Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent Search: Predetermined Outcome?

There’s been a lot of talk about how *transparent* the search for a new Gilbert Public Schools superintendent will be, and even Westie bought into that daydream. Unfortunately, the assertion of *transparency* has been undermined by a foolish GPS Top Dog running her mouth in public places. One of Westie’s birdies ran into Interim superintendent and resident slime bucket Suzanne Zentner at a local supermarket, where in regard to the GPS superintendent search, Zentner stated, “They know who it will be.” The surreal element is, the birdie who heard Suzanne Zentner speaking also relayed, “She doesn’t know who I am.” Who talks like this in public? This sounds like the way things have always been in GPS. Where is Diogenes when GPS needs an honest man? Or woman? Or Westie?

The first question that comes to mind is, “Does Arizona School Boards Association, the entity that is managing the superintendent search on behalf of the GPS governing board, know that this process is a sham?” Is ASBA part of a corrupt covert plot to reinstate the Loose Zipper Brigade in GPS? If Suzanne Zentner’s statement, “They know who it will be” is true, the GPS Good Old Boys must be salivating as they pretend to go through the motions of a legitimate hiring process, using ASBA as their cut-out. You can bet the remnants of the Loose Zipper Brigade aren’t too proud to slip in through the GPS back door. Westie’s birdies also have chirped that Suzanne Zentner threw her hat into the ring, despite earlier assurances that she would return to her Chief Talent Officer duties after a new GPS superintendent was hired. Maybe Suzanne Zentner is worried that her big pay raise as interim superintendent won’t be permanent. It would be hard to give up all that free money!

Worse, if Suzanne Zentner’s statement,  “They know who it will be” is true, the fact that this statement was made before the GPS governing board interviews superintendent candidates on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 is more than troubling. A massive fraud could be perpetrated by the district on the citizens and taxpayers of Gilbert and Mesa, Arizona in the form of a five-figure fee paid to ASBA to conduct a duplicitous superintendent search. GPS labored long and hard to create the current environment in which the public finds it all too easy to believe that another manifestation of fraud, waste and abuse of public funds is in the making.

Steve Highlen of Arizona School Board Association is assisting the school district in the hiring process. Anyone notice that ASBA wants to supplant Christina Kishimoto’s pal Julian Trevino as the designated expensive GPS governing board trainer dude? Steve Highlen on behalf of ASBA offers this service after helping select a new superintendent: “We offer your board a follow-up workshop to help build teamwork and develop the leadership team communication process.” We’re sure it’s for another four to five figure fee.

One lesson Westie has learned is to always follow the money when GPS does much of anything. Just keep on paying, GPS … the thousands of taxpayer dollars that flow to ASBA from GPS coffers each year could be a whole lot more! Apparently Steve Highlen’s job is to maximize that throughput of tax dollars. However, he doesn’t want ASBA to be saddled with the debacle of how Christina Kishimoto was hired back in 2014: “The private nonprofit organization Highlen represents did not have a role in hiring Kishimoto.

At first glance, the hiring process ASBA is managing for GPS appears to be what you would expect: 

As per the job advertisement, the candidate should ideally have, among other qualifications, administration experience in a suburban public-school district, earned a doctorate, classroom teaching experience, knowledge of the law of GPS, a background in budget and finance, experience working with state and federal government agencies, strong communication skills and excellent interpersonal skills and model high standards of integrity. The selected candidate, who will oversee 40 schools with a total enrollment of nearly 35,000 students, will earn a salary ranging from $180,000-$210,000. A negotiable benefits package and a start date will be finalized along with the contract.

A danger to the public purse, of course, is that *negotiable benefits package.* Christina Kishimoto was paid $10,000.00 on her first day of work in 2014 for just showing up, in addition to a $15,000.00 payment for moving expense that is prohibited by A.R.S. § 35-196.01. Kishimoto also pocketed an inappropriate payment of $9,321.95 that was recharacterized as “per diem pay for contractual work” before her contract began. You can bet a new GPS  superintendent will review all the goodies lavished on Kishimoto and demand even more as part of  a lucrative *negotiable benefits package.*

Westie knows it won’t surprise you to learn that Hawaii’s contract with Christina Kishimoto is 11 pages long, compared to a contract of just four pages under her predecessor. Kishimoto’s new contract allows for *incentive packages of an unspecified amount* and provides for a *reserved parking spot… What do you want to bet that Christina Kishimoto tried to get a clause in her contract that she can’t be fired, like she did with her GPS 2017-2019 contract?

As for the remaining elements of the GPS superintendent search, the governing board promises to involve the community:

The community will “have an opportunity to submit questions that the finalists would respond to and it gives the board an opportunity to see how they respond and how they interact with the community,” Highlen said. “That’s part of the total interview and search process.”

The question is, will the GPS governing board pay attention to what *the community* says at a truly open forum? Will they call on Westie when hands are raised? [Of course not.] What you can expect is that the governing board will trot out the same self-styled *community leaders* who formed an advisory committee that met on August 9, 2017.  What the governing board wants to avoid is a repeat of this sentiment in public:

When asked to state the most significant challenges faced by the district, survey takers frequently cited retaining quality teachers, declining student enrollment, lowering class size, the budget and insufficient marketing of the district’s high points. One respondent bemoaned the lack of “soul.” Another had just one word: “idiots.”

So if ASBA is participating in a sham *hiring process* and the GPS governing board already knows *who it will be,* it’s BOHICA time for taxpayers … again. 

On the other hand, you can vote for Westie for GPS superintendent! Let’s bring back common sense in managing this large, affluent suburban school district. Common sense has been lacking for quite a while and in its absence, some pretty stupid administrative decisions have caused a steep decline in student population.

Vote for Westie!

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