Where’s Clyde Dangerfield? Trying to End a Bullying Lawsuit!

Hey, folks, we hear Good Old Assistant Superintendent and General Counsel Clyde Dangerfield has been out of town with his old buddies from the law firm of Holm Wright Hyde & Hays again!  [*Bonus points if you can connect the dots to BrianYee!*]

If you recall, Clyde Dangerfield has done this in the past, just as Westie reported in earlier posts. This time, good old Clyde Dangerfield has been in Mobile, Alabama, we hear, mediating the end of a lawsuit that GPS brought against a software contractor, CrossPointe. Yep, it’s another wrinkle in the GPS technology scandals.

From a press release (which we conveniently quoted at the bottom of this post):

“The parties have scheduled mediation for May 16, 2013 in Mobile, Alabama before a well-recognized Alabama mediator (and former jurist).” A top official for the plaintiff, Assistant Superintendent Clyde Dangerfield, planned to travel to Mobile for the mediation, with Gilbert’s counsel, Brad Holm.

The press release says that Gilbert Public Schools used this litigation to bully the software company and its CEO, Joan Keebler:

“This was a malicious claim against me personally, and I am grateful for the Court’s ruling,” said Keebler. CrossPointe’s counsel, Michael Marcil, of the Florida-based law firm, Gunster, commented that “the Court’s order correctly recognized that a commercial contract dispute does not give rise to a lawsuit against a company officer. The school district tried to bully Ms. Keebler into a settlement, which is a shameful use of public funds.”

WOW – the district which is famous for retaliation against employees now is famous across the USA for bullying its vendors!  You know Westie is going somewhere with this, knowing our aversion to playing chicken with taxpayer dollars. The principle of the game is that while each player prefers not to yield to the other, the worst possible outcome occurs when both players do not yield. GPS is busy proving that point all over again.

Westie explained the CrossPointe litigation previously:

In 2007 Gilbert Public Schools chose CrossPointe over Edupoint, which has a Mesa office and is headquartered in California, had offered to sell the district its Microsoft-based info tracking system, Genesis, for about $500,000 less than CrossPointe’s. Edupoint President and CEO Joe Kirkman said his company had to prepare its proposal twice due to the budget error, and was disappointed that the district chose a Florida firm over a local one.  He noted that several of his staff at the Mesa office live in Gilbert and have children who attend Gilbert schools, so they care a lot about what happens in the district, aside from business deals.

Let’s look at what happened to the last school district that tried to sue CrossPointe:

A long-standing lawsuit between the city School District and its former supplier of a computer program for school management and payroll systems has been settled with no money changing hands between the two parties. The district sued for a refund in December 2007.  “But when new board leadership took office and a new superintendent was selected, the district officially dropped the lawsuit,” according to the CrossPointe statement. Keebler said, “We want to extend our thanks to the new superintendent and School Board members in Niagara Falls for taking a fresh look at this matter. We know the Falls district faced other issues at the time, and we unfortunately got caught up in local politics.”

Another report about this school district lawsuit that failed (it looks like this lawsuit was what good old Clyde was copying):

Prior to the lawsuit, no other school district had ever sued CrossPointe for non-performance; no customer had ever quit during an implementation, as Niagara Falls did; no customer had ever failed to use the software – it has worked in production perfectly since 1979; in 33 years of business, no other district had ever sued CrossPointe for anything. When asked about CrossPointe and Keebler in her deposition, Falls district Information Technology Manager Darlene Sprague said: “She was always friendly and she wanted her software to be successful.”

That information about Joan Keebler, CEO, is important because the former board refused to talk to Joan Keebler when she traveled to Gilbert in an attempt to head off the controversy about CrossPointe software in Gilbert Public Schools. That was an important part of the lawsuit that was dismissed.

Keebler also said she requested a face-to-face meeting with Superintendent Dave Allison and Assistant Superintendent Barb VeNard, but was turned down. So she had two of her executives fly out and present a response to the school board. “We needed executive level leadership (to talk to); otherwise you can’t solve a problem,” Keebler said. “We requested that, and we were refused.”

Good old Clyde explained to us in an email how the district used both an hourly fee billing arrangement and a contingency fee arrangement in the litigation the district has brought against CrossPointe:

 1) The actual law suit against CrossPointe for breach of contract and fraud has been going on for more than a year and Brad Holm has actually been working on the dispute for over two years. During that time the District has had a contractual relationship based on hourly fees and the firm has been paid for their work to date approximately $75,000. The Judge has ruled against CrossPointe regarding their motion to dismiss on the contract claim and Brad has filed an amended claim regarding the fraud. It has been determined that a contingency arrangement with Brad Holm is in the best interest of the District going forward. When and if a settlement is reached or the District wins at trial, Brad’s firm will be entitled to 1/3 of the amount recovered less the $75,000 paid to date.

2) If the District does not prevail, Brad has and is entitled to the fees he has been paid to date while working under the existing hourly contract, but will not receive any additional fees.

3) If GPS terminates the contingency agreement he will be entitled to the hourly rate fees based on the original fees agreement, including any additional time invested.

4) If Brad withdraws going forward he will not be entitled to any additional fees beyond what he has been paid to date based on the original hourly contract.

5) The original hourly contract fees are $195 per hour for partners, $170 per hour for associates, $100 per hour for law clerks and $85 for paralegals.

Here’s what the public was told back in January 2011 when GPS filed the lawsuit:

Brad Holm, who is representing the district, assured board members the district would get a settlement. He said he hopes to settle out of court and wants to force the case into mediation. He estimated the district’s legal costs would be no more than $30,000. “I think we have a good strategy,” Holm told the board. “I think this case is winnable and collectable.” Gilbert has already spent $6,991 to prepare for the litigation, Dangerfield said.

In other words, attorney Brad Holm of the firm Holm Wright Hyde & Hays appears to have the best of all worlds — legal fees for two years of work followed by a contingency fee agreement for 1/3 of the district’s winnings (if the district wins). Notice that “the $75,000 paid to date” is more than what the district paid for the 2011-2012 school year in pre-paid legal fees.  Notice also that this law firm didn’t win (again) — the main part of their lawsuit was thrown out more than a year ago. We wonder if Good Old Brad (GOB) knew about the no-money settlement in New York when he got his pal the President of The Trust to creatively finance more, more and more legal wrangling for his law firm. But what’s six figures of tax money among friends? Especially when those important friends can bamboozle convince a school board into rubber stamping their plans?  Ah, those were days!

There was one former board member who questioned the whole idea of starting a lawsuit. Notice that the GPS superintendency sprung this lawsuit on a brand-new board back in January 2011.  “Trust me,” good old Dave (GOD?) said.

Board member Shane Stapley, sitting on the board for his first meeting, called the complaint “sound,” but questioned the cost of the litigation and wondered whether the district would ever receive any money back if it won.

It sure looks like the Good Old Boys Club wanted to file this lawsuit because they were getting by with a little help from their friends. Gilbert Public Schools participates in a self-insurance fund “The Trust” that costs about $1.5 million per year; benefits of participation include that attorneys bill The Trust rather than the district. That means no one sees the total of the expenses except Clyde Dangerfield, JD, Board President. The only other people who will see these expenses are people good old Clyde allows to see the invoices. If this sounds like an arrangement similar to Valley Schools Insurance Trust,  which has been the subject of a criminal investigation by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for issues ranging from conflicts of interest to misuse of public funds, you’re probably on to something.

In other words, don’t expect to find out how much it cost Gilbert Public Schools for Clyde’s buddies to frolic amongst the judges and juries of the federal court system this time. Once again, spending tax dollars frivolously is a feature, not a bug, when it comes to the GPS superintendency. BTW, even with a contingency contract, the usual arrangement is for the client (GPS) to pay all expenses, including travel to beautiful Mobile, Alabama during a time that is NOT hurricane season. The white sands of Gulf Coast beaches and some really swanky hotels are right there … if you get our drift. Don’t hold your breath to find out how much it cost GPS to pay for Clyde and Brad’s Excellent Adventures as they romp around trying to clean up another of their own messes. Party on, dudes! (And, we all know you’re not worthy.)

[Keyboard: After the Wayne’s World reference, off goes Westie to listen to Alice Cooper and Aerosmith. Westie is done for today!]

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* Big Fat Asterisk: Give yourself ten points if you connected the dots to Brian Yee! Here’s Westie’s connection:

Why would a school district fight all the way to the Supreme Court in defending the right of an administrator to strip search a 13 year honor student?  That tone-deaf oral argument was made by Matthew W. Wright, from the law firm of Holm Wright Hyde & Hays, one of the favorite lawyers for Gilbert Public Schools, who has been in the thick of many incidents illustrating a tone-deaf administration’s contempt for parents, teachers and students. Assistant Superintendent and General Counsel Clyde Dangerfield was present at oral argument to cheer on Matthew W. Wright’s argument to the US Supreme Court. Good old Matt seems to think there’s nothing wrong with middle aged or even older administrators strip searching young teenage girls, even when they have no reasonable suspicion that the girl is hiding something in her underwear. Fortunately for thirteen year olds girls everywhere, good old Matt lost that case. You might recall that attorney Matthew W. Wright is the same lawyer hired by Gilbert Public Schools to investigate employee complaints against Highland Junior High School Principal Brian Yee. See, we told you Holm Wright Hyde & Hays is tight with GPS administrators. If you found another way to connect the dots, let us know!

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 Federal Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Joan Keebler

ORLANDO, FL May 16, 2013 – A federal judge in Arizona has dismissed the individual part of a lawsuit against Joan Keebler, CEO of CrossPointe LLC, filed in 2011 by the Gilbert, AZ Unified School District No. 41.

The remainder of the suit against Florida-based CrossPointe, filed in U.S. District Court in Arizona, will be mediated in Mobile, AL starting today. According to a motion seeking a time extension from the court, which it approved May 3, 2013:

“The parties have scheduled mediation for May 16, 2013 in Mobile, Alabama before a well-recognized Alabama mediator (and former jurist).”

A top official for the plaintiff, Assistant Superintendent Clyde Dangerfield, planned to travel to Mobile for the mediation, with Gilbert’s counsel, Brad Holm.

U.S. District Judge Neil V. Wake issued his ruling in Keebler’s personal portion of the case May 2, 2012. The judge dismissed the fraud claim against Keebler with prejudice, blocking the plaintiffs from pursuing it further.

“This was a malicious claim against me personally, and I am grateful for the Court’s ruling,” said Keebler.

CrossPointe’s counsel, Michael Marcil, of the Florida-based law firm, Gunster, commented that “the Court’s order correctly recognized that a commercial contract dispute does not give rise to a lawsuit against a company officer. The school district tried to bully Ms. Keebler into a settlement, which is a shameful use of public funds.”

“CrossPointe’s Student Information System has been successfully used by school districts throughout the country for decades, and Gilbert itself used it successfully during three different school years for many critical functions, including for scheduling, health records, report cards, state reporting and other areas,” Marcil added.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Michael W. Marcil, Günster Law Firm
954-881-2119
jrittenhouse-lue@gunster.com


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