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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Westie,

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

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

Purchase Requisition Entry Process

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

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

Parent as Vendor

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

Training Review with Purchase Order Originators

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

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

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

Dr. Christina M. Kishimoto Superintendent

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

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

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

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


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