marketing plan that has yet to be presented to the governing board? Could it be that people from The Republic (or really close colleagues) are part of the group of “silent partners” who are developing a spending plan for all this marketing money? Could these “silent partners” have put the horse before the cart (in a sneaky way to force the community’s hand) by allocating marketing dollars to Friends of Kishimoto before the target audiences have even been identified? What are the odds that any of these new marketing materials will be error-free and professional, given what now passes for communications from GPS?

Let’s take a look at what is on Lily Tram’s mind these days when it comes to plans for Gilbert Public Schools.  We know that the GPS website teaches that the board sometimes gives direction to the administration during work study sessions, so here we have Good Old Lily Tram setting the table for closing GPS schools. Parents, taxpayers and community members should receive notice that board members are discussing closing schools; the process and considerations are set out in A.R.S. §15-341A33. Instead, we have a work study session that wasn’t intended to have minutes available to the public. Click to listen.

 

If you thought the Good Old Boys and their “Gilbert Way” of doing business were bad, you ain’t seen nuthin yet: discussing closing schools, outlining budget framework for future school years and developing potentially multi-million dollar spending plans with “silent partners” while evading public scrutiny. All this news, coming on top of the board’s decisions (following the superintendent’s recommendations) to buy Google Chromebooks for all 7th graders, buy new school busses, and spend $1.3 Million for administrative software tells you what’s coming down the pike.  All the remaining money in this year’s budget will be spent on the new board’s *priorities* rather than essential elements for educating students.

“See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.”

When the money is gone, they’ll do the usual wailing and rending of garments proclaiming GPS can’t survive without another tax override. They’ll chide the horrible citizens who don’t trust the GPS administration and governing board with more, more and more millions of dollars. They’ll make budget cuts designed to inflict maximum pain on families of GPS students, hoping to intimidate voters to pass the *essential* override. We’ve all seen all this before.

  ‘Fool me once, shame on…shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.’

Educrats and their enablers. They’ve made the pie higher:

“As yesterday’s positive report card shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured.”

As promised, you can listen to *almost* the whole meeting at the following links (gaps courtesy of whoever recorded the meeting and/or provided tape copies of the original tapes for us to review):

http://westieconnect.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/WorkStudy2december2014part1.mp3
http://westieconnect.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/WorkStudy2december2014part2.mp3
http://westieconnect.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/WorkStudy2december2014part3.mp3
http://westieconnect.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/WorkStudy2december2014part4.mp3

Gilbert Public Schools: Requiring Payment for Access to Public Officials?

It looks like GPS Superintendent Christina “7-0″ Kishimoto thinks the public ought to pay $$$ to talk to Ole 7-0 herself, board members and “leaders” in the district. Really. Your tax dollars aren’t enough–if you want to talk to Her Newness, she wants more, more and more of YOUR money! (Maybe you’ll get breakfast, if you’re deemed sufficiently *worthy.* GPS has been running up some mighty big catering bills lately!) As originally posted in the East Valley Tribune:

Gilbert Public Schools hosting town hall Posted: Friday, February 6, 2015 8:15 am

Gilbert Public Schools will host a town hall meeting from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Feb. 17. The meeting will feature governing board members, as well as leaders of Gilbert Public Schools, discussing current issues in education. Member admission to the event is $20, while nonmember admission is $35. [The photo of 7-0 was “Courtesy of Hartford Schools.” Really.]

That article caused people to question what new level of effontery was Gilbert Public Schools trying to achieve.  Pay to play  “discuss current issues in education” with public servants who are paid far too much for a bunch of second-string players  administrators? Sheeesh! As the day went on, there were claims that the event was REALLY a Gilbert Chamber of Commerce thingy. So you’re supposed to believe it is just hunky-dory to pay money to talk to the people who run GPS while they are being paid with your tax dollars. Of course, you’re supposed to forget that the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce decided to support their pet school board candidates, Jill Humpherys and Charlie Santa Cruz, as soon as they filed their candidacy papers.

[Notice how the Chamber of Commerce thought there were only four candidates in the school board election; we all know there were five candidates. Oooopsie. So much for credibility, Gilbert business critters!]

CofC-noGoodGovteventsWhen we heard that 7-0 was claiming this was actually a Gilbert Chamber of Commerce event,  we checked the Chamber’s website. Wouldn’t you know,  there was no event scheduled for February 17th.  Then, a claim was made that this so-called Town Hall was really a Chamber of Commerce event under the banner of the “Good Government” series. [Saying “Gilbert Public Schools” and “Good Government” in the same breath? Come on! <sarcasm>] Click the image at right to see that there were no “Good Government” events scheduled in February 2015.   The East Valley Tribune tried again at 5:19 PM, but didn’t make things any better for 7-0 Kishimoto (new text in color):

The Gilbert Chamber of Commerce will host a town hall meeting for the Gilbert Public Schools district from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Feb. 17. The meeting will feature governing board members, as well as leaders of Gilbert Public Schools, discussing current issues in education. Member admission to the event is $20, while non-member admission is $35. [EVT now has a picture of 7-0 Kishimoto “Courtesy of Gilbert Public Schools.”]

Apparently, even the new article wasn’t good enough for 7-0 Kishimoto. Here’s what got posted on the GPS website, where they couldn’t even be bothered to tell you what “Chamber” is the real host of the pay-to-play event [chamber pot, perhaps?]:

  GPSmessageCofCevent,

See, there it is again: “Good Government” event … isn’t it fortunate that we saved the image showing otherwise? With the difference between the GPS comment, the Chamber of Commerce website and the image we posted above, some people might begin to think that the Superintendent known as 7-0 Kishimoto is a bit challenged when it comes to stating things truthfully!

Why would GPS allow anyone to charge money to talk to GPS public servants on GPS property? This looks really strange and it smells to high heaven. Maybe it’s legal, if GPS charges the Chamber of Commerce for using GPS property, which will be like pulling teeth to determine whether payment actually was received (remember the candidate debates at Gilbert High School?).  Maybe it’s not legal – it seems that 7-0 Kishimoto would have asked the board to formally approve this activity if it were on the up-and-up. After all, the board formally approves all kinds of activities at board meetings, so it’s not like this would be difficult. But by golly, there are no official minutes with approval for this event. Wonder why?

It would be a terrible thing for the top educator in the school district to be caught making things up, wouldn’t it? Especially with the emphasis GPS has always placed on the Six Pillars of Character, as shown by those posters displayed in GPS classrooms:

Trustworthiness: Be honest • Don’t deceive, cheat, or steal • Be reliable — do what you say you’ll do • Have the courage to do the right thing • Build a good reputation • Be loyal — stand by your family, friends, and country

Respect: Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule • Be tolerant and accepting of differences • Use good manners, not bad language • Be considerate of the feelings of others • Don’t threaten, hit or hurt anyone • Deal peacefully with anger, insults, and disagreements

Responsibility: Do what you are supposed to do • Plan ahead • Persevere: keep on trying! • Always do your best • Use self-control • Be self-disciplined • Think before you act — consider the consequences • Be accountable for your words, actions, and attitudes • Set a good example for others

Fairness: Play by the rules • Take turns and share • Be open-minded; listen to others • Don’t take advantage of others • Don’t blame others carelessly • Treat all people fairly

Caring: Be kind • Be compassionate and show you care • Express gratitude • Forgive others • Help people in need

Citizenship: Do your share to make your school and community better • Cooperate • Get involved in community affairs • Stay informed; vote • Be a good neighbor • Obey laws and rules • Respect authority • Protect the environment • Volunteer

From the Maricopa County Ethics Policy:

All public servants shall carry out the public’s business in a manner that benefits the public interest and the common good. They shall uphold the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Arizona. They shall impartially carry out all Federal, State, and County laws and ordinances in an effort to foster respect for all levels of government. They shall not exceed their authority, breach the law, act dishonestly, nor directly or indirectly request others to do so. They shall observe the highest standards of ethical behavior and discharge faithfully their duties and responsibilities, regardless of personal considerations, and shall avoid circumstances that create an appearance of impropriety. They shall protect the County’s assets and its reputation through professional and personal conduct that is above reproach. This means treating co-workers and all members of the public with respect, courtesy, fairness, honesty, and integrity. [emphasis added]

Arizona Constitution, Article 9, Section 7:

Neither the State, nor any county, city, town, municipality, or other subdivision of the State shall ever give or loan its credit in the aid of, or make any donation or grant, by subsidy or otherwise, to any individual, association, or corporation, or become a subscriber to, or a shareholder in, any company or corporation, or become a joint owner with any person, company, or corporation, except as to such ownerships as may accrue to the State by operation or provision of law. [emphasis added]

It’s just so gosh darn HARD to keep up appearances!

Outrageous Pay Inequality in Gilbert Public Schools

Arizona school districts are moving into employment contract season, which is also the time when high-level administrative employees and coaches announce they are leaving, generally for greener pastures. For employees in Gilbert Public Schools, just about any pasture is greener these days. BTW, teachers don’t have to declare whether they are returning to GPS (that will be in May), but their resumes are brightly burnished and they are ready for interviews!

First up, let’s look at Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s three year contract. It’s a doozy, full of everything Good Old Dave Allison had, plus a whole lot more. We hear that Good Old 7-0 Kishimoto is teaching her Arizona superintendent *peers* how to get the same gold-plated deal for themselves. We can’t wait to hear from all those educrats that it’s all for the kids. [sarcasm and ridicule]

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s Compensation Package:

~ Base Pay: $200,000.00 each year.
~ Automatic raise each year: 2% (that’s $4,000.00 each year)
~ Expense Allowance: $5,000.00 per year.
~ Automobile Entitlement: $6,600.00, to be paid at $550.00 per month.
~ Professional Growth: Capped at $3,000.00 per year.
~ Civic Responsibility Expense: $3,000.00 per year.
~ Tax Sheltered Annuity: $10,000.00 on July 1st and on January 1st of each year.
~ $500,000.00 Basic term life insurance policy.
~ Disability insurance: within 30 days of disability, covering 75% of salary.
~ Moving Expense: $15,000.00 to be paid no later than August 1, 2014.

~ Administrative Benefits (which she can cash in for full value, unlike low-level GPS employees):

~ No less than 24 vacation days, exclusive of legal holidays.
~ 16 days for illness benefits and leaves.
~ 10 days of personal leave.
~ Healthcare for herself and her family.
~ All other benefits provided to twelve month administrative employees.

Evaluations: Having been humiliated by the Hartford Board of Education’s one and only evaluation of her performance as superintendent, it’s no wonder that 7-0 Kishimoto put it into her contract that her evaluations and assessments shall be done in executive session.

Performance Pay: Criteria to be determined by October 1, 2014. We all know that the superintendent and the board waited until January 2015 to even discuss the goals and criteria for 7-0 Kishimoto’s $10,000.00 performance-based compensation.  It looks like she waited ’til the board was stacked with *friendlies,* including her pet bought-and-paid-for members.   The performance pay payout is August 1st of each year.

Getting fired: Having been humiliated in Hartford, once again it’s no surprise that 7-0 Kishimoto made sure her contract spells out the convoluted path a board must take to fire her discharge her for cause.

Our gal Christina gets the same magnificent indemnification clause that GOB Dave Allison had. There must be some reason that school district superintendents want to have district-paid lawyers representing them for fleecing the public  getting caught with their hands in the cookie jar or other such shenanigans.

There’s no way Christina Kishimoto will ever measure up to Camille Casteel, Superintendent of Chandler Unified School District. Dr. Casteel is getting a high school named for her while she’s still superintendent – that says it all about the level of respect she has earned. Here’s the Chandler board’s proclamation. It’s powerful and inspiring, if you are an educator. Notice that Dr. Casteel began as a first grade teacher, and she’s really proud of it. Another stellar superintendent in Florida is an old classmate of DWestie. See, a community doesn’t have to settle for substandard.

There’s a reason GPS teachers have fled to Chandler USD in droves. Even the students noticed last year; nothing has changed for the better this year:

Teachers are finding more and more reasons to leave their schools, specifically Gilbert Public Schools (GPS), to find a more comfortable place here in the Chandler Unified School District (CUSD). Due to problems such as finances, workload, and safety in their school system, educators are willing to pack up their belongings and land a job at Perry in order to continue a secure and more professional career in their desired line of work.

With little communication and uncertainty all-around, teachers and higher-ups might continue to clash and there will undoubtedly be more resignations and retirements (more than average) throughout all of Gilbert Public Schools for the upcoming months to come.

We made a public records request for the contracts of the other top dogs in GPS, way back on December 9, 2014: Alexander Nardone, Jeffrey Gadd, Suzanne Zentner, Linda McKeever* and Brian Jaeger. Yeah, we still don’t have them two months later. It’s not like it’s hard for GPS to find five contracts; it’s probably that GPS doesn’t want anyone to know how generous the top dog paychecks are. Since it’s almost time to renegotiate the contracts for the top dogs, the most recent pots of gold are of great interest to the loyal GPS employees who are waiting for the largess they thought had been promised by the new bought-and-paid-for board members and the GEA president who rallied state-wide troops to elect them. We wonder if the screaming meemies will get all worked up over a *mass exodus* this year.

Oh, you didn’t know that most assistant superintendent level contracts are negotiated annually? All over Arizona, they come up with all kinds of goodies, from free health insurance to car allowances to *Pay for Additional Work* to goodness knows what else. That’s while the board *considers* a salary increase for loyal employees in the range of 1% to 2%, usually. Then  there’s the Higley board that gives Superintendent Denise Birdwell big old pension spiking humongous raises every year for being … famously mean. At least, that’s what we hear from our birdies.

[Keyboard: Hang in there, Higley employees, Birdwell is almost gone.]

There’s some news for all you loyal employees are waiting to hear how you will fare on the new Stepless Salary Schedule. We know you’re all crossing your fingers that there will be money in the actual budget for those increases this time.  Her Wellness, Suzanne Zentner, will be making presentations about the Stepless Salary Schedule along with Moneybags Jeff Gadd. What a lot of chutzpah to “share the details” BEFORE the board approves a new salary schedule! Yeah, if GEA has blessed this, it shall be done…

 RE: Stepless Salary Schedule Presentations and Question/Answer Forums

 In an ongoing effort to share the details of the proposed stepless salary schedule transition, you are invited to attend any of the meetings noted below.

Certified Staff:  Thursday, 2/19 from 4-5pm @ Mesquite High School Lecture Hall
Thursday, 3/5 from 4:30-5:30pm @ Highland High School Lecture Hall

Support Staff:   Tuesday, 3/3 from 4-5pm @ Greenfield Jr High School Library
Wednesday, 3/18 from 4-5pm @ Mesquite Jr High School Auditorium

Notice you have to attend these meetings on your own time if you want to know what’s going on about your pay. That’s on top of all the  endless meetings you have to attend as part of your job. In other industries, employers have figured out how to communicate over webinars so that any and all employees can get the same message at a time convenient to their unique work schedule. What a concept!

More of the same old stuff: our buddies in Hartford say that 7-0 Kishimoto’s strong point has never been communication, and it’s becoming more evident every day that communication is not 7-0 Kishimoto’s strong point in Gilbert, either. Birdies are chirping that these presentations about the new GPS Strategic Operating Plan have been *tailored* for various audiences to try to get more buy-in. Heck, 7-0 Kishimoto makes sure there are raffles and giveaways to pump up audience numbers when she graces the community with her presence. Sheeeesh. SOS:

There is no question that Kishimoto’s skill set is missing strong communication ability. She definitely needs work on informing the board and answering members’ questions.

Maybe it’s like doing the limbo: how low can she go?

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* Big Fat Asterisk: Did Linda McKeever get a big fat raise when she got promoted to Curriculum Commissar at the last board meeting?
[Keyboard: Duh…why bother asking?]

Shiny New School Busses, Chromebooks and Unicorns

Gilbert Public Schools has a brand new Governing Board in place, and they’re off to the races in terms of just how much money Dr. Christina Kishimoto can convince them to spend on chasing rainbows and unicorns before the public brings out the torches and pitchforks.

The answer might become clear at the January 2015 regular board meeting, where suddenly there’s money for Chromebooks for all 7th graders, shiny new school busses, performance pay for the superintendent and more. New and enhanced Tech Services salaries are moving over to the same fund as teachers and support staff … more people, same pie. No one begrudges the raises the Tech Services people are getting (for the most part) but HOW and WHEN these raises have come about is sounding pretty much like cloak and dagger dealing in smoke-filled back rooms. This is all on top of the $1.3 Million software deal that didn’t go out for bids a couple of months ago.

Wasn’t that a big show of chutzpah for 7-0 Kishimoto to have announcements sent out over the Infinite Campus system to parents, before Governing Board approval, announcing the great big new and fabulous technology plan that puts a chicken in every pot  a Google Chromebook in the hands of every 7th grader? That’s how to spend a couple of million dollars to zero out the expiring Technology Override before the new governor’s decree of “stop spending money except in the classroom” takes effect for Arizona’s public schools! As for the voting public and taxpayers, too bad you didn’t know this was THE TOP PRIORITY for those scarce GPS resources until just now.

Hey teachers and GEA acolytes: do you feel you’ve been tossed out with the bath water? Down in Tucson, the TEA made sure that staff salary raises were the first order of business after the Tucson board got their bought-and-paid-for board members in voting mode. It sure helped that a new superintendent in Tucson *discovered* that the $17 Million deficit was an illusion. Nevertheless, lots of schools were shut and all kinds of painful, draconian measures were taken to cut spending until the *gap* was closed.

Suddenly, just before the 2014 election, Tucson was sitting pretty with a $20 Million surplus:

The district had a $14 million surplus that has in fact grown to $20 million. TUSD officials are saying the money will be used to help increase teacher salaries and lower class sizes.  It was just last month that a former deputy superintendent projected the district would have a deficit of $15 million; that was based on cuts in federal funding and a loss of between 900 and 2,200 students, a projection the Superintendent called a worst case scenario.

Here’s some of the buzz in the community about the fabulous new Google Chromebooks and what a magnificent move it will be to approve what 7-0 Kishimoto has already set in motion: <channeling sarcasm and ridicule>

It says on the agenda they are moving technology employees salaries over to the rest of the employees salary budget in order to make room in the technology budget to buy these Chromebooks. That means that although it may be true that the money in that category can only buy technology, it can also pay the salaries of the technology services staff so that they aren’t competing now for the same fund teachers are paid from. This is just sophisticated manipulation of money. You’ve got to hand it to her, it’s clever.

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I’m not sure Dr K has the district’s best interests mind. The plans aren’t plans, they’re ideas. We need a budget, not to be chasing rainbows. She’s not stellar in replying to parents and we have more questions than answers…The communication is shoddy at best, sketchy and underhanded at worst. No one really seems to be able to give any solid answers. We need to repair the existing damage before we try to implement these grandiose plans.

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Oppose. Looks “fancy” – but at what cost? The ongoing cost to maintain and monitor this technology will be a burden on staff & budgets. Many 7th graders can’t remember their PE clothes, but we are giving them high-end notebooks? Misplaced priorities. As a parent and professional educator, I see this as a major misstep.

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I don’t feel that this is a good use of resources. We would be better served to start updating the 9 year old Macs that we already have, even if we can’t replace all of them. Chromebooks are basically disposable laptops, and the cost to update our ability to run this many devices at once is far more expensive than the cost of the books themselves. We have a little bit over override money left in the budget, we can use it more wisely than this.

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I am hearing a lot of concerns from parents and district employees about this proposal that is going before the board tonight. Among other things, many people believe that Google Chromebooks are a quick fix and are pretty much just glorified web browsers with security as an issue since Google data mines user accounts. I realize there is some urgency to provide technology for the new state testing program, but they could increase the bandwidth and still delay the Chromebook decision until it has been more carefully considered.

Yes, parents AND educators are concerned that their beloved 7th graders are going to be exploited, subjected to data-mining and other nefarious dastardly deeds, and parents won’t be able to do a thing about it. You’re right to be concerned! However, Google will require signed parent consent for allowing GPS students under the age of 13 to use Google education apps. That will be a logistical nightmare to administer, by any measure. Teachers won’t mind having their feet held to the fire for yet another unfunded mandate and unpaid extra duty, will they? <Dripping sarcasm>

As for the shiny new school busses, don’t worry about a thing. <more sarcasm> Here’s what’s on the agenda: “approval of the utilization of Mohave Contract #13N-ASH-0925 awarded to Auto Safety House (GPS Reference RFP #15-39) for the purchase of three replacement, 84 passenger Thomas School Buses and 2 replacement Special Needs Busses.” Once again, it appears GPS didn’t take the time to go out for bids, so they’re just going to use the smoke-and-mirrors technique AGAIN and sleaze on by with their Mohave buddies. Things are getting pretty stinky in the Great White Temple of Doom. That’s even BEFORE we start connecting the dots involved in the Chromebook purchases!

Maybe folks in Gilbert, Arizona don’t know the history of 7-0 Kishimoto and her sketchy budget deals in her last job in Hartford. Here’s something to remember when 7-0 Kishimoto tells the GPS Governing Board that she doesn’t see a need to go out for bids: The City of Hartford and the Hartford school district *lost* $670,000 in insurance premiums to fraud. The FBI moved in to investigate and the matter went before a Grand Jury:

In an internal memorandum dated Sept. 24, Hartford Schools’ CFO wrote that the City Treasurer’s office “moved” a fiduciary liability policy from one broker to Hybrid about February 2012 without the need to ‘compete.’” Mayor Pedro Segarra, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and school board Chairman Matthew Poland forwarded the memo to the city’s internal audit commission on Oct. 2.

City officials called for criminal investigations. Notice that *citizen reports* paved the way for uncovering the fraud that occurred under 7-0 Kishimoto’s watch: 

“There have been citizen reports and concerns about incomplete or fraudulent information, and steering of contracts among special insider interests,” he wrote. “This council has been unable to receive clear answers in these areas, which involve its administration and finance department, treasurer, and board of education. … Therefore, we now with some urgency ask for your involvement and investigation into these matters.”

We have an uneasy feeling that 7-0 Kishimoto’s history might repeat itself with these big-ticket, multi-million dollar procurement initiatives that are not deemed worthy of “going out for bids” when the Good Old Boys can simply piggyback on each others’ stinky deals. History is already repeating itself with GPS top dogs hiding the ball from the board until they can say, “You have to approve it NOW!” We’ll see if this new board will go along to get along and rubber stamp 7-0 Kishimoto’s grandiose plans. The tone-deafness is incredible.

Our birdies will recognize that this is another post that pretty much wrote itself. Thanks for all the chirps! Have some chocolate.

Gilbert Public Schools New Salary Schedule

computingHere’s what Gilbert Public Schools doesn’t want you to know <THIS TIME> about the new salary schedules.

Sheesh, you would think the Good Old Boys would figure out that working in the dark is not a good way to earn trust, but the Peter Principle* seems to have taken hold of GPS and won’t let go. Feel free to discuss among yourselves.

The new salary schedule that’s being discussed.
The exhibits that go along with the salary schedule.

Members of the committee, according to the GPS website [we couldn’t resist highlighting some GOBs we all recognize]:

Jill Humpherys, Governing Board Clerk <sure, she would NEVER cut your pay> <dripping sarcasm>

Diane Drazinski, President of the Gilbert Education Association <sold dues-paying GEA members down the river again?>

Jeff Gadd, CFO <just remember, he set the stage for the Dysart District’s teacher position losses, see our post

Dr. Suzanne Zentner, CTO <we’re so disappointed in her, sigh, she could have been a contender>

Barbara Arroyo
Jason Barletta
Dale Lunt
Lorna Christie
Nancy Masterson
Karen Coleman
Shawn McIntosh
Kelly Dibella
Jay Morris
Sharon Orr
Albert Dutchover
Cheryl Redfield
Casey Fraughton
Laura Sup
Sam Valles
Dinah Guhy
Matt Wheeler
Ward Heinemann

This was most definitely worth an *emergency* post to disseminate this public information.  We warn you about speculating where we got it. We don’t like seeing claims that someone surreptitiously gave us *privileged* information. If you want to make an accusation, you better damn well be right next time.

Expect the new bought-and-paid-for board to accept the superintendent’s recommendation and approve this schedule at the next board meeting.

Peace out.

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Big Fat Asterisk: It was tempting, but we didn’t indulge in the many free associations that could swirl around one’s mind. Feel free to discuss the Loose Zipper Brigade if you wish.


What Gilbert Public Schools Doesn't Want You to Know,
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