Depraved GPS Administrators: “We Won’t Enroll Your Child!”

When the going gets tough, Gilbert Public Schools superintendent Christina Kishimoto and her over-paid, over-fed band of sycophants who dwell within the ivory towers of the district offices target the most vulnerable students and parents in GPS. How many ways can the Special Education folks at GPS retaliate against a family for trying to enroll their child in a GPS school instead of shuffling him off to the autism warehouse GPS prefers? The answer is: we just don’t know yet, but GPS is exceeding expectations in their race to the deepest circle of Hell.  

The parent in the photo above has been trying to enroll her son in a GPS neighborhood school; the family lives in GPS boundaries. In this case, the student has Autism Spectrum Disorder, so GPS has moved heaven and earth to deny him enrollment. Much of the nastiness GPS engaged in occurred over the Christmas break, December 2016. Now it’s the end of January 2017 and GPS has pulled out all the stops to send this child to their favorite warehouse for a *differently abled* student who might bring down GPS test scores and hurt the district’s reputation, thereby tarnishing Christina Kishimoto’s national ambitions  attend a neighborhood school where GPS is striving mightily to depress enrollment. That would be the west side of the district, where it serves GPS interests to limit enrollment so that Kishimoto and her two Rubber Stamp board members can ram through school reforms that no one wants or needs.

The video below shows this parent’s plea at the GPS board meeting on January 24, 2017. Warning: it will break your heart. Mom explains in the first few seconds that she has aphasia as a result of a brain tumor that was surgically removed three years ago.  While her aphasia may cause difficulties in speaking, it does not affect her intelligence. The greatest difficulty she encounters has been in communication in an IEP meeting with the district’s brutal goons Special Education enforcers who have been charged with keeping her child out of any GPS school. One more thing about this incredibly dedicated mom: she is undergoing chemotherapy while fighting against the GPS SpEd @$$hats who are supposed to dissuade her from enrolling her son.

Mom speaks for herself eloquently, assisted by her differently abled son who just wants to take a percussion class at Mesquite Junior High School. Watch this mother and her son and weep for what GPS has become. If you don’t see the video, use this link: https://youtu.be/eAMhMLGh7HU  This post will continue below the video.

GPS has pulled about every dirty trick in the book, from holding an IEP meeting without parents participating, to writing an IEP [Individualized Education Program] without the parents’ knowledge. In their dealings with this mom, GPS has refused to provide accommodations for her aphasia; she’s kicking their butts anyway. From an email dated Jan 26, 2017, at 4:20 PM:

The district has refused to provide me with accommodations for 3 years.  As I informed the attorney [Denise Lowell-Britt] that the district brought, against my wishes, to the last meeting, you cannot have a legal IEP meeting without my required accommodations.

I have the right to participate in my son’s education. I had to state that again last Thursday when Kelly Anderson started yelling at me over the phone when  the school counselor called.  And, again, when Jason Martin suddenly appeared at a confidential meeting at Gilbert Jr.  Not only did Mr Martin refuse to let me communicate, he became hostile in front of my son.  No district employee will be allowed to intimidate or bully me in front if my child.

This is notice that I am requesting an emergency IEP meeting for the purpose of writing his annual IEP which has yet to be written and is out of compliance.  The district CANNOT write an IEP without Colter’s parents who have always been willing to participate.  For the district to inform the state education department that they wrote Colter’s IEP without our knowledge is absolutely a violation of both Colter’s and parental rights and misleading to the Az State Education Department.

By the next day, the situation was even more dire for this child and his mom. Her email tells more about how she has been treated by GPS:

Date: January 27, 2017 at 1:36:27 AM MST
To: Kelly Anderson <kelly.anderson@gilbertschools.net>, Fran Grossenbacher <fran.grossenbacher@gilbertschools.net>
Cc: Gilbert School Board <board@gilbertschools.net>
Subject:Mesquite Jr  –  Colter’s enrollment

Kelly,

On Tuesday, you told me I had to meet with Dan Johnson [principal of Mesquite Junior High School] to enroll Colter in the percussion class.  I immediately drove there.  It was 4:15pm and there was no signs of life at the office.  I tried again yesterday without success and left a message by phone as well.  No one called all day.  I drove to Mesquite Jr again today.  I was NOT at all surprised to be told that Mr Johnson was not available to talk despite your reassurances that he was up to speed and waiting to discuss enrollment.

I informed the staff that I would wait until Mr Johnson finished his meeting to talk and sat down to fill out the “open enrollment form” once again as you directed me to do on Tuesday.  Additionally, I asked for a copy of my previous open enrollment form from the attendance clerk.  Just like she told me before, those forms are sent to the district with the copy of the students IEP.  It is NOT up to the principal of the school, it is up to the district.  Every attendance specialist at every GPS school has told me the same thing.  So, when Fran [Grossenbacher, GPS Director of SpEd]  wrote and stated that it was the decision of the principal, it made no sense to me.

Mr Johnson concluded his meeting, but he still didn’t talk with us.  We continued to wait.  Mr Johnson finally came out to tell us he wouldn’t talk to us today.  Actually, he completely ignored my son, so he just told me.  Too busy of course.  I asked him if he would at least tell me if Colter would be enrolled in percussion.  He refused to tell me.  Based on his demeanor, I can surmise what is now going to occur.  The same “bait and switch” that was discussed by a number of people at the board meeting…

When Mr Johnson tries to tell me that my son won’t qualify for percussion because there is another excuse, probably about needing a year of band experience, I have already done the research regarding the truthfulness of that statement.  I am already aware that there IS capacity.  I’m sure the board will understand the catch 22 of placing my son in a private school with no band or orchestra and then telling us he has lost the opportunity to play in band in Jr high.

Listen to Dan Johnson do exactly what the mom predicted he would do; the cowardly Kishimoto lackey left a voicemail:

 

What GPS has become: a public school district that wants more, more and more money from taxpayers, but refuses to provide accommodations for a disabled mom and her differently abled son. Apparently, the additional federal funds that accrue to the district specifically for this child’s education aren’t enough for GPS. Providing accommodations for the mom so she could participate in her child’s IEP would be just too d@mned inconvenient. Sending a child to do a man’s job, i.e. dispatching Jason Martin to obstruct the mom’s attempt at enrolling her son at Mesquite Junior High School, because schoolyard bullying and thuggery is all that Martin and GPS seem to know how to do, is considered an appropriate administrative action. This is beyond disgusting, but this atrocity is what GPS has become.

How many times will Westie have to post about morally repugnant actions GPS commits against students who are *differently abled* and require federally-mandated support in order to access the free and appropriate public education that is their right as a citizen?

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Big Fat Asterisk: Community activists have already established that Dan Johnson’s claim about 153 open enrollments at MJHS, made to the board during this same board meeting, was a lie. Apparently, in order to further her personal agenda, Christina Kishimoto is manipulating just about every data point presented to the board for pretty much any decision: “This would be a new low for Kishi. Let’s starve the west side school so it looks more publicly acceptable to merge us with GCA.”

Christina Kishimoto Plays Both Ends Against the Middle with Betsy DeVos

Christina Kishimoto has made it a point to go her own way during her two plus years in Gilbert. GPS Governing Board members can barely figure out what she’s doing, let alone what vision the superintendent is pursuing … other than her overarching quest for her *national reputation.* It was clear that Kishimoto was counting on stepping onto a larger stage, but then the 2016 elections intervened.

Now that she’s picking up the pieces of her shattered crystal ball and grandiose plans, Christina Kishimoto has become Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. That’s a person who is vastly different in moral character from one situation to the next. Christina Kishimoto does not understand that citizens of the Town of Gilbert are seeing her true character as she chases that *national reputation* unicorn.

“Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think it is and the tree is the real thing.”  Abraham Lincoln

Christina Kishimoto recently cast her *national reputation* net into new waters. Which brings up the question, “Does the board know what Christina Kishimoto is doing in the name of Gilbert Public Schools?” We think not: a few months ago, Kishimoto joined a new national group called Chiefs for Change, which is basically an organization for urban schools. So what is Christina Kishimoto doing there? She’s helping her pals celebrate that Denver Public Schools has an *improved* graduation rate of 67.2%.

As soon as she joined, Chiefs for Change promptly put Christina Kishimoto’s photo on their website with this quote: “I’m an educator, but I’m not a traditionalist.” That choking sound you just heard is GPS teachers spitting out their beverages as they read those words. [We’ll wait while they clean up their screens.] Everyone knows Kishimoto has never taught in any school, has never been an administrator in any school and cannot get a superintendent certificate in Arizona. Chiefs for Change, or C4C, gave some love back to their new member by giving her some *national* exposure:

Christina Kishimoto / Gilbert, Arizona
“Chiefs for Change is an organization of thought leaders who are willing to think critically about effective school design, policy structures, and governance. Their collective goal is to ensure strong leadership focused on education access, equity, and engagement for all students. It is a point of pride and commitment to join this group of national leaders of excellence.”

That’s it! Kishimoto figured out that C4C is a *group of national leaders* and she wanted in! Whatever this group is doing, it doesn’t bode well for Gilbert, Arizona, which is not an urban district that celebrates 60% graduation rates.  What C4C is, in the words of a REAL educator:

Pity the Chiefs for Change. They were destined to be part of the superstructure of educational reforminess that would help sweep Jeb! Bush into power, then be poised to cash in on uplift US education once he got into the White House. But now the Jebster’s Presidential hopes have gone the way of Betamax tapes and the Zune, and Chiefs for Change is on the last leg of a long, downhill slide.

So that means the Chiefs are now a group of seven school district superintendents allied with some former state chiefs and a handful of barely-in-power education leaders. Chiefs for Change were going to be Educational Masters of the Universe. Now they’re more like one of those padded ghost band versions of some sixties rock group playing county fairs and mall openings.

Chiefs for Change is an offshoot of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a reform group founded by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. This time, it appears that Kishimoto is thinking big: the group’s membership had dipped from a high of nine members in 2012 to four in May 2016. Kishimoto joined in September 2016. <snark>

Since its creation, Chiefs for Change has represented a small group of state education officials who have loudly promoted an agenda shared by Bush: Common Core State Standards, using test scores to evaluate teachers, A-to-F report cards for schools, expanding charter schools and online learning, among other things.

For example, the foundation and Chiefs for Change have pushed states to embrace digital learning in public schools, a costly transition that often requires new software and hardware. Many of those digital products are made by donors to the foundation — and funders of Chiefs for Change — such as Microsoft, Intel, News Corp., Pearson PLC and K12 Inc.

The more you read about Chiefs for Change, the more you understand that Christina Kishimoto doesn’t think for herself: pretty much everything she advocates these days comes right from the website of this C4C group. Chromebooks? Check. New software? Check. We haven’t seen reports that Renaissance/Accelerated Reader corporation is a donor to C4C, so that might be why Christina Kishimoto cut off GPS funding for their products. Sheeeesh.

Having read this far, you new board members must be shaking your heads. This is Arizona, the frontier of school choice, you say. Right you are! But Christina Kishimoto is a PUBLIC school superintendent, and she’s b*tching a blue streak complaining mightily that local charter schools are *stealing students* from GPS. It’s all their fault, she proclaims, that GPS lost thousands of students in just the past few years (including every year under her *leadership*). Sure, those thousands of student losses and hundreds of teacher losses have nothing to do with the way Kishimoto and her Top Dogs are running the formerly A rated district into the ground, right?

More Jekyll and Hyde: ASBA is fighting against Betsy DeVos’s nomination but C4C thinks she’s perfect for the job. It would be a good thing to share this information with the Arizona Education Association [Joe Thomas, President of AEA when he gets back from the women’s march in D.C.; maybe the Phoenix march wasn’t a big enough stage] and the Arizona Schools Board Association [Timothy Ogle, ASBA].

Things always get worse when it comes to GPS top level administrators knifing teachers in the back. Now we get to the real crux of why Christina Kishimoto joined C4C: it could be her ticket to a national job! We’re sure she’s relieved, since all that money she spent on the Association for Latino Administrators and Superintendents seems to have been wasted. Her pal John King was just dumped from his job as Secretary of Education, dashing Kishimoto’s hopes for a job with her buddy in the Hillary Clinton administration. Karma.

In this case, Jeb! and Christina Kishimoto may have the last laugh, in the form of the newly nominated Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.

Bush allies are reportedly in the mix to be DeVos deputies, including Hanna Skandera, New Mexico’s public education secretary who is one of the “Chiefs for Change” that are part of Bush’s foundation.

Betsy DeVos’s family organization has contributed at least $150,000 since 2012 to Jeb!’s foundation and Chiefs for Change:

Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education discloses its donors by contribution level; among the higher levels of giving in recent years are the News Corp., the DeVos Family Foundation, the Bradley Foundation, K12 Inc., and Pearson PLC. The foundation also lists a number of other education technology and textbook companies and major corporations as donors, primarily in support of their annual national summit, including GE, McGraw-Hill Education, Amplify and Joel Klein, Scholastic, ACT Aspire LLC., Intel, ETS, ExxonMobil, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.* Tax filings reveal that the foundation has received nearly at least $150,000 from the DeVos Family Foundation since 2012.

One thing about Christina Kishimoto and her two-sided moral compass, i.e. Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde: no one can accuse her of being classy!  Check out this tweet: who in the world thinks *incomes* is a good descriptor of U.S. military veterans? Does she think we’re all one step away from being homeless? Sheeeeeesh.

#SaveOurNeighborhoodSchools

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Big Fat Asterisk: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is where Christina Kishimoto’s paramour former Executive Director of Technology landed after their *alleged* inappropriate relationship became public knowledge. Sure, Steve Smith got that job based on his *talents and experience,* right?

Superintendent Misleads the New GPS Board at Their First Meeting

Congratulations! The new members of the Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board have been seated: Lori Wood, Sheila Rogers and Reed Carr. Members of the public are rightfully alarmed that Superintendent Christina Kishimoto intentionally misled the new board members about a very important matter. That was incredibly stupid, since evidence to the contrary is readily available … which Westie is delighted to share, especially if it will prevent new GPS board members from following Christina Kishimoto off a cliff. 

Citizens who watched the January 11, 2017 board meeting were waiting for signs of independence and forward thinking. They were richly rewarded when Sheila Rogers was elected president and Reed Carr was elected clerk. Sheila Rogers immediately showed that she knows exactly what she is doing as president. After the meeting, Reed Carr explained to well-wishers “I will have specific responsibility to review the financial vouchers prior to the board’s approval as well as responsibility to ensure board records are properly maintained.”

People in the audience reported that Christina Kishimoto appeared stunned; she had already been bragging that the new board members didn’t know anything and would do whatever she wanted. Jill Humpherys cried because she was not elected president. She and fellow rubber stamper Charlie Santa Cruz, who was not elected as the new board clerk, were not expecting these results, either.

One thing tells you all you need to know about the character of Jill Humpherys and Joseph Charles Santa Cruz: after their candidacy for board offices had been shot down in 2-3 votes, both remnants of the rubber stamp board of 2015-2017 voted against the other board members who had been nominated for those offices. Sheila Rogers and Reed Carr were elected on 3-2 votes, with Jill yelling out “Nay” as she used to do before she was part of a majority caucus on the GPS governing board.

Jill Humpherys and Charlie Santa Cruz could have been classy and made the second votes unanimous. But no, they wanted retribution after having their fondest hopes dashed. They must have believed that they, too, would *handle the new board members* seeing as how they’re now so experienced in school district boardsmanship. Most would call what they practice *gamesmanship,* but let’s not get distracted by semantics … or *the optics* that are more important to Charlie Santa Cruz than actual ethics.

Back to the intentional misrepresentation where Christina Kishimoto told the board that the committee for enrollment management is a *district* committee in the meeting. There is no such animal. There are committees formed by the board and there are committees formed by the superintendent – these are the committees at the district level, but they are not *district* committees.

What’s important: board committees must operate under Open Meeting Laws. As members of the public have seen time and again, Christina Kishimoto has no use for OML, and she’s not going to follow it when she can get away with brazen defiance. The former Rubber Stamp Board followed their Dear Leader each and every time, and then they denied to the Arizona Attorney General and to the public that they did what they did.

Remember how Christina Kishimoto told the board there were no findings from the OML investigations … and then she and the board had to sit through a public session of OML training? Yeah, that was part of the GPS consent agreement with the Attorney General’s office so the OML complaint investigations could be closed. Remember how there was no record of that OML training … until a citizen’s video was posted online? THEN they decided to find the *nonexistent* video of the OML training. Remember? Maybe there’s a pattern here.

Christina Kishimoto’s purposeful misrepresentation has potential to cause immense damage to Mesquite Junior High School and Mesquite High School, depending on how the new boundaries and super boundaries fall out. That’s entirely the point!

Recall that the surplus space, ZBB and other committees were board committees; their meetings and their reports were to be made public … at least, that was the case before Christina Kishimoto quashed those committees like bugs under her feet. Christina Kishimoto has fought hard to keep the public shut out of committees and anything else where citizens might impede her plans for a *national reputation.* The entire *committee of the whole* was a construct by Christina Kishimoto to get the whole board to meet, purportedly as the GPS Policy Committee, without public interference. It took several OML complaints to get those meetings made sort-of public.

The *enrollment management* committee should be reconstituted as a board committee and it should operate in public view; nothing less will suffice to maintain public confidence as GPS boundaries are redrawn. Christina Kishimoto can do a lot of damage with Jill Humpherys and Charlie Santa Cruz running interference for her against the new board if no one knows what’s on the committee’s agenda. Of course, that’s exactly the point,  and no one can stop this new *follow the leader off the cliff* meme except the newly seated GPS board members.

More: GPS has NEVER addressed boundary issues without community input, although Christina Kishimoto is determined to keep the committee’s work a secret until she brings it to the board for a vote. Fireworks will erupt when Christina Kishimoto pushes through the junior high gifted academy at HJHS for next year … the school that already has the highest enrollment and many out of boundary GPS students, in addition to out of district students.

The video below shows the kabuki dance that enshrined the GPS Enrollment Management Committee. If you don’t see the video, use this link: https://youtu.be/hH2xg5AnCxo

Hey, new board members: there’s a reason that citizens, taxpayers and residents on the west side of the Town of Gilbert are working on a petition to the Chandler Unified School District to annex their properties …  #SaveOurNeighborhoodSchools

Gilbert Public Schools: The Great Wage Theft Caper Continues

Another New Year, another disaster in Gilbert Public Schools — this time, for failing to pay employees all they are owed for the work they have done. A new board is now responsible for superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s management failures, which include unconstrained wage theft. Citizens anxiously await the election of a new board president on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 for the signal that the GPS Governing Board will do their jobs and hold public employees accountable for their failures … or not. 

We all know that Silly Jilly Humherys is salivating at the prospects of being elected board president. She believes that all her Arizona School Board Association schmoozing entitles her to be board president — “Hey, guys, I got another certificate for attending an ASBA event (at GPS expense)! They like me, they really like me!!!” Silly Jilly Humpherys, whose nose is dark brown and stinky from puppy-dogging Kishimoto around to events at every opportunity, never got elevated to BFF status, in spite of her proclivity for sanctimoniously pontificating in favor of anything Kishimoto wanted during a board meeting. Karma.

The important thing about Silly Jilly Humpherys’ history is that it appears she never questioned anything that her position as GPS governing board clerk required her to oversee. As a result, GPS administrators have run wild, knowing they never will be held accountable for anything they do. Example: in 2016, Christina Kishimoto not only received her five-figure *performance pay* bonus, she had her contract renewed a year early and was awarded a blank check for spending millions of dollars on the GCA/MJHS campus boondoggle and other unnamed extravaganzas. That’s what has been passing as *accountability* in GPS.

Benito Mussolini’s fascist governance famously was defended because “he made the trains run on time.” Kishimoto hasn’t performed the basic functions of managing an entity of 5,000 employees … like paying those employees properly. Two years ago, Kishimoto demanded $1.3 Million for new software to do human resources and payroll functions. A year ago, Kishimoto’s incompetent minions rammed full-steam ahead to implementing that new payroll system, which has never functioned properly.

The Great Payday Melee continues unabated today, and has morphed into undeniable wage theft. Employees are shorted dollars in their paychecks for many reasons, but Kishimoto couldn’t be bothered to “make the payroll on time” … and Her Three Votes on the GPS board didn’t care. “BFD,” they shrugged.

The latest GPS payroll *system failure* screwed up income taxes on top of the other many failures to pay employees properly. An email from a gal who holds three positions (GPS School Nutrition Services, Payroll Tech, NSLP Secretary) in the White Castle explained to GPS employees:

There was a system error on paychecks whose Federal Exemptions were anything but “0” (zero). For example if your Federal tax withholding is Single or Married with ‘0’ Exemptions then your paycheck contains no tax errors. If your Federal tax withholding is Single or Married with 1 or more Exemptions then an error was made, too much taxes was withheld. [No editing: Westie couldn’t make up this stuff.]

One of the new board members works with compliance issues in his day job; another has been a school district superintendent, presumably responsible for making the payroll. Perhaps these two can figure out the issues associated with failing to pay employees properly for a year … blaming it on the *software* or the *system* doesn’t count. Neither does *reorganizing business services.* Nope, can’t blame it on not having enough employees to do the job, either … the White Castle is bursting at the seams with administrative employees. Bonus points for anyone who can figure out exactly how many people are employed in the White Castle!

How long will the new board allow this to continue? Has the co-opting already begun? Here’s an alarming hint of what’s to come: in the long, long tradition of giving out awards when GPS admins feel their job security is threatened, Kishimoto has thrown a bone to the new board. From her December 16, 2016 board brief:

ASBA Conference
We had a great opportunity last week on Thursday and Friday to connect at the ASBA conference and to enjoy several sessions together. It was also great to have Jill, Charlie, Lori and Sheila attend the session on governance that I co-presented with my colleague from Buckeye Elementary School.* As we go into the new calendar year, let’s talk about the requirements from ASBA to have our governance team recognized as a Golden Award winner.

The question is, will the new board make sure GPS employees are paid on time? Paying employees all that they are owed for the work they have performed for the district is a basic administrative function. Kishimoto has failed. Worse, she created a *ticket system* to make it appear she has things under control, bragging that her new *ticket system* brought the numbers down from over 900 in August 2016. This artifice succeeds only if you believe that having 97 new tickets opened the week before December 16, 2016 is acceptable.

“There ought to be a law,” abused employees cry; fact is, there are laws about wage theft and other nefarious schemes employers use to take advantage of their employees. The public isn’t buying that GPS payroll and associated tax reporting, withholding and remittances have been a mess for the past year, but it’s no one’s fault. The public sees clearly that these aren’t *tickets* to be cavalierly dismissed … these are employees who have not been paid properly for the past year. Pay them! Asking banks to forgive GPS employee overdrafts is not sufficient.

Oh yeah, don’t forget about overtime, which has been in a mess for years, but really, since only the lowest level of support staffers are paid hourly, no one seems to have cared. Silly Jilly Humpherys already posted on Facebook that those employees have to *be patient* as they await their new minimum wage salary payments. Apparently, Silly Jilly expects them to wait for years while she tries to do the math:

Happy New Year! Best wishes for peace and prosperity in 2017! … Congrats to a number of our staff who will receive a raise due to the increase in the minimum wage. You work really hard! Please be patient and understanding as we make challenging decisions the next few years to fund those increases.

That’s marginally better than when Silly Jilly Humpherys compared GPS staff to idiots who should work at Walmart:

We’ll be looking at you, board members elected in November 2016, because that’s what Westie does.

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Big Fat Asterisk: Westie made a public records request for the documents Kishimoto used in that presentation at the ASBA conference on “Effective Governance Models.” Is it any surprise that GPS hasn’t produced those notes and slides? Business as usual under the new board? Stay tuned!

GPS Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s Secret Farewell Memo, 2016

Gilbert Public Schools logo - S.H.I.T. Happens HereAs the calendar pages of 2016 fall away, many people look back with fondness and conjure up excitement and resolutions for the new year. The superintendent of Gilbert Public Schools can’t seem to do that, because events of 2016 crashed some of her greatest dreams … dreams of her *national reputation* as a reformy public school administrator destined for *greatness* on a national stage, like the US Department of Education where John B. King, Jr., a fellow education reformer from the Bronx, managed to Peter Principle his way to the top for a short time.

Christina Kishimoto was downright melancholy when she we penned her secret elegy to Her Three Votes on the GPS governing board, likely because she is losing her BFF, former board president Lily Tram, who was kicked off the board by the unwashed masses electorate that Kishimoto so despises. 

Click here for your personal copy of Christina Kishimoto’s secret memo, which isn’t *really* from Kishimoto. It’s a parody, made up by Westie’s clever brains.
[Keyboard: Couldn’t you tell from the GPS Logo? S.H.I.T. Happens Here!]

Secret Memo to GPS Governing Board Members Lily Tram, Jill Humpherys, Charles Santa Cruz
BCC: Alex Nardone, GPS Chief of Staff
Subject: The Superintendent’s Fond Farewell to Board President Tram

Board members,

It is with exquisite sadness that we bid ado adieu to Lily Tram. Lily faithfully served my interests as your superintendent since July 2014. We’ve been through alot some interesting times together, and Lily always had my back.

Just think of all the things we could have done if it were not for those nasty women citizens making those requests for public records every time we almost pushed my agenda through! Fortunately, Lily’s well-known hatred of FOIA requests enabled me, as superintendent, to slow-walk them all and simply refuse to cough up documents that could have landed me us in trouble. And the Open Meeting Law complaints, Ay caramba!!!

I really appreciate how Lily and Jill voted to suspend the district regulation so we could get on with closing Gilbert Junior High School and give the campus to Gilbert Classical Academy. Charlie, you could have done better … your idea for a shared campus is one of the most ridiculous things anyone could have proposed, and now we’re stuck with it AND with the loudmouth GCA parents who still want more and more for their precious snowflakes.

Jill, don’t worry, I have set plans in motion for the Gifted Academy at Highland Junior High; Highland High School’s gifted academy will be next. I’m sorry it has taken so long, but I couldn’t move any faster because of the GCA mess. We’ll get some good laughs when the gifted academies poach students from GCA. ha ha

I really appreciate that Lily and Jill voted for me to become Superintendent. We all know that the whole GCA mess is due to my pinky promise to Julie about a new GCA campus, but remember, we really, really needed that third vote to hire me! I never figured out what motivated Daryl during his time on the board, and that’s probably why he was such a thorn in my side. Goodbye and good riddance to them both.

Our plan for the new $1.3 Million contract for new finance and human resources software that you approved for me in November 2014 has been wildly successful. First, I realize that I sprung that on you without warning, but I had such a wonderful idea! Second, I have managed to stretch the rollout of the payroll software through the end of 2016. That was not easy! It took a lot of doing to get rid of the support staffers who might have blown the whistle on our finance and human resources game plan, especially after my boyfriend Executive Director of Technology had to leave the district so suddenly. Whew!

We survived Steve’s sudden departure and elements now are in place for the magnificent schemes we devised. I have to laugh at how citizens tried to expose that a GPS server was wiped before former GPS superintendent Dave Allison left [so I could be hired, thanks!]. That was such child’s play in comparison to OUR magnificent scheme, but thankfully, Lily and Jill managed to keep a lid on it back then, thanks to the district’s long-time relationship with the Gilbert Police Department.

I feel I must acknowledge Lily Tram’s pivotal role in devising the Great Payday Melee — she figured out that if everyone took a two week vacation the week before we tried to run payroll on the new technology system, it would guarantee one payroll fiasco after another in 2016. This also was a great distraction from the announcement in October 2014 that the district had overspent by $15.3 Million and kept it a secret.

Lily’s experience as the ASU Director of Financial Services has been invaluable! Without her in-depth knowledge acquired as a Certified Government Financial Manager, it would have been much harder to *cook the books,* as the saying goes, especially after I didn’t get to hire my first choice as Chief Finance Officer. I know Tom Wohlleber puts you to sleep with his presentations, but that’s part of the grand scheme, because it lulls citizens into slumberland, too. Now, all we have to do is fire a few more people who work in Business Services and keep the IRS happy with the window-dressing tax report submissions Lily brainstormed for us. Thanks again, Lily!

Lily helped me come up with a plan to stem the student losses that are starting to make me look bad: Swag Bags! I will tell principals to take up collections of money from their subordinates for GPS logo items to give away in swag bags. We all know GPS teachers will go along with this plan because if they don’t contribute, their principal will rate them lower, and they’ll lose some of that taxpayer money that’s been set aside for teacher performance pay.

It still saddens my heart to think of all the projects that I could have spent those Prop 123 dollars on I could have won a lot of new friends in the construction trades if I had more money to spend on repurposing Mesquite Junior High School. Five million dollars doesn’t go as far as it used to! At least we bought buses and some vans from our pals at Santan Ford, who are so generous to the Gilbert Education Foundation.

Best wishes in the future, Lily. I’m sure your old friends at CORE Construction will miss your smiling face on the GPS dais. Maybe you can come up with some more great scams ideas to make some of those ASU employees love you … like you did for GPS!!

Love,
Christina

BCC: Alex, you know you deserve the award for Most Valuable Player. I worried a bit when your nice, persuasive talk with Charlie was picked up on a live mic and plastered all over the Internet. I’m counting on you to continue blocking the demands for new boundaries for district schools. I wouldn’t have put that item on the board’s goals for this year if I had known Lily wouldn’t carry the ball into the end zone.

PS: Work harder to scare the new board members about how they won’t be protected from lawsuits if they don’t do what the lawyers tell them to do (I’ll tell the lawyers what to say). These newbies seem to think THEY will be making decisions for the district!

GPS Superintendent Says She is *Passionate* – Others Say *Unprofessional*

Here it is, December 2016, and we can pretty much repeat a post from the year before: GPS Superintendent Christina Kishimoto gets mad, starts crying and loses control of herself at a public event. Seriously, all it takes is someone criticizing the lack of information Christina Kishimoto made available to the public and to the Gilbert Public Schools governing board before a big, expensive project is launched and BAM! her tears flow, her nose gets blown and somehow, we’re supposed to accept this as professional, adult behavior … in public. Sheeeeeesh. 

Can you imagine a CEO level employee throwing a hissy fit when the board of directors says they need more information before signing off on the CEO’s latest pet project? That’s what happened at the GPS work study session on December 6, 2016, as shown in the video clip below.  (If you don’t see the video, use this link: https://youtu.be/iM8JMu3lwQM)

Hissy fit” is used to describe an adult tantrum, but now has become an equal opportunity description, young or old, male or female. What the descriptions have in common is no matter how severe the (alleged) offense, there is always some wounded pride involved, and there is usually an audience of bystanders along with the culprit who allegedly triggered the hissy fit. In this instance, a board member’s questions triggered Kishimoto’s hissy fit, and the Internet preserved it for the world (or at least for Westie’s audience; thank you for your time and attention!).

At issue: Christina Kishimoto wants the GPS governing board to approve a massive financial outlay for a dual language school design at Gilbert Elementary School … an initiative she strong-armed to destroy the neighborhood school in order to institute a *reform* the community does not want. Christina Kishimoto’s first response is a lot of double-speak and edu-speak about *processes* in an effort to confuse the board and the audience. When that doesn’t work, she falls back on tears … *You made me cry! You’re so mean!*

Also present in her tantrum are Christina Kishimoto’s insults to the community: “The people who talked to the governing board and to me aren’t in the Gilbert Elementary School community!” Never mind that what happens in one GPS school affects every school in the district; everyone knows that. Community members are particularly upset that Christina Kishimoto’s pet school design will force students to schools outside their neighborhoods if they do not enroll in those dual language classes. People who bought houses specifically so their children could walk to the neighborhood elementary school are livid and tearful. The situation is dire for families whose children will be forced to attend different schools.

Christina Kishimoto’s public tirade was outrageous by any standard of professionalism; we’re guessing she believes GPS doesn’t have any standards that apply to her. Au contraire! Let’s start with GPS Policy CBA, Performance Responsibilities. This policy provides in detail that the superintendent’s role requires that she “Earns respect and standing among professional colleagues … Maintains poise and emotional stability in the full range of professional activities … Gains respect and support of the community on the conduct of the operation.” Do you see any of those qualities present in superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s sniveling, sniffling and crying in the video above?

This wasn’t Christina Kishimoto’s only hissy fit in recent weeks. On November 2, 2016, she represented Gilbert Public Schools at an event with a focus on teachers and what self-selected *leading executives* can do to attract and retain the best in the field. At that meeting, the audience reported they were treated to more of Kishimoto’s “It’s all about me!” histrionics as she segued into talking about how hard it is for superintendent-level folks in today’s educational environment. Once again, Christina Kishimoto seemed to be unable to use the right words, greatly diminishing her professional standing in the community.

Some of Christina Kishimoto’s reported comments at that event included her condemnation of *back slapping* that she believes is prevalent in school district castles offices. Ah, Chica, we think that word does not mean what you think it means. It’s elementary:

Back slapping is something people do in a friendly manner. Back biting might have been the word you meant to use: attacking the character or reputation, generally when the person who is being discussed is not present. Yes, that’s pretty much par for the course in Gilbert Public Schools, and much of it is aimed at you as a *leader* who is not worthy of the title, the so-called prestige and (of course) the big, fat unearned salary that you get. Maybe the word you sought was back stabbing, which would implicate the inhabitants of the GPS White Castle, who discredit you in countless ways. They know you’re a carpetbagger and a grifter, and they’re not about to tell you about relevant district history; it’s much more fun to watch as you get yourself into pickles that they, as informed persons, know to avoid.

For instance, plenty of people could have told Christina Kishimoto about the troubled history in the past few years of the dual language program at Gilbert Elementary School. Perhaps they could have shared that former Gilbert Public Schools interim superintendent Jack Keegan took corrective action after the school year started in August 2013 due to the low enrollment in the program compared to the neighborhood school classes.

After Christina Kishimoto threw her hissy fit and made assertions that were never true, members of the community circulated Superintendent Keegan’s board brief obtained through public records requests on that very issue. We helpfully uploaded the entire memo at the link above, but we offer the Cliff’s Notes version for convenience:

Jack Keegan closed down the dual language kindergarten class in August 2013 because it had only 15 students. First grade had 18 students, second and fifth grades had 15 students each. The third and fourth grade classes had only 11 students each. At the same time, the two regular first grade classes had 28 and 30 students, respectively.* “There is no rationale for that kind of disparity in our class sizes.” If the dual language program did not grow with district advertising assistance, Keegan said, “We are going to reexamine the viability of the program.”

This wasn’t the first time Christina Kishimoto reported facts to the board as she wished them to be, rather than the reality of the situation:

The Christina Corollary: *Suck it, citizens and taxpayers!*  … Christina Kishimoto gets away with making things up as she goes along.BS  The Terrible Trio laughs in the faces of the public and the two board members who don’t sit up and beg when they’re told to do so. Run along, nothing to see here… except there’s plenty more for Westie to share.

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Big Fat Asterisk: We’re not certain that the GPS superintendent chica knows the difference between the words *respectively* and *respectfully.* Sigh.

Trainwreck! Incompetent GPS Superintendent and Administrators

As the community observes the train wreck engineered by Gilbert Public Schools superintendent Christina Kishimoto and her band of carpetbaggers and scalawags filling the top level administrative jobs of the school district, people are shaking their heads at how much stupidity has been displayed just in the past couple of weeks. You would think those overpaid administrators would ensure the staff work they pass along to the governing board for approval and public viewing would be top-notch and error free. You would be wrong, at least in Gilbert Public Schools.

Westie can right only so many wrongs at once, so we’ll key in on a few illustrations of totally incompetent staff work by the GPS superintendent and her minions. The new governing board could do a lot to *reform* GPS by simply insisting on such elementary tasks as proofreading the documents these idiots  top level school district administrators ask the board to approve. Getting those Top Dogs to account for various cash funds might be more difficult. But it really, really, really needs to be done.

Let’s examine examples from the November 22, 2016 board meeting, when Christina Kishimoto already knew that her BFF Lily Tram had been thrown off the board by the electorate. First, Christina Kishimoto had to withdraw the draft of Policy DBI that her staff had prepared for approval at this meeting. Kishimoto said there was “a line missing” in the text of the new policy she recommended. In the real world, a superintendent or CEO would not have allowed such sloppy staff work to reach the level for board approval and public exposure. That humiliating public withdrawal of a defective recommendation wouldn’t be such a big deal if it were not repeating history. Way back in GPS history (that would be June 2016), Christina Kishimoto had done the same thing on a larger scale by recommending 19 existing district policies be revised and 12 new policies be approved in spite of a glaring lack of even a cursory proofreading of those documents.

A member of the public actually READ those policies and discovered a campaign of deceit orchestrated to beguile the board into glossing over a bunch of sloppy bullsh*t at the June 21, 2016 policy committee meeting. Then, at the June 28, 2016, the GPS governing board approved those I-series policies. Sheeeeesh. They expected no one would ever notice and no one would ever care. Extra credit to eagle-eyed readers who spot the *amazing coincidence* that Kishimoto’s Three Rubber Stamp voters also approved a new three year contract for this incompetent superintendent that same night!

Circling back to the November 22, 2016 GPS board meeting, Christina Kishimoto buried seriously defective documents within the consent agenda, apparently believing that board members would never even look at them. Her bet paid off, and the board approved those 22 PTSO applications. Some of the deficiencies, errors and stupid mistakes in those documents include:

In case you think this might be hyper technical and not worth addressing, the fact of the matter is that these organizations can be sued and some GPS parent support organizations have been sued along with the district. Shoddy staff work and illegitimate registrations easily can become a nightmare for well-intentioned parents; board members who don’t reign in the staff could be in for a rough ride even if The Trust defends them.

Then there’s the matter of six figure dollar amounts that pass through the GPS parent support organizations. How much easier it would be to *pilfer* a bit here and there when no one actually oversees the organization and its finances! But a big risk lurks: nonprofit or charitable organizations that don’t operate within the law can lose their charitable tax status. In that case, the officers can be held responsible for taxes that should have been paid, among other penalties that can be levied by government agencies.

Sloppy staff work by incompetent administrators puts a lot of volunteers at legal and financial risk. A good case could be made that the sloppy staff work is a feature, not a bug, hiding nefarious or even criminal conduct. PTSOs and booster clubs: take a look at your financials. Betcha there are large sums that cannot be found! 

The situation actually is a lot worse than it seems: even greater sums of money pass through student activity accounts: MANY HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS! Parents pay an incredible amount of money for district fees for classes and extracurricular activities. That money is not very well controlled, either. For example, if you pay by credit card (high school parents can do this) the district apparently sends that money into the general fund rather than crediting it properly to the appropriate fund. What’s a hundred dollars here, two hundred dollars there to someone like Silly Jilly Humpherys who thinks $100,000 is not much money?

Westie has been hearing for several years about the huge sums of cash that float around campuses in Gilbert Public Schools. Maybe the new board will take their responsibilities seriously … for heaven’s sake, don’t elect Jill Humpherys clerk! Her two year tenure as clerk of the board has been marked by little to no oversight of GPS spending.

Reading some of the audit reports of school districts in Arizona, we’re struck by how people ultimately were held accountable (indicted) for wrongdoingSome of the things we found sound a lot like what has been going on in Gilbert Public Schools. Some are similar to things we reported as whistleblowers; others are similar to things still going on in GPS at the district level and on campuses. In Red Mesa School District, the top two in the superintendency enriched themselves from public funds (six figure enrichment for each) and then the board joined in to obstruct the investigation!

New board members, you simply must hold Christina Kishimoto accountable for inexcusable and egregious errors. As far as Westie can remember, the GPS board had never been asked to *suspend* an existing policy in order to violate state law, but Christina Kishimoto recommended the board suspend policy so she could get on with closing Gilbert Junior High School. That fiasco should serve as a canary in a coal mine for you new folks: there’s danger ahead! Parent support organizations and student activity funds need serious attention … immediately!

The New GPS Board Should Call for a Do-Over of Kishimoto’s Contract Renewal

As 2016 winds down, and the current president of the Gilbert Public Schools governing board prepares to decamp after her bid for reelection was decisively defeated by voters, GPS Top Dogs have descended to new depths of depravity. The *Superintendent Evaluation Instrument and Performance Pay Measures and Weights* were approved at the November 22, 2016 board meeting, but the public is not allowed to see this document. Secrecy and the rush to get this done before the new board is seated combined to raise distrust and rancor to new heights, especially considering that Christina Kishimoto’s contract had been suspiciously renewed just months before.

Anything having to do with Christina Kishimoto’s on-the-job performance now is locked away, out of public view. The rubber stamp GPS governing board doesn’t want you to know how much their rogue superintendent collects in annual performance pay, let alone allow the public to glimpse how they decide to give all that money to her. Never mind that there’s a really big chunk of taxpayer money tied to the superintendent’s annual evaluation. The sum is most likely five figures, but taxpayers who provide those funds are kept in the dark. If you have a question, like, “Is this five-figure bonus ON TOP OF Christina Kishimoto’s outrageous annual salary and benefits package?” the answer is, “You can’t handle the truth.” Or something like that.

The new board that will be seated in January 2017 could decide that since there is a GPS policy and exhibit that covers the superintendent’s evaluation in great detail, the top-secret *executive content* evaluation instrument should be declassified for public perusal … because the exhibit to the GPS policy is a public document. That would make a lot of sense, because *executive content* is NOT a category of public records that is protected from disclosure by Arizona public records laws. GPS has cited *executive content* in refusing to provide public records to the public, but it wasn’t lawful then and it isn’t lawful now.

New board members: Heads up, you’re going to have a lot of questions to answer about public records that GPS has been withholding to keep some Top Dog *dastardly deeds* and factual misstatements under wraps. You, too, will be considered intellectually incapable of handling the truth.

GPS Policy CBI allows a lot of secrecy in evaluating the superintendent. It’s really unfair that members of the public have demanded complete personnel files of many GPS employees, including their evaluations, and the district produced them all as public records. The superintendent is treated differently. Her evaluations are secret … probably because her poor evaluations led to being fired from her last job. That Hartford board was full of meanies! Maybe Christina Kishimoto will start crying … again … if she thinks new GPS board members are being big ole meanies when they perform their duties of oversight. Heaven knows, Christina Kishimoto’s rubber stamp board members contorted themselves into pretzels to avoid seeing what was right in front of them, ethically speaking.

Westie to GPS Top Dogs: We dare you to claim that GPS has not provided those personnel files and evaluations as public records to various requestors on numerous occasions. Bring it!

Westie to New GPS Board Members: Of course we’ll share the public records that prove this claim!

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto has unclean hands in this travesty … she was not only fully complicit in the back-room maneuvering, she used her power as the top administrative officer in the school district to enrich herself. Self-dealing is forbidden for persons who control public funds. Christina Kishimoto’s role in extending her contract can be explained by hubris:

Hubris denotes overconfident pride and arrogance. Hubris is often associated with a lack of humility. Sometimes a person’s hubris is also associated with a lack of knowledge.The accusation of hubris often implies that suffering or punishment will follow, similar to the occasional pairing of hubris and nemesis in Greek mythology.
… in his two-volume biography of Adolf Hitler, historian Ian Kershaw uses both ‘hubris’ and ‘nemesis’ as titles. The first volume, Hubris, describes Hitler’s early life and rise to political power.

When have we seen hubris and this exact GPS power play in the past? Just like what happened in June 2016, former GPS superintendent Dave Allison had his contract renewed in a similar smoke-filled-back-room, take-it-or-leave-it demand on October 26, 2010, just before the election in November 2010 that put Staci Burk and Shane Stapley on the GPS Governing Board. It’s no accident that GPS Policy CBI was last revised on November 23, 2010, after Burk and Stapley were elected, but before they took their seats on the board. It’s also worth telling the GPS scalawags that Dave Allison was denied his performance bonus just three days before the board accepted his resignation. Here’s a key fact: student achievement did not factor into the superintendent’s bonus back then. What do you bet that a big factor in all the secrecy about Christina Kishimoto’s standards of evaluation is that she is not held accountable for student achievement? Just pay her and be done with it, right?

That sleazy 2010 contract renewal maneuver for Dave Allison was widely condemned by the public, and most likely influenced the 2010 election. Tram and her 2016 political stunt were equally reviled by taxpayers; it’s apparent that consequences have begun and can be expected to multiply and metastasize. We all know that the contract extension period was incredibly painful for Dave Allison, because his abuses of his public office were disclosed to the public. It was not pretty. From the Arizona Republic:

The Gilbert Public Schools governing board on Thursday unanimously accepted Superintendent Dave Allison’s decision to retire June 30 after a tenure that was rocky at times, marred by criticism of some parents and community activists who claimed poor management and lack of financial transparency.

Contemporaneous commentary from Westie:

Contrary to the wishes of many ill-wishers in the district, the board once again acted correctly, in this case following district policy by reviewing the status of Superintendent Allison’s employment before January 31, 2013:  “The current board met Tuesday night [January 29th] in a 90-minute executive session to discuss Allison’s contract. District policy dictated that they needed to decide whether to renew his contract by the end of January. Tuesday night they postponed the vote until Thursday night [January 31st].”

Let’s look at GPS Policy CBI, which was lauded in 2013 and was intrinsically intertwined with hiring Christina Kishimoto in March 2014: On or before the end of January, the board shall offer a contract for the next school year to the superintendent if the administrative contract is in its last year, unless the board gives notice to the superintendent of the board’s intention not to offer a new administrative contract.

GPS Policy CBI is very helpfully accompanied by an exhibit, CBI-E, which consists of … wait for it … the superintendent’s evaluation form! The title of the evaluation form that is presently online, CBI-E 2015, is unequivocal evidence that Christina Kishimoto and her Rubber Stamp Board must have reviewed this policy within her first year of employment. But there’s more!

In the metadata of the document, the date last modified is June 18, 2016 at 16:12:06 GMT… just before the June 28, 2016 GPS board meeting where Christina Kishimoto’s new three year contract was prematurely approved. We all know that GPS often *disappears* evidence that might get Top Dogs into trouble, so we very helpfully saved an image of the online exhibit with its metadata.

If there is a written evaluation for the superintendent, it is a public record, just like it is for other GPS employees. What do you want to bet that the Rubber Stamp Board NEVER put it in writing to preclude public scrutiny?

What we have right now in GPS is a lame-duck governing board that made critical decisions for those board members who will work with this rogue superintendent for the next three years. What if those decisions were not made lawfully?

The fact that Kishimoto and Tram colluded to renew the superintendent’s contract outside of the explicit provisions of GPS policy gives the new board more than enough reason to call for a do-over. They can do this within the time limit contained within the policy: on or before the end of January. To do that, the new board will have to be proactive about electing a new board president, setting the date of a public meeting and executive session and holding said meeting on or before the end of January. There’s no time to waste.

New board members, you have evidence at your fingertips that the board did not have independent legal advice before voting to give Christina Kishimoto a new contract. The board did not have their own lawyer … actually, the board had no input into the contract itself, because Christina Kishimoto negotiated with herself and told the board to sign what she had come up with! Self-dealing with public money is a subject we’ll be visiting many times in 2017. Pinky promise.

Kishimoto told the board on Monday that she wanted this contract approved on Tuesday night. Christina Kishimoto dictated the terms. Julie Smith tried to table the agenda item so the board could discuss certain terms of the dictated contract, but alas, that failed on a typical 3-2 vote.

Here’s the crux of the collusion between Kishimoto and Tram: the premature three year employment contract guarantees that Christina Kishimoto will be able to cash in on her GPS employment with big bucks from ASRS: “Members can retire with a lifetime benefit as early as age 50 once they have acquired 5 years of service credits.” Note that this illegitimate employment contract puts Christina Kishimoto at exactly the right spot to cash in. This big fat slurpy kiss from outgoing GPS board president Lily Tram will cushion Christina Kishimoto’s retirement for the rest of her life. Without that contract, Christina Kishimoto might have been required to actually do her job to acceptable standards.

It’s really inconvenient for the lame-duck GPS governing board that a board member enshrined this travesty in the public record, documenting that the lawyer that Kishimoto provided to *answer legal questions* was there to tell the board that the contract was a legal contract. The lame-duck board, with Christina Kishimoto’s three rubber stamp votes, was not allowed to discuss the terms of the contract the superintendent and the lawyer put in front of them. They were not allowed to even consider negotiating or even discussing the provisions of the employment contract.

Fortunately, there is a video archive of this entire board meeting, which Westie helpfully archived on a non-GPS server, just in case the Top Dogs once again destroy a video because it proves what actually happened. Watch Julie Smith explain how the board was treated during the executive session before the vote to renew Christina Kishimoto’s contract and the usual 3-2 vote that followed.

Here’s hoping that the newly elected board that will be seated in January 2017 will be more than just a rubber stamp for superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s ridiculous and irresponsible management of a once-stellar, A-rated public school district. New board members will have an opportunity to respond to the community … who threw Lily Tram off the GPS governing board for stunts such as this.

Kishimoto Replies to Public Uproar, but It’s Too Late, Baby, Now It’s Too Late*

Superintendent Christina KishimotoSuperintendent Christina Kishimoto’s death-grip on school design has caused collateral damage in what once was famous as an A-rated district. Who would have thought that Gilbert Public Schools would set out to engineer race and national origin discrimination against Hispanic students on the west side of the district? She has done it before and she’s doing it again. The public sees clearly how Christina Kishimoto’s school design philosophy works: starve the targeted schools you want to reform, then claim victory when you reform that school. 

Citizens have discovered that Christina Kishimoto made a decision that was not hers to make, and now she’s trying to stuff that toothpaste back into the tube. A comment on social media explains the community’s perspective:

The program is already in place, no need to go school wide when there’s been no driving force behind magnetizing schools other than Kishimoto. The program isn’t the problem. The blatant disregard for anyone but herself is the problem. The lying is the problem. The deception is the problem.

From her defensive crouch, Christina Kishimoto tried to build support for her failing initiative. She sent a Staff Brief to all GPS employees on November 16, 2016. Click here or on the image below to open an enlarged copy of Kishimoto’s letter to employees (you may be able to click the enlarged image in the new window to enlarge it further). We’ll continue our comments below the image, giving you time to read the letter.

Click to enlarge

From Kishimoto’s letter: “First, approximately $500,000 of Site Improvement Funds were transitioned from District Office oversight, to school-based oversight. This empowered Principals to make their own decisions about the professional development offerings that they want to provide to their staff.”

The response of Westie’s birdies: “That’s a LOT of catered meals that principals now can give out!” Right on, birdies! Those principals will follow the example of their boss, the superintendent, who gives out catered meals at taxpayer expense at every opportunity. Kishimoto must have made a promise to herself to not buy a single meal when she can pay with GPS funds, not only for herself, but also for her *friends* on the governing board and in her cabinet. Sheeeeeesh.

Finally, Kishimoto’s closing statement is really out of whack: “We will be the district of first choice for parents and students and be the premier public education system of the State of Arizona!” Sure. <eye roll> Girlfriend, GPS USED TO BE the district everyone wanted their kids to enroll in AND the district everyone wanted to work in. That was before you got here. You took a district with moderately declining enrollment and made the decline an across-the-board reality in your first two years, losing thousands more students and hundreds of staff. But we’re intrigued by your hint that your aspirations are now circumscribed to the state of Arizona, not the entire nation, as in the past. Maybe that was just a slip of the tongue caused by *unexpected* election results. IOW, your candidates lost across the board and now your future isn’t quite as bright as you thought it would be.

The rest of this post wrote itself. Once again, Westie shares social media comments made by this newly engaged citizenry reacting to the dual language school design that Christina Kishimoto imposed on Gilbert Elementary School, one of the aforementioned schools with a large Hispanic enrollment. Let’s start with boundary review, a subject that has become critical because it is the basis for the lopsided student enrollment pattern that is now a crisis for GPS:

Here’s part of the reply I got from Christina Kishimoto: “We don’t have “magnet” schools in GPS, but this will be a theme-based school that will continue to serve neighborhood students and continue to allow the current practice already in place to allow any open seats to go to students beyond the neighborhood or even beyond district boundaries. Families who do not want this particular model will continue to have the option to apply for open seats in other schools. There is a current discussion in progress to think about a broader boundary to include multiple schools rather than defining a boundary around a single school. That work is in conversation at the school level and has not yet been proposed to the board.”
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Parents spoke at both public forums asking for boundaries to be reviewed and changed. Were told by Charlie Santa Cruz and Lily Tram that boundaries would be done this year. Even Charlie Santa Cruz said after the vote in April, that boundaries would be done. Nope. Every report regarding MJHS/GCA says boundaries need to be addressed to protect MHS and the schools on the west side of the district. Boundaries have been on the strategic plan since 2013. This is not a new concern. The fact that GPS now claims to just now be hearing about boundaries is so frustrating!
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Dr. K’s new excuse is that she wants to implement these school designs first. That will push kids who don’t want these programs into other schools. Then she wants to wait for enrollment to “stabilize” before boundaries are addressed.
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The community is rightly enraged that GPS, under the *leadership* of Christina Kishimoto, is usurping the duties that Arizona law reserves to the GPS governing board. Westie snarkily warned about this back in January 2016 as Kishimoto unveiled her plan to destroy a junior high school on the western edge of the district and give the campus to Gilbert Classical Academy:

Isn’t it a good thing that GPS has spent thousands of dollars buying new software to help the superintendency decide where the new boundaries will go? Once you start changing the junior high school boundaries to give the entitled personages at Gilbert Classical Academy a new campus, who knows where it will end?

The fondest hope of a newly engaged GPS citizenry is that Christina Kishimoto claims victory and rides off into the sunset sooner rather than later.

This isn’t the first time that something has been implemented without (before) board approval. There’s a long list! Like ALP and SpEd teachers who were told that they didn’t have a job any more BEFORE the board voted on the budget that cut those programs. Like a board member telling me that Chomebooks were a “done deal” a full month before the first board vote to approve their purchase. Like School Councils being formed and members of those committees being asked to sign district-provided bylaws months before the board approved the purpose of those committees (BTW, the bylaws I signed don’t align with what the board ended up approving). Many more examples. This is just how Kishimoto works. Cram something through and ask for board approval later. She needs to be stopped. She’s destroying our schools and we’re losing students and GREAT staff because of her.
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The issue here is that the administration hasn’t brought on board the parents whose children aren’t currently in the program. Gilbert El is a community school, and they deserve to have a voice. We have seen backlash kill the best laid plans in this district. I say properly market the existing program. Allow it to grow naturally. But don’t send students and staff to other schools if they are not on board for the program. This been in place for nearly 20 years. Clearly there is a following interested in it.

A person inside Gilbert Elementary School, one whose voice has been silenced by the Top Dogs of the district, sounded an alarm. What’s new is the revelation that the curriculum already has been bought. GPS now has the problem of attracting teachers for this cart-before-the-horse reform:

What is being presented now is not a true dual language program. It is a watering down of the program. Children need to learn to read in their native language. At Gilbert El, we had native Spanish speakers and native English speakers. It can only be called dual language if you have that. Otherwise, it is a Spanish immersion program.

We had some students who could not function in this program for various reasons. So we would move them out into “traditional” classrooms. It was not a program for children who have IEP’s etc. In the early 2000’s, the state of Arizona passed an anti bilingual bill which made it difficult for us to have Spanish speakers in this program.

The biggest difficulty was that once a child left the program, we couldn’t replace them in later grades because they couldn’t all of a sudden be able to learn in Spanish, leaving our 4th- 6th grades groups undersized.

I always appreciated that the District supported this program. But it is not for every child. I believe in it so much but it needs to be a choice and the District needs to support it in that way.

Curriculum has to be purchased in both languages and it is costly. And teachers are hard to find. I absolutely support this as a choice, but not as a mandate. I think it could be marketed and grown by the District, but it should never be the only option.”

Some citizens offer advice to Kishimoto and to the board:

We should be concerned because if you do the research on these “portfolio districts,” they are not overwhelmingly successful. We as a district should not be offering more of the same. We are NOT charters and we should be proud of that. GPS has been so special and so successful because we are neighborhood schools in a town founded on welcoming, safe, connected neighborhoods. We are why most families chose Gilbert. That’s what we need to capitalize on.

You want innovation? Have our graphic design students and social media expert students running our website, managing our social media. Have our kids who want a future in sustainable agriculture or animal medicine partnering with our local farmers and ranchers. Develop 7-day-a-week community school centers; research those. Build exciting programs. Don’t fix something that isn’t broken with already-failed reform strategies.

A former board member offers valuable insight to newly elected board members:

No one on this social media thread is questioning the value of the Gilbert Elementary program. In fact, since its began around 20 years ago, those of us on the GPS school board at that time welcomed it with open arms when it was established by the amazing principal Sheila Shannon Rogers as a fantastic option for kids on the Gilbert El campus and throughout the district. We all celebrated the diverse cultures and opportunities it affords students on that campus, as has every board since that time.

The issues are that the community has had little to no opportunity to give input about expanding the dual language program school wide, and the administration is trying to push it through although there is no data to support the expansion. Matter of fact, although everyone still wants to keep the optional program there, in reality the data from the numbers demonstrate that enrollment in the program has been declining.

It is to be hoped that the current governing board will slow down the process, question whether correct procedures have been followed in this process and take a good look at the facts before blindly following administration recommendations to try to rush it through before the new board is seated.

Coincidentally or not, the same Sheila Shannon Rogers mentioned above was just elected to a seat on the governing board and Lily Tram was dumped.  #SaveOurNeighborhoodSchools

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*Big Fat Asterisk: It’s too late, baby, now it’s too late. All hail the fabulous Carole King!

Christina Kishimoto Denies Her Staff Admitted GPS Is Being Investigated

GPS Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and CFO Tom WohlleberChristina Kishimoto wants the Governing Board of Gilbert Public Schools to believe that her flunkie, Chief Financial Officer Tom Wohlleber, actually did not say what he said at the October 2016 GPS board meeting. Christina Kishimoto is trying to deny that there is ANOTHER investigation into GPS shenanigans at the White Castle. The reality seems to be that federal funds are involved, so the district’s go-to lawyers might not be able to use their friendships with the Arizona Attorney General staff to sweep things under the carpet. Wooo hooo! Let the finger-pointing begin! 

RESPONSE TO BOARD QUESTION
[from Christina Kishimoto]

E-Rate, WAN and RFP Process

On Tuesday October 25, at your monthly Board business meeting, when we were presenting on the quarterly financial report, Mrs. Smith asked Mr. Wohlleber about a complaint against the district and the subsequent investigation indicating that she understood that there was an issue with the bidding process of our recent new telecommunications contract {Cox Communications} and that the district most likely would lose e-Rate funds. Mrs. Smith wanted to know if this was true. She additionally asked when I as Superintendent was intending to notify the Board of this complaint. Neither I, nor Tom Wohlleber, nor Jon Castelhano, could answer this question since we were not aware of any filings or claims.

On Wednesday and Thursday I met with my team and reviewed our records, and I have verified that there is no such claim filed against the district challenging our award to Cox Communications nor a challenge to our E-Rate funds.

The only request that we have received is a request for information from Century Link – who did not receive the award. Such requests after a bidding process are standard practice.

Century Link has requested procurement records related to the WAN RFP for the purpose of, and I quote from Century Link, “In no way will this information be used to protest the award; CenturyLink is only interested in understanding how it can become more competitive in the future.”

Now watch the video of CFO Tom Wohlleber answering Julie Smith’s question by saying, “It’s just an inquiry at this point.” We call that hairsplitting, quibbling and evasion to avoid saying the word “investigation,” but nevertheless, it is an admission that someone or some agency has been *inquiring* about GPS E-Rate matters. Unsurprisingly, Wohlleber’s admission was followed by superintendent Christina Kishimoto scolding a GPS board member for having this conversation in public.  Egads, the public might find out GPS is in trouble again! <sarcasm>

Brief transcript:

Julie Smith: I have a question about the cash control fund, E-Rate. … Given the complaint against the district and the subsequent investigation, finding that there is an issue with the bidding process of our recent telecommunications person that we’re switching over to, that the district will most likely lose this fund for possibly up to the next five years. Is that true?
00:30  Tom Wohlleber: I’m not aware that, that, that the bidding process. It may have some impact at some point if it’s decided that the procurement process needs to be redone as part of that. As far as I’m aware it’s an inquiry at this point, an inquiry as to the bidding process and we will provide them that information through this process…
2:55  Julie Smith (turns to Christina Kishimoto) Please try to keep the board abreast instead of a member of the community, through a public records, you know, alerting, I would appreciate, because I was very concerned and had questions about this presentation and how it may impact the budget.
3:18  Christina Kishimoto:
I do provide everything the Friday before or the Thursday before to the board, so we can actually have this conversation before it is published to the public.

How in the world could Christina Kishimoto VERIFY that there is no claim filed? Answer: she can’t. If you read carefully, she merely said “no such claim filed against the district challenging our award to Cox Communications nor a challenge to our E-Rate funds.” Maybe Kishimoto means that there hasn’t been a Notice of Claim filed against GPS. That’s not saying much, but board president Lily Tram has stated in the past that the board won’t take any action on a complaint unless the complainant files a Notice of Claim. Both Kishimoto and Tram seem to be very fond of the expression, “So sue me.” Maybe they just don’t understand that citizens have resources other than filing a civil lawsuit when their frustrations boil over because GPS refuses to follow the law.

Fortunately for the public, and for taxpayers in Gilbert, Arizona, there are people in the community who know a lot about the ways in which the GPS administration flouts laws and commits such things as mismanagement of funds, conflict of interest, self-dealing and abuse of public office. Persons who know about the federal E-Rate program have dropped hints that there may be different complaint(s) than the bid rigging complaint that GPS CFO Tom Wohlleber mentioned. How all five board members could “have this conversation” with the superintendent without violating AZ Open Meeting Laws is another concern. But this is GPS, and Christina Kishimoto could give a flying flip about such things as following OML when she wants to talk about laws that GPS may or may not have broken. Sheeeeeeeesh.

Does it appear to you, a reasonable person, that nothing is going on with respect to GPS and E-Rate and inquiries or investigations? There’s an inconvenient procedural history of federal investigations under the False Claims Act: according to federal officials, “The complaint is sealed during the investigation so the government can build its case and consider civil penalties or criminal charges.” If investigators have been making *inquiries* that GPS top level administrators like Tom Wohlleber admit, what are the chances those investigators might be talking to people who know what actually goes on in the White Castle? Any bets as to whether investigators may have discovered *interesting* documents regarding the former GPS employee with whom Christina Kishimoto was engaged in an *alleged* inappropriate relationship? Kishimoto’s rationalization just begs so many questions!

That other E-Rate complaint, apparently, might be something more along the lines of what went down in the Tucson Unified School District a few years ago. 

In March 2004, two TUSD Technology and Telecommunication Services (TTS) employees independently called the federal whistle-blower hotline, concerned with how district officials planned to use the federal funds they were seeking … a federal statute called the False Claims Act lets anyone who discovers fraud involving federal funds file a civil complaint. The complaint is sealed during the investigation so the government can build its case and consider civil penalties or criminal charges.

2005 audit of TUSD, by Heinfeld, Meech & Co., TUSD’s auditors, found that the 2004 E-Rate application was handled by TTS, not TUSD’s purchasing department, and, therefore, wasn’t subject to proper oversight. The report also stated that TTS had few records of its 2004 E-Rate application. The audit said the problems didn’t merit notifying federal officials, but it recommended a significant policy change. It could be months, if not years, before the federal and state investigations conclude.

It is essential that board members, elected officials charged with actually EDUCATING STUDENTS, actually KNOW what top level administrators are doing. Apparently, board member Julie Smith asked the question in public because the superintendent wouldn’t answer it in private. Newly elected GPS board members could be in for nasty surprises after drinking a superintendent’s Kool-Aid, just as the TUSD board member was surprised about the E-Rate investigation:

Until contacted for this story, TUSD Governing Board member Judy Burns said she’d only heard rumors of a federal investigation. “The district is going to suffer and the students in class will suffer for not doing this in a legitimate, businesslike way,” she said.

That TUSD E-Rate investigation did indeed drag on for years. In 2006, TUSD officials requested that the Attorney General investigate the district’s procurement of technology and E-Rate consulting services.  In 2008, that investigation expanded to include an examination of TUSD’s procurement of interactive white boards. Old timers (like Westie, but not the current top level inhabitants of the White Castle) remember that GPS was involved with the same white board vendor, and allegedly participated in the same conduct that the AZ Attorney General cited in a lawsuit against TUSD. Finally, on January 29, 2009, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard announced a settlement with TUSD. The public deserves to have confidence that our public officials and employees are careful stewards of the public funds entrusted to them,” Goddard said.  “School districts and vendors who circumvent procurement requirements harm competition and violate the trust of our citizens.”  Note this was a CIVIL suit, not criminal charges, which might have been pursued separately. Also, the agency administering E-Rate contacted at least 190 applicants in at least 27 states who applied for funding on services provided by the vendors involved in the TUSD investigation.

As posted on social media, citizens of Gilbert have very definite opinions about the ridiculous antics within the GPS top levels of administration and they most definitely believe the public trust has been violated. The following post was prompted by ousted board president Tram’s claims that she balanced the GPS budget:

The current board balanced the budget by breaking the law. They will soon be served yet another subpoena for Mismanagement of Federal Funds. That was the one they were expecting at the last meeting. They were instead served a subpoena for a Civil Rights Violation. There is also the bid rigging charge in a case with Century Link & Cox. She shouldn’t be proud of balancing the budget by breaking multiple laws.

Actually, GPS was served with yet another civil rights LAWSUIT at the October board meeting. Just before that board meeting, Christina Kishimoto informed the board of two active complaints with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, both related to Special Education services. Apparently, Christina Kishimoto negotiated a settlement with OCR in one of the cases for “an approved plan for targeted teacher training around particular special education support mandates.” Kishimoto further informed the board, “OCR is also going to review our GPS policies and make recommendations for language clarification; this is a process that we have worked on with them in the past. In summary, this is a good outcome for our high school complaint. The complaint at the Junior High level is still at the investigation level and we will work hand in hand with OCR.”

You can’t help but wonder, how long was all this going on before Christina Kishimoto decided to inform the board? Recall that former superintendent Dave Allison once signed a consent agreement with OCR without the board’s knowledge … that dastardly deed came to light via public records, of course. Sheeeeesh.

Don’t you think these shenanigans put a new perspective on Julie Smith’s suggestion that Christina Kishimoto inform the board of investigations before constituents start delving into public records? Apparently, there were investigations other than the E-Rate *inquiry* that the board didn’t know about as they occurred. New board members should get used to hearing educrat double-speak rather than responsive answers to their questions. In other words, superintendent Christina Kishimoto is desperate: “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” Westie explains this for Silly Jilly Humpherys’ benefit:

** You could use that phrase to mean the jig is up. You figured out that the magic is just smoke and mirrors? Well, maybe I’ll tell you to pay no attention to that man behind the curtain, even though I know I can’t really hide the truth from you any longer.
** People use others as puppets, manipulating and such. And others try to make themselves look bigger and better than they really are.
** Frank Baum understood that people are often motivated by fear and the perceived authority of others. Through simple manipulation of minds, and the twisting of moral right and wrong, the wizard convinced three weary travelers to commit murder, and the subsequent theft of the property of the “Wicked Witch” to win favor.

It’s too bad that that GPS destroyed the Livestream video of the September board meeting in a thinly veiled attempt to provide Lily Tram some deniability for her comments that GPS teachers already make enough money. It would now be a whole lot better for Christina Kishimoto if GPS could now destroy the videos of the October board meeting … except that The Westies just happened to record the October board meeting in case more video archives went missing.*

So superintendent Christina Kishimoto is stuck, and newly elected board members must decide who they are going to believe: Christina Kishimoto or their own lying eyes and ears and video archive of the October board meeting? Newly elected board members should also get used to the time-honored GPS Mushroom Treatment, as cogently explained by a former GPS board member:

What the heck is the “Mushroom Effect?”  First introduced to the term by a teacher who himself had heard the term from another teacher as far back as the 1980’s (so it’s been going on for some time now).  It goes like this … speaking of how district administration handles school board members … “They are ‘kept in the dark and fed a bunch of crap.’”  And so it is!

I can tell you with undeniable certainty that at certain times, top district officials “circle the wagons to get their story straight” and deliberately seek to mislead board members either by leaving out important facts, or burying them in mountains of info on other matters.  Everything runs so much smoother if you don’t give board members enough information to begin asking questions.  Cultivate board members who are willing to smile for the camera and represent the district in the best light… even support board members who currently work in education, whose resume benefits from being a board member in one of the most prestigious districts in the state … give those members The Mushroom Treatment and the effect pays off.

GPS is in a bigger mess than Christina Kishimoto will admit. That’s probably because she is acutely aware that her *national reputation* is at stake. We’d prefer a superintendent who does the job of actually managing the school district, but what do we know?

We can hardly wait to hear more at the November board meeting!  #SaveOurNeighborhoodSchools

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Big Fat Asterisk: October 2016 was the first board meeting the Westies have attended since June 2012. Nevertheless, Christina Kishimoto perjured herself in court by insinuating, in January 2015, that the Westies were responsible for unruly board meeting behaviors since she became superintendent. Kishimoto made a lot of other allegations that easily were provable as false, which are preserved on the audio recording of her court hearing. Luckily, the judge denied the request for a temporary restraining order. Otherwise, the Westies would have had a full-fledged court hearing to prove Christina Kishimoto’s lies … in public.  In retrospect, that would have been a much better outcome for the taxpayers of Gilbert, Arizona who are now paying the price for Kishimoto’s profligate spending and continuing lawlessness. Pay attention, newly elected board members!


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