GPS Gets Sued in Federal Court for Discriminatory Hiring Practices

Here’s a wild prediction: the GPS governing board is going to be asked to approve Christina Kishimoto’s selected acolyte to be principal of Highland Junior High School. That’s not too much of a stretch: the position was open for applications for quite a long time, there’s an unusual situation with an interim principal and the job announcement disappeared from GPS job listings online. Westie’s going to take bets, though, on whether or not the GPS governing board has been told that the district is in the middle of yet another discrimination lawsuit, this time about hiring practices that center on Highland Junior High School. What a coincidence!

Today’s post is about GPS being a defendant in federal court AGAIN; you can read the Complaint here. It’s another nasty story about GPS Top Dogs behaving like they’re Masters of the Universe. There is lore about the famous GPS Loose Zipper Brigade. Those administrators are just Legends in their Own Minds, including Christina Kishimoto, and they’re going to be mad as hell with Westie for spilling the beans. Mind you, they’re not necessarily mad at themselves for the morals and ethics they display in their employment with the district, they only care when they get caught with their zippers down engaging in behavior that violates district policies. We all know those administrators don’t give a flying flip about laws.

HEY NEW BOARD MEMBERS: it’s not difficult to know about all the lawsuits in which GPS is a defendant. All it takes is a PACER account for federal court cases and a survey of lawsuits listed in the Maricopa Superior Court for state law litigation. You probably thought the GPS superintendent would tell you about important matters like GPS being sued or being investigated by federal agencies. As usual, you might have been wrong in expecting professionalism from GPS Top Dogs.

Historically, GPS superintendents have not liked it when board members know about litigation, or inquiries from the Federal Government, such as Department of Justice or the Office for Civil Rights or the Internal Revenue Service. But litigation against GPS is happening again. This time you new board members might have a chance to head off a major complication for GPS defense, especially if it’s the same illegal behavior that brought the EEOC into the picture several years ago. What are the chances that GPS current hiring practices are clean as a whistle? When was the last time the superintendent’s hands were clean?

Christina Kishimoto appears to be doing the same stupid stuff that got the district in trouble with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and led to this lawsuit. The EEOC told the district they were violating civil rights laws. The EEOC investigated charges of age and sex discrimination and found probable cause to believe that GPS violated federal laws. Worse, the EEOC investigated and determined that the GPS administration engaged in retaliation after the charges were filed with the EEOC. Some of this happened during Christina Kishimoto’s reign as superintendent; board members need to know if the same behavior continues today. They won’t find out by just asking the superintendent.

You would think that GPS superintendent Christina Kishimoto would be following GPS policies and federal civil rights laws TO THE LETTER as she hires new employees, knowing that the district is defending this civil rights lawsuit about illegal hiring practices. You could be wrong. But don’t take it from Westie, new board members. Don’t accept Christina Kishimoto’s usual double-speak and rationalizations about what is happening in GPS right now. You’ve already been burned by the superintendent’s pattern and practice of untruthfulness, even when you asked her a direct question. The community has eyes and ears, so we all know.

Salient facts in the complaint that started this lawsuit sound nasty, but all too familiar:

84. On or about September 11, 2015, the EEOC, after considering all the evidence obtained during its investigation, found that there is reasonable cause to believe that Gilbert Public Schools violated Title VII when it did not select McCoy and other applicants because of their age and/or sex.

85. On or about July 27, 2015 McCoy was contacted by the EEOC and asked to file an amended charge with the EEOC including Title VII sex discrimination and retaliation, Charge No. 540-2013-00755, alleging that GPS, among other things, violated Title VII when it retaliated against her for filing EEOC charges.

86. In EEOC Charge No. 540-2013-00755, McCoy alleged the retaliation consisted of: not allowing her to participate in recruitment and selection of employees; shunning her from sitting on various committees; denying her the opportunity to compete and be interviewed for available Principal positions; and issuing her a poor performance evaluation.

87. On or about September 11, 2015, the EEOC, after considering all the evidence obtained during its investigation, found that there is reasonable cause to believe that Gilbert Public Schools violated Title VII when it retaliated against McCoy for engaging in protected activity by denying her the opportunity to compete and be considered for available Principal positions and by issuing her lower rating on her performance.

HEY NEW BOARD MEMBERS: you most likely need your own attorney … soon. If Christina Kishimoto hires a lawyer and tells you that person is *the board’s lawyer,* tread very carefully. Same trepidation if Kishmoto calls in The Trust attorneys who are defending the lawsuit; they represent The Trust, not the governing board. You need an attorney who isn’t conflicted with other loyalties to the education power structure in Arizona. Remember, Westie is not a lawyer, but we know some good lawyers!

This post should make you realize that your interests as board members most likely are not the same as the superintendent’s interests. That’s especially true if the superintendent has violated district policy in even the smallest way with hiring a new principal for Highland Junior High School. Or with who wasn’t hired. Or with who was or wasn’t interviewed for the position. Or whether those interviewers were captives of the superintendent. Or whether genuine records were kept of the interviews. Questions abound!

The hinkiness goes back a year, when Christina Kishimoto promoted the HJHS principal to district staff, knowing there would be a vacancy to fill at HJHS.  Don’t you wonder why Kishimoto installed an *interim* principal for the 2016-2017 school year? That wasn’t standard procedure then. What’s happened since hasn’t looked any better. Who knows … maybe all those back-room policy committee meetings surreptitiously changed relevant GPS policies so Christina Kishimoto could slide this bit of sleaziness under the rug. That GPS rug sure is lumpy, but now it’s yours, new board members!

GPS has been in turmoil in recent weeks, and the superintendent’s moral character is again a major topic of discussion in the community about her ability to lead the district. If the governing board hires a new principal for Highland Junior High School without ascertaining there is not a scintilla of retaliation or impropriety in the entire hiring process, another school might be compromised. We all know how Christina Kishimoto loves to talk about processes, especially when she’s on the defensive. Let her explain her hiring processes to someone who won’t be distracted by mumbo-jumbo, someone who truly has the district’s best interests at the forefront. Wouldn’t that be refreshing?

It’s not just Kishimoto, it’s the governing board and the school district who are actual DEFENDANTS in court again. You can choose to go ahead and let Christina Kishimoto do what she wants to do, regardless of GPS policy, regardless of law. Go ahead at your own peril. She was counting on you to be in the dark about all of this. Most likely, she planned to present you with a done deal and get your blessing on her perfidy before you had a chance to ask about any of the details. Sure, you can trust her.

Hey Birdies: Brian Yee plays a starring role in this lawsuit! New board members: why do you think GPS (then under superintendent Dave Allison) stashed Brian Yee at Greenfield Junior High School? He must have known his publicly humiliating escapades could be the source of litigation against the district for years. It looks like Good Old Dave was right.

The lawsuit shows Shane McCord’s *Gut Check* hiring decisions are still haunting GPS, as well. The old dirty laundry will be aired again. It’s not like GPS leadership has been a model of moral behavior recently, either, so pass the popcorn!

Circling back to the recent turmoil in GPS: Christina Kishimoto is no stranger to being sued for bad personnel decisions. One of the cases still causing problems for Hartford Schools is about a person Christina Kishimoto had promoted after major controversy and disciplinary action over sexual misconduct:

The mother of a 13-year-old girl who police say received sexual text messages from a longtime Hartford school administrator is suing the school system, top school officials and the city of Hartford over alleged negligence in the case.  A major allegation in the complaint is that the city and the school system allowed Genao, a career educator who worked for the district since 2005, to prey on the girl despite years-old claims that he sent inappropriate electronic messages to a female student and an employee when he was principal of Sport and Medical Sciences Academy. “The city knew or should have known that they had a very dangerous person in their mix,” Spinella said Thursday. “They didn’t red flag him, they promoted him.”

Citizens of Gilbert, Arizona wonder why GPS keeps dangerous persons in the district. In the case of the current civil rights lawsuit, the person who is the biggest danger to GPS might be the superintendent who can’t or won’t follow the law. Citizens are wondering if the superintendent’s immoral behavior in her *alleged* inappropriate relationship with her subordinate Executive Director of Technology gave a subliminal (or actual) green light to other GPS employees to indulge in immoral and/or illegal behavior. Westie thinks the dots are quite connectable, and this question will arise whenever ethics are violated by any GPS employee, as long as Christina Kishimoto is superintendent.

You know Westie will closely watching this lawsuit through court records. As ever, Westie loves to share, and will post observations gleaned from long experience with GPS defending lawsuits and the same old attorneys that The Trust hires. This time, birdies, there will be LOTS of chocolate and back stories. Chirp, chirp!

Gilbert Public Schools Refuses to Comply with Open Meeting Laws

Christina KishimotoSince the new Gilbert Public Schools governing board was seated in January 2017, there’s been a lot of activity wherein superintendent Christina Kishimoto finds herself being questioned. She does not like being questioned. She likes it best when people, including the GPS governing board, do what she tells them to do. Christina Kishimoto has not been questioned about her activities for the past two years, so how dare anyone change the status quo? 

Having the governing board question things, like the issues being brought to them for a decision, is a good thing. It would have been so much better if the public were able to see and hear the superintendent’s answers to those questions. A lot of the frenetic activity that has taken place in GPS over the past five to six weeks has taken place out of the public eye, though. Excuses proliferate, but it comes down to the fact that Christina Kishimoto’s contempt for the public is at the root of GPS administrative intransigence when it comes to transparency: you’ll get whatever information the superintendent decides to give you, and you’ll like it, by golly!

At the January 2017 board meeting, board members expressed concerns about making decisions when they didn’t have the information they thought they would need to make a carefully considered decision about the mission of the district: educating students. Sheila Rogers, the newly elected board president gave Christina Kishimoto some new marching orders about having a board retreat to discuss specific matters.

It’s obvious that Christina Kishimoto did not like being told what to do, so she set up a *Board Retreat* to brainwash the three new board members about her reformy ideas. This 2017 meeting featured the same guy who taught the same stuff to the board in 2015 for a total cost of about $18,000.00. Don’t worry, taxpayers, apparently the guy charged only $6,000.00 this year to spend a couple of hours going over reformy stuff; we figure his travel costs will be extra and will appear on the vouchers much later. That way, fewer people will connect the dots, you know.

Board President Sheila Rogers apparently won one point: the board retreat was held at Campo Verde High School instead of a hotel. That saved about $2,000 according to the 2015 expenses, but Christina Kishimoto took her revenge by not setting up a Livestream archive of the event that featured not just a quorum, but the entire governing board. Even though the public was not prohibited from attending, the short notice and inconvenient time slot eliminated much potential public oversight of what the board and the superintendent discussed.

Christina Kishimoto did not intend to publish minutes of that meeting, either. The Westies helpfully appeared at the GPS reception desk four days after the board retreat to review the minutes that were required by law to be available three days after the meeting. You know what happened: no minutes. Heh. Slimebucket Suzanne Zenter first said there were no minutes, then she left us standing there (tap, tap, tap the foot) and then she said the minutes would be posted online by close of business that very same day. That was too little, too late.

You would think GPS had learned something about Arizona’s Open Meeting Law after the Attorney General imposed six months of monitoring just last year, but you would be wrong. The entire GPS administration resists complying with the most simple elements of OML, but that’s *business as usual* in GPS. It’s not going to stop until the governing board forces compliance. Looking at how much meeting time the new board has spent in smoke-filled rooms in ways that evade public scrutiny, it’s more of the same.

Go ahead and read the minutes of the February 6, 2017 board retreat; do you think the governing board got their money’s worth ($6,000.00++) of training from this dude Julian Trevino? You can bet they all heartily chowed down on the catered dinner that was served during the board retreat (at taxpayer expense).

We’re stunned, though, that the last item on the agenda wasn’t discussed at all. It would seem to be the most important discussion of the board retreat.  BTW, it looks like someone doesn’t know what “time lapse” means:

Constituent Services and Proactive Community Engagement: How do we serve constituent concerns/issues/problems efficiently and effectively? Due to time lapse item was not discussed

In more of the *you can’t make this stuff up* management practices that the GPS administration seems to have perfected, the governing board had Open Meeting Law training two days later. That was one day before the minutes of the previous board retreat were required by law to be available to the public. Glory be, the governing board had a video camera to record the OML training on February 8, 2017! They actually discussed the board’s responsibilities to comply with OML!

The video does not show the entire meeting … it looks like the camera dude just up and quit recording at exactly 5:00 PM. Never mind that the meeting continued. Even if there were only ten more minutes in the training, cutting off the video is the kind of thing Christina Kishimoto’s staff does to show those governing board members that they can’t be bossed around. Yes, things are that juvenile in the White Castle, the GPS district offices. You can lead a horse to water …

The governing board then held a second board retreat on  February 13, 2017. There’s nothing on the web page for governing board retreats about this meeting. There is an agenda on the BoardDocs page where regular board meeting agendas and minutes are posted. Obviously, Christina Kishimoto and her staff are playing “hide and seek” with the public again. Although there is an agenda in not-the-usual-place, and although there are two agenda items shown, all the public knows (if they found this agenda) is that the board was going to discuss the GPS strategic plan and school design process review. That’s all anyone can know, unless you were checking the GPS daily to see what was added; these folks are very surreptitious. If you happened to look in the usual wrong place, well, too bad, you missed the meeting. It was not archived on video. We haven’t a clue what the GPS Strategic Plan is … the only thing we found online was the old 2014-2017 plan that shows how clueless Kishimoto is when it comes to actually managing this district.

But by golly, now there’s going to be a community forum to discuss the GPS Strategic Plan! Christina Kishimoto’s staff sent out flyers [click the link to see it]. More *you can’t make this up* mismanagement: the date shown on the flyer was “Tuesday, February 22, 2017” with an image of a February calendar with Wednesday, February 22, 2017 prominently circled. More sloppy staff work, the kind that has become the hallmark of GPS administrators. Sheeeeesh.

One final example of Christina Kishimoto’s in-your-face relationship with the governing board: the school design process that was discussed at the board retreat [click the link to see the diagram]. Notice that the governing board isn’t told much of anything about the various school designs that are being devised, again behind closed doors and evading public scrutiny, until Year Two. Otherwise, a school design goes to the board for approval only when it’s going to cost a lot of money. As if there is a school design that IS NOT going to cost a lot of money, sheeeeesh. She’s just gonna ram another atrocity down the governing board’s throat.

Christina Kishimoto’s biggest rant about parents who live in neighborhoods where schools are being *designed* in ways that destroy the neighborhood school is this: “They aren’t part of the school community.” This was her response to parents who bought houses in the boundaries of Gilbert Elementary School, some of whom are not thrilled with the dual-language academy that Kishimoto and her acolytes are trying to ram through for board approval. They don’t want their children to be bused to a far-away school. Those children are now toddlers, but they will be in school in the next few years. Kishimoto thinks their voices don’t matter. Only her voice matters.

GPS was required to make available to the public minutes of the February 13, 2017 board retreat no later than Friday morning, February 17, 2017. Take a wild guess as to whether or not that happened. By the way, the notice on the governing board calendar mentions only the strategic plan. Citizens who checked the calendar would not have known that the board would discuss the school design process.

The entire GPS governing board will meet tomorrow, February 21, 2017, as a *committee of the whole* to review GPS policies; that’s another meeting that’s held in the secrecy of a smoke-filled room, so to speak. Attendees will eat another meal at taxpayer expense, but there will be no video archive and no minutes, if it’s more *business as usual.* What’s alarming is that Christina Kishimoto recently told the board that *their* lawyer said they could approve the first read of policies and changes in those committee meetings. Sure, no business is conducted there … which is the excuse Kishimoto has given for refusing to post minutes or video archives.

See how creative Christina Kishmoto and her minions can be when they set out to defeat the public’s right to know what the school district is doing with all that taxpayer money? Kishimoto and the Evaders would be a good name for a rock band… we’ll tell Dave Barry.

Keyboard: See you on Tuesday, February 22, 2017!
Westie: Unless it’s really Wednesday, February 22, 2017.
Keyboard: It could be Wednesday, March 22, 2017…

GPS Must Slash Budget … Who Could Have Anticipated Student Losses?

Christina KishimotoGilbert Public Schools has been losing students right and left as their reviled superintendent Christina Kishimoto destroys neighborhood schools in the name of reforms that no one wants. She appears to be driven by her quest for a national reputation, which is costing the district dearly in terms of squandered taxpayer dollars and the district’s own blackened reputation.

Fortunately, the former Rubber Stamp Board was broken up by voters in November 2016. Unfortunately, they had already extended Christina Kishimoto’s employment contract through 2019. If not for that treachery, GPS would have been able to send Christina Kishimoto packing on June 30, 2016 when her contract ended.

The Rubber Stamp Board also saddled the New Guys with the budgetary fallout. Now it’s February 2017 and the New Guys must come up with more, more and more budget cuts because the declining number of students has an immediate negative impact on the GPS budget. Never mind that GPS has a tax override and bond that local residents fund out of their own pockets; that’s in addition to state and federal funds and lots of unaccountable cash that floats around the district. The big problem is how Christina Kishimoto spends that money before the governing board knows what has happened. A hundred here, a thousand there …. don’t forget Kishimoto has $100,000.00 contracting authority for anything she wants.

When questioned about why the budget is such a mess again, Christina Kishimoto and her Top Dogs will defend themselves by saying there was no way they could have anticipated such staggering student losses. It’s the fault of those mean old charter schools! They’ll talk a bunch of mumbo-jumbo; Tom Wohlleber will drone on and put the audience to sleep. In the end, students will pay the price for Christina Kishimoto’s incompetence and arrogance … again. The chart below shows that the biggest student losses have come during Kishimoto’s reign of terror tenure at GPS. Check out FY 15, 16 and 17:

The chart above comes from Kishimoto’s presentation to the governing board. As citizens can tell you, Christina Kishimoto’s superintendency has been devastating to a community that values public education, neighborhood schools and transparency in governance. Instead of respecting those values, Kishimoto has put neighborhood schools on the chopping block for *school designs* that appeal to minuscule groups of parents and students. Teachers have been fleeing a district that relies on retaliation as a management strategy.

It strains credulity that as superintendent, Christina Kishimoto will recommend what the board should cut. It sure won’t be the big bucks she rakes in! It won’t be the salaries she sets for her subordinates, or the sweet little extras that Christina Kishimoto lavishes on her pets. Nope. Budget cuts that Christina Kishimoto recommends will slash popular programs so the community will feel intense pain. That’s the way things were done by previous GPS superintendents, so why change? Oh yeah, that former bumbling superintendent got canned retired. The community breathed a sigh of relief for a few moments, then Kishimoto was hired.

Let’s take a look at some of the questionable spending that is happening in Gilbert Public Schools. We’ll look at just one month’s worth of vouchers since the GPS governing board hasn’t had much of an opportunity for financial oversight. We’re really hoping the New Guys can grab Christina Kishimoto by the asterisk and throttle her excessive spending on things that do nothing to educate students. The lists below are not ALL of the expenses that should be questioned as to propriety and legality; they’re just a few things reasonable taxpayers abhor.

For example, take the vaunted EXPO at St. Xavier in January 2017; we don’t yet know if GPS paid the town to rent the place. We do know that not only did GPS give away ugly orange tee shirts to employees, board members, parents, students and passers-by, the district bought breakfast and pastries. Gee, if only we knew if GPS employees *volunteered* to participate at this event so their jobs would not be jeopardized to get a free tee shirt and some breakfast.

Westie: There ought to be a law about forcing employees to *volunteer* under those circumstances!
Keyboard: You idiot, there already are laws like that!
Westie: Do you think GPS knows?

accounting adjust -$1.09
EXPO Uniform Shirts $1,627.21
School Expo Supplies $79.52
Annual card fees $16.17
BPO: To purchase breakfast items for the all
School EXPO on January 21st at St. Xavier University
BPO: To purchase breakfast supplys for the
all School EXPO on January 21st at St. Xavier
Open P.O. for food items for GPS Expo on 1/21/17 –
Mexican Pastries to be purchased from vendor who does not take P.O.

And how about the Employee Benefits Fair? GPS designed and paid for bags to be given to employees. That’s on top of constant b*tching about how much the GPS share for insurance goes up each year. Wonder how many GPS employees actually showed up to get their *goodie bags*?

Bags for Employee Wellness and Benefits Fair $311.27
Color imprint Setup on bag-Blue $63.00
Posters for Benefits Fair $18.00
Banner insert – Benefits Fair with 16/17 date $50.67

The superintendent has the district pay for her soirees with her pals at the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce, calling it “professional development.” Other times, she has the district “buy a table” for $500.00. We hear that Christina Kishimoto is now telling all the schools in GPS that they need to “buy a table” for $500.00 so that their Teacher of the Year will be represented at the big GPS banquet. This time, the $500.00 is supposed to come from teachers, parents and staff … great way to celebrate the school’s teacher of the year, right? Why not hand over a check for $500.00 to the teacher? Or better yet, quit hitting up the lowest paid echelons of GPS employees for money to pay for the superintendent’s new publicity stunt. Sheeeesh.

Emp Training  & Prof Dev Registration-BPO for misc.
Chamber event registration for Dr. Christina Kishimoto

Lookie here, the superintendent asks and receives money for future expenses. Do you think any GPS staffer would refuse to hand over a check?

This will be used for Dr. Kishimoto’s expenses  per the superintendent’s contract $156.76

The following list shows one month’s worth of catering expenses in the January financial vouchers. The Governing Board chows down on food bought by taxpayers while they discuss how they will cut classroom funds! The GPS superintendent eats a lot of breakfasts at taxpayer expense! And on freshly dry cleaned tablecloths! With decorations! Actually, if GPS ever has a *real* audit, we’re sure a lot of these expenses will show up as double and tripled billed … or more, based on what we see month after month. Every monthly GPS voucher has seemingly endless catering expenses, from a few measly bucks to thousands, just like what’s shown below.

Miscellaneous catering events –
Tablecloths and decorations provided by GPS Food Service Catering
COEN, MICHELLE ELAINE (Kishimoto’s secretary)
BPO Office event planning supplies, dollar store,
michaels, party city. snacks and non food supplies
BPO Office, event planning supplies dollar store
michaels  party city snacks and non food supplies
Open PO to purchase: Paper Products for meetings &
holiday luncheon on Dec. 20
Open PO to purchase: water – soda – snack – goldfish,
bag cookies granola bars etc. for meetings &
holiday luncheon on Dec. 20 Approx 250 staff
Food for Governing Board events that include Policy Meetings for 20 people on the following dates August 16, 2016, September 20, October 18, November 15,
December 13, January 17, 2017, February 21, March 21, April 18, May 16 and June 20; Board Retreat
Catering for 100 Principals and Administrators at the monthly Professional Development Principal’s Meeting.  January 10, 2017 $425.00
Miscellaneous catering events – Tablecloths and decorations
provided by GPS Food Service Catering
Food for Governing Board events that include Policy Meetings for 20 people on the following dates August 16, 2016, September 20, October 18, November 15, December 13, January 17, 2017, February 21, March 21, April 18, May 16 and June 20; Board Retreat $130.00
Non-Curricular Food, Miscellaneous
catering needs throughout the 2016-17 school year
for events hosted by the Superintendent
Paper goods for Elementary School
Principal Meeting being hosted by
Canyon Rim on January 27, 2017
Refreshments for 40 people for the
Elementary School Principal Meeting
being hosted by Canyon Rim on January 7, 2017
pastries & coffee for Principal PLC m
for approx 22 people
lunches for Learnin lunch committee mtgs
1/18, 2/15,4/12- 15 teachers
Staff luncheon mtg 12/20/16 Approx 175 people $1,523.39
Blanket purchase order for misc. food purchase
for refreshments for staff meeting
Oct 5, 2016 (approx. 90 staff)
Light refreshments for meeting
100 returning staff on Monday, August 1st and
Tuesday, August 2nd.
Linen Table Clothes for 6 foot tables $58.95
BPO Office, event planning supplies dollar store
michaels  party city snacks and non food supplies
January Admin meeting, 25 people in attendance $25.37
18 large pizzas (7 cheese, 7 pepperoni, 4 veggie)*
Lunch for December 21, 2016 Staff Meeting
(approx. 90 people)  *price includes tax and all paper products
(plates, napkins, and silverware)
Salad, including Italian and Ranch dressings * $90.00
Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider, 8.4 oz bottles, 12 per case $92.29
Refreshments, cookies and drinks for approx. 30 staff members working the
JV Wrestling Tournament on 1/25/17
Lunch for GCA Science Fair Judges & staff (tax is included in the cost per meal)
65 judges and staff included GCA Science Fair is 2/17/17

This was so much fun, we’ll have to do it again. We’ll help community activists learn to identify extravagant spending as we document some truly egregious ways that Christina Kishimoto has abused the public trust and enriched herself and her pals with public funds. After all, she can’t be fired for *mere mistakes in judgment,* so we’ll have to dig in to some actual lawbreaking. You know we’re on to something here.

GPS Wage Theft Caper Continues, Now with Witch Smelling!

Christina KishimotoThe superintendent of Gilbert Public Schools is a witch smeller! Christina Kishimoto is going to sniff out that hapless low-level employee who single-handedly screwed up the GPS payroll system and kept it screwed up for more than a year! <sarcasm> This so-called superintendent apparently never heard the expression, “The buck stops here.” It’s always the fault of someone else when things go wrong in GPS. 

In a shocking example of buck passing, Christina Kishimoto told the GPS governing board that she would need six to eight more weeks to sniff around for that witch. Never mind the fact that this Great Payday Melee has been a staggering failure since her *alleged* boyfriend the former ‘Executive’ Director of Technology Services got caught with his did not run the old and new systems in parallel until the bugs could be worked out and employees could be paid properly. That seems to have been what happened when the *alleged* boyfriend bugged out after the superintendent’s *alleged* inappropriate relationship with him became public knowledge. It sure looks like the ill-fated payroll software project and the *alleged* superintendent misconduct were the proximate causes of the GPS wage theft caper.

Watch the GPS *Fearless Leader* confound the board with such statements as, “Our proactive communication was inefficient and insufficient.” Do you think she even knows what “system crossover and fidelity implementation” means? (If you don’t see the video, use this link:

We all know what’s going to happen with Christina Kishimoto’s promise that all supplemental payroll runs will need her personal approval. Suddenly, employees who have not been paid properly will be threatened with retaliation if they tell GPS, “I need my full pay and I need it now!” What’s so important about a rent payment or a car payment if the GPS Payroll Department has to tell the superintendent they screwed up again? You know the pattern and practice in GPS: threats, retaliation and anything else the Top Dogs can do to humiliate their underlings.

The reality is that payroll is not a priority for Kishimoto. Thus, her top level administrators haven’t managed to solve GPS payroll problems for more than a year after the new software came on line. Employees are not paid properly and tax reporting has not been accurate. GPS has blamed the software vendor, difficulty in locating paperwork <snort>, short staffing and lack of training as causes of problems. Anyone familiar with payroll in a business setting knows there are laws about paying employees for all time worked and accurately reporting, withholding and remitting taxes. But GPS seems to be either ignorant or willfully blind. How do you think this is going to play out? “So sorry, it was that witch’s fault…”

The problem isn’t a few little minor blips … each month, hundreds of payroll errors proliferate throughout GPS. Each error means that an employee was not paid properly. The circular issues result in supplemental payroll runs to get checks to some employees, while other employees are told to wait to receive their full pay, and inaccuracies multiply. So what did Business Services under the *watchful* eye of Chief Financial Officer Tom Wohlleber do? They started a ticket system like the one used by Tech Services. Sure, that solved the problems. <eye roll> Look at the number of errors each month and weep for how long GPS employees subsist without their full pay:

The arrogance of Christina Kishimoto is astonishing, and it translates into similar hardheartedness and cruelty among her staffers, as one of the reports to the irascible boss shows. That report appears at the bottom of this post. Why should staffers in the White Castle care if GPS employees aren’t paid properly? Their top boss, the superintendent, has been accepting their sloppy staff work for two and a half years! What would you bet that Christina Kishimoto and her acolytes have ALWAYS been paid correctly and on time? Most likely, their records are flagged so any potential error is fixed before payday.

It’s perplexing that sloppy staff work in the financial realm seems to be not just tolerated, but celebrated in GPS. A reasonable person would expect that financial matters involving public funds would be closely watched at every level. Nope. One example that began while Silly Jilly Humpherys was the board clerk, the person tasked with reviewing GPS vouchers before the board ratified expenditures:

In the GPS culture as it exists today, administrators and staffers in Gilbert Public Schools do whatever they want, and they don’t give a flying flip about who gets hurt. Green Bar reports, also known as vouchers, are published into the public sphere, and the GPS governing board approves those vouchers, most often without comment. In recent months, GPS has been releasing the public records in those green bar reports in ways that violently trample personal privacy.

Silly Jilly Humpherys did not do her job of reviewing those vouchers because *numbers are hard.* So, for two years, Christina Kishimoto and her minions had free rein to spend without any real accountability and indulge in sloppy staff work. No one was watching … except Westie, it seems. Even though Westie watches and sometimes works behind the scenes to head off public humiliation for GPS staffers [they know who they are and what we did to help], it doesn’t do much good to try to fix GPS problems.

Nonetheless, we’ll try again and we’ll submit a most specific complaint to the board about how GPS, under Christina Kishimoto’s so-called leadership, continues to violate privacy of students … and this time, a top-level administrator. Surely Christopher R. Stroud, principal of Gilbert High School doesn’t care that his name, date of birth and cell phone number have been online for weeks.* His drivers license number, too … sweet! Maybe it’s more scary that Westie knows his flight numbers for his fancy trip to a resort location on the taxpayers’ dime.

How long do you think it will take some enterprising GHS students to find the same information Westie has? That personal data is really, really valuable to hackers and identity thieves. What could go wrong?

Big Fat Asterisk: Don’t bother getting indignant … Westie notified the GPS governing board about the problem before this post was made public. There was time to remove ALL the personal information of student victims and Good Ole Chris Stroud on the latest Voucher Report for ratification on February 28, 2017. With any luck, someone will have the presence of mind to go back and clean up the past six months or more of student privacy violations in the vouchers. But this is GPS, so who knows what will happen?

Here’s the Payroll Status Report that shows *business as usual* in GPS. Sheeeeeeesh.


Christina Kishimoto Embarrasses GPS at a Town Council Meeting

Gilbert Public Schools can’t seem to keep their superintendent on her leash. Christina Kishimoto goes about doing whatever she pleases, throwing around her title as she attempts to impress listeners and spouts off about her obsession with those mean old charter schools she believes are stealing GPS students. With losses amounting to 10% of student enrollment, GPS has a problem, and it isn’t charter schools; it’s the incompetency of the GPS superintendent and her minions. It hasn’t helped that board members past and present can’t or won’t extricate themselves from Kishimoto’s puppet strings. 

If it weren’t enough to hitch the reputation of Gilbert Public Schools to a declining and discredited reform group, Christina Kishimoto went out, again on her own, and gave the Gilbert Town Council a piece of her mind about charter schools that are stealing students from GPS. She demanded the Town Council do something to stop those dastardly charter schools in their tracks before GPS begins a death spiral.

The setting: “an application for the proposed annexation of approximately 41.6 acres located at American Leadership Academy at the northwest corner of Higley Road and the Santan 202 Freeway.” It was very clear that the Gilbert Town Council was NOT voting to approve a new charter school … the town does not have that authority. It was very clear that the ALA landowners were going to put a charter school at the specified location, the question was whether the land would be annexed, giving the Town of Gilbert a say in the development, or whether the land would remain in Maricopa County, which meant the town would have no official say in development of the charter school site.

Christina Kishimoto delivered a frizzled, frazzled and frenzied diatribe that made her, and Gilbert Public Schools, look like total idiot losers who can’t compete for students fair and square. She worked herself up into a lather and told the Town Council it was costing GPS millions of dollars in lost revenue to lose thousands of students to those nefarious charter schools. Kishimoto looked all the more stupid because the land in question isn’t within GPS boundaries. As you enjoy the video below, note that the Town of Gilbert manages to make high quality video records during meetings, and those videos, along with comprehensive written minutes, are available to the public as OML requires. Ain’t it amazing that the Town of Gilbert can do things that GPS can’t manage? [Here’s the link if you don’t see it:]

Christina Kishimoto did not have authorization from the GPS Governing Board for taking this public stance. The only way the board could have approved her crazy public performance would have been by proclamation in a public meeting. That never happened. It was just Kishimoto and her pals subordinates off on a rogue mission, attempting to work the ref: screaming about bias and unfair treatment, no matter how favorable the treatment actually is.

The ref didn’t have any power to do what Kishimoto was demanding. Kishimoto started her speech with an insult: “I don’t like your time limit of two minutes, so I’m going to take three minutes.” She then proceeded to talk for five minutes. Had anyone done that at a GPS board meeting, Christina Kishimoto would have cut the mike and called security to remove the person for disruption of an educational institution.

But this was not a GPS meeting; Mayor Jenn Daniels smiled politely as Kishimoto’s childish display of raw emotion built into a crescendo of unrestrained bitterness, blaming anyone other than herself. Town Council minutes were as clear as the video: Kishimoto made a fool of herself and embarrassed the GPS governing board and the people of the Town of Gilbert. Here is some of the *dater* Kishimoto gave the Gilbert Town Council:

The last two years of demographic data show that we have an increasing school age population in our community, but a decreasing enrollment in GPS because we are dividing the student enrollment pie over and over again.

* The last ten years of state financial data shows that GPS has a cumulative loss of over $70M in the state’s capital funding formula

Over the past six years, we will have experienced an ADM loss of over 3,000 or 8 ½%, while I am asked, why we don’t give more money to teacher pay!

Since Kishimoto made that speech, the 2016-2017 GPS hundred day student enrollment declined again … more than 700 student losses this year alone. Of course it’s not HER fault <snark>; Kishimoto is hell bent on destroying the pride of GPS, the neighborhood schools that attracted tens of thousands of students in past years. It’s not Kishimoto’s fault that her ill considered foray into *school design* in the form of having Gilbert Classical Academy take over a neighborhood junior high school has already caused significant student losses, with more losses to come, as parents have promised.

Here’s another statement from Kishimoto that strains credulity, given just two of the Special Education student atrocities Westie observed, the cases of Ryken and Colter

* GPS and HPS proudly educate the majority of English Language Learners and Special Education students in our community – that happens by a student cost share because the state does not provide us sufficient funds for each child’s special needs – We embrace every child.

The question is: will the new governing board allow this embarrassment to continue? At the January 24, 2017 board meeting, Silly Jilly Humpherys added an item to the agenda. She wanted the board to approve the following statement and send it to the Town of Gilbert:

Local constituents in Gilbert and Higley have already stepped up to pass bonds to fund buildings, maintenance, and infrastructure for district students.  Duplication of these capital items presents an additional burden to local taxpayers and is not a cost efficient use of taxpayer dollars.  The Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board respectfully supports Higley Unified School District in their request that the Town of Gilbert not rezone or annex approximately 42.7 acres of property generally located at the northwest corner of Higley Road and Santan 202 Freeway from Maricopa County Rural 43 (RU-43) zoning district to Town of Gilbert Business Park (BP) zoning district for the construction of the new American Leadership Academy charter school.

At a time when Gilbert Public Schools is beginning its Enrollment Management Planning, the construction of yet another charter school further contributes to the challenges of accurately projecting our student enrollment and thus our annual operating budget.  Prepared by Jill Humpherys

The board liaison to the Town of Gilbert, Reed Carr, explained that signing a statement just to make a political point was pretty stupid would not change the impact or the facts (starts at 3:52:20 in the video below). “…Focus on OUR district and making sure that we’re competitive.” He also contrasted Silly Jilly’s statement with how the board president and superintendent of the Chandler school district said, “We know parents shop for education much like they shop for a home or a car. We must find a way to meet the market and invite them into our public schools.” Once again, GPS and Kishimoto were outsmarted and outclassed by a competitor school district.*

The board approved Silly Jilly’s statement, even though the town doesn’t have the authority to do what Silly Jilly and her controller Christina Kishimoto want: the charter school WILL be built. Update:  You won’t find the January board meeting in the GPS Livestream archives [The video is now in the usual place, but it still sucks] but the GPS techie geniuses posted an ersatz video to make up for the *lost Internet* complication during the meeting. Said video is so bad, you can barely hear what is going on; the video portion is so blurred, you get a headache from trying to watch.

Here’s a link to an improved video (but it’s still blurred, Westie’s magic couldn’t compensate for that).  Here’s the link if you don’t see it below:

Big Fat Asterisk: The Higley Unified School District superintendent also spoke at the December 1, 2016 Town Council meeting. Dr. Mike Thomason didn’t exactly cover himself in glory. [Dude, act like you know you’re a superintendent. Grab some gravitas.] One thing the new GPS board members should know: HUSD immediately produced public records that Westie requested about Mikey’s participation in this meeting, along with signed affidavits when there were no records within the scope of part of the FOIA request. Classy! HUSD also posts for public viewing the entire file of documents sent to the board before a board meeting.

Pay attention, new board members, GPS has been violating the norms of OML and *boardmanship* for years, and it’s only become worse under Kishimoto. It’s now YOUR watch!

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:  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 <>, Fran Grossenbacher <>
Cc: Gilbert School Board <>
Subject:Mesquite Jr  –  Colter’s enrollment


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?

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.


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:

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.

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!!


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!

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