High-Tailing It Out of Town Before the Law Comes Calling?

Gilbert Public Schools is getting a clean sweep of Good Old Boys from the superintendency right in time for Dr. Kishimoto’s grand entrance. We’re hearing lots of speculation about some mass exodus from GPS, but that’s not what’s happening. It looks like some members of the superintendency are skipping out to avoid getting caught with their hands in the cookie jar.*

Some folks are moaning and groaning and gnashing their teeth over the retirements and resignations in GPS that are becoming known. “It’s all the fault of the Governing Board,” they cry with crocodile tears.  “It’s the Governing Board’s fault the 2012 and 2013 overrides didn’t pass, now GPS has to reduce expenditures by millions of dollars,” they wail. Some folks in cushy district jobs have well-founded fears that their jobs won’t exist next year, so some have already announced they’re jumping ship. Unfortunately for many of those folks, they might have to start working a lot more, without getting all the vacation days their contracts allow, PLUS all the district holidays like Fall Break, Winter Break and Spring Break, to name a few benefits regular GPS employees don’t get. If you have all that time off, you can save your paid vacation and sick days until you’re ready to leave, and take a few months off while receiving full health benefits and racking up some extra retirement points, right, Community Relations Director Dianne Bowers?

Here’s some background information about why some top-level administrators are resigning from GPS right now. Mostly, it’s the season: administrators who want to leave generally turn in notice of resignation or retirement before contracts are issued each year, which occurs in early spring (March-April). The same thing is happening in every school district in the state, because state law drives this bus.  Administrators in other school districts are watching for opportunities, such as the positions that will be open in GPS – those same candidates will have to give notice to their current employer within the same window.  Really, it’s all just a game of musical chairs. The best thing we can do is watch it all play out as Dr. Kishimoto builds a new leadership team for GPS.

We’ve been posting about the $2 Million loss that the Gilbert Police Department is investigating. A lot of new information should become available to the public in due time. Yes, we’re as impatient as anyone, but we’ve invested a lot of time in sleuthing through some 20,000 documents in one court case, and scads of depositions with 43,000 pages of evidence related to the failed GPS effort to sue CrossPointe. We’ve managed to connect a lot of dots, that’s for sure. We like to share what we learn, too.

For the folks who think we’ve got inside information … you’re right! We’ve been posting a lot of information about administrative contracts and the greed at the top. We posted in December 2013 about goodies in Shane McCord’s 2012-2013 contract, which included a so-called special project for which the superintendent could authorize payment of $2,000.  Jeff Filloon got the same good deal. Both assistant superintendents were paid this stipend through their contract term, beginning in July 2012 and continuing through June 2013. Then they both did it again in 2013-2014!

$2,000 + $2,000 + $2,000 + $2,000 = $8,000 = Red Flag of Fraud
Shane McCord: $2,000 school year 2012-2013         Jeff Filloon: $2,000 school year 2012-2013
Shane McCord: $2,000 school year 2013-2014         Jeff Filloon: $2,000 school year 2013-2014

Dave Allison signed almost identical Payment for Work forms for McCord and FilloonOddly, the date of the form, April 4, 2012, is the same date on the Completion of Additional Work Responsibilities part of the form, which says the work “will be satisfactorily completed on 6-30-12.” No one signed the authorization “Final and total payment is due.” Now that could be just a typo or a clerical error, don’t you think? Well, this is GPS, and it’s business as usual for the GOBs, so let’s look a little deeper. You can guess what happened.

Jeff Filloon wrote a note to Dave Allison saying he would be working on his dissertation project of “What motivates employees during a recession.” That was his special project worth $2,000 that ordinary GPS employees can’t get. There was a report to Dr. Allison from Jeff Filloon dated May 12, 2013 that reported on data gathered by the GPS Employee Exit Interview, which was just a form with 6 questions to rate from “5 Strongly Agree” to “1 Strongly Disagree” that 135 employees filled out. There was nothing about taking that information and implementing changes into GPS for the purpose of improving employee morale, as Jeff Filloon’s memo said he would do.

Funny thing about requesting public records: GPS has a history of resisting disclosure of just about anything, and when they do  let go of documents, sometimes you just stare in amazement at the gems of information you find. We requested copies of the Superintendent’s Memos to the Governing Board; in August 2012, Dave Allison wrote, “The Human Resources Department conducted written exit interviews with all certified employees who left during the 2011-2012 school year.” It looks like the questions were the same as on the survey that Jeff Filloon provided as proof for his Payment for Additional Work in 2013. Connect the dots and you have … Jeff Filloon submitted a survey routinely done by HR as his special project.

Now let’s see what Jeff’s buddy Shane McCord did to earn his special project stipend. Shane wrote a memo to Dave that he was going to study “the relationship that exists between regular attendance and achievement on standardized tests.” Shane McCord submitted a research proposal to Northern Arizona University for the same study of 10th grade students, surveying students around the state using “the probabilistic approach.” Shane helpfully attached dated April 2014 a copy of the letter he sent to “Dear 10th grade student”; in the body of the letter, he asked to return the completed study to him by July 2009. Oooopsie!

A big problem for Shane McCord is that he identified himself as a doctoral student in the Educational Leadership program at Northern Arizona University, NOT as an assistant superintendent in Gilbert Public Schools. Here’s another ooopsie: “The information provided in this survey is confidential information and will be used only by me for the purpose of completing my dissertation.”  So what are the chances that Shane McCord actually sent out this survey and letter as his $2,000 special project in 2012-2013???

For 2013-2014, Shane McCord submitted an Employee Action Request for a special project: “Request $2,000 stipend, per contract, for implementing a special project relating to employee betterment.” He signed a memo stating it was a continuation of the project he had been working on since the 2012-2013 school year. No one signed the form, but Jeff Filloon initialed it for approval. Shane McCord submitted a memo titled, “Stipend for Additional Projects.”

Jeff Filloon submitted an EAR with wording identical to Shane McCord’s form in the remarks section for 2013-2014. Jeff Filloon signed the form as the employee and as the approving administrator, in addition to initialing as the Human Resources Assistant Superintendent. He wrote a memo to Dave Allison  that was almost identical to the memo he wrote the previous year.

WHAT DID INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT JACK KEEGAN KNOW ABOUT THIS SCHEME? Is that part of the reason that Jack Keegan scampered out of his one-year job several months early? We will connect more dots for you soon.

BOTTOM LINE: When you get paid by a government entity funded by taxpayer dollars, and you take money without doing the work you have been paid to do, that’s what people call FRAUD. It’s amazing that it became so open and obvious that citizens could amass evidence through public records requests. Hey, wait a minute! That’s why public records laws are passed! HAPPY SUNSHINE WEEK, GPS!


Big Fat Asterisk: *As for the aforesaid caught with hands in the cookie jar, the evidence was in public records released by GPS. Those assistant superintendents were giving themselves all kinds of good deals during the years that other GPS employees lived through pay freezes and net income reductions due to higher insurance and retirement costs. Support staff saw the loss of a one-year stipend, a bad bet made worse by Good Old Dave Allison’s calculated move tied to the failed override. Now you know: GOBs are feeding the frenzy against the board so they can slink out without being noticed. BTW, Good Old Clyde Dangerfield was offered the same special project bonus, but he didn’t sign up for the sham deal.

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