GPS Fraud, Waste & Abuse Report #1: Travel Violates State Law

Fraud, Waste & Abuse in Gilbert Public SchoolsWestie’s Fraud, Waste & Abuse Reports chronicle deliberate misuse of authority and public funds, abuse of authority, gifts of public funds and intentional violations of Arizona statutes and administrative rules by Gilbert Public Schools top-level administrators at the behest of superintendent Christina Kishimoto. Word of warning to those who might consider the business-as-usual tricks employed by GPS admins in the past: it won’t help to lose files, forge signatures or *create documentation* after the fact. Everything in these FW&A Reports has already been reported to state and federal elected officials and enforcement agencies. 

Intentional violations of state law result in unapproved travel, fraudulent reimbursements to GPS employees. Since she became Superintendent in July 2014, Christina Kishimoto and selected GPS employees have routinely traveled without complying with Arizona law. There is no question about what approval level Arizona law requires: authorizing travel by school district employees is discretionary power reserved to the Governing Board and can be approved only by an official vote, which must occur in a public meeting:

A.R.S 15-342 Discretionary Powers.
The governing board may:
5. Permit a superintendent or principal or representatives of the superintendent or principal to travel for a school purpose, as determined by a majority vote of the board. [emphasis added]

District Policy DKC and its implementing regulation, DKC-R, are woefully deficient in terms of providing for oversight of expenditures and reimbursements, especially for travel. The policy merely refers to A.R.S. 38-624 for limitations on reimbursement amounts. The GPS governing board’s failure to oversee GPS employee travel is particularly striking in light of the fact that at almost every board meeting the board routinely approves an agenda item for field trips by students, reviewing detailed explanations for each student field trip. That is the only employee travel that the GPS Governing Board votes to approve: when employees supervise a student field trip.

GPS vouchers with extensive travel expenditures are generally included in the Consent Agendas of board meetings. Those vouchers indicate extensive travel by GPS employees using both state and federal funds over the past many years. Even though it was pointless to oppose payment of vouchers that included suspicious spending for unapproved expenses, two board members, Daryl Colvin and Julie Smith, voted against voucher approval many times while Lily Tram was president of the GPS governing board.

Inconsistencies within vouchers invited attention to expenditures and indications of public corruption within GPS. With three reliable rubber stamp votes, a board president providing cover and a board clerk who apparently never questioned vouchers (as required by her position), there was basically no oversight of Christina Kishimoto’s extravagant spending or excessive travel by the superintendent and her sycophants.

New board members: you might consider impounding all travel files in GPS RIGHT NOW so they can be independently audited. We’ll point out more reasons below. Here’s a caveat about all the files disappearing; we have archived quite a lot of public records for comparison to what your audit will reveal. In addition, those public records already have been provided to enforcement agencies, so a GPS file shredding party, like the one Dave Allison threw, won’t erase the full history. More to the point: obstruction of justice is a separate charge; remember the mantra, “It’s always the cover up.” Al Capone’s conviction for tax evasion also is worthy of recall. 

Christina Kishimoto does not request approval for her own travel as required by Arizona law; on occasion, she merely informs the GPS Governing Board that she will be traveling. Her most recent vacation to a resort location at taxpayer expense was to New Orleans. From the January 2017 voucher report:

AMER ASSOC OF SCHOOL ADMINSTRATORS INC.  Conference Registration Fees for Dr. Christina M. Kishimoto to attend the AASA/ALAS Conference in New Orleans – March 1-4, 2017 The purpose of this conference is professional development and networking opportunities. $925.00.

How do we know that Christina Kishimoto actually attended the boondoggle  conference? She tweeted on her SuperDork account about her buddy John King, former US Secretary of Education, who won an award. Yep, THAT John King, a Bronx dude who almost destroyed public schools in the state of New York before he was peter-principled to the national stage. She also tweeted admiration for writer Monique Morris, citing her bold talk about women leader voice in cultural relevancy and competency in schools. Too bad Christina Kishimoto didn’t know that Monique Morris admires and retweeted this: “No parent should have to fight against their school district to meet the needs of their students.” Christina Kishimoto’s track record in both Hartford and GPS is one of parents constantly fighting for their kids and unceasingly pushing back against destroying neighborhood schools. But we digress.

Notice that the $925.00 registration fee that GPS paid did not include travel expenses for Christina Kishimoto’s taste of Mardi Gras Land. Those expenses generally were listed separately in the past; GPS has gone to great lengths to hide the total expenses for most trips financed by GPS taxpayers by spreading them across several months of vouchers in the GPS “needle in the haystack” financial system.

There’s a new wrinkle in the consolidated vouchers posted recently on the GPS website: an Open Purchase Order, presumably set up to evade scrutiny by a new MBA kind of guy who is now the board clerk. Most of the GPS financial wrinkles have been designed to prevent accountability, it seems. The newest voucher entry: “Employee Travel (Out of District) Costs-Dr. Kishimoto  expenses for travel to professional development conferences.  Per Dana M. an open PO for travel purchases is acceptable for the 2016-17 school year. Travel expenses include, hotel and airline and gr…” The amount shown is $913.18.

Interestingly, there was  a separate entry for Conference Registration Fees for Dr. Christina M. Kishimoto to attend the AASA/ALAS Conference in New Orleans – March 1-4, 2017 in the amount of $1,025.00 that GPS paid in addition to the $925.00 for the same conference. Add in close to a thousand dollars for travel costs, and pretty soon, you’re talking about real money, so to speak.

New board members: does this make you feel silly for questioning ~$750.00 annual transportation costs for Kishimoto’s newest school design, the junior high gifted academy? You might feel even sillier when you approve the $8,100.00 expense on the February vouchers for some of Christina Kishimoto’s favorite sycophants to attend the attend Race, Equity and Leadership in Schools held at Harvard Graduate School of Education March 20, 2017 – March 25, 2017. You already approved $4,066.35 for travel for that boondoggle in the January 2017 Voucher Report. Spending $12,000.00+ for top level administrators to party at Harvard makes your scrutiny of Christina Kishimoto’s *school designs* seem to be petty, or window dressing,or just trivial, as you seem to be easily distracted. Christina Kishimoto has proven herself to be a master of distraction, as you already should know. 

Christina Kishimoto attended an ALAS conference in Philadelphia a few months before her trip to New Orleans. “Emp Training  & Prof Dev Registration- Dr. Christina Kishimoto will attend the 2016 ALAS Summit in Philadelphia PA on October 12-15, 2016” for which the district paid $450.00 for registration only. This does not include travel expenses. ALAS is a national organization for Latino Superintendents, of which Christina Kishimoto was president last year. It is an affiliate of  the American Association of School Administrators. These groups and their so-called conferences are all boondoggles, set up for superintendents and their pet administrators to party across the country on the taxpayer’s dime. Maybe the $913.18 travel expense was for the Philadelphia conference, and the tab for Kishimoto’s New Orleans soiree hasn’t hit the vouchers yet. See? Who knows? That’s how the GPS financial system operates.

New board members: did you notice all the thousands upon thousands of dollars in the February 2017 voucher report for travel by other GPS employees? You’re going to approve them at the March 28, 2017 board meeting! Part of the pattern and practice of GPS administrators is to suck you guys into the corruption … once you have failed to diligently review expenditures, you’ve fallen into the muck of GPS mismanagement. BTW, there’s an entry for a *past due* payment for travel from the 2014-2015 school year in the amount of $975.00.

Bottom line: NONE OF THIS TRAVEL WAS APPROVED BY THE GPS GOVERNING BOARD AS REQUIRED BY A.R.S 15-342. The GPS business office did not have authority to pay for unapproved travel. We’ll look at how complicated this mess is in future FW&A posts.

Celebrating the Future Return of Sunshine to Gilbert Public Schools

National Sunshine Week is March 12-18, 2017, and Westie again awards the Darkest Recesses Award to GPS Superintendent Christina Kishimoto. Karma marked the superintendent’s proclivity for secrecy in Gilbert Public Schools with a most perverse development: Christina Kishimoto’s daughter Maria, an aspiring journalist in the tradition of sunshine in governance, just won a big honor.

For some unknown reason, the news on a GPS Twitter feed was deleted. Westie to the rescue!

[Keyboard: Did Gilbert High School delete a public record from Twitter?]

Take a moment to applaud Maria Kishimoto’s achievement. It’s a big deal:

GHS student Maria Kishimoto will travel to D.C. for prestigious Journalism conference! Congratulations Maria!

The news of Maria Kishimoto’s celebrity roared throughout Gilbert High School media outlets. Maria will be attending a George Mason University confab this summer; the famous university is the host of the Washington Journalism and Media Conference (WJMC). Each summer, the WJMC welcomes high school student leaders from all over the country as National Youth Correspondents.

Maria Kishimoto’s announcement and Christina Kishimoto’s Darkest Recesses Award are two sides of the same coin. Sunshine Week was started in 2005 by the American Society of News Editors to educate the public about the importance of open government and the dangers of excessive and unnecessary secrecy. Happy birthday, James Madison!

Sunshine Week and Open Government — It’s Not a “News Media” Thing, It’s a “You and Me” ThingThere might be an inclination to dismiss Sunshine Week and the concepts of open government and transparency generally as “something only the media and journalists care about.”  Anyone who takes that view, does so at his or her own peril – perhaps literally. In fact, it is often said that “transparency is the bedrock of democracy” because it is our ability to obtain information about our leaders and directly participate in our own governance — be it at the local, state or federal level — that allows our society to function.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on the fact that for National Sunshine Week of 2017, GPS superintendent Christina Kishimoto has again won Westie’s *Darkest Recesses* Award. Her achievements include a lack of transparency in government operations due to excessive secrecy, refusing to produce public records when requested by citizens and delaying for as long as a year before providing some records and denying others … on nothing more than a whim, it appears. Christina Kishimoto is a champion at disregarding laws she dislikes and giving middle finger salutes to people she really, really dislikes.

What does this have to do with Maria Kishimoto’s trip to Washington D.C. to attend a *prestigious Journalism conference*? Karma laughs at the cognitive dissonance between the daughter’s aspiration to a profession that honors truth and justice, juxtaposed against the mom’s loathsome determination to evade scrutiny of momentous decisions and extravagant expenditures of the public school district that employs her. Never mind such inconveniences as Arizona public records laws and open meeting laws, Christina Kishimoto’s continual violations are intended to induce fatigue: she seems to believe the public and the board will simply give up trying to hold her to account for anything at all.

There’s another element to Karma’s satirical wit during this Sunshine Week. Tuition to attend the WJM Conference is $1965. Plus airfare, etc. Seeing as how Christina Kishimoto is so adept at making the public pay for much of her daily expenses for food and entertainment, among other things, will Maria Kishimoto figure out how to attend the Washington Journalism and Media Conference at someone else’s expense? Like mother, like daughter? Will Christina Kishimoto, a six-figure salaried public employee, hit up *pals* in Gilbert to pay her daughter’s tuition and expenses? Even if it’s not illegal, is it ethical?

Here’s fundraising advice from the Washington Journalism and Media Conference organizers:

Identify your Potential Sponsors:  Start by making a list of all the people and organizations that could be potential sponsors. Think outside the box! The list will likely include family, friends, neighbors, teachers, coaches, church members, local businesses, and other community groups. Don’t leave out your parents’ friends, co-workers, your doctor, your dentist, or anyone else in your life. Use the Sponsor Form to begin listing all of the individuals and companies you will contact. Organizations to Consider: · Knights of Columbus · American Legion · PTA or PTO · Church and Temple groups · Alumni Associations · Junior Chamber of Commerce · Elks Clubs · Women’s Clubs · Local Political Organizations · Law Firms · School Board · Local Retail Stores · Car Dealerships · Restaurants

The monumental question underlying Sunshine Week is, “How long will the GPS Governing Board continue to allow Christina Kishimoto to flout laws and district policies?” While GPS students and employees enjoy their Spring Break, we’ll be putting finishing touches on Westie’s next series of posts about Fraud, Waste and Abuse in Gilbert Public Schools. Violating public records laws and open meeting laws is part of the problem, but there is so much more that needs to be put out into public view.

In the past, GPS has been able to sweep lawlessness under the rug, sometimes by initiating a so-called investigation by pet lawyers funded by The Trust. Phony labels such as “confidential” or “due process” or “executive content” have been slapped on to any complaints, investigations, reports, conclusions and (perhaps) corrective actions so the public never knows what really happened.  Westie to the rescue again!

We’ll post public complaints here, on this blog, along with evidence that shows the truth of the lawbreaking, wrongdoing, misfeasance, malfeasance and betrayal of the public trust. What’s different from what Westie has been doing for the past five years or more is that EVERY ONE OF THE COMPLAINTS will already have been lodged with federal and state enforcement agencies, along with extensive evidence proving the allegations. A public record already has been made.

What this means for Gilbert Public Schools is that it won’t do any good for GPS employees to destroy evidence or forge or *manufacture* public records in attempts to obstruct justice. Enforcement agencies already have the goods on GPS, so to speak. GPS doesn’t know exactly what public records have been distributed and shared among citizens who cooperated in building these cases against rampant wrongdoing and self enrichment, due to their own proclivity for secrecy and lousy record keeping.

There are many citizens of the Town of Gilbert who already feel betrayed by the aftermath of the GPS governing board’s decision to *hit pause* on relocating Gilbert Classical Academy. Exhibit Number One is Christina Kishimoto’s email to a portion of the public  about a new initiative to combine Mesquite Junior High School with Mesquite High School so that GCA can take over the Mesquite Junior High School campus … which was their going-in position a year ago. Once again, it appears that the GPS board will reward the special snowflakes and their loud-mouthed, insatiable parents at the expense of families on the west side of the town.

Kishimoto’s email pronouncement was an extension of the tried and true GPS tradition of “It’s a holiday, let’s fire someone!” This time, GPS is turning fire on the resistance fighters of Mesquite Junior High … Kishimoto is working on kicking those students out of their neighborhood school, and she’s giving them the entire Spring Break to worry about what’s happening behind closed doors. Again.

Maybe Karma wants Christina Kishimoto to experience how it feels to know that doom is just around the corner. Birdies, thank you for all you do in the name of truth, justice and the American Way. This time, the public will know exactly what has been going on in Gilbert Public Schools. Cheers!

GPS Superintendent Answers a Complaint: It’s Someone Else’s Fault

Christina KishimotoWill wonders never cease? Christina Kishimoto responded to a citizen complaint filed with GPS board members under GPS Policy KE! Actually, what happened was that Westie sent an official complaint to all five board members at their non-GPS email addresses; it’s common knowledge that all correspondence to the GPS board is routed to the superintendent, an attorney for GPS and who-knows-who-else. In Westie’s experience, emails and requests for public records have mysteriously disappeared into the bowels of GPS computer systems, so getting an actual acknowledgment was unusual. To have Board President Sheila Rogers actually do something [put Kishimoto in the corner until she can behave] was a win for truth and justice. Bravo!

But then, all that resulted was the superintendent simply blamed anyone but herself for not just failing to protect private personal information, but also for putting that information online so as to embarrass and humiliate innocent people. The lawless tone at the top put a GPS employee at critical risk of identity theft. But it was all someone else’s fault, according to Christina Kishimoto. Now that the horse has left the barn, she’s going to direct stern words at some lowly administrative assistant or business office clerk. You should know that the offending GPS Voucher was edited at 11:41 Saturday night … before the deadline Westie gave the district for posting a link to the information that should not have been online. It must have been the deadline that caused someone to pay attention for once.

We’ll submit a most specific complaint to the board about how GPS, under Christina Kishimoto’s so-called leadership, continues to violate privacy of students … and this time, a top-level administrator. Surely Christopher R. Stroud, principal of Gilbert High School doesn’t care that his name, date of birth and cell phone number have been online for weeks.* His drivers license number, too … sweet! Maybe it’s more scary that Westie knows his flight numbers for his fancy trip to a resort location on the taxpayers’ dime.

Below is the message Westie received from Christina Kishimoto as a response to that formal complaint. Pay attention, new board members: it’s very significant that the GPS email from the superintendent contained only an image of a GPS letter. That’s because an image is not searchable if a citizen requests public records dealing with certain words in text. GPS has mastered sneaky ways to thwart public scrutiny, and this is one of the most prevalent: use images and ridiculous subject lines like, “Good Morning.” In this day and age, that’s malpractice or worse, but it’s just business as usual for Gilbert Public Schools. No wonder parents are voting with their feet by fleeing the district!


Date: February 21, 2017
Re:     Response to Complaint Under GPS Policy KE – Submitted February 11, 2017

Dear Westie,

Your complaint filed to Board Members via email on February 11, 2017 was referred to me by Board President Rogers for an administrative response.

In regards to the posting of GPS voucher reports on line with sensitive or protected information, the district finance staff took immediate action to correct information that should not be posted publicly, and they researched the cause of the error. In addition to taking immediate corrective action, the finance staff conducted a review of procedural guidance and training provided to staff responsible for digitally inputting information that generates these public records. Additionally, the finance staff reviewed our legal requirements with our auditors. As a result of these reviews, we are making the following adjustments that will add safeguards within our procedurals steps:

Purchase Requisition Entry Process

The purchase requisition entry and approval process has been revised for staff to address the identification or listing of protected, confidential and sensitive personal information on the Detailed Report of District Expenditures Report published on the District’s website. Examples of protected and confidential information include student names, student ID numbers and any information that can be used to link a parent to their child’s special programs such as Special Education or McKinney Vento in relation to student refunds, reimbursements or payments. Additionally, sensitive personal information such as social security number, date of birth and driver’s license number are reflected in this guidance.

The Detailed Report of District Expenditures Report utilizes line item descriptions from purchase orders and line item costs from invoices. The revised process shifts entry of protected, confidential or sensitive information required for accounting records and auditors to other fields in the financial system. The information in these fields will not be reported on the Detailed Report of District Expenditures Report.

Parent as Vendor

If a parent is the recipient of a payment from the district, their name will continue to appear on the report as they are considered a “vendor”. The District consulted with its audit firm on the issue of listing a parent’s name if they receive a payment from the school district. It is their opinion, based on requirements in Arizona Revised Statute § 41-725, that a parent receiving payment from the school district is a vendor and subsequently their name should be listed in the expenditure report.

Training Review with Purchase Order Originators

The new process focuses on working closely with purchase order originators (primarily administrative assistants) to appropriately enter protected, confidential and sensitive information. Additionally, we will work with purchase order approvers (at the school level and Finance Department) to more closely monitor purchase order line item descriptions.

Administrative assistant staff training regarding the new process has been initiated. The new process has been communicate with administrators and will be reviewed with all the Principals at next week’s Professional Learning Committee meetings.

Thank you for bringing this matter to the administration’s attention.

Dr. Christina M. Kishimoto Superintendent


BOTTOM LINE: Not Kishimoto’s fault. There is a lot of BS to avoid Westie’s specific request included with the complaint, as GPS Policy KE requires: “I will ask simply that appropriate disciplinary action be taken against Christina Kishimoto and that you respond to me that you have done so.” The GPS board might consider putting the incompetent GPS superintendent on a Performance Improvement Plan … now THAT would have been a response worthy of veneration!

Wait, maybe the new board members did something like that! Agenda Item 13.01, GPS Governing Board meeting on February 28, 2017: “The Governing Board may convene an Executive Session to discuss A.R.S. 38-431.03(A)(1) Community Complaint Filed regarding Superintendent and Informal Evaluation.”

Birdies, it may be that the times they are a-changin

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’

Stunning Incompetence at the Inception of the Push for a New GCA Campus

Dilbert Gilbert Public Schools is at a crossroads right now: decisions made by the newly elected school board will affect GPS in significant and irrevocable ways. An imminent vote giving the final go-ahead for constructing a *new home* for Gilbert Classical Academy is a line in the sand: there will be no second chance once this project goes forward. Taxpayers appealed to the board for responsible stewardship of the public purse: approving this ill-considered *designed on the fly* project without knowing basic details can be expected to result in the multi-million dollar project spiraling out of control. Bottom line: this entire mismanaged mess can be stopped on February 28, 2017. Or not. The choice is yours, new board members.

That’s especially true in the hands of Kishimoto and her acolytes who can’t manage to pay employees, let alone manage a project of this magnitude. None of these concerns seemed to matter in the haste to tie the new board’s hands to decisions made by Kishimoto’s Rubber Stamp Board, especially the acrimonious $100,000 contracting authority that allowed Kishimoto to hire her chosen architects who attended Business Leader Breakfasts hosted by the Gilbert Education Foundation … and who donate money every time Kishimoto wants to party with the folks who obviously adore her. <snort>

Countless residents of the MJHS neighborhood have tried to warn the board that the whole project was based on nothing more than Kishimoto’s buzzwords and made-up metrics. Just before the first decision by the newly installed board was to be made, GPS admins admitted that the data they were using had no basis in reality. Instead of a new campus for 1,500 students, total enrollment will be capped at 1,100, leaving no room for growth for either school. Parents and teachers throughout the district were enraged that Kishimoto thought a cafeteria with a capacity of 300 was plenty for the entire school, whether it was 1,100 or 1,500 … “Let them eat lunch in their classrooms!” she decreed.

Not only was the student enrollment estimate wildly off base, citizens discovered that the entire process of reconfiguring a public school had been mismanaged from the inception. Before superintendent Christina Kishimoto made recommendations to the governing board, she should have (1) read state law about changing a public school configuration and (2) ascertained that the various options were actually feasible. But Kishimoto had a Rubber Stamp Board, so she didn’t do this. As events unfold, it has become clear that this project was doomed from day one due to Kishimoto’s pathetic incompetence.

When questioned about the role of the Arizona School Facilities Board at the February 2017 work study session, various personages assured the GPS governing board that the SFB was a paper tiger, whose role was to bless the project when it was finished. Never mind what state law requires, they assured timid board members, “We know how the system works, you don’t, so sit down and shut up.” Christina Kishimoto has speaking engagements to film as she polishes her national reputation, and apparently she does not intend to be drawn into discussions over trivial things such as details. Someone might hold her feet to the fire with her original cost estimates for the Great GCA Takeover, you know.

We’ve been down this road in Gilbert, Arizona with this GPS superintendent before, and you would think governing board members would demand accountability. You might think wrong, since the agenda for the ominous February 28,2017 board meeting has been *embargoed* or just ignored. We’re sure the GPS administration will somehow manage to comply with the minimum 24 hour public notice requirement in open meeting law. <sarcasm>

The question is, why would new board members buy into this attempt to tamp down public opposition to the three or four blockbuster controversies expected to be on the board meeting agenda? Have they bought into superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s modus operandi of keeping the public in the dark until it’s too late? Maybe someone should tell the GPS governing board that they’re already so late with their paperwork to get on the SFB agenda, this ridiculous project can’t even be considered by the SFB until April 2017. Maybe that’s an indication that the SFB doesn’t consider itself to be irrelevant after all.

Due diligence should have been the very first step for the board’s 2015 priority of “Identify a permanent location for Gilbert Classical Academy and finalize a comprehensive plan to support full implementation of the school design.” Instead, the Rubber Stamp Board panicked and threw a monkey wrench into the works. Thus, the *school within a school concept* that had been hastily proposed as a false flag instead became the new home for GCA. This was supposed to be a fast, cheap and easy solution to a a self-inflicted injury that was turning the community against the school district.

Kishimoto’s staggering incompetence took center stage as the project to merge GCA with Mesquite Junior High School moved forward while she drove the entire project over a cliff. GPS did a survey; parents said they were going to vote with their feet and leave MJHS. Who could blame parents who bailed out of GPS in favor of a more stable educational environment?

Christina Kishimoto made the same errors that halted the closing of GJHS in 2013: she failed to follow the lawThe key to stopping former GPS superintendent Dave Allison’s sleazy maneuver in 2012 was parental involvement and a “Never Give Up!” attitude. BTW, Dave Allison announced his retirement after he screwed up so badly a new GPS governing board had to clean up his GCA mess  when it became clear his services would no longer be needed. From a contemporaneous news report about how bad GPS admins screwed up closing Gilbert Junior High School:

Parents discovered that the district did not follow several state laws, including notifying and receiving approval from the state School Facilities Board before deciding to close Gilbert Junior High; properly notifying parents of the time and place of the October meeting when the board first voted on the closure recommendation; and notifying all parents affected by the possible closure.

Members of the community who had opposed and ultimately halted the previous GPS superintendent’s attempt to close Gilbert Junior High School offered a hand to resistance fighters at MJHS. Since the current GPS administration was totally unable to manage their way out of a paper bag, parents made inquiries that should have been made before any school was put on the chopping block for GCA.

MJHS resistance fighters did the due diligence that was never performed by the GPS administration and was never considered or questioned by the Rubber Stamp governing board. When asked if the architectural plans Kishimoto sent out for bidding were compliant with Arizona law, the Arizona School Facilities Board responded:

If Mesquite Junior High were reconfigured from 7-8 to 7-12, its square footage would be pro-rated, and its new capacities would be 385 for 7-8 and 704 for 9-12. The process begins with the District submitting a Governing Board resolution requesting the reconfiguration, per A.R.S. 15-341 G. Then staff analyzes the request and we make a recommendation to our Board. We have not received a District resolution regarding a reconfiguration of Mesquite Junior High. Thank you.

NEW BOARD MEMBERS: you know Christina Kishimoto’s appeal to you will be that you can’t waste all the money she’s already spent on this MJHS/GCA merger.  Kishimoto will demand that you approve the construction bid NOW or the project cannot meet the timeline she gave the bidders.  Besides, she already has asbestos cleanup set to go … as a project *independent* of the construction bid that has not been approved.  Such chutzpah!  There will be no time for you to carefully consider if this project is the best use of public funds.  There will be no opportunity for you to get answers to why the original construction estimates for the GCA location options were so low compared to the bids we expect you will see on February 28, 2017.  

Kishimoto may be railroading you, but you don’t have to comply with her demands. Who’s the boss, anyway? The tarot card you were dealt when you raised your hand and took your oath was NOT auspicious with regard to this GCA project:

Wheel of Fortune Reversed: Bad luck, negative external forces, out of control. Accept responsibility for your current and future situation, and look for ways that you can create more positive outcomes. 

This is also not a time to be taking risks as you may not come out a winner. You may need to be more cautious than before, taking more time to assess your options and to select the safest bet.

You have been dealt a bad card, but all is not lost: Stiffen your spines


GPS Gets Sued in Federal Court for Discriminatory Hiring Practices

Here’s a wild prediction: the GPS governing board is going to be asked to approve Christina Kishimoto’s selected acolyte to be principal of Highland Junior High School. That’s not too much of a stretch: the position was open for applications for quite a long time, there’s an unusual situation with an interim principal and the job announcement disappeared from GPS job listings online. Westie’s going to take bets, though, on whether or not the GPS governing board has been told that the district is in the middle of yet another discrimination lawsuit, this time about hiring practices that center on Highland Junior High School. What a coincidence!

Today’s post is about GPS being a defendant in federal court AGAIN; you can read the Complaint here. It’s another nasty story about GPS Top Dogs behaving like they’re Masters of the Universe. There is lore about the famous GPS Loose Zipper Brigade. Those administrators are just Legends in their Own Minds, including Christina Kishimoto, and they’re going to be mad as hell with Westie for spilling the beans. Mind you, they’re not necessarily mad at themselves for the morals and ethics they display in their employment with the district, they only care when they get caught with their zippers down engaging in behavior that violates district policies. We all know those administrators don’t give a flying flip about laws.

HEY NEW BOARD MEMBERS: it’s not difficult to know about all the lawsuits in which GPS is a defendant. All it takes is a PACER account for federal court cases and a survey of lawsuits listed in the Maricopa Superior Court for state law litigation. You probably thought the GPS superintendent would tell you about important matters like GPS being sued or being investigated by federal agencies. As usual, you might have been wrong in expecting professionalism from GPS Top Dogs.

Historically, GPS superintendents have not liked it when board members know about litigation, or inquiries from the Federal Government, such as Department of Justice or the Office for Civil Rights or the Internal Revenue Service. But litigation against GPS is happening again. This time you new board members might have a chance to head off a major complication for GPS defense, especially if it’s the same illegal behavior that brought the EEOC into the picture several years ago. What are the chances that GPS current hiring practices are clean as a whistle? When was the last time the superintendent’s hands were clean?

Christina Kishimoto appears to be doing the same stupid stuff that got the district in trouble with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and led to this lawsuit. The EEOC told the district they were violating civil rights laws. The EEOC investigated charges of age and sex discrimination and found probable cause to believe that GPS violated federal laws. Worse, the EEOC investigated and determined that the GPS administration engaged in retaliation after the charges were filed with the EEOC. Some of this happened during Christina Kishimoto’s reign as superintendent; board members need to know if the same behavior continues today. They won’t find out by just asking the superintendent.

You would think that GPS superintendent Christina Kishimoto would be following GPS policies and federal civil rights laws TO THE LETTER as she hires new employees, knowing that the district is defending this civil rights lawsuit about illegal hiring practices. You could be wrong. But don’t take it from Westie, new board members. Don’t accept Christina Kishimoto’s usual double-speak and rationalizations about what is happening in GPS right now. You’ve already been burned by the superintendent’s pattern and practice of untruthfulness, even when you asked her a direct question. The community has eyes and ears, so we all know.

Salient facts in the complaint that started this lawsuit sound nasty, but all too familiar:

84. On or about September 11, 2015, the EEOC, after considering all the evidence obtained during its investigation, found that there is reasonable cause to believe that Gilbert Public Schools violated Title VII when it did not select McCoy and other applicants because of their age and/or sex.

85. On or about July 27, 2015 McCoy was contacted by the EEOC and asked to file an amended charge with the EEOC including Title VII sex discrimination and retaliation, Charge No. 540-2013-00755, alleging that GPS, among other things, violated Title VII when it retaliated against her for filing EEOC charges.

86. In EEOC Charge No. 540-2013-00755, McCoy alleged the retaliation consisted of: not allowing her to participate in recruitment and selection of employees; shunning her from sitting on various committees; denying her the opportunity to compete and be interviewed for available Principal positions; and issuing her a poor performance evaluation.

87. On or about September 11, 2015, the EEOC, after considering all the evidence obtained during its investigation, found that there is reasonable cause to believe that Gilbert Public Schools violated Title VII when it retaliated against McCoy for engaging in protected activity by denying her the opportunity to compete and be considered for available Principal positions and by issuing her lower rating on her performance.

HEY NEW BOARD MEMBERS: you most likely need your own attorney … soon. If Christina Kishimoto hires a lawyer and tells you that person is *the board’s lawyer,* tread very carefully. Same trepidation if Kishmoto calls in The Trust attorneys who are defending the lawsuit; they represent The Trust, not the governing board. You need an attorney who isn’t conflicted with other loyalties to the education power structure in Arizona. Remember, Westie is not a lawyer, but we know some good lawyers!

This post should make you realize that your interests as board members most likely are not the same as the superintendent’s interests. That’s especially true if the superintendent has violated district policy in even the smallest way with hiring a new principal for Highland Junior High School. Or with who wasn’t hired. Or with who was or wasn’t interviewed for the position. Or whether those interviewers were captives of the superintendent. Or whether genuine records were kept of the interviews. Questions abound!

The hinkiness goes back a year, when Christina Kishimoto promoted the HJHS principal to district staff, knowing there would be a vacancy to fill at HJHS.  Don’t you wonder why Kishimoto installed an *interim* principal for the 2016-2017 school year? That wasn’t standard procedure then. What’s happened since hasn’t looked any better. Who knows … maybe all those back-room policy committee meetings surreptitiously changed relevant GPS policies so Christina Kishimoto could slide this bit of sleaziness under the rug. That GPS rug sure is lumpy, but now it’s yours, new board members!

GPS has been in turmoil in recent weeks, and the superintendent’s moral character is again a major topic of discussion in the community about her ability to lead the district. If the governing board hires a new principal for Highland Junior High School without ascertaining there is not a scintilla of retaliation or impropriety in the entire hiring process, another school might be compromised. We all know how Christina Kishimoto loves to talk about processes, especially when she’s on the defensive. Let her explain her hiring processes to someone who won’t be distracted by mumbo-jumbo, someone who truly has the district’s best interests at the forefront. Wouldn’t that be refreshing?

It’s not just Kishimoto, it’s the governing board and the school district who are actual DEFENDANTS in court again. You can choose to go ahead and let Christina Kishimoto do what she wants to do, regardless of GPS policy, regardless of law. Go ahead at your own peril. She was counting on you to be in the dark about all of this. Most likely, she planned to present you with a done deal and get your blessing on her perfidy before you had a chance to ask about any of the details. Sure, you can trust her.

Hey Birdies: Brian Yee plays a starring role in this lawsuit! New board members: why do you think GPS (then under superintendent Dave Allison) stashed Brian Yee at Greenfield Junior High School? He must have known his publicly humiliating escapades could be the source of litigation against the district for years. It looks like Good Old Dave was right.

The lawsuit shows Shane McCord’s *Gut Check* hiring decisions are still haunting GPS, as well. The old dirty laundry will be aired again. It’s not like GPS leadership has been a model of moral behavior recently, either, so pass the popcorn!

Circling back to the recent turmoil in GPS: Christina Kishimoto is no stranger to being sued for bad personnel decisions. One of the cases still causing problems for Hartford Schools is about a person Christina Kishimoto had promoted after major controversy and disciplinary action over sexual misconduct:

The mother of a 13-year-old girl who police say received sexual text messages from a longtime Hartford school administrator is suing the school system, top school officials and the city of Hartford over alleged negligence in the case.  A major allegation in the complaint is that the city and the school system allowed Genao, a career educator who worked for the district since 2005, to prey on the girl despite years-old claims that he sent inappropriate electronic messages to a female student and an employee when he was principal of Sport and Medical Sciences Academy. “The city knew or should have known that they had a very dangerous person in their mix,” Spinella said Thursday. “They didn’t red flag him, they promoted him.”

Citizens of Gilbert, Arizona wonder why GPS keeps dangerous persons in the district. In the case of the current civil rights lawsuit, the person who is the biggest danger to GPS might be the superintendent who can’t or won’t follow the law. Citizens are wondering if the superintendent’s immoral behavior in her *alleged* inappropriate relationship with her subordinate Executive Director of Technology gave a subliminal (or actual) green light to other GPS employees to indulge in immoral and/or illegal behavior. Westie thinks the dots are quite connectable, and this question will arise whenever ethics are violated by any GPS employee, as long as Christina Kishimoto is superintendent.

You know Westie will closely watching this lawsuit through court records. As ever, Westie loves to share, and will post observations gleaned from long experience with GPS defending lawsuits and the same old attorneys that The Trust hires. This time, birdies, there will be LOTS of chocolate and back stories. Chirp, chirp!

Gilbert Public Schools Refuses to Comply with Open Meeting Laws

Christina KishimotoSince the new Gilbert Public Schools governing board was seated in January 2017, there’s been a lot of activity wherein superintendent Christina Kishimoto finds herself being questioned. She does not like being questioned. She likes it best when people, including the GPS governing board, do what she tells them to do. Christina Kishimoto has not been questioned about her activities for the past two years, so how dare anyone change the status quo? 

Having the governing board question things, like the issues being brought to them for a decision, is a good thing. It would have been so much better if the public were able to see and hear the superintendent’s answers to those questions. A lot of the frenetic activity that has taken place in GPS over the past five to six weeks has taken place out of the public eye, though. Excuses proliferate, but it comes down to the fact that Christina Kishimoto’s contempt for the public is at the root of GPS administrative intransigence when it comes to transparency: you’ll get whatever information the superintendent decides to give you, and you’ll like it, by golly!

At the January 2017 board meeting, board members expressed concerns about making decisions when they didn’t have the information they thought they would need to make a carefully considered decision about the mission of the district: educating students. Sheila Rogers, the newly elected board president gave Christina Kishimoto some new marching orders about having a board retreat to discuss specific matters.

It’s obvious that Christina Kishimoto did not like being told what to do, so she set up a *Board Retreat* to brainwash the three new board members about her reformy ideas. This 2017 meeting featured the same guy who taught the same stuff to the board in 2015 for a total cost of about $18,000.00. Don’t worry, taxpayers, apparently the guy charged only $6,000.00 this year to spend a couple of hours going over reformy stuff; we figure his travel costs will be extra and will appear on the vouchers much later. That way, fewer people will connect the dots, you know.

Board President Sheila Rogers apparently won one point: the board retreat was held at Campo Verde High School instead of a hotel. That saved about $2,000 according to the 2015 expenses, but Christina Kishimoto took her revenge by not setting up a Livestream archive of the event that featured not just a quorum, but the entire governing board. Even though the public was not prohibited from attending, the short notice and inconvenient time slot eliminated much potential public oversight of what the board and the superintendent discussed.

Christina Kishimoto did not intend to publish minutes of that meeting, either. The Westies helpfully appeared at the GPS reception desk four days after the board retreat to review the minutes that were required by law to be available three days after the meeting. You know what happened: no minutes. Heh. Slimebucket Suzanne Zenter first said there were no minutes, then she left us standing there (tap, tap, tap the foot) and then she said the minutes would be posted online by close of business that very same day. That was too little, too late.

You would think GPS had learned something about Arizona’s Open Meeting Law after the Attorney General imposed six months of monitoring just last year, but you would be wrong. The entire GPS administration resists complying with the most simple elements of OML, but that’s *business as usual* in GPS. It’s not going to stop until the governing board forces compliance. Looking at how much meeting time the new board has spent in smoke-filled rooms in ways that evade public scrutiny, it’s more of the same.

Go ahead and read the minutes of the February 6, 2017 board retreat; do you think the governing board got their money’s worth ($6,000.00++) of training from this dude Julian Trevino? You can bet they all heartily chowed down on the catered dinner that was served during the board retreat (at taxpayer expense).

We’re stunned, though, that the last item on the agenda wasn’t discussed at all. It would seem to be the most important discussion of the board retreat.  BTW, it looks like someone doesn’t know what “time lapse” means:

Constituent Services and Proactive Community Engagement: How do we serve constituent concerns/issues/problems efficiently and effectively? Due to time lapse item was not discussed

In more of the *you can’t make this stuff up* management practices that the GPS administration seems to have perfected, the governing board had Open Meeting Law training two days later. That was one day before the minutes of the previous board retreat were required by law to be available to the public. Glory be, the governing board had a video camera to record the OML training on February 8, 2017! They actually discussed the board’s responsibilities to comply with OML!

The video does not show the entire meeting … it looks like the camera dude just up and quit recording at exactly 5:00 PM. Never mind that the meeting continued. Even if there were only ten more minutes in the training, cutting off the video is the kind of thing Christina Kishimoto’s staff does to show those governing board members that they can’t be bossed around. Yes, things are that juvenile in the White Castle, the GPS district offices. You can lead a horse to water …

The governing board then held a second board retreat on  February 13, 2017. There’s nothing on the web page for governing board retreats about this meeting. There is an agenda on the BoardDocs page where regular board meeting agendas and minutes are posted. Obviously, Christina Kishimoto and her staff are playing “hide and seek” with the public again. Although there is an agenda in not-the-usual-place, and although there are two agenda items shown, all the public knows (if they found this agenda) is that the board was going to discuss the GPS strategic plan and school design process review. That’s all anyone can know, unless you were checking the GPS daily to see what was added; these folks are very surreptitious. If you happened to look in the usual wrong place, well, too bad, you missed the meeting. It was not archived on video. We haven’t a clue what the GPS Strategic Plan is … the only thing we found online was the old 2014-2017 plan that shows how clueless Kishimoto is when it comes to actually managing this district.

But by golly, now there’s going to be a community forum to discuss the GPS Strategic Plan! Christina Kishimoto’s staff sent out flyers [click the link to see it]. More *you can’t make this up* mismanagement: the date shown on the flyer was “Tuesday, February 22, 2017” with an image of a February calendar with Wednesday, February 22, 2017 prominently circled. More sloppy staff work, the kind that has become the hallmark of GPS administrators. Sheeeeesh.

One final example of Christina Kishimoto’s in-your-face relationship with the governing board: the school design process that was discussed at the board retreat [click the link to see the diagram]. Notice that the governing board isn’t told much of anything about the various school designs that are being devised, again behind closed doors and evading public scrutiny, until Year Two. Otherwise, a school design goes to the board for approval only when it’s going to cost a lot of money. As if there is a school design that IS NOT going to cost a lot of money, sheeeeesh. She’s just gonna ram another atrocity down the governing board’s throat.

Christina Kishimoto’s biggest rant about parents who live in neighborhoods where schools are being *designed* in ways that destroy the neighborhood school is this: “They aren’t part of the school community.” This was her response to parents who bought houses in the boundaries of Gilbert Elementary School, some of whom are not thrilled with the dual-language academy that Kishimoto and her acolytes are trying to ram through for board approval. They don’t want their children to be bused to a far-away school. Those children are now toddlers, but they will be in school in the next few years. Kishimoto thinks their voices don’t matter. Only her voice matters.

GPS was required to make available to the public minutes of the February 13, 2017 board retreat no later than Friday morning, February 17, 2017. Take a wild guess as to whether or not that happened. By the way, the notice on the governing board calendar mentions only the strategic plan. Citizens who checked the calendar would not have known that the board would discuss the school design process.

The entire GPS governing board will meet tomorrow, February 21, 2017, as a *committee of the whole* to review GPS policies; that’s another meeting that’s held in the secrecy of a smoke-filled room, so to speak. Attendees will eat another meal at taxpayer expense, but there will be no video archive and no minutes, if it’s more *business as usual.* What’s alarming is that Christina Kishimoto recently told the board that *their* lawyer said they could approve the first read of policies and changes in those committee meetings. Sure, no business is conducted there … which is the excuse Kishimoto has given for refusing to post minutes or video archives.

See how creative Christina Kishmoto and her minions can be when they set out to defeat the public’s right to know what the school district is doing with all that taxpayer money? Kishimoto and the Evaders would be a good name for a rock band… we’ll tell Dave Barry.

Keyboard: See you on Tuesday, February 22, 2017!
Westie: Unless it’s really Wednesday, February 22, 2017.
Keyboard: It could be Wednesday, March 22, 2017…

GPS Must Slash Budget … Who Could Have Anticipated Student Losses?

Christina KishimotoGilbert Public Schools has been losing students right and left as their reviled superintendent Christina Kishimoto destroys neighborhood schools in the name of reforms that no one wants. She appears to be driven by her quest for a national reputation, which is costing the district dearly in terms of squandered taxpayer dollars and the district’s own blackened reputation.

Fortunately, the former Rubber Stamp Board was broken up by voters in November 2016. Unfortunately, they had already extended Christina Kishimoto’s employment contract through 2019. If not for that treachery, GPS would have been able to send Christina Kishimoto packing on June 30, 2016 when her contract ended.

The Rubber Stamp Board also saddled the New Guys with the budgetary fallout. Now it’s February 2017 and the New Guys must come up with more, more and more budget cuts because the declining number of students has an immediate negative impact on the GPS budget. Never mind that GPS has a tax override and bond that local residents fund out of their own pockets; that’s in addition to state and federal funds and lots of unaccountable cash that floats around the district. The big problem is how Christina Kishimoto spends that money before the governing board knows what has happened. A hundred here, a thousand there …. don’t forget Kishimoto has $100,000.00 contracting authority for anything she wants.

When questioned about why the budget is such a mess again, Christina Kishimoto and her Top Dogs will defend themselves by saying there was no way they could have anticipated such staggering student losses. It’s the fault of those mean old charter schools! They’ll talk a bunch of mumbo-jumbo; Tom Wohlleber will drone on and put the audience to sleep. In the end, students will pay the price for Christina Kishimoto’s incompetence and arrogance … again. The chart below shows that the biggest student losses have come during Kishimoto’s reign of terror tenure at GPS. Check out FY 15, 16 and 17:

The chart above comes from Kishimoto’s presentation to the governing board. As citizens can tell you, Christina Kishimoto’s superintendency has been devastating to a community that values public education, neighborhood schools and transparency in governance. Instead of respecting those values, Kishimoto has put neighborhood schools on the chopping block for *school designs* that appeal to minuscule groups of parents and students. Teachers have been fleeing a district that relies on retaliation as a management strategy.

It strains credulity that as superintendent, Christina Kishimoto will recommend what the board should cut. It sure won’t be the big bucks she rakes in! It won’t be the salaries she sets for her subordinates, or the sweet little extras that Christina Kishimoto lavishes on her pets. Nope. Budget cuts that Christina Kishimoto recommends will slash popular programs so the community will feel intense pain. That’s the way things were done by previous GPS superintendents, so why change? Oh yeah, that former bumbling superintendent got canned retired. The community breathed a sigh of relief for a few moments, then Kishimoto was hired.

Let’s take a look at some of the questionable spending that is happening in Gilbert Public Schools. We’ll look at just one month’s worth of vouchers since the GPS governing board hasn’t had much of an opportunity for financial oversight. We’re really hoping the New Guys can grab Christina Kishimoto by the asterisk and throttle her excessive spending on things that do nothing to educate students. The lists below are not ALL of the expenses that should be questioned as to propriety and legality; they’re just a few things reasonable taxpayers abhor.

For example, take the vaunted EXPO at St. Xavier in January 2017; we don’t yet know if GPS paid the town to rent the place. We do know that not only did GPS give away ugly orange tee shirts to employees, board members, parents, students and passers-by, the district bought breakfast and pastries. Gee, if only we knew if GPS employees *volunteered* to participate at this event so their jobs would not be jeopardized to get a free tee shirt and some breakfast.

Westie: There ought to be a law about forcing employees to *volunteer* under those circumstances!
Keyboard: You idiot, there already are laws like that!
Westie: Do you think GPS knows?

accounting adjust -$1.09
EXPO Uniform Shirts $1,627.21
School Expo Supplies $79.52
Annual card fees $16.17
BPO: To purchase breakfast items for the all
School EXPO on January 21st at St. Xavier University
BPO: To purchase breakfast supplys for the
all School EXPO on January 21st at St. Xavier
Open P.O. for food items for GPS Expo on 1/21/17 –
Mexican Pastries to be purchased from vendor who does not take P.O.

And how about the Employee Benefits Fair? GPS designed and paid for bags to be given to employees. That’s on top of constant b*tching about how much the GPS share for insurance goes up each year. Wonder how many GPS employees actually showed up to get their *goodie bags*?

Bags for Employee Wellness and Benefits Fair $311.27
Color imprint Setup on bag-Blue $63.00
Posters for Benefits Fair $18.00
Banner insert – Benefits Fair with 16/17 date $50.67

The superintendent has the district pay for her soirees with her pals at the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce, calling it “professional development.” Other times, she has the district “buy a table” for $500.00. We hear that Christina Kishimoto is now telling all the schools in GPS that they need to “buy a table” for $500.00 so that their Teacher of the Year will be represented at the big GPS banquet. This time, the $500.00 is supposed to come from teachers, parents and staff … great way to celebrate the school’s teacher of the year, right? Why not hand over a check for $500.00 to the teacher? Or better yet, quit hitting up the lowest paid echelons of GPS employees for money to pay for the superintendent’s new publicity stunt. Sheeeesh.

Emp Training  & Prof Dev Registration-BPO for misc.
Chamber event registration for Dr. Christina Kishimoto

Lookie here, the superintendent asks and receives money for future expenses. Do you think any GPS staffer would refuse to hand over a check?

This will be used for Dr. Kishimoto’s expenses  per the superintendent’s contract $156.76

The following list shows one month’s worth of catering expenses in the January financial vouchers. The Governing Board chows down on food bought by taxpayers while they discuss how they will cut classroom funds! The GPS superintendent eats a lot of breakfasts at taxpayer expense! And on freshly dry cleaned tablecloths! With decorations! Actually, if GPS ever has a *real* audit, we’re sure a lot of these expenses will show up as double and tripled billed … or more, based on what we see month after month. Every monthly GPS voucher has seemingly endless catering expenses, from a few measly bucks to thousands, just like what’s shown below.

Miscellaneous catering events –
Tablecloths and decorations provided by GPS Food Service Catering
COEN, MICHELLE ELAINE (Kishimoto’s secretary)
BPO Office event planning supplies, dollar store,
michaels, party city. snacks and non food supplies
BPO Office, event planning supplies dollar store
michaels  party city snacks and non food supplies
Open PO to purchase: Paper Products for meetings &
holiday luncheon on Dec. 20
Open PO to purchase: water – soda – snack – goldfish,
bag cookies granola bars etc. for meetings &
holiday luncheon on Dec. 20 Approx 250 staff
Food for Governing Board events that include Policy Meetings for 20 people on the following dates August 16, 2016, September 20, October 18, November 15,
December 13, January 17, 2017, February 21, March 21, April 18, May 16 and June 20; Board Retreat
Catering for 100 Principals and Administrators at the monthly Professional Development Principal’s Meeting.  January 10, 2017 $425.00
Miscellaneous catering events – Tablecloths and decorations
provided by GPS Food Service Catering
Food for Governing Board events that include Policy Meetings for 20 people on the following dates August 16, 2016, September 20, October 18, November 15, December 13, January 17, 2017, February 21, March 21, April 18, May 16 and June 20; Board Retreat $130.00
Non-Curricular Food, Miscellaneous
catering needs throughout the 2016-17 school year
for events hosted by the Superintendent
Paper goods for Elementary School
Principal Meeting being hosted by
Canyon Rim on January 27, 2017
Refreshments for 40 people for the
Elementary School Principal Meeting
being hosted by Canyon Rim on January 7, 2017
pastries & coffee for Principal PLC m
for approx 22 people
lunches for Learnin lunch committee mtgs
1/18, 2/15,4/12- 15 teachers
Staff luncheon mtg 12/20/16 Approx 175 people $1,523.39
Blanket purchase order for misc. food purchase
for refreshments for staff meeting
Oct 5, 2016 (approx. 90 staff)
Light refreshments for meeting
100 returning staff on Monday, August 1st and
Tuesday, August 2nd.
Linen Table Clothes for 6 foot tables $58.95
BPO Office, event planning supplies dollar store
michaels  party city snacks and non food supplies
January Admin meeting, 25 people in attendance $25.37
18 large pizzas (7 cheese, 7 pepperoni, 4 veggie)*
Lunch for December 21, 2016 Staff Meeting
(approx. 90 people)  *price includes tax and all paper products
(plates, napkins, and silverware)
Salad, including Italian and Ranch dressings * $90.00
Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider, 8.4 oz bottles, 12 per case $92.29
Refreshments, cookies and drinks for approx. 30 staff members working the
JV Wrestling Tournament on 1/25/17
Lunch for GCA Science Fair Judges & staff (tax is included in the cost per meal)
65 judges and staff included GCA Science Fair is 2/17/17

This was so much fun, we’ll have to do it again. We’ll help community activists learn to identify extravagant spending as we document some truly egregious ways that Christina Kishimoto has abused the public trust and enriched herself and her pals with public funds. After all, she can’t be fired for *mere mistakes in judgment,* so we’ll have to dig in to some actual lawbreaking. You know we’re on to something here.

GPS Wage Theft Caper Continues, Now with Witch Smelling!

Christina KishimotoThe superintendent of Gilbert Public Schools is a witch smeller! Christina Kishimoto is going to sniff out that hapless low-level employee who single-handedly screwed up the GPS payroll system and kept it screwed up for more than a year! <sarcasm> This so-called superintendent apparently never heard the expression, “The buck stops here.” It’s always the fault of someone else when things go wrong in GPS. 

In a shocking example of buck passing, Christina Kishimoto told the GPS governing board that she would need six to eight more weeks to sniff around for that witch. Never mind the fact that this Great Payday Melee has been a staggering failure since her *alleged* boyfriend the former ‘Executive’ Director of Technology Services got caught with his did not run the old and new systems in parallel until the bugs could be worked out and employees could be paid properly. That seems to have been what happened when the *alleged* boyfriend bugged out after the superintendent’s *alleged* inappropriate relationship with him became public knowledge. It sure looks like the ill-fated payroll software project and the *alleged* superintendent misconduct were the proximate causes of the GPS wage theft caper.

Watch the GPS *Fearless Leader* confound the board with such statements as, “Our proactive communication was inefficient and insufficient.” Do you think she even knows what “system crossover and fidelity implementation” means? (If you don’t see the video, use this link:

We all know what’s going to happen with Christina Kishimoto’s promise that all supplemental payroll runs will need her personal approval. Suddenly, employees who have not been paid properly will be threatened with retaliation if they tell GPS, “I need my full pay and I need it now!” What’s so important about a rent payment or a car payment if the GPS Payroll Department has to tell the superintendent they screwed up again? You know the pattern and practice in GPS: threats, retaliation and anything else the Top Dogs can do to humiliate their underlings.

The reality is that payroll is not a priority for Kishimoto. Thus, her top level administrators haven’t managed to solve GPS payroll problems for more than a year after the new software came on line. Employees are not paid properly and tax reporting has not been accurate. GPS has blamed the software vendor, difficulty in locating paperwork <snort>, short staffing and lack of training as causes of problems. Anyone familiar with payroll in a business setting knows there are laws about paying employees for all time worked and accurately reporting, withholding and remitting taxes. But GPS seems to be either ignorant or willfully blind. How do you think this is going to play out? “So sorry, it was that witch’s fault…”

The problem isn’t a few little minor blips … each month, hundreds of payroll errors proliferate throughout GPS. Each error means that an employee was not paid properly. The circular issues result in supplemental payroll runs to get checks to some employees, while other employees are told to wait to receive their full pay, and inaccuracies multiply. So what did Business Services under the *watchful* eye of Chief Financial Officer Tom Wohlleber do? They started a ticket system like the one used by Tech Services. Sure, that solved the problems. <eye roll> Look at the number of errors each month and weep for how long GPS employees subsist without their full pay:

The arrogance of Christina Kishimoto is astonishing, and it translates into similar hardheartedness and cruelty among her staffers, as one of the reports to the irascible boss shows. That report appears at the bottom of this post. Why should staffers in the White Castle care if GPS employees aren’t paid properly? Their top boss, the superintendent, has been accepting their sloppy staff work for two and a half years! What would you bet that Christina Kishimoto and her acolytes have ALWAYS been paid correctly and on time? Most likely, their records are flagged so any potential error is fixed before payday.

It’s perplexing that sloppy staff work in the financial realm seems to be not just tolerated, but celebrated in GPS. A reasonable person would expect that financial matters involving public funds would be closely watched at every level. Nope. One example that began while Silly Jilly Humpherys was the board clerk, the person tasked with reviewing GPS vouchers before the board ratified expenditures:

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. 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. In recent months, GPS has been releasing the public records in those green bar reports in ways that violently trample personal privacy.

Silly Jilly Humpherys did not do her job of reviewing those vouchers because *numbers are hard.* So, for two years, Christina Kishimoto and her minions had free rein to spend without any real accountability and indulge in sloppy staff work. No one was watching … except Westie, it seems. Even though Westie watches and sometimes works behind the scenes to head off public humiliation for GPS staffers [they know who they are and what we did to help], it doesn’t do much good to try to fix GPS problems.

Nonetheless, we’ll try again and we’ll submit a most specific complaint to the board about how GPS, under Christina Kishimoto’s so-called leadership, continues to violate privacy of students … and this time, a top-level administrator. Surely Christopher R. Stroud, principal of Gilbert High School doesn’t care that his name, date of birth and cell phone number have been online for weeks.* His drivers license number, too … sweet! Maybe it’s more scary that Westie knows his flight numbers for his fancy trip to a resort location on the taxpayers’ dime.

How long do you think it will take some enterprising GHS students to find the same information Westie has? That personal data is really, really valuable to hackers and identity thieves. What could go wrong?

Big Fat Asterisk: Don’t bother getting indignant … Westie notified the GPS governing board about the problem before this post was made public. There was time to remove ALL the personal information of student victims and Good Ole Chris Stroud on the latest Voucher Report for ratification on February 28, 2017. With any luck, someone will have the presence of mind to go back and clean up the past six months or more of student privacy violations in the vouchers. But this is GPS, so who knows what will happen?

Here’s the Payroll Status Report that shows *business as usual* in GPS. Sheeeeeeesh.


Christina Kishimoto Embarrasses GPS at a Town Council Meeting

Gilbert Public Schools can’t seem to keep their superintendent on her leash. Christina Kishimoto goes about doing whatever she pleases, throwing around her title as she attempts to impress listeners and spouts off about her obsession with those mean old charter schools she believes are stealing GPS students. With losses amounting to 10% of student enrollment, GPS has a problem, and it isn’t charter schools; it’s the incompetency of the GPS superintendent and her minions. It hasn’t helped that board members past and present can’t or won’t extricate themselves from Kishimoto’s puppet strings. 

If it weren’t enough to hitch the reputation of Gilbert Public Schools to a declining and discredited reform group, Christina Kishimoto went out, again on her own, and gave the Gilbert Town Council a piece of her mind about charter schools that are stealing students from GPS. She demanded the Town Council do something to stop those dastardly charter schools in their tracks before GPS begins a death spiral.

The setting: “an application for the proposed annexation of approximately 41.6 acres located at American Leadership Academy at the northwest corner of Higley Road and the Santan 202 Freeway.” It was very clear that the Gilbert Town Council was NOT voting to approve a new charter school … the town does not have that authority. It was very clear that the ALA landowners were going to put a charter school at the specified location, the question was whether the land would be annexed, giving the Town of Gilbert a say in the development, or whether the land would remain in Maricopa County, which meant the town would have no official say in development of the charter school site.

Christina Kishimoto delivered a frizzled, frazzled and frenzied diatribe that made her, and Gilbert Public Schools, look like total idiot losers who can’t compete for students fair and square. She worked herself up into a lather and told the Town Council it was costing GPS millions of dollars in lost revenue to lose thousands of students to those nefarious charter schools. Kishimoto looked all the more stupid because the land in question isn’t within GPS boundaries. As you enjoy the video below, note that the Town of Gilbert manages to make high quality video records during meetings, and those videos, along with comprehensive written minutes, are available to the public as OML requires. Ain’t it amazing that the Town of Gilbert can do things that GPS can’t manage? [Here’s the link if you don’t see it:]

Christina Kishimoto did not have authorization from the GPS Governing Board for taking this public stance. The only way the board could have approved her crazy public performance would have been by proclamation in a public meeting. That never happened. It was just Kishimoto and her pals subordinates off on a rogue mission, attempting to work the ref: screaming about bias and unfair treatment, no matter how favorable the treatment actually is.

The ref didn’t have any power to do what Kishimoto was demanding. Kishimoto started her speech with an insult: “I don’t like your time limit of two minutes, so I’m going to take three minutes.” She then proceeded to talk for five minutes. Had anyone done that at a GPS board meeting, Christina Kishimoto would have cut the mike and called security to remove the person for disruption of an educational institution.

But this was not a GPS meeting; Mayor Jenn Daniels smiled politely as Kishimoto’s childish display of raw emotion built into a crescendo of unrestrained bitterness, blaming anyone other than herself. Town Council minutes were as clear as the video: Kishimoto made a fool of herself and embarrassed the GPS governing board and the people of the Town of Gilbert. Here is some of the *dater* Kishimoto gave the Gilbert Town Council:

The last two years of demographic data show that we have an increasing school age population in our community, but a decreasing enrollment in GPS because we are dividing the student enrollment pie over and over again.

* The last ten years of state financial data shows that GPS has a cumulative loss of over $70M in the state’s capital funding formula

Over the past six years, we will have experienced an ADM loss of over 3,000 or 8 ½%, while I am asked, why we don’t give more money to teacher pay!

Since Kishimoto made that speech, the 2016-2017 GPS hundred day student enrollment declined again … more than 700 student losses this year alone. Of course it’s not HER fault <snark>; Kishimoto is hell bent on destroying the pride of GPS, the neighborhood schools that attracted tens of thousands of students in past years. It’s not Kishimoto’s fault that her ill considered foray into *school design* in the form of having Gilbert Classical Academy take over a neighborhood junior high school has already caused significant student losses, with more losses to come, as parents have promised.

Here’s another statement from Kishimoto that strains credulity, given just two of the Special Education student atrocities Westie observed, the cases of Ryken and Colter

* GPS and HPS proudly educate the majority of English Language Learners and Special Education students in our community – that happens by a student cost share because the state does not provide us sufficient funds for each child’s special needs – We embrace every child.

The question is: will the new governing board allow this embarrassment to continue? At the January 24, 2017 board meeting, Silly Jilly Humpherys added an item to the agenda. She wanted the board to approve the following statement and send it to the Town of Gilbert:

Local constituents in Gilbert and Higley have already stepped up to pass bonds to fund buildings, maintenance, and infrastructure for district students.  Duplication of these capital items presents an additional burden to local taxpayers and is not a cost efficient use of taxpayer dollars.  The Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board respectfully supports Higley Unified School District in their request that the Town of Gilbert not rezone or annex approximately 42.7 acres of property generally located at the northwest corner of Higley Road and Santan 202 Freeway from Maricopa County Rural 43 (RU-43) zoning district to Town of Gilbert Business Park (BP) zoning district for the construction of the new American Leadership Academy charter school.

At a time when Gilbert Public Schools is beginning its Enrollment Management Planning, the construction of yet another charter school further contributes to the challenges of accurately projecting our student enrollment and thus our annual operating budget.  Prepared by Jill Humpherys

The board liaison to the Town of Gilbert, Reed Carr, explained that signing a statement just to make a political point was pretty stupid would not change the impact or the facts (starts at 3:52:20 in the video below). “…Focus on OUR district and making sure that we’re competitive.” He also contrasted Silly Jilly’s statement with how the board president and superintendent of the Chandler school district said, “We know parents shop for education much like they shop for a home or a car. We must find a way to meet the market and invite them into our public schools.” Once again, GPS and Kishimoto were outsmarted and outclassed by a competitor school district.*

The board approved Silly Jilly’s statement, even though the town doesn’t have the authority to do what Silly Jilly and her controller Christina Kishimoto want: the charter school WILL be built. Update:  You won’t find the January board meeting in the GPS Livestream archives [The video is now in the usual place, but it still sucks] but the GPS techie geniuses posted an ersatz video to make up for the *lost Internet* complication during the meeting. Said video is so bad, you can barely hear what is going on; the video portion is so blurred, you get a headache from trying to watch.

Here’s a link to an improved video (but it’s still blurred, Westie’s magic couldn’t compensate for that).  Here’s the link if you don’t see it below:

Big Fat Asterisk: The Higley Unified School District superintendent also spoke at the December 1, 2016 Town Council meeting. Dr. Mike Thomason didn’t exactly cover himself in glory. [Dude, act like you know you’re a superintendent. Grab some gravitas.] One thing the new GPS board members should know: HUSD immediately produced public records that Westie requested about Mikey’s participation in this meeting, along with signed affidavits when there were no records within the scope of part of the FOIA request. Classy! HUSD also posts for public viewing the entire file of documents sent to the board before a board meeting.

Pay attention, new board members, GPS has been violating the norms of OML and *boardmanship* for years, and it’s only become worse under Kishimoto. It’s now YOUR watch!

Depraved GPS Administrators: “We Won’t Enroll Your Child!”

When the going gets tough, Gilbert Public Schools superintendent Christina Kishimoto and her over-paid, over-fed band of sycophants who dwell within the ivory towers of the district offices target the most vulnerable students and parents in GPS. How many ways can the Special Education folks at GPS retaliate against a family for trying to enroll their child in a GPS school instead of shuffling him off to the autism warehouse GPS prefers? The answer is: we just don’t know yet, but GPS is exceeding expectations in their race to the deepest circle of Hell.  

The parent in the photo above has been trying to enroll her son in a GPS neighborhood school; the family lives in GPS boundaries. In this case, the student has Autism Spectrum Disorder, so GPS has moved heaven and earth to deny him enrollment. Much of the nastiness GPS engaged in occurred over the Christmas break, December 2016. Now it’s the end of January 2017 and GPS has pulled out all the stops to send this child to their favorite warehouse for a *differently abled* student who might bring down GPS test scores and hurt the district’s reputation, thereby tarnishing Christina Kishimoto’s national ambitions  attend a neighborhood school where GPS is striving mightily to depress enrollment. That would be the west side of the district, where it serves GPS interests to limit enrollment so that Kishimoto and her two Rubber Stamp board members can ram through school reforms that no one wants or needs.

The video below shows this parent’s plea at the GPS board meeting on January 24, 2017. Warning: it will break your heart. Mom explains in the first few seconds that she has aphasia as a result of a brain tumor that was surgically removed three years ago.  While her aphasia may cause difficulties in speaking, it does not affect her intelligence. The greatest difficulty she encounters has been in communication in an IEP meeting with the district’s brutal goons Special Education enforcers who have been charged with keeping her child out of any GPS school. One more thing about this incredibly dedicated mom: she is undergoing chemotherapy while fighting against the GPS SpEd @$$hats who are supposed to dissuade her from enrolling her son.

Mom speaks for herself eloquently, assisted by her differently abled son who just wants to take a percussion class at Mesquite Junior High School. Watch this mother and her son and weep for what GPS has become. If you don’t see the video, use this link:  This post will continue below the video.

GPS has pulled about every dirty trick in the book, from holding an IEP meeting without parents participating, to writing an IEP [Individualized Education Program] without the parents’ knowledge. In their dealings with this mom, GPS has refused to provide accommodations for her aphasia; she’s kicking their butts anyway. From an email dated Jan 26, 2017, at 4:20 PM:

The district has refused to provide me with accommodations for 3 years.  As I informed the attorney [Denise Lowell-Britt] that the district brought, against my wishes, to the last meeting, you cannot have a legal IEP meeting without my required accommodations.

I have the right to participate in my son’s education. I had to state that again last Thursday when Kelly Anderson started yelling at me over the phone when  the school counselor called.  And, again, when Jason Martin suddenly appeared at a confidential meeting at Gilbert Jr.  Not only did Mr Martin refuse to let me communicate, he became hostile in front of my son.  No district employee will be allowed to intimidate or bully me in front if my child.

This is notice that I am requesting an emergency IEP meeting for the purpose of writing his annual IEP which has yet to be written and is out of compliance.  The district CANNOT write an IEP without Colter’s parents who have always been willing to participate.  For the district to inform the state education department that they wrote Colter’s IEP without our knowledge is absolutely a violation of both Colter’s and parental rights and misleading to the Az State Education Department.

By the next day, the situation was even more dire for this child and his mom. Her email tells more about how she has been treated by GPS:

Date: January 27, 2017 at 1:36:27 AM MST
To: Kelly Anderson <>, Fran Grossenbacher <>
Cc: Gilbert School Board <>
Subject:Mesquite Jr  –  Colter’s enrollment


On Tuesday, you told me I had to meet with Dan Johnson [principal of Mesquite Junior High School] to enroll Colter in the percussion class.  I immediately drove there.  It was 4:15pm and there was no signs of life at the office.  I tried again yesterday without success and left a message by phone as well.  No one called all day.  I drove to Mesquite Jr again today.  I was NOT at all surprised to be told that Mr Johnson was not available to talk despite your reassurances that he was up to speed and waiting to discuss enrollment.

I informed the staff that I would wait until Mr Johnson finished his meeting to talk and sat down to fill out the “open enrollment form” once again as you directed me to do on Tuesday.  Additionally, I asked for a copy of my previous open enrollment form from the attendance clerk.  Just like she told me before, those forms are sent to the district with the copy of the students IEP.  It is NOT up to the principal of the school, it is up to the district.  Every attendance specialist at every GPS school has told me the same thing.  So, when Fran [Grossenbacher, GPS Director of SpEd]  wrote and stated that it was the decision of the principal, it made no sense to me.

Mr Johnson concluded his meeting, but he still didn’t talk with us.  We continued to wait.  Mr Johnson finally came out to tell us he wouldn’t talk to us today.  Actually, he completely ignored my son, so he just told me.  Too busy of course.  I asked him if he would at least tell me if Colter would be enrolled in percussion.  He refused to tell me.  Based on his demeanor, I can surmise what is now going to occur.  The same “bait and switch” that was discussed by a number of people at the board meeting…

When Mr Johnson tries to tell me that my son won’t qualify for percussion because there is another excuse, probably about needing a year of band experience, I have already done the research regarding the truthfulness of that statement.  I am already aware that there IS capacity.  I’m sure the board will understand the catch 22 of placing my son in a private school with no band or orchestra and then telling us he has lost the opportunity to play in band in Jr high.

Listen to Dan Johnson do exactly what the mom predicted he would do; the cowardly Kishimoto lackey left a voicemail:


What GPS has become: a public school district that wants more, more and more money from taxpayers, but refuses to provide accommodations for a disabled mom and her differently abled son. Apparently, the additional federal funds that accrue to the district specifically for this child’s education aren’t enough for GPS. Providing accommodations for the mom so she could participate in her child’s IEP would be just too d@mned inconvenient. Sending a child to do a man’s job, i.e. dispatching Jason Martin to obstruct the mom’s attempt at enrolling her son at Mesquite Junior High School, because schoolyard bullying and thuggery is all that Martin and GPS seem to know how to do, is considered an appropriate administrative action. This is beyond disgusting, but this atrocity is what GPS has become.

How many times will Westie have to post about morally repugnant actions GPS commits against students who are *differently abled* and require federally-mandated support in order to access the free and appropriate public education that is their right as a citizen?

Big Fat Asterisk: Community activists have already established that Dan Johnson’s claim about 153 open enrollments at MJHS, made to the board during this same board meeting, was a lie. Apparently, in order to further her personal agenda, Christina Kishimoto is manipulating just about every data point presented to the board for pretty much any decision: “This would be a new low for Kishi. Let’s starve the west side school so it looks more publicly acceptable to merge us with GCA.”

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