Superintendent Misleads the New GPS Board at Their First Meeting

Congratulations! The new members of the Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board have been seated: Lori Wood, Sheila Rogers and Reed Carr. Members of the public are rightfully alarmed that Superintendent Christina Kishimoto intentionally misled the new board members about a very important matter. That was incredibly stupid, since evidence to the contrary is readily available … which Westie is delighted to share, especially if it will prevent new GPS board members from following Christina Kishimoto off a cliff. 

Citizens who watched the January 11, 2017 board meeting were waiting for signs of independence and forward thinking. They were richly rewarded when Sheila Rogers was elected president and Reed Carr was elected clerk. Sheila Rogers immediately showed that she knows exactly what she is doing as president. After the meeting, Reed Carr explained to well-wishers “I will have specific responsibility to review the financial vouchers prior to the board’s approval as well as responsibility to ensure board records are properly maintained.”

People in the audience reported that Christina Kishimoto appeared stunned; she had already been bragging that the new board members didn’t know anything and would do whatever she wanted. Jill Humpherys cried because she was not elected president. She and fellow rubber stamper Charlie Santa Cruz, who was not elected as the new board clerk, were not expecting these results, either.

One thing tells you all you need to know about the character of Jill Humpherys and Joseph Charles Santa Cruz: after their candidacy for board offices had been shot down in 2-3 votes, both remnants of the rubber stamp board of 2015-2017 voted against the other board members who had been nominated for those offices. Sheila Rogers and Reed Carr were elected on 3-2 votes, with Jill yelling out “Nay” as she used to do before she was part of a majority caucus on the GPS governing board.

Jill Humpherys and Charlie Santa Cruz could have been classy and made the second votes unanimous. But no, they wanted retribution after having their fondest hopes dashed. They must have believed that they, too, would *handle the new board members* seeing as how they’re now so experienced in school district boardsmanship. Most would call what they practice *gamesmanship,* but let’s not get distracted by semantics … or *the optics* that are more important to Charlie Santa Cruz than actual ethics.

Back to the intentional misrepresentation where Christina Kishimoto told the board that the committee for enrollment management is a *district* committee in the meeting. There is no such animal. There are committees formed by the board and there are committees formed by the superintendent – these are the committees at the district level, but they are not *district* committees.

What’s important: board committees must operate under Open Meeting Laws. As members of the public have seen time and again, Christina Kishimoto has no use for OML, and she’s not going to follow it when she can get away with brazen defiance. The former Rubber Stamp Board followed their Dear Leader each and every time, and then they denied to the Arizona Attorney General and to the public that they did what they did.

Remember how Christina Kishimoto told the board there were no findings from the OML investigations … and then she and the board had to sit through a public session of OML training? Yeah, that was part of the GPS consent agreement with the Attorney General’s office so the OML complaint investigations could be closed. Remember how there was no record of that OML training … until a citizen’s video was posted online? THEN they decided to find the *nonexistent* video of the OML training. Remember? Maybe there’s a pattern here.

Christina Kishimoto’s purposeful misrepresentation has potential to cause immense damage to Mesquite Junior High School and Mesquite High School, depending on how the new boundaries and super boundaries fall out. That’s entirely the point!

Recall that the surplus space, ZBB and other committees were board committees; their meetings and their reports were to be made public … at least, that was the case before Christina Kishimoto quashed those committees like bugs under her feet. Christina Kishimoto has fought hard to keep the public shut out of committees and anything else where citizens might impede her plans for a *national reputation.* The entire *committee of the whole* was a construct by Christina Kishimoto to get the whole board to meet, purportedly as the GPS Policy Committee, without public interference. It took several OML complaints to get those meetings made sort-of public.

The *enrollment management* committee should be reconstituted as a board committee and it should operate in public view; nothing less will suffice to maintain public confidence as GPS boundaries are redrawn. Christina Kishimoto can do a lot of damage with Jill Humpherys and Charlie Santa Cruz running interference for her against the new board if no one knows what’s on the committee’s agenda. Of course, that’s exactly the point,  and no one can stop this new *follow the leader off the cliff* meme except the newly seated GPS board members.

More: GPS has NEVER addressed boundary issues without community input, although Christina Kishimoto is determined to keep the committee’s work a secret until she brings it to the board for a vote. Fireworks will erupt when Christina Kishimoto pushes through the junior high gifted academy at HJHS for next year … the school that already has the highest enrollment and many out of boundary GPS students, in addition to out of district students.

The video below shows the kabuki dance that enshrined the GPS Enrollment Management Committee. If you don’t see the video, use this link:

Hey, new board members: there’s a reason that citizens, taxpayers and residents on the west side of the Town of Gilbert are working on a petition to the Chandler Unified School District to annex their properties …  #SaveOurNeighborhoodSchools

Gilbert Public Schools: The Great Wage Theft Caper Continues

Another New Year, another disaster in Gilbert Public Schools — this time, for failing to pay employees all they are owed for the work they have done. A new board is now responsible for superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s management failures, which include unconstrained wage theft. Citizens anxiously await the election of a new board president on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 for the signal that the GPS Governing Board will do their jobs and hold public employees accountable for their failures … or not. 

We all know that Silly Jilly Humherys is salivating at the prospects of being elected board president. She believes that all her Arizona School Board Association schmoozing entitles her to be board president — “Hey, guys, I got another certificate for attending an ASBA event (at GPS expense)! They like me, they really like me!!!” Silly Jilly Humpherys, whose nose is dark brown and stinky from puppy-dogging Kishimoto around to events at every opportunity, never got elevated to BFF status, in spite of her proclivity for sanctimoniously pontificating in favor of anything Kishimoto wanted during a board meeting. Karma.

The important thing about Silly Jilly Humpherys’ history is that it appears she never questioned anything that her position as GPS governing board clerk required her to oversee. As a result, GPS administrators have run wild, knowing they never will be held accountable for anything they do. Example: in 2016, Christina Kishimoto not only received her five-figure *performance pay* bonus, she had her contract renewed a year early and was awarded a blank check for spending millions of dollars on the GCA/MJHS campus boondoggle and other unnamed extravaganzas. That’s what has been passing as *accountability* in GPS.

Benito Mussolini’s fascist governance famously was defended because “he made the trains run on time.” Kishimoto hasn’t performed the basic functions of managing an entity of 5,000 employees … like paying those employees properly. Two years ago, Kishimoto demanded $1.3 Million for new software to do human resources and payroll functions. A year ago, Kishimoto’s incompetent minions rammed full-steam ahead to implementing that new payroll system, which has never functioned properly.

The Great Payday Melee continues unabated today, and has morphed into undeniable wage theft. Employees are shorted dollars in their paychecks for many reasons, but Kishimoto couldn’t be bothered to “make the payroll on time” … and Her Three Votes on the GPS board didn’t care. “BFD,” they shrugged.

The latest GPS payroll *system failure* screwed up income taxes on top of the other many failures to pay employees properly. An email from a gal who holds three positions (GPS School Nutrition Services, Payroll Tech, NSLP Secretary) in the White Castle explained to GPS employees:

There was a system error on paychecks whose Federal Exemptions were anything but “0” (zero). For example if your Federal tax withholding is Single or Married with ‘0’ Exemptions then your paycheck contains no tax errors. If your Federal tax withholding is Single or Married with 1 or more Exemptions then an error was made, too much taxes was withheld. [No editing: Westie couldn’t make up this stuff.]

One of the new board members works with compliance issues in his day job; another has been a school district superintendent, presumably responsible for making the payroll. Perhaps these two can figure out the issues associated with failing to pay employees properly for a year … blaming it on the *software* or the *system* doesn’t count. Neither does *reorganizing business services.* Nope, can’t blame it on not having enough employees to do the job, either … the White Castle is bursting at the seams with administrative employees. Bonus points for anyone who can figure out exactly how many people are employed in the White Castle!

How long will the new board allow this to continue? Has the co-opting already begun? Here’s an alarming hint of what’s to come: in the long, long tradition of giving out awards when GPS admins feel their job security is threatened, Kishimoto has thrown a bone to the new board. From her December 16, 2016 board brief:

ASBA Conference
We had a great opportunity last week on Thursday and Friday to connect at the ASBA conference and to enjoy several sessions together. It was also great to have Jill, Charlie, Lori and Sheila attend the session on governance that I co-presented with my colleague from Buckeye Elementary School.* As we go into the new calendar year, let’s talk about the requirements from ASBA to have our governance team recognized as a Golden Award winner.

The question is, will the new board make sure GPS employees are paid on time? Paying employees all that they are owed for the work they have performed for the district is a basic administrative function. Kishimoto has failed. Worse, she created a *ticket system* to make it appear she has things under control, bragging that her new *ticket system* brought the numbers down from over 900 in August 2016. This artifice succeeds only if you believe that having 97 new tickets opened the week before December 16, 2016 is acceptable.

“There ought to be a law,” abused employees cry; fact is, there are laws about wage theft and other nefarious schemes employers use to take advantage of their employees. The public isn’t buying that GPS payroll and associated tax reporting, withholding and remittances have been a mess for the past year, but it’s no one’s fault. The public sees clearly that these aren’t *tickets* to be cavalierly dismissed … these are employees who have not been paid properly for the past year. Pay them! Asking banks to forgive GPS employee overdrafts is not sufficient.

Oh yeah, don’t forget about overtime, which has been in a mess for years, but really, since only the lowest level of support staffers are paid hourly, no one seems to have cared. Silly Jilly Humpherys already posted on Facebook that those employees have to *be patient* as they await their new minimum wage salary payments. Apparently, Silly Jilly expects them to wait for years while she tries to do the math:

Happy New Year! Best wishes for peace and prosperity in 2017! … Congrats to a number of our staff who will receive a raise due to the increase in the minimum wage. You work really hard! Please be patient and understanding as we make challenging decisions the next few years to fund those increases.

That’s marginally better than when Silly Jilly Humpherys compared GPS staff to idiots who should work at Walmart:

We’ll be looking at you, board members elected in November 2016, because that’s what Westie does.

Big Fat Asterisk: Westie made a public records request for the documents Kishimoto used in that presentation at the ASBA conference on “Effective Governance Models.” Is it any surprise that GPS hasn’t produced those notes and slides? Business as usual under the new board? Stay tuned!

GPS Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s Secret Farewell Memo, 2016

Gilbert Public Schools logo - S.H.I.T. Happens HereAs the calendar pages of 2016 fall away, many people look back with fondness and conjure up excitement and resolutions for the new year. The superintendent of Gilbert Public Schools can’t seem to do that, because events of 2016 crashed some of her greatest dreams … dreams of her *national reputation* as a reformy public school administrator destined for *greatness* on a national stage, like the US Department of Education where John B. King, Jr., a fellow education reformer from the Bronx, managed to Peter Principle his way to the top for a short time.

Christina Kishimoto was downright melancholy when she we penned her secret elegy to Her Three Votes on the GPS governing board, likely because she is losing her BFF, former board president Lily Tram, who was kicked off the board by the unwashed masses electorate that Kishimoto so despises. 

Click here for your personal copy of Christina Kishimoto’s secret memo, which isn’t *really* from Kishimoto. It’s a parody, made up by Westie’s clever brains.
[Keyboard: Couldn’t you tell from the GPS Logo? S.H.I.T. Happens Here!]

Secret Memo to GPS Governing Board Members Lily Tram, Jill Humpherys, Charles Santa Cruz
BCC: Alex Nardone, GPS Chief of Staff
Subject: The Superintendent’s Fond Farewell to Board President Tram

Board members,

It is with exquisite sadness that we bid ado adieu to Lily Tram. Lily faithfully served my interests as your superintendent since July 2014. We’ve been through alot some interesting times together, and Lily always had my back.

Just think of all the things we could have done if it were not for those nasty women citizens making those requests for public records every time we almost pushed my agenda through! Fortunately, Lily’s well-known hatred of FOIA requests enabled me, as superintendent, to slow-walk them all and simply refuse to cough up documents that could have landed me us in trouble. And the Open Meeting Law complaints, Ay caramba!!!

I really appreciate how Lily and Jill voted to suspend the district regulation so we could get on with closing Gilbert Junior High School and give the campus to Gilbert Classical Academy. Charlie, you could have done better … your idea for a shared campus is one of the most ridiculous things anyone could have proposed, and now we’re stuck with it AND with the loudmouth GCA parents who still want more and more for their precious snowflakes.

Jill, don’t worry, I have set plans in motion for the Gifted Academy at Highland Junior High; Highland High School’s gifted academy will be next. I’m sorry it has taken so long, but I couldn’t move any faster because of the GCA mess. We’ll get some good laughs when the gifted academies poach students from GCA. ha ha

I really appreciate that Lily and Jill voted for me to become Superintendent. We all know that the whole GCA mess is due to my pinky promise to Julie about a new GCA campus, but remember, we really, really needed that third vote to hire me! I never figured out what motivated Daryl during his time on the board, and that’s probably why he was such a thorn in my side. Goodbye and good riddance to them both.

Our plan for the new $1.3 Million contract for new finance and human resources software that you approved for me in November 2014 has been wildly successful. First, I realize that I sprung that on you without warning, but I had such a wonderful idea! Second, I have managed to stretch the rollout of the payroll software through the end of 2016. That was not easy! It took a lot of doing to get rid of the support staffers who might have blown the whistle on our finance and human resources game plan, especially after my boyfriend Executive Director of Technology had to leave the district so suddenly. Whew!

We survived Steve’s sudden departure and elements now are in place for the magnificent schemes we devised. I have to laugh at how citizens tried to expose that a GPS server was wiped before former GPS superintendent Dave Allison left [so I could be hired, thanks!]. That was such child’s play in comparison to OUR magnificent scheme, but thankfully, Lily and Jill managed to keep a lid on it back then, thanks to the district’s long-time relationship with the Gilbert Police Department.

I feel I must acknowledge Lily Tram’s pivotal role in devising the Great Payday Melee — she figured out that if everyone took a two week vacation the week before we tried to run payroll on the new technology system, it would guarantee one payroll fiasco after another in 2016. This also was a great distraction from the announcement in October 2014 that the district had overspent by $15.3 Million and kept it a secret.

Lily’s experience as the ASU Director of Financial Services has been invaluable! Without her in-depth knowledge acquired as a Certified Government Financial Manager, it would have been much harder to *cook the books,* as the saying goes, especially after I didn’t get to hire my first choice as Chief Finance Officer. I know Tom Wohlleber puts you to sleep with his presentations, but that’s part of the grand scheme, because it lulls citizens into slumberland, too. Now, all we have to do is fire a few more people who work in Business Services and keep the IRS happy with the window-dressing tax report submissions Lily brainstormed for us. Thanks again, Lily!

Lily helped me come up with a plan to stem the student losses that are starting to make me look bad: Swag Bags! I will tell principals to take up collections of money from their subordinates for GPS logo items to give away in swag bags. We all know GPS teachers will go along with this plan because if they don’t contribute, their principal will rate them lower, and they’ll lose some of that taxpayer money that’s been set aside for teacher performance pay.

It still saddens my heart to think of all the projects that I could have spent those Prop 123 dollars on I could have won a lot of new friends in the construction trades if I had more money to spend on repurposing Mesquite Junior High School. Five million dollars doesn’t go as far as it used to! At least we bought buses and some vans from our pals at Santan Ford, who are so generous to the Gilbert Education Foundation.

Best wishes in the future, Lily. I’m sure your old friends at CORE Construction will miss your smiling face on the GPS dais. Maybe you can come up with some more great scams ideas to make some of those ASU employees love you … like you did for GPS!!


BCC: Alex, you know you deserve the award for Most Valuable Player. I worried a bit when your nice, persuasive talk with Charlie was picked up on a live mic and plastered all over the Internet. I’m counting on you to continue blocking the demands for new boundaries for district schools. I wouldn’t have put that item on the board’s goals for this year if I had known Lily wouldn’t carry the ball into the end zone.

PS: Work harder to scare the new board members about how they won’t be protected from lawsuits if they don’t do what the lawyers tell them to do (I’ll tell the lawyers what to say). These newbies seem to think THEY will be making decisions for the district!

GPS Superintendent Says She is *Passionate* – Others Say *Unprofessional*

Here it is, December 2016, and we can pretty much repeat a post from the year before: GPS Superintendent Christina Kishimoto gets mad, starts crying and loses control of herself at a public event. Seriously, all it takes is someone criticizing the lack of information Christina Kishimoto made available to the public and to the Gilbert Public Schools governing board before a big, expensive project is launched and BAM! her tears flow, her nose gets blown and somehow, we’re supposed to accept this as professional, adult behavior … in public. Sheeeeeesh. 

Can you imagine a CEO level employee throwing a hissy fit when the board of directors says they need more information before signing off on the CEO’s latest pet project? That’s what happened at the GPS work study session on December 6, 2016, as shown in the video clip below.  (If you don’t see the video, use this link:

Hissy fit” is used to describe an adult tantrum, but now has become an equal opportunity description, young or old, male or female. What the descriptions have in common is no matter how severe the (alleged) offense, there is always some wounded pride involved, and there is usually an audience of bystanders along with the culprit who allegedly triggered the hissy fit. In this instance, a board member’s questions triggered Kishimoto’s hissy fit, and the Internet preserved it for the world (or at least for Westie’s audience; thank you for your time and attention!).

At issue: Christina Kishimoto wants the GPS governing board to approve a massive financial outlay for a dual language school design at Gilbert Elementary School … an initiative she strong-armed to destroy the neighborhood school in order to institute a *reform* the community does not want. Christina Kishimoto’s first response is a lot of double-speak and edu-speak about *processes* in an effort to confuse the board and the audience. When that doesn’t work, she falls back on tears … *You made me cry! You’re so mean!*

Also present in her tantrum are Christina Kishimoto’s insults to the community: “The people who talked to the governing board and to me aren’t in the Gilbert Elementary School community!” Never mind that what happens in one GPS school affects every school in the district; everyone knows that. Community members are particularly upset that Christina Kishimoto’s pet school design will force students to schools outside their neighborhoods if they do not enroll in those dual language classes. People who bought houses specifically so their children could walk to the neighborhood elementary school are livid and tearful. The situation is dire for families whose children will be forced to attend different schools.

Christina Kishimoto’s public tirade was outrageous by any standard of professionalism; we’re guessing she believes GPS doesn’t have any standards that apply to her. Au contraire! Let’s start with GPS Policy CBA, Performance Responsibilities. This policy provides in detail that the superintendent’s role requires that she “Earns respect and standing among professional colleagues … Maintains poise and emotional stability in the full range of professional activities … Gains respect and support of the community on the conduct of the operation.” Do you see any of those qualities present in superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s sniveling, sniffling and crying in the video above?

This wasn’t Christina Kishimoto’s only hissy fit in recent weeks. On November 2, 2016, she represented Gilbert Public Schools at an event with a focus on teachers and what self-selected *leading executives* can do to attract and retain the best in the field. At that meeting, the audience reported they were treated to more of Kishimoto’s “It’s all about me!” histrionics as she segued into talking about how hard it is for superintendent-level folks in today’s educational environment. Once again, Christina Kishimoto seemed to be unable to use the right words, greatly diminishing her professional standing in the community.

Some of Christina Kishimoto’s reported comments at that event included her condemnation of *back slapping* that she believes is prevalent in school district castles offices. Ah, Chica, we think that word does not mean what you think it means. It’s elementary:

Back slapping is something people do in a friendly manner. Back biting might have been the word you meant to use: attacking the character or reputation, generally when the person who is being discussed is not present. Yes, that’s pretty much par for the course in Gilbert Public Schools, and much of it is aimed at you as a *leader* who is not worthy of the title, the so-called prestige and (of course) the big, fat unearned salary that you get. Maybe the word you sought was back stabbing, which would implicate the inhabitants of the GPS White Castle, who discredit you in countless ways. They know you’re a carpetbagger and a grifter, and they’re not about to tell you about relevant district history; it’s much more fun to watch as you get yourself into pickles that they, as informed persons, know to avoid.

For instance, plenty of people could have told Christina Kishimoto about the troubled history in the past few years of the dual language program at Gilbert Elementary School. Perhaps they could have shared that former Gilbert Public Schools interim superintendent Jack Keegan took corrective action after the school year started in August 2013 due to the low enrollment in the program compared to the neighborhood school classes.

After Christina Kishimoto threw her hissy fit and made assertions that were never true, members of the community circulated Superintendent Keegan’s board brief obtained through public records requests on that very issue. We helpfully uploaded the entire memo at the link above, but we offer the Cliff’s Notes version for convenience:

Jack Keegan closed down the dual language kindergarten class in August 2013 because it had only 15 students. First grade had 18 students, second and fifth grades had 15 students each. The third and fourth grade classes had only 11 students each. At the same time, the two regular first grade classes had 28 and 30 students, respectively.* “There is no rationale for that kind of disparity in our class sizes.” If the dual language program did not grow with district advertising assistance, Keegan said, “We are going to reexamine the viability of the program.”

This wasn’t the first time Christina Kishimoto reported facts to the board as she wished them to be, rather than the reality of the situation:

The Christina Corollary: *Suck it, citizens and taxpayers!*  … Christina Kishimoto gets away with making things up as she goes along.BS  The Terrible Trio laughs in the faces of the public and the two board members who don’t sit up and beg when they’re told to do so. Run along, nothing to see here… except there’s plenty more for Westie to share.

Big Fat Asterisk: We’re not certain that the GPS superintendent chica knows the difference between the words *respectively* and *respectfully.* Sigh.

Trainwreck! Incompetent GPS Superintendent and Administrators

As the community observes the train wreck engineered by Gilbert Public Schools superintendent Christina Kishimoto and her band of carpetbaggers and scalawags filling the top level administrative jobs of the school district, people are shaking their heads at how much stupidity has been displayed just in the past couple of weeks. You would think those overpaid administrators would ensure the staff work they pass along to the governing board for approval and public viewing would be top-notch and error free. You would be wrong, at least in Gilbert Public Schools.

Westie can right only so many wrongs at once, so we’ll key in on a few illustrations of totally incompetent staff work by the GPS superintendent and her minions. The new governing board could do a lot to *reform* GPS by simply insisting on such elementary tasks as proofreading the documents these idiots  top level school district administrators ask the board to approve. Getting those Top Dogs to account for various cash funds might be more difficult. But it really, really, really needs to be done.

Let’s examine examples from the November 22, 2016 board meeting, when Christina Kishimoto already knew that her BFF Lily Tram had been thrown off the board by the electorate. First, Christina Kishimoto had to withdraw the draft of Policy DBI that her staff had prepared for approval at this meeting. Kishimoto said there was “a line missing” in the text of the new policy she recommended. In the real world, a superintendent or CEO would not have allowed such sloppy staff work to reach the level for board approval and public exposure. That humiliating public withdrawal of a defective recommendation wouldn’t be such a big deal if it were not repeating history. Way back in GPS history (that would be June 2016), Christina Kishimoto had done the same thing on a larger scale by recommending 19 existing district policies be revised and 12 new policies be approved in spite of a glaring lack of even a cursory proofreading of those documents.

A member of the public actually READ those policies and discovered a campaign of deceit orchestrated to beguile the board into glossing over a bunch of sloppy bullsh*t at the June 21, 2016 policy committee meeting. Then, at the June 28, 2016, the GPS governing board approved those I-series policies. Sheeeeesh. They expected no one would ever notice and no one would ever care. Extra credit to eagle-eyed readers who spot the *amazing coincidence* that Kishimoto’s Three Rubber Stamp voters also approved a new three year contract for this incompetent superintendent that same night!

Circling back to the November 22, 2016 GPS board meeting, Christina Kishimoto buried seriously defective documents within the consent agenda, apparently believing that board members would never even look at them. Her bet paid off, and the board approved those 22 PTSO applications. Some of the deficiencies, errors and stupid mistakes in those documents include:

In case you think this might be hyper technical and not worth addressing, the fact of the matter is that these organizations can be sued and some GPS parent support organizations have been sued along with the district. Shoddy staff work and illegitimate registrations easily can become a nightmare for well-intentioned parents; board members who don’t reign in the staff could be in for a rough ride even if The Trust defends them.

Then there’s the matter of six figure dollar amounts that pass through the GPS parent support organizations. How much easier it would be to *pilfer* a bit here and there when no one actually oversees the organization and its finances! But a big risk lurks: nonprofit or charitable organizations that don’t operate within the law can lose their charitable tax status. In that case, the officers can be held responsible for taxes that should have been paid, among other penalties that can be levied by government agencies.

Sloppy staff work by incompetent administrators puts a lot of volunteers at legal and financial risk. A good case could be made that the sloppy staff work is a feature, not a bug, hiding nefarious or even criminal conduct. PTSOs and booster clubs: take a look at your financials. Betcha there are large sums that cannot be found! 

The situation actually is a lot worse than it seems: even greater sums of money pass through student activity accounts: MANY HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS! Parents pay an incredible amount of money for district fees for classes and extracurricular activities. That money is not very well controlled, either. For example, if you pay by credit card (high school parents can do this) the district apparently sends that money into the general fund rather than crediting it properly to the appropriate fund. What’s a hundred dollars here, two hundred dollars there to someone like Silly Jilly Humpherys who thinks $100,000 is not much money?

Westie has been hearing for several years about the huge sums of cash that float around campuses in Gilbert Public Schools. Maybe the new board will take their responsibilities seriously … for heaven’s sake, don’t elect Jill Humpherys clerk! Her two year tenure as clerk of the board has been marked by little to no oversight of GPS spending.

Reading some of the audit reports of school districts in Arizona, we’re struck by how people ultimately were held accountable (indicted) for wrongdoingSome of the things we found sound a lot like what has been going on in Gilbert Public Schools. Some are similar to things we reported as whistleblowers; others are similar to things still going on in GPS at the district level and on campuses. In Red Mesa School District, the top two in the superintendency enriched themselves from public funds (six figure enrichment for each) and then the board joined in to obstruct the investigation!

New board members, you simply must hold Christina Kishimoto accountable for inexcusable and egregious errors. As far as Westie can remember, the GPS board had never been asked to *suspend* an existing policy in order to violate state law, but Christina Kishimoto recommended the board suspend policy so she could get on with closing Gilbert Junior High School. That fiasco should serve as a canary in a coal mine for you new folks: there’s danger ahead! Parent support organizations and student activity funds need serious attention … immediately!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contemporaneous commentary from Westie:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

Here’s part of the reply I got from Christina Kishimoto: “We don’t have “magnet” schools in GPS, but this will be a theme-based school that will continue to serve neighborhood students and continue to allow the current practice already in place to allow any open seats to go to students beyond the neighborhood or even beyond district boundaries. Families who do not want this particular model will continue to have the option to apply for open seats in other schools. There is a current discussion in progress to think about a broader boundary to include multiple schools rather than defining a boundary around a single school. That work is in conversation at the school level and has not yet been proposed to the board.”

Parents spoke at both public forums asking for boundaries to be reviewed and changed. Were told by Charlie Santa Cruz and Lily Tram that boundaries would be done this year. Even Charlie Santa Cruz said after the vote in April, that boundaries would be done. Nope. Every report regarding MJHS/GCA says boundaries need to be addressed to protect MHS and the schools on the west side of the district. Boundaries have been on the strategic plan since 2013. This is not a new concern. The fact that GPS now claims to just now be hearing about boundaries is so frustrating!

Dr. K’s new excuse is that she wants to implement these school designs first. That will push kids who don’t want these programs into other schools. Then she wants to wait for enrollment to “stabilize” before boundaries are addressed.

The community is rightly enraged that GPS, under the *leadership* of Christina Kishimoto, is usurping the duties that Arizona law reserves to the GPS governing board. Westie snarkily warned about this back in January 2016 as Kishimoto unveiled her plan to destroy a junior high school on the western edge of the district and give the campus to Gilbert Classical Academy:

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

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

This isn’t the first time that something has been implemented without (before) board approval. There’s a long list! Like ALP and SpEd teachers who were told that they didn’t have a job any more BEFORE the board voted on the budget that cut those programs. Like a board member telling me that Chomebooks were a “done deal” a full month before the first board vote to approve their purchase. Like School Councils being formed and members of those committees being asked to sign district-provided bylaws months before the board approved the purpose of those committees (BTW, the bylaws I signed don’t align with what the board ended up approving). Many more examples. This is just how Kishimoto works. Cram something through and ask for board approval later. She needs to be stopped. She’s destroying our schools and we’re losing students and GREAT staff because of her.

The issue here is that the administration hasn’t brought on board the parents whose children aren’t currently in the program. Gilbert El is a community school, and they deserve to have a voice. We have seen backlash kill the best laid plans in this district. I say properly market the existing program. Allow it to grow naturally. But don’t send students and staff to other schools if they are not on board for the program. This been in place for nearly 20 years. Clearly there is a following interested in it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some citizens offer advice to Kishimoto and to the board:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christina Kishimoto Denies Her Staff Admitted GPS Is Being Investigated

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

[from Christina Kishimoto]

E-Rate, WAN and RFP Process

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

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

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

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

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

Brief transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto Destroys Another Neighborhood School

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be scared, Gilbert El teachers and staff.  #SaveOurNeighborhoodSchools

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

At Stake in the GPS Election: Controlling a Rogue Superintendent

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

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

Guide to emails shown below:

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

Back to Guide of Emails

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

Dear Gilbert Elementary families,

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

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

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

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

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

Yours in education,
Justin Sremba
Gilbert Elementary Principal

Back to Guide of Emails

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jill Humpherys phone number: 480-633-0792

Back to Guide of Emails

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

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

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

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

Back to Guide of Emails

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

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

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

Back to Guide of Emails

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

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

Back to Guide of Emails

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

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

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

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

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

Respectfully, Julie Smith

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

Back to Guide of Emails

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

On Wed, Nov 2, 2016 at 1:53 PM, Christina Kishimoto <> wrote:

Board Members,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back to Guide of Emails

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Either of those is unacceptable and extremely unethical.

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

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

Back to Guide of Emails

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

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

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

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

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

Back to Guide of Emails

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

To: Christina Kishimoto <>

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

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

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

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

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