The Great GPS Employee Exodus of 2015 Begins

Now hear this, employees of Gilbert Public Schools: you’re in trouble with the new boss, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto. She staked her superintendency on stopping the mass exodus of employees that occurred during the 2013-2014 school year. That’s why she was hired, as she explained to a judge in a secret court hearing. Now you recalcitrant employees are making her look bad … in public!

[Keyboard to Westie: Notice Dr. Kishimoto didn’t explain to the judge that she had been fired by her last school district.]
[Westie to Keyboard: She wasn’t exactly fired. The board voted 7-0 not to renew Christina Kishimoto’s contract.]

At this point during the last school year, the GPS community was anxious and agitated over numbers claimed to be the biggest mass exodus of GPS employees EVER! Actually, it wasn’t the whole community, it was just a self-proclaimed loud-mouthed group of people who were determined to take political pot shots at conservative board members they didn’t like. The hysteria over the loss of Good Old Boys (and other GPS employees, as happens every year) was manufactured of whole cloth.

Superintendent-elect Christina Kishimoto didn’t know anything about Gilbert, Arizona and its school district back then (or now, it seems), but she bought in to this whole manufactured crisis that GPS was losing the best and brightest employees. That’s because the new superintendent had already decided who her newest BFFs were going to be and those were the only people she listened to. OMG, the nay-sayers and Gilbert Education Association proclaimed, the only staff that was left were the bitter dregs of a once-excelling school district! All the amazing teachers were gone! Conservatives were ruining this district! Christina 7-0 Kishimoto guzzled down that Kool-Aid! (You know it was a really exciting time because of al those exclamation points and the descriptor “amazing”!!!!)

Here’s where the Gilbert Public Schools’ mass exodus of employees was at the end of April 2014:

2014resign-retire

A year later, here’s the NEW and IMPROVED employee loss rates for Gilbert Public Schools, featuring a 100% increase in Certified Staff Retirements in April 2015! OMG! In the other categories we measured, the numbers are increasing, but not as dramatically. But it sure looks like Gilbert Public Schools is on the path for ANOTHER biggest mass exodus EVER!  “Woo hooo!” crowed the nay-sayers and GEA!!!!

2015resign-retire

This is just the beginning of the Great GPS Employee Exodus of 2015. We know, because this report of resignations and retirements does not include those that will be revealed when GPS employees refuse to sign the ridiculously draconian employment contracts that GPS thought up under the *leadership* of Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and Board President Lily Tram. Citizens and taxpayers of The Town of Gilbert should remember that the two remaining conservative board members, Daryl Colvin and Julie Smith, decried the $2,500.00 ransom and ten day furloughs as they voted against those new policies and contract provisions.

The Great Exodus of 2015 represents quite a learning curve for loyal GPS employees. They remember the time that former superintendent Dave Allison gave them a teeny-tiny “stipend” to put more money in their pockets while he ratcheted up the cost of GPS health insurance to employees. Then Good Old Dave threatened to take away that pittance if the current override issue on the ballot didn’t pass, which it didn’t.

Remember those shenanigans? Based on past experience, you know GPS will demand those ransoms and implement that furlough if the 2015 override doesn’t pass. Then the superintendency will say: “Take that, you worthless GPS employees who didn’t get your friends, neighbors and assorted voters to approve the override!” Everything old is new again. Groundhog Day. Some things never change.

This year, GPS employees have finally accepted that loyalty, the hallmark of long-term GPS employees, has been a one-way street for years and won’t change with the new administration. The size of the Great GPS Employee Exodus of 2015 won’t become apparent until after the new contracts are due to Human Resources, where the dynamic duo of Slimebucket Suzanne and Sleazy Steve will still be trying to figure out how to manage the most basic functions of a school district using their new million dollar software. Isn’t it great that the Arizona Department of Education Job Fair was held in Glendale this weekend, before GPS teacher contracts were due back? Hahahaha – while other valley school districts encouraged teachers to bring their resumes and get offered new jobs on the spot, it looks like GPS didn’t even know about the event.

[Keyboard: GPS doesn’t seem to know about most events going on in their own school district, according to the Official GPS Facebook page.]

The only glimpse of the real Gilbert community that the superintendent and her cabinet have had was the election in November 2014, with no override on the ballot. That election cost a cool six figures of profligate spending by special interests, and it featured countless itinerant members of the Arizona Education Association and affiliates going door-to-door to trash what conservative voters and board members were perceived to have done to the district during the previous two years. All this was intended to get two bought-and-paid-for new board members seated on the GPS Governing Board. Well, the GEA and other assorted rabble-rousers succeeded in getting “Let the Idiots Work for Walmart” Jill Humpherys another term on the board; they got Forked Tongue Charlie Santa Cruz seated, too.

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto has her bought-and-paid-for governing board members doing her dirty work for her. We all were fortunate that a hot mic mishap pulled back some curtains on dastardly GPS plans that were not supposed to be revealed to the public until AFTER the November 2015 override and bond issue appear on a special ballot, paid for by $285,000.00 out of the GPS budget that won’t be spent on student learning. These are the same folks who didn’t realize that spending millions of dollars on Chromebooks in the waning months of the 2014-2015 budget would not reflect the priorities of the taxpayers … not when the purported reason for said purchase was for taking standardized tests. Sheeeeesh.

These new GPS opportunists look a lot like carpetbaggers and scalawags of old.

Gilbert Public Schools Will Reform With You or Without You

Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto is a big believer in school reform. She is going to reform GPS, which was already an A rated school district, come hell or high water. She made sure all the members of the Governing Board got some expensive tutoring in school reform. She expects taxpayers to pony up for her spending sprees. And she’s tired of recalcitrant employees not bending to her reforms. 

[Keyboard: So recalcitrant employees: BOHICA!]

“What is school reform?” you ask. Reform means cutting costs, providing the shoddiest product possible, spending more on advertising and PR than quality, looting what you claim is yours and getting out before you get caught holding the bag. Let’s see how the GPS superintendency is doing just that…again.

FIRST: A word from our sponsor: Arizona law. Teachers, do not be bamboozled by HR and Tech Services hounding you for your signed contract they say is due within 15 days. That’s not true. They’ll still hound you, but they’re slime buckets. Read your contract. It says fifteen business days. Here’s why:
A.R.S. 15-538.01. Offer of contract to continuing teacher. Paragraph B. “The teacher’s acceptance of the contract must be indicated within fifteen business days from the date of the teacher’s receipt of the written contract or the offer of a contract is revoked.” Fifteen business days, presuming you actually received your contract on April 20, 2015 (weekend days DO NOT COUNT!) means it is really due on May 11, 2015. However, it might be smarter to send it no later than late in the business day on May 8, 2015. Better safe than sorry. This is not legal advice.
[Keyboard: Lookie here: Westie can spell *advice* properly! Unlike the top dogs of GPS.]

Remember that fancy $1.3 Million dollar software system for human resources and finance? It’s performing about how you would expect it to perform in GPS. Which means, not very well at all. Perhaps it’s because the Technology Department still runs on the Good Old Boy system. Lots of departures meant a big brain drain last year. Did GPS techies do anything to learn what kind of knowledge was departing with some of those long-term employees? Of course not. That might have required something like an actual exit interview. GPS does not like to hear negative things about their GOBs, so exit interviews, if they occur at all, are as ridiculous as the GPS contrived surveys to give cover for what’s already been decided.

GPS didn’t even know what their actual techie jobs were, as opposed to any *official* job descriptions that might have existed. GPS management had zero curiosity about what those techies actually did on a day-to-day basis. Looking at how things are going with Christina Kishimoto’s urgently-needed new million dollar software that suddenly was a funding imperative at the end of 2014, we have to ask: how many techies on staff now actually have real world experience in rolling out new software? It’s not something that conforms to a checklist; it’s full of surprises. Especially on an ancient computer system. Especially in  school district that has no concept of…well, there are just too many things to list here.

GPS wanted those new employment contracts out fast and returned super fast to prevent teachers from getting jobs with other school districts. By hastily implementing a truncated schedule, things were bound to go wrong. They did. GPS had to announce a *revised* schedule of rolling out those contracts because the techies couldn’t meet the original date the GOBs had announced. Even with that recent million dollar expense for new HR and financial software, and running the two software systems in tandem for a while, they just can’t make things work properly.

We thank all our beautiful birdies who keep sending us the GPS emails that are funnier than anything we could make up. Have some chocolate!

It gets funnier: the GOBs sent out a letter explaining why things were so screwed up. Chief Talent OfficerBS Suzanne Zentner’s letter, sent out as an image attached to an email by Chief Techie Steve Smith himself, said a lot of people were working very hard to get things into such a mess. Yeppers, they were actually patting themselves on the back for this.

Dear GPS Staff,
Please be advised that despite vigilant efforts by many people and departments, the deployment of contracts is running slightly behind schedule. Therefore, if you are slated to receive a contract or are in the queue to receive one and have not, please be patient and know we are doing everything within our power and the capacity of our system to deploy them as quickly as possible. *Thanks to everyone* for the understanding and patience you have extended with this process.
Love, Suzanne

Finally, the contracts piddled out over the weekend. That’s when teachers saw, most all of them for the first time, that GPS had instituted some draconian clauses that had never before been inflicted on loyal GPS employees. Then things turned weird. The GOBs were stunned that teachers didn’t immediately sign their contracts. Whooo boy, a lot of those teachers were absolutely livid, and rightly so, and they decided they are not in a hurry to sign those tyrannical contracts. They’re actually considering other alternatives to indentured servitude.

Gilbert Public Schools can’t just let teachers pick up and leave–oh, no, no, no! Good Old Christina 7-0 Kishimoto has staked her reputation (or whatever she has that passes for a reputation) on stopping the largest mass exodus that had ever happened in GPS* before she arrived. At least, that’s what Christina Kishimoto told a judge one day, trying to impress him with her importance.

The panic the GOBs felt was palpable. What to do? Aha, the answer seems to be misdirection and mayhem, coming right up! “Let’s send out notices to tell teachers to sign the d@mn contracts NOW!” they figured. Of course, that will only tax the tech system even more. When that initiative didn’t produce the desired results immediately, GPS started sending out more, more and more notices, pretending that technical difficulties had prevented receipt of those dadgummed contracts from those obstreperous teachers.  His Techiness himself explained in techie jargon:

Teacher contracts were distributed to most district teachers on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of last week, and many have already successfully signed contracts using the new system that was developed. However, while the contracts were being distributed, some teachers received notices that the contract still needed to be signed, even if the contract had already been signed. As a result, for a brief period of time this morning, the signing form was taken offline so that we could validate data in the system. It is now back online after confirming that the data is good. If you have already signed your contract (by clicking the submit button on page three), you do not need to do anything else, even if you received an email earlier stating that your contract still needs to be signed. If you have not signed your contract you will receive a reminder email or two before your signing time is up.
Love, Steve

In other words, GPS is going to hound you teachers until you sign those contracts! We’re finally hearing some rationalizations from the Gilbert Education Association, which the GOBs called into action to put those recalcitrant teachers in their places. Sure, everyone believes that the furlough notices are just a formality that’s in all school district contracts in the state… <sarcasm and ridicule, spiced with rolling eyes and face palms>

There’s more to come: GPS is going to experience much the same as the GOBs roll out administrator contracts. Those administrators had become accustomed to being exempted from the battering ram techniques the GOBs used against teachers and support staff in the past. This time, GOBs, be prepared to explain why in the world GEA was involved in *negotiating* contracts for administrators, greatly to the detriment of said administrators who don’t like being treated like the other peons in the district.

****************
*Big Fat Asterisk: Yes, we’ve noticed that the final numbers of departures from last year appear to have been quarantined so the public can’t decide for themselves if the exodus was *mass* or simply *routine.* Why let facts and *dater* get in the way of a good story?

“Hot Mic” Mishap Proves Gilbert Public Schools is Deceiving the Public

Acting Superintendent Alexander Nardone and bought-and-paid-for board member Charlie Santa Cruz were caught on a *hot mic* discussing the true state of plans for the future of Gilbert Public Schools. As Vice President Joe Biden said in a hot mic mishap, “This is a big f***ing deal.”

Their conversation immediately followed a sham of a presentation about what Gilbert Classical Academy (GCA) needs and how the superintendency will evaluate direction from the board and come back with the best option to achieve the board’s goals. The truth is, GPS is going to pretend to study alternatives to repurposing Gilbert Junior High School for the benefit of the 1% of district students attending GCA in order to kick the can down the road for a year.

During the public presentation, Acting Superintendent Alexander Nardone repeated that the administration would need a year to plan appropriate steps to accomplish whatever the board directed the superintendency to do. Here’s what Alexander Nardone said just before his private chat with Charlie Santa Cruz:

Nardone: Really, we are hoping that the discussion tonight will end with a direction for us to say give us further information on this as an option. No decision has been made. No option has been preferred. We’re really looking from direction from the board. [Cue up 43:05 on the Livestream video archive of the work study session on April 14, 2015.]

In a moment of candor, not knowing that their microphones were on or that there was a video recording of their comments, Nardone and Santa Cruz spoke the truth to each other. This was in total contrast to their words spoken moments before in the public portion of the work study. Don’t take Westie’s word for this – listen by clicking here. The audio has been leveled and boosted. There’s still a very brief part near the end that the mike didn’t pick up. The clip is about three minutes, with a file size of about 5-6 MB, in case you want to download it.

If you want to watch the open mic gaffe on the *official* GPS Livestream video, here’s the link. Cue to the 1:27:00 mark. It’s sometimes difficult to follow because of the audio quality, so we helpfully shared a transcript at the bottom of this post.

Please, go ahead and share this evidence of the treachery of the GPS superintendency and one board member.  At the moment, we don’t know for sure that all board members were in on this dishonest manipulation of the tax paying public. But don’t you feel stupid for believing that the GPS superintendency would really be open, honest and transparent about all this?

Another revelation in the hot mic gaffe is what exactly constitutes “choice” in terms of GPS and choices that will be offered to parents and students. This will scare the pants off those GCA parents and teachers who are so intent on keeping GCA students apart from students they say are from the *ghetto.* [You folks didn’t think that was a secret, did you?]

Nardone: It also I think offers the ability to incorporate those neighborhood kids into GCA so you could grow GCA……the neighborhood kids who wanted to stay and participate in GCA would have that option of staying in their neighborhood.
Santa Cruz: And those who chose another school it was because they chose it.

Hey, GCA Principal Dan Hood, we heard you say, “Parents and teachers would rather stay put than share a school.” [At the 01:21:30 mark.] Heaven forbid that those bright shiny uniformed scholars should rub shoulders with any ordinary students who live within the boundaries of this public school! This is sounding more and more like what was going on in Alabama when desegregation was instituted. Yep, DWestie lived through those days and has tales that will stand your hair on end about the disgusting things that went on to keep those uppity black kids in their places and out of all-white public schools back in the day.

This *apartness* is not going to go over well in the Town of Gilbert. But how would the Superintendent and her imported cabinet members know the real Gilbert culture? Parents are already criticizing Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s implementation of regional gifted centers, ALP reform and bussing students that will result in some schools in GPS having only the less affluent (read that properly: “brown”) kids in certain elementary schools. Folks saying these things are people that Christina Kishimoto and her highly paid cabinet members regard as allies.  Don’t get us started on *reforms* for SpEd and ELL. BTW, it’s probably a good thing that many members of the community still recall how to contact the US Justice Department after all those civil rights investigations of GPS in the past. We’re seeing indications of the same old stuff by a new group of Good Old Boys.

This is pretty much the same thing that happened with Christina 7-0 Kishimoto’s reforms that ruined neighborhood schools in Hartford, CT. Be sure to read about Kishimoto’s botched effort to keep discussions about a magnet school under wraps so the public and the press would not know the dirty details. Kishimoto, her staff and her lawyer got caught back then:

It was the intention of the district to hold a private meeting between the Superintendent and families of Classical Magnet School on Monday, Feb. 13, that would not fall under the FOIA’s definition of a public meeting. Upon consultation with our attorney, we have been advised that because the term “School Governance Council” was used to invite parents to the meeting and in communications with the press, the meeting was considered a public meeting. This was our error.

Christina Kishimoto screwed up an earlier “turn around plan” that sounds a lot like what she intends to happen between Gilbert Classical Academy and Gilbert Junior High School. Destroy the community school and *redesign* it as an academy for 1% of district students who have powerful ties to former district officials and the current mayor of Gilbert. Same old stuff and Alexander Nardone was at Christina Kishimoto’s side for every bit of it:

A powerful example of the clash between reformer rhetoric and parent reality can be found in Hartford. In recent weeks, parents from two community schools protested proposals by Christina Kishimoto, Hartford’s outgoing “reform” superintendent, and Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor, to hand their schools over to private companies. Neither school community was consulted before the plans were developed.

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

This is why Christina Kishimoto was unanimously fired in 2013 (her contract was not renewed, to be precise).  We have yet to learn whether she will succeed in dismantling neighborhood schools in Gilbert, Arizona like she did in Hartford, Connecticut. Does anyone remember why in the world Christina Kishimoto was hired by the GPS Governing Board? Oh yeah … she’s doing exactly what she was hired to do: expand Gilbert Classical Academy come hell or high water. Because that’s the most important thing to do for all the students of Gilbert Public Schools in times of diminishing resources. [rolling eyes]

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Transcript of Livestream audio clip:

1:26:45 CFO Jeff Gadd rejoins, sitting to the right of Dr. Alex Nardone, acting superintendent. Board member Charles Santa Cruz is sitting to the left of Dr. Nardone.

1:27:00 SC: Alex? (Gadd walks away)

AN: Yes.

SC: I’m sorry. I just, uh, uh…

AN: Swivel around. (Nardone swivels to sit face-to-face with Santa Cruz)

1:27:15 – image of board meeting taking five minute break is posted instead of video

SC: If we’re looking at the structure, I wonder if that facility could go up.

AN: Well, um, the facility could go up. Uh, we just, uh, I would say informally (unintelligible) that going up.

SC: Mm-hm.

AN: If you go up you can get classroom space. You can get science room space.

SC: And the fields are (unintelligible).

AN It doesn’t get you fields – you’re landlocked over there between the data center…

SC: Yeah.

AN: …and Greenfield Elementary School. Um, and that’s, you know, that’s the issue. It doesn’t give you parking. It doesn’t give you field space. And so if you just needed …

SC: Classroom space (unintelligible)…

AN: A classroom – academically

SC: science room, you could go that way.

AN: we could add two floors if it could structurally handle it.

SC: Yeah.

AN: Or go off to the side and go up a floor or two.

SC: Mm-hm.

AN: So I think that’s the issue here.

SC: Yeah. Yeah. Even at an elementary school you’re basically 50 acres net.

AN: Yeah. I think.

SC: Yeah. And I think those facilities are about 50,000 square feet or something like that.

AN: Typically. Yeah. Typically. Your schools tend to be bigger than our schools in Connecticut

SC: Right.

AN: …so (unintelligible) you know, especially with these new schools (unintelligible) built here. But..

SC: But there’s no field space.

AN: There’s no field space.

SC: And there’s no, there’s no (unintelligible)…

AN: Typically you’re talking double digits when you’re talking acreage for a high school. You’re talking 12 acres, 13 acres.

SC: Yeah.

AN: One of our high schools even in Hartford had 27 acres attached to it in the city of Hartford.

SC: Mm-hm.

AN: So it’s, you know…

SC: Mm-hm.

AN: …they have track space, field space, football space.

SC: Gilbert Jr. High school’s on 27 acres.

AN: Is it? The junior high?

SC: Yeah.

AN: Mm-hm.

AN: Well if you look at all of the schools for repurposing, Gilbert Jr. High school makes the most sense.

AN: It depends on what the needs are.

SC: Mm-hm.

AN: It also I think offers the ability to incorporate those neighborhood kids into GCA so you could grow GCA…

SC: Mm-hm.

AN:…the neighborhood kids who wanted to stay and participate in GCA would have that option of staying in their neighborhood.

SC: And those who chose another school it was because they chose it.

AN: (Unintelligible) because I think you could do both at Gilbert.

SC: Particularly since we demolished the pool.

AN: Yes. And so now we have extra green space and extra parking space there.

SC: Yeah. Yeah.

AN: So of all of the buildings that I looked at, that has the most potential.

SC: That that but that’s got the (unintelligible)… …it has a, a lot of emotionality…

AN: Oh it does.

SC: …attached to it.

AN: It does.

(Unintelligible).

AN: A lot of history.

(Unintelligible).

AN: Yeah. History is recent.

SC: Oh yeah. Wounds. The wounds are very recent.

AN: Yeah.

SC: So going there…

AN: Yeah.

SC: ….would be… (trails off)

SC: Yeah.

AN: I know.

SC: You wanna push it off.

NA: I think we wanna go…

SC: You wanna push It off.

AN: I think we wanna go slow.

SC: Yeah.

AN: And I think that’s, uh…

SC: I’d say take a year.

AN: Yeah.

SC: Go do it in a year.

AN: Yeah.

AN: And I think if we look at next year as, you know, take your time, do a thorough investigation, and I like your idea of meeting with the principals see what they have to say.

SC: Mm-hm.

AN: Looking at the potential elementary schools. Building new. It’ll take us a year to do and it may delay a, you know, what Dr. K Already…

SC: See and you won’t get if you if…

Quits at 1:30:00

 

Gilbert Public Schools is Holding Employees Hostage

When Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said she was brought into Gilbert Public Schools to stop the exodus of employees, who would have thought she would fix the problem by holding those employees hostage?

That’s exactly what happened when Christina “7-0″ Kishimoto recommended the GPS Governing Board adopt new, very one-sided contracts that she dreamed up. Board members Julie Smith and Daryl Colvin refused to go along with these charades, but they were outnumbered.  Sigh.

As Superintendent Kishimoto testified in court: “I was brought in to mitigate the very tense situation that led to the largest exodus of staff members ever … in Gilbert’s history.”  That statement may have been just as truthful as so many of her other prevarications were,  but we’re not going to be deterred from the subject of how Gilbert Public Schools is now holding employees hostage.

Obviously, another mass exodus must be made impossible on Christina Kishimoto’s watch. Can’t let anyone get away until we say so, they think. Christina Kishimoto set up the most incredibly one-sided contracts that you could have imagined, and she had the whole package tied up with a bow when she presented her deal to the Governing Board for their approval. Of course, we all know that’s just window dressing since the bought-and-paid for board members will approve anything this superintendent wants. Their only demand, it seems, is that they get to bask in applause from the very teachers and other employees whose necks will be cut by the contracts the board just approved. <What do you think are the odds of that *spontaneous* applause happening now? Snort.>

The hostage situation is this: any employee who leaves GPS after signing a contract for 2015-2016 will pay $2,500 as liquidated damages…unless they quit before they sign a new contract with minimal time to consider said draconian contract. The other alternative is if the Governing Board waives the liquidated damages.  Don’t hold your breath for that, even though Good Old Charlie Santa Cruz said he wasn’t thrilled with the hostage clause, but he sat down and shut up and voted for it anyway. If you employees don’t pay up, GPS will come after you with their lawyers paid by The Trust to collect fees, attorney fees, court costs or *other reasonable expenses* incurred by the District to collect that $2,500.00. Yep, your agreement to pay *liquidated damages* is in the contract itself. Knowing what we know about those lawyers who are paid by The Trust, those *reasonable expenses* can become astronomical, as if $2,500.00 isn’t already astronomical to the loyal employees whose salaries have been frozen for years and years.

That ransom amount, $2,500.00, is the same for support staff members, teachers, administrators and the top dogs who make six-figure incomes. For Christina Kishimoto’s hand-picked inner circle of educrats marauding as assistant superintendents and executive directors and such, that’s pocket change. Of course, for a support staffer or a young teacher (or the loyal teachers who stayed around waiting for salary equity that will never happen), $2,500.00 can be an impossible burden. That’s the whole point.

If Superintendent Christina Kishimoto had her way, we expect she would bring back debtor prisons. We feel for those of you employees who won’t have $2,500.00 in cash laying around any time in the next twenty years because you’re paid less than the idiots that work for Walmart, according to board member Jill Humpherys. Many support staffers work for wages that are below poverty level, but your superintendent believes you should be punished if you DARE try to leave without her dispensation. Heaven only knows what it would take for Her Newness to agree to let you leave the district. Worse, we all know from experience that this Governing Board will approve whatever this superintendent puts in front of their faces, just like they approved these contracts with the hostage provisions. You have to wonder, who are the real idiots in this situation?

Teachers, your contracts will be issued on April 15, 2015 and you will have 15 business days to decide if you are willing to accept this one-sided contract. Yes, we heard that some principals have been saying that teachers must return contracts in shorter periods. The 15 business days is in the contract itself, but we figure that like most everything else in that one-sided contract, if your principal doesn’t want you to have the contractual amount of time, that’s too bad for you. Of course, the top dogs *contractually* have a whole lot more time to consider their proffered contracts and try to get new jobs in other districts if they can. That’s the way this group rolls. <Disgusting, isn’t it?>

We know that in the past, GPS issued teacher contracts in May;  those signed contracts were due to Human Resources before the last day of the school year. That’s not good enough for Superintendent Christina “7-0″ Kishimoto. No sireee, she is bound and determined to force you to choose between a possible teaching job in another district BEFORE those other districts start interviews. It’s also before GPS releases vacancy announcements so you can consider applying for a different position internally (don’t hold your breath for those announcements this year). It’s also before GPS announces news of Reductions in Force, layoffs, pink slips and all that jazz. It’s also before GPS tells individual teachers that they will be placed in a new assignment whether they like it or not. By the time the top dogs share any news, it’s too late for everyone else. You either didn’t sign your contract or you did. Either way, if you weren’t at the table during those budget discussions, you’re on the menu, as board member Daryl Colvin cogently explained to the public.

Daryl Colvin and Julie Smith also voted against across-the-board raises Superintendent Christina Kishimoto proposed that benefit the top dogs disproportionately (but those are not as much as the automatic annual pay hike that she negotiated for herself):

Administrative: $145,362
Certified: $1,779,205
Support: $541,288
Total: $2,465,855

This new group of top dogs has super-secret plans, but you aren’t going to be told what’s in store for you and your career until they get darn well ready to tell you what you are going to do, where you are going to do it and reveal all those other pesky details that might disrupt your life. You don’t get any choices about anything after you sign that contract. Your contracted amount of base pay can be reduced on a whim. Should you have the effrontery to try to resign when you discover that your new working conditions will be intolerable, you’d better be ready to pony up $2,500.00 in cold, hard cash. Immediately. That’s a month’s pay (at least) for most teachers.

Did you notice that GPS reserves the right to furlough all you employees for up to ten days? You won’t be allowed to use your personal time off, vacation days, sick leave or whatever you have on the books. GPS can do this without warning, and with the reputation these top dogs have earned, you know they’ll do it. They can furlough individual employees, classes of employees, or the whole gang … except, we’re sure they’ll NEVER furlough those extremely valuable six-figure income folks for ten days.

Gilbert Education Association obviously thinks this hostage contract is just fine for the chain gang of loyal GPS employees. Lookie here at what GEA helped get approved:

Certified Salary Schedule 2015-2016
Administrator Contract 2015-2016
Cabinet Level Admin Contract 2015-2016
Support Services Contract 2015-2016

Gilbert Public Schools Violates Laws … Again! On Purpose!

The new boss, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, is the same as the old boss – listening to the same old pet lawyer from The Trust, who is not an employment lawyer, which is part of their problem. Gilbert Public Schools will wind up in the same old legal mess, go to court again, and  probably find themselves with another litigation loss. It’s really tough when a public body and a public agency can’t figure out how to follow the law themselves and they have to get [cough] *legal advice* to royally screw things up.

Same Old Stuff: Superintendent Kishimoto must have been absolutely certain that she could bully an employee into resigning under duress by sending a letter with a list of baseless allegations, but without any supporting details. Once again, a brave employee is saying, “Prove it.” Once again, GPS won’t be able to do so. Once again, Christina Kishimoto is in “my way or the highway” mode, as if that’s scary to anyone. Once again, there’s a holiday: “Holidays Are Coming, So Gilbert Public Schools Will Be Firing Someone!” Once again, Christina Kishimoto doesn’t know Arizona statutes, and she’ll be bit in the butt.*

This time, Superintendent Kishimoto ran afoul of Open Meeting Laws dealing with employment matters. Ah, gee, her pet lawyer must not have explained about that pesky requirement of giving employees notice if they are going to have their employment discussed behind closed doors in an executive session. Plus there’s precedent about giving someone that kind of notice with specificity and with enough time to make an informed decision before an executive session occurs.

Of course, there’s plenty of evidence about the times when GPS has indeed done what the law requires. Sigh. It must be easier for Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and her bought-and-paid-for board members to play the dumb@$$ card this time and say they didn’t know what the law requires. That defense won’t fly this time, certainly not with students who staged a sit in for their coach. Go Team Rutt! We want to hear you ROAR!

Do you think this whole hot mess is related to Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s recommendation to the GPS Governing Board that they pay up and get back on The Trust’s pre-paid legal plan? Her 7-0 Majesty explained something about having legal issues in the pipeline. Bet this is one of them! By the time of the March 31, 2015 board meeting, our gal Christina Kishimoto found out she had stepped in a heaping pile of Community Spirit of the Football Persuasion. That’s a special kind of spirit, as most long-term residents of the south and southwest know from birth.

The conduct that violated the open meeting law:

Coach and teacher Tim Rutt was sent a letter on March 27, 2015, wherein Superintendent Kishimoto informed of her intent to recommend non-renewal of his employment contract with Gilbert Public School District. I will not belabor all the improper and ethically problematic occurrences leading up to this letter, but will only alert that the firing of this beloved Coach and the “non-renewal” of his teaching contract have been so rife with issues and misconduct on the part of the Gilbert School District that it will be the subject of further litigation and has already been a popular story on the news.

With that information as a background, hundreds of students signed a Petition asking for renewal of Tim Rutt and numerous parents, teachers, other staff, and students all attended the Governing Board Meeting held on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. at the Gilbert School District’s Administrative Offices to show their support for Tim Rutt. The Board had set this hearing at a time when the agenda was quite full. At the hearing, after making the standing room only crowd of people wait through numerous other business items, the Superintendent and President called for an Executive Session pursuant to A.R.S. 38-431 prior to discussing the next agenda items: i.e., Coach Rutt. The Board asserted its acknowledgment of the numerous students there who were being kept up late and stated that the Executive Session would last ten minutes at most.

The Executive Session lasted for well over ten minutes and in fact closer to thirty minutes, and when the Board members finally returned they were all carrying a piece of paper (clearly written and distributed during executive session by the attorney for the District, Denise Lowell-Britt): two of the members later read directly from this sheet of paper regarding not renewing Mr. Rutt’s employment, and a Board member has thereafter asserted his belief that the Executive Session was in fact a statutory violation. The Board member’s comments are attached hereto, and in combination with the numerous witnesses who would be willing to attest to the facts as laid out in this letter, the comments establish that the Executive Session was held for purposes of addressing Coach Rutt’s employment even though he was never provided any 24 hour Notice of any Executive Session as the statute clearly dictates.

Furthermore, no count of the parents, staff, and students present and prepared to speak at the hearing could be made as the room was completely full and there were people left standing outside as well, but many of the parents wanted to speak and were forbidden from doing so by the Board, in particular the President and Superintendent made it clear that only Todd Nolan, Coach Rutt, and one parent were allowed to speak for 3 minutes each. When objection was made, the Board ignored it. This was in no manner a reasonable time limit or limit on who could be heard as the room was overflowing with supporters for Mr. Rutt who were not allowed to be heard, while at the same time another agenda item, regarding the budget, included every speaker at the meeting who wanted to be heard on that subject, and did not exclude any of those who wanted to speak (many more than the three people allowed to talk for Tim Rutt).

The conduct of the Board was so egregious and clearly predetermined against Mr. Rutt that one teacher, who was at the meeting to speak on the budget, specifically stated that he did not know Coach Rutt and was not there for that purpose, but since it was so clear that the Board was railroading Mr. Rutt, he determined that his three minutes of time should be spent reminding the Board and Dr. Kishimoto in particular about what their job was and that they were clearly acting inappropriately regarding Coach Rutt including but not limited to holding an improper Executive Session.

The Board secretary had also informed parents who presented their requests to speak while the Board was on break for Executive Session, that the requests had to be made before the meeting so they could not be heard, regardless of the fact that the room was so full that many of the parents did not know where to find the tiny slips of paper that count as requests to speak, as the card table they were on near one of the doors was blocked by the standing room only crowd and no announcement was made regarding the necessity for a slip of paper to be turned in to the secretary prior to the Board commencing business.

I apologize for being verbose, but this is not a simple matter. The blatant workplace violations and issues with the Gilbert School District’s handling of this matter have been shocking. To top it off, at the one meeting where Mr. Rutt was allegedly to be heard and his employment truly considered by the Board, instead the Governing Board for the District made a mockery of the system and most importantly, the Open Public Meeting Laws by meeting in private and then having a prewritten and predetermined plan for non-renewal prior to any actual discussion at the Public Meeting.

Please investigate this matter and I am sure you will recognize the blatant violations that occurred. Thank you for your time and consideration of this matter.

Cari McConeghy Nolan
Attorney and Concerned Parent

You know we’ll have more … a LOT more. Woo hoo for Team Rutt!

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Big Fat Asterisk: Keyboard’s young ears are sensitive, so the only balls we’ll talk about are footballs.

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto Rams Her *Vision* Down GPS Throats

Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto isn’t listening to any of the voices urging the district to fix salary inequality first. Nah, that would involve actual WORK or something. It’s much easier to keep loyal employees where they are [downtrodden] with an across-the-board increase for ALL GPS employees, so that the newest hires [those at the top] rake in the most dollars. Say it all together: It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

We’ve seen other GPS administrations laugh in the faces of loyal employees, so this is nothing new.  So much for all you folks who expected respect and integrity from those bought-and-paid-for board members! Actually, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto is also laughing in the face of any board member who challenges anything the superintendent has decided will be done. When Julie Smith proposed leaving an unfilled top administration position open … unfilled … Kishimoto unloaded; you can watch as she spits those proverbial nails while Board President Lily Tram nods in agreement:

We read the agenda for the March 31, 2015 meeting of the Governing Board. It’s not an easy slog, but it’s a roadmap showing just what the GPS board has been doing at those non-noticed get-togethers they’ve been having lately. Little things like the Arizona Open Meeting Law don’t mean a thing to the Connecticut Yankee now pulling the strings in Lily Tram’s court. Notice the use of the phrase “process.” That’s the dead give-away that what was planned in back rooms out of public view is now going to be voted on by the Governing Board. In other words, “It’s all over.”

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto believes an across-the-board pay increase will make GPS more competitive. Right…..Sheesh! Watch this *leader* describe her philosophy as she tells board members to “Stuff It!” after they dared suggest fixing salary inequity before considering across-the-board raises. Watch Lily Tram nod in agreement … to keep herself from falling asleep, it seems:

Here are the salary increase numbers from the agenda; this is just the beginning of the atrocities that will be enacted by Gilbert Public Schools in the name of *putting the needs of students first.*

The District Budget Planning process has reserved the annual state provided inflation factor for salary and benefit increases.  The inflation factor of 1.6% (approximately $2.5M) is distributed to all staff as follows:

Administrative: $145,362
Certified:  $1,779,205
Support: $541,288
Total: $2,465,855

Keep in mind that any extra budget funds, especially if used first for select support staffers, would go a long way in fixing the inequality of pay for loyal employees whose salaries have been frozen for years. The number of administrative employees, while too large for the size of the school district, is small compared to the number of support staff employees. The top dogs in GPS have been with the district for less than a year, and they’re getting a lot more in their paychecks than ANY other district employees.

You all remember that Superintendent Christina Kishimoto will get her 2% raise no matter what … it’s in her contract. Fixing the salary inequity just isn’t a pressing concern to Kishimoto, especially since all those loyal employees have been working for five years with their pay frozen. Except for new hires, who are paid at much higher rates in order to “attract the best.” And selected bus drivers and their trainers who are paid more money than loyal bus drivers. And, of course, all those new administrative employees who are paid handsomely AND have $7,000.00 extra in their pockets because GPS pays for healthcare for them and their families.  And automobile allowances. And extra days off. And more, more and more. It’s good to be at the top: Administrative Salary Schedule 2015-2016

We suspect some GPS employees got raises in January when the State of Arizona raised the minimum wage to $8.05. That means if those employees work 40 hours a week for 52 weeks a year (including the breaks when GPS is closed for business) their full-time income comes to $16,744.00. We all know that GPS configures many support staff jobs so they aren’t full time. It’s a feature, not a bug. The highly-paid dudes and dudettes in Human Resources make sure to keep those hours low, to avoid paying for healthcare for one reason. Here’s the classified staff pay scale showing just how poorly paid the GPS support staff is: Support Staff Salary Schedule 2015-2016.

Listen to Good Old Board Member Jill Humpherys when she fails to filter her mental dialogue as she compares the school district’s pay scale for classified staff to Walmart. Jill Humpherys seems to have discovered that some district employees work for less than Walmart’s recently raised minimum wage of $10.00 an hour. OMG – Walmart might start competing with GPS for the lowest-paid positions!

Jill Humpherys solves the problem by saying, “We want to keep the best. We don’t want some idiot being in our classified staff and doing the job; I mean, let them go to work for Walmart.” Watch Board Member Charlie Santa Cruz’s face as Jill Humpherys speaks – priceless!

To complete the triumvirate of pay scales, here’s the Certified Salary Schedule 2015-2016. We salute you teachers who spoke the truth to power about that Stepless Salary Schedule. You succeeded in getting that can kicked down the road for at least another year. Not that the pay scale will become any fairer, the top dogs just will *incentivize* you folks to be the ones who leave the district next year. If you don’t believe us, look at what Superintendent Christina Kishimoto is doing to Coach Rutt.

We’ve been wondering if Superintendent Kishimoto would ever be able to ditch her training wheels and act like a real superintendent. It doesn’t look like that will happen any time soon. Instead, the wheels are coming off the GPS bus on Kishimoto’s watch and all the inhabitants of the GPS echo chamber won’t be able to stop staring in fascination. How do we know this? Well, we see that Christina Kishimoto really is as illiterate as her writings have shown. Document showing Kishimoto flunked apostrophes and asterisks is here.  Document showing Kishimoto makes words plural by adding an apostrophe plus an “s” is here.

Here’s the illiterate Legal Fees Memo from Superintendent Christina Kishimoto to the Governing Board. The referenced memo incorrectly gives legal “advise” costs to GPS over the past six months or so. Hahahahaha … We have to laugh all the more because it’s about a matter that GPS spent tax dollars unnecessarily to have someone tell us we couldn’t have that information about GPS legal fees.  Christina Kishimoto wouldn’t know real legal ADVICE (as opposed to legal advise in the memo) if it bit her in the asterisk!

Sigh, you could have elected Westie as Superintendent. One parent has already connected the dots:

It’s time for all of us to send a BIG, LOUD message to the Board. We want THEM to take charge of our district!! THEY make decisions, Dr. Kishimoto carries them out. We want our Board to ask questions and demand answers BEFORE they vote for another of Dr. Kishimoto’s proposals or her budget. (We don’t appreciate having magnet schools and Chrome Books forced on us, especially by a politician-turned-educator who has never taught a day in her life.) We want our Board, who we VOTED for, to determine what’s best for our district. We want our Board to stand up for us!

Our Board has a chance to do exactly that next Tuesday, March 31, 2015. Dr. Kishimoto’s budget proposal includes a 1.6% across the board pay increase for all staff. The community does not want pay raises for new people who were hired in at higher salary levels than our long-term, dedicated staff. We also do not want another raise for the tech people who just received a large pay increase because their salaries “weren’t competitive with other districts,” according to Dr. Kishimoto. (Hello!! And our teacher salaries are?!? Why were techies a higher priority?) We expect our Board to reward the long-term staff members who have stayed through years of turmoil and pay freezes! They are the ones who made Gilbert Public Schools a once-great district and WE WANT THEM TO STAY!

(P.S. I don’t work for GPS. I will not financially benefit from staff pay raises in any way. I am a parent who is sick of seeing our experienced staff leave our district!)

Gilbert Public Schools Must Fix Salary Inequality First!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Christina Kishimoto Wins Award during Sunshine Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More About Superintendent Kishimoto’s Romp through Gilbert Municipal Court

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As we reported to the GPS Governing Board:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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