New GPS Superintendent Hiring Process: The Road Ahead is Perilous!

The four finalists for Gilbert Public Schools superintendent are Dr. Anna Battle, Dr. Steve Chestnut, Dr. Shannon Goodsell and Mr. Shane McCord. When you review the online histories of these folks, you’ll absolutely vote for Westie to bring common sense into managing this public school district. You’ll also smack your head wondering why in the world GPS paid tens of thousands of dollars to their search consultant Steve Highlen of Arizona School Board Association. Really, you can’t make up something more ridiculous than this. Never fear, Westie has connected the dots and discovered the nefarious plan that appears to have been set in motion.

Looking at the finalists, it’s obvious that there are some cute games and gamesmanship going on in this selection process. In other words, the GPS governing board really wants to *Bring Shane Home* and rehire former GPS assistant superintendent Shane McCord, the personal friend of a quorum of the board. Occam’s Razor helps us unravel a dastardly plan: the simplest answer to how these particular candidates came to be finalists and the setting in which Shane McCord will suddenly become the only viable candidate. It looks like the GPS governing board and ASBA forgot about Murphy’s Law, and plans are already unraveling.

Dr. Anna Battle, currently at Tempe Union district, has a life story that fulfills the list of desired characteristics in the GPS Superintendent Position Description:* school district administrative experience, an earned doctorate degree, classroom teaching experience and school site administrator [principal] experience, among other desirable skills and a proven track record. As is often the case, the only woman finalist, and in this case a Black woman finalist, is required to have extensive skills and achievements, where males need only show *potential.* Yes, that does sound like Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In.  There’s more.

When you look at how Dr. Battle’s qualifications are ten times more than the three male candidates, you start to understand the game. Dr. Battle also was a finalist for superintendent of Tempe Union district. The GPS folks must have believed Dr. Battle would get that position, and then there would be only three inadequate   male  finalists remaining for the GPS position. They must have thought Shane McCord would rise to the top of the list in comparison to the other two losers. Obviously, they thought wrong. Dr. Battle was not selected for Tempe Union superintendent by a contentious 3-2 vote, so she’s still in the running for GPS superintendent.

Looking at the histories of the three male finalists shows what a quandary this situation has become for the individual GPS board members, who must follow the law and their duties to the citizens and taxpayers who elected them. Or not. This is GPS, after all.

Dr. Steve Chestnut of Maricopa School District has the distinction of turning six district schools into charter schools, according to his resume. That’s the kind of *school design* GPS families rejected under Christina Kishimoto. His contract with Maricopa runs through June 2018, after having been renewed in 2016. After Dr. Chestnut applied for, but was not selected for the position of Deer Valley superintendent in May 2017, he apparently assured the Maricopa district he was staying on board. Now that something more appealing is available, like the GPS position, it appears that Dr. Chestnut changed his mind. That’s not the biggest problem about Dr. Chestnut’s candidacy, though.

An audit report from 2015 by the Arizona Auditor General shows that Dr. Chestnut’s tenure in Maricopa was fraught with fraud, waste and abuse situations ominously similar to those in GPS:

Further, the District needs to strengthen controls over its purchasing practices, cash handling, and fuel purchases. Finally, the District taxed for and spent $1.3 million for activities that it classified as desegregation activities, but it could not demonstrate that the monies addressed its violation because it did not have any documentation related to the desegregation case, and district officials could not explain the purpose or goals of its desegregation spending.

Dr. Shannon Goodsell is a Youtube star [see the video below]  who received a letter of reprimand for his bullying behavior, such as when he was caught on tape screaming at a special needs studentDr. Goodsell’s contract was not extended by the Casa Grande governing board, which in June 2017 was looking for a new superintendent while Dr. Goodsell was *on a trip to China for the district.* Sheeeeesh. This baggage is just what GPS needs.

Mr. Shane McCord is the only of the four finalists who does not have an earned doctorate. He gained ignominy within GPS before he resigned in 2014 to go to Mesa school district to cool his jets, shortly after a Gilbert Police Department investigation ended; the county attorney declined to prosecute the civil matter of  this GPS Top Dog taking multiple annual $2,000.00 stipends. [The governing board did not proceed to court on that matter.] McCord claimed he was studying the relationship between regular attendance and student achievement. Well, duhhhh…. Actually, Shane McCord submitted the same project paperwork at least a couple of years during which he collected his so-called doctoral stipends. Dave Allison was his boss-buddy who sometimes didn’t even bother signing the paperwork to certify that McCord actually performed any work for those stipends. Allison claimed he could have paid McCord $50,000.00 as a contract addendum; he claimed that McCord was not being paid enough money. Allison and McCord were touchy when asked why specific Top Dogs got such financial windfalls while teachers and support staff had their salaries frozen. 

Shane McCord was an *esteemed* member of the Good Old Boy regime in GPS that caused years of damage to the districtEffects are still being felt: GPS lost another 400 students this year, according to the 40 day ADM. The reign of Shane also led to the dominance of the Loose Zipper Brigade that must be salivating to get back into power. Take a look at Dave Allison’s deposition; he described the infamous GPS Gut Check promotion process on pages 26-27. On page 158-159, which discusses a *swingers club* in GPS … on page 160, there’s also reference to a GPS *breakfast club.* [Was this the origin of the Loose Zipper Brigade?] Be sure to check out page 207 where Allison directed McCord to give GPS principal Brian Yee a formal Letter of Direction; McCord refused to do as his superintend ordered. Just what GPS needs now: a superintendent whose lack of integrity has been proven over and over. Here’s Shane McCord stating he violated GPS policy only when following the direction of former superintendent Dave Allison:

Gilbert Public Schools grew a bunch of Mini-Me principals during the Reign of Shane McCord, according to data provided by GPS. You don’t have to believe Westie,  you can believe McCord’s own words in a deposition he gave under oath. Relevant to the position to which McCord hopes to ascend, you really must read the parts about his Gut Check hiring process (pages 33, 44-45, 52-53 are a sampling). On page 60, McCord names some of the Good Old Boys who participated in this scheme and on 69-70, the Reign of Shane is described. The GPS administration was not just dirty, but also creepy, discriminatory and retaliatory. Shane McCord believes that retaliation is something you would hope wouldn’t happen. That’s just what GPS needs … again. 

Just in case the GPS governing board decides to hire McCord, you other superintendent candidates and every GPS employee should know you can contact Westie any time … these depositions are just the tip of an iceberg of evidence that GPS wishes would go away, and it’s still relevant. 

Getting back to the governing board’s Herculean efforts to clean things up and *Bring Shane Home,* it’s very interesting that the most recent lawsuit against GPS for discriminatory hiring practices and retaliation ended abruptly. Apparently, the current GPS governing board wanted that case shut down, and fast. Otherwise, why in the world would there be a $26,550.62 payment to the attorney in that lawsuit listed in the July 2017 GPS voucher report? That’s a lot of money … GPS must have been pretty desperate and The Trust must have been pretty p!ssed at the GPS to demand that the district pay so much money out of pocket. Usually, The Trust pays to make a federal lawsuit go away. Add to that, the plaintiff in the lawsuit resigned suddenly on July 31, 2017, according to the August business meeting agenda. 

In this case, Shane McCord’s illegal hiring practices were enshrined in the public record, according to PACER:

31. According to the “gut check” method that McCord and Allison followed, after the candidates’ interviews were scored, McCord would then rank the top three candidates based purely on the “gut check” method, and not based on the questions scores.

32. Using this “gut check” criteria, all applicants—with a single exception— chosen for a principal’s position since at least 2008 (when McCord was appointed assistant superintendent and placed in charge of hiring principals for the district) have been males.

34. other words, ninety percent (90%) of all principals chosen since McCord—using his “gut check” criteria—has been in charge of hiring GPS’s principals have been male.

35. In sum, McCord, simply hired whomever he wanted to hire, irrespective of how the candidates performed in the interview process or their level of qualification.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Especially in Gilbert Public Schools. There will be another executive session to interview the finalists at 9:30 AM on Tuesday morning. This bodes ill: before the interviews, the board will change the GPS policy on nondiscrimination. We’re sure it’s an *emergency,* right? Here’s what Shane McCord thinks about EEOC discrimination charges:

The GPS governing board will convene a dog & pony show  community forum on Tuesday, September 19, 2017 at 6:00 pm at Campo Verde High School. They expect to name the new superintendent shortly after that.

They could still vote for Westie to be superintendent! 

Big Fat Asterisk: You’re exactly on target if you thought the two and a half pages of glowing district and community profiles were nausea-inducing and inappropriate for the GPS superintendent position description. We could be charitable, though, and recognize that perhaps the GPS governing board was laying down a marker for any self-congratulatory plaudits a new superintendent might try to claim as personal accomplishments. After all, Christina Kishimoto pretty much claimed that after she invented sliced bread, she sat down and thought up the entire GPS district. From scratch. Everything that was good about GPS many years ago, she claimed as her own personal achievements in the resume Christina Kishimoto circulated as she searched for a new job while keeping the GPS governing board in the dark.

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