GPS: Rearranging Deck Chairs on the Titanic?

It’s official: Superintendent Jack Keegan and Assistant Superintendent Shane McCord resigned their positions in Gilbert Public Schools.

Dr. Keegan is out the door on March 7, 2014; McCord will stay until his contract ends on June 30, 2014. This signals opportunity for righting the ship that floundered under the Good Old Boys. Any deck chair rearranging will occur during the interregnum before the new superintendent takes over. The more new non-GOBs selected to lead GPS at every level, the better the district will be.

UPDATE: Shane McCord has been hired by Mesa Public Schools for a TBD position, effective July 1, 2014. Interesting, this hasn’t been done according to policy and procedure, but the Good Old Boys in Mesa (we’re looking at Helen Hollands, for example) are going to take care of their buddy, no matter what. So, when you hear about how GPS is losing quality educators, keep this in mind. GPS gets a clean house when Dr. Kishimoto arrives. What could be better? By-bye GOBs!

We’ve been seeing lots of search phrases on Westie’s server regarding Barb VeNard’s sudden retirement from Gilbert Public Schools in January 2014. That got us to thinking about how much better Barb’s abrupt departure was for GPS than the malingering of superintendents and assistant superintendents who announce their retirement WAY far in advance. BTW, this is not a criticism of Dr. Keegan’s farewell … he’s honoring the terms of his contract with GPS.

As we in the community saw with Dave Allison’s last six months of superintendency, hanging around too long creates a fertile field for mischief. [Buzz word: superintendency. Drink!] We’re willing to bet GPS will be digging out of the holes Dave put GPS into for another six months or more. It would be a very nice gift to the new superintendent (Westie!) to have Dave’s messes cleaned up. Even if GPS has to pay his legal fees. Sigh.

Remember Nikki Blanchard retiring from Human Resources? Clyde Dangerfield gave himself a final year to emulate his buddy Dave’s retirement scenario. GPS might be in mortal danger.  [Okay, that’s hyperbole, but Keyboard couldn’t resist.]

Good Old Clyde Dangerfield was already in high gear last year promoting a colleague to greater pay behind the board’s back.  Yep, he promoted Crystal and got rid of the internal auditor position in GPS Business Services. Sure, we believe that GPS is so well-run that an internal auditor position is simply not necessary. Everybody in GPS does exactly what they’re supposed to do all the time, right? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. When Westie is Superintendent, there will be an Inspector General who is accountable to the board, not the superintendency [Buzz. Drink!] Westie will set up a citizens audit committee, too. Westie for Superintendent!

Here’s how some of the GPS deck chairs were rearranged to distract attention during Dave’s superintendent interimnity.* GPS purchasing director Crystal Korpan got herself elected president of the Board of Mohave Educational Services (MES) Cooperative, Inc (an entity through which school districts make big purchases without the regular bidding process). We hear Crystal has since resigned that MES position, but you can tell by her bio at the link that MES just loves themselves some Crystal Korpan. All that sounds kind of like how Good Old Clyde Dangerfield resigned as president of the Arizona Risk Retention Trust, wink, wink. Lookie here: Bill Munch of the Valley Schools Management Group has his photo right up top of the MES board web page.  We hear Bill Munch is pals with Bill Maas. Maybe we’re on to something big about school district health benefits awarded without bidding …

Being the MES board president put Crystal in a position where she could solicit a GPS purchase from MES and then sit on the MES board to approve the purchase without a formal bid. GPS really does have a problem with understanding what a smell test is, don’t you think? Consider this: MES makes a profit as the middle man. That money is not accountable to anyone because it is not subject to open records law. Hey! That sounds a lot like the Arizona Risk Retention Trust! Some people spend a lot of effort trying to make it impossible to track what’s done with tax dollars, don’t they? Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Except in GPS: where there’s smoke, there are mirrors!

GPS uses MES to procure almost all goods and services without having to bid out the purchases directly. There’s a web being spun, you can bet, and Westie is looking into it!  Lookie here: GPS board member Lily Tram speaks highly of MES. Lily should know, her Linked in profile shows she works at ASU Financial Services and handles the accounting for the university.  Areas of responsibilities:  Accounts Payable, Travel, Financial Controls,  and FS/PD Business Operations Center. [Lily, you were not reelected in 2008; you were elected after you had been appointed as a board member and reelected in 2012. No biggie, though.]

Speaking of GPS employees using their jobs to further institutional ambitions … Dr. Emily Phares, the social worker at Meridian Elementary School is president of the School Social Work Association of Arizona. They’re giving an award to none other than Good Old Shane McCord! Let’s connect some dots.  Good Old Shane didn’t do anything about the bullying at Meridian in 2011, he just “turned it all over” to attorney Denise Lowell-Britt, whose job it was to bury some bodies and blame everything on Sarah. Emily knew about the bullying at Meridian. She held whole-class sessions to teach bystanders how to oppose bullying; some of the kids took it as “how to bully” lessons.  Emily told Denise Lowell-Britt that she never met the student Sarah was so worried about.

GPS has a history of giving dubious awards to administrators for a number of spurious reasons. The 2013 awards went to Good Old Clyde and The Trust. Higley School District did the same thing for superintendent Denise Birdwell after she got into hot water for plagiarism (a big no-no for students, but apparently not for superintendents).  Andrew Szczepaniak got an award from a group of which he is president of the state chapter.

See the pattern? Maybe Good Old Shane is in hot water or something. Maybe Good Old Andrew had delusions of grandeur and promotion, knowing that the superintendency was in turmoil with an interim superintendent, who will be replaced within a year. We bet Good Old Andrew is salivating at Barb VeNard’s empty seat. Good Old Robyn Conrad must have similar delusions, like maybe the presidency of the National Association of Elementary School Principals, where she’s now on the Board of Directors. Good Old Robyn is benefitting mightily from the new GPS policy** that promises her a given number of years on the double-dipping SmartSchoolsPlus gravy train; her ride is really sweet!

Maybe Emily wants to join the Good Old Boys Club. We know they don’t discriminate against women as members, like Dr. Robyn Conrad. Hey, maybe that’s the entrance fee: women need to have a doctorate, men just have to show potential. Look at how many dots we just connected!

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* Big Fat Asterisks:

* We thought Keyboard made up the word “interimnity.” Turns out she didn’t!

** GPS policies are online at this link. The SmartSchoolsPlus policy is GPR.


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