Gilbert Public Schools to Jack Keegan: “Hit the Road, Jack”

Former Interim Superintendent Jack Keegan just can’t stay away from Gilbert Public Schools. Birdies are chirping [loudly]  in dismay. The Good Old Boys have shown that when they hang around after announcing their intention of leaving, they have opportunities for mischief.

Now, Good Old Jack, along with his fellow cut-and-run practitioners, Assistant Superintendent Shane McCord and Athletic Director Mark Cisterna, are making decisions about which GPS jobs will be cut and how much parents will soon pay for their children to participate in GPS programs. GPS employees are really angry that three dudes who couldn’t cut the mustard are hanging around to do the Zero Based Budgeting process for the district, which won’t take effect until the 2014-2015 school year, when they’ll be long gone.

Cue the song: Hit the Road, Jack.

Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back
No more, no more, no more, no more
Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back no more

Who will be left to live with the GPS ZBB? The loyal employees who have stayed with the district through thick and thin, that’s who. For months, librarians, nurses, specials teachers and many other GPS employees have been holding their breath, waiting to find out if their jobs will be funded next year. It’s been hard on them, to say the least. What kind of reward will they reap for their loyalty? Who knows, but those dudes bragging about making the ZBB decisions (you really didn’t think those committees had any power, did you?) won’t be around when loyal GPS employees get the axe.

Good Old Jack said he would hang around and do the ZBB stuff FOR FREE.  Do you really believe he is being magnanimous after his temper tantrum didn’t have the desired effect and the board didn’t crawl around begging him to stay?  It might be as simple as it’s still cold up north, and he has a lease on his Gilbert digs for another few months … like until the end of his contract term, perhaps? After all, GPS paid him $10,000 to relocate, and if you believe GPS got their money’s worth, well, we have a bridge for sale. Nope, something is up, or else someone is still being protected. Maybe it’s both, but it sure isn’t out of the goodness of his heart that double-dipping Jack Keegan is sticking around to supervise the GPS budget process.

Many people in the Town of Gilbert and in GPS had high hopes when Dr. Jack Keegan rode in on his white horse. We hoped he would temporarily man the helm of GPS after Good Old Dave Allison got himself invited to retire had the Governing Board decline his request to stay after his contract expired in 2013. The way the timing worked out, GPS hired an interim superintendent for a year while they searched for a new Superintendent. Good Old Jack had a halo when he arrived  … mostly because he was NOT Dave Allison. Westie’s pal Keyboard had a tremendous crush on Jack Keegan, and it was very painful for her to watch his diminishment and then his temper tantrum which ended in his abrupt resignation eight months into his interimnity. Maybe Good Old Jack thought the various board members would come crawling to him, begging him to stay, during the thirty days of his notice of quitting.

It seems that Good Old Jack was drinking the GOB Kool-Aid all along. When he came to Gilbert, he touted his skills and experience as a superintendent. But after being here a short while, he was doing his best to block access to requests for public records. Then, in January 2014, he just flat-out threw one of his temper tantrums after we asked for access to some public records:

Since your request was just to review the records, you will not be allowed to photograph, scan or otherwise copy any of these documents. If you decide that you would like to have copies of the records, you will need to make a separate, written, request for which specific records you would like to have copied. Upon payment, you will be provided copies of the records you requested.

Good Old Jack helpfully sent copies of his letter to a lot of people. This must have been part of his temper tantrum: “There, I’ll show them, I’ll tell all these important people how I stiffed this impertinent request to review public records!” Copies went to Georgia Staton, Attorney; Susan Segal, Attorney; and to GPS Assistant Superintendents Clyde Dangerfield, Jeff Filloon, and Shane McCord.

There was a slight problem with Good Old Jack’s letter – he was violating Arizona Public Records laws. Yeppers, even though he had a slew of lawyers at his beck and call, Good Old Jack couldn’t get it right. Worse, just a month before Jack Keegan pulled this dumb stunt, the Attorney General of the State of Arizona issued an official Attorney General Opinion regarding A.R.S. 39-121, Inspection of Public Records. That statue has just 25 words: “Public records and other matters in the custody of any officer shall be open to inspection by any person at all times during office hours.”

The Arizona Attorney General’s Opinion states: “In the event that a member of the public seeks to inspect public records and make copies using his or her own personal device, Arizona’s public records law does not allow a public body to charge a fee.”  Maybe Jack Keegan was just trying to intimidate ordinary citizens who dared ask to see records of how GPS officials do their jobs. Transparency, Schmansparency. Of course, journalists and people considered “friends” can just come by and copy anything they want, no problem.

Wouldn’t you know it, Jack Keegan had to backtrack after we helpfully sent a copy of his temper tantrum letter to the Arizona Attorney General. Nine days later, Good Old Jack wrote to us again:

As a reminder from my previous letter, since your request was to review material, it will be necessary that if you decide you wish copies of material that you submit another FOIA request identifying specifically the material you wish to obtain a copy of. [sic]

This time, Good Old Jack copied three attorneys: Susan Segal, Georgia Staton and Liz Gilbert, in addition to the newest member of the GPS Community Relations staff. Notice that Jack Keegan didn’t let his assistant superintendents know that he had to eat crow. It’s long past time to hit the road, Jack. Take your silly syntax with you.

All you citizens who want to review GPS records, be sure to write “review and scan or otherwise copy” in your request. Save yourself the extra step and needless delay of submitting another FOIA request to actually receive a copy of the records you are reviewing. You’re welcome!

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