This is just a quick little teaser to let you know that a new post will be coming very soon. We will tackle the question of why it’s been two years since the last post and provide some new documents that show just how far these people are willing to go to silence anyone from questioning them or exposing their unethical and potentially criminal activities. Stay tuned because our journey down the rabbit hole is about to get back in to full swing and this time we are going to be taking on even more!
I know there were many of you (mostly the Kennedale Administration, school board members, school board member’s spouses, and those they need to suck at the teat of power for social standing in the community) hoping I had retreated from the fray, but I am more than happy to disappoint you on that one. Despite the continued onslaught of lies, twisting of the facts, and outright attacks on myself and my family, we will not shrink away to the bullying and retaliation these people use. It is sad that those in charge of teaching children the right way to do things do not exemplify those lessons. Do as I say and not as I do seems to be the more appropriate style they live because it’s obviously not teaching by example. They distort the facts and truth and attack anyone who disagrees or speaks out (as seen in how they behave every time someone runs against them in a school board election) and then seem so dumbfounded when it bleeds over into the children’s behaviors and attitudes. They quickly call for civility and say their behavior is only in the nature of politics or protecting the future (the future they want) for the district. But enough of their hypocrisy for today!
Let’s instead talk about how yet another administrator’s child works directly under them in the district with the full knowledge and support of the, asleep at the wheel, school board. Today we wade into the very deep pile of questionable mess that allowed Gary Dugger, Superintendent, to hire his own daughter in spite of well established nepotism policies. I will admit from the beginning of this that I personally don’t take pleasure in today’s topic because Stephanie Devlin (Stephanie Dugger before her marriage) is a genuinely kind and caring person. It is a shame that she did not choose to work in a district where her employment wasn’t such a questionable situation or where her father’s position called into question the legitimacy of her hiring. This isn’t a personal attack against the person of Stephanie Devlin (Dugger), but an expose on the nature of how, once again, leaders within this district bypassed or worked in the “gray” areas of policies to benefit themselves and their family members. I feel this speaks more to the behavior of Gary Dugger, the school board members, and Karen Furman than it does to Stephanie herself.
With that out of the way let’s get a few more housekeeping issues out of the way as well. I will start with the main argument that is inevitably used when trying to justify this administrations bypass of nepotism policies. They will argue that despite the fact that the Superintendent is the sole source of choosing the people within the district to RECOMMEND to the school board for hiring, the school board themselves is the actual entity that hires the employees for the district and that therefore insulates people such as Gary Dugger from being responsible or in violation of nepotism when hiring his own daughter. A second issue we can establish also is the fact that they will also say that a policy that was established allowing anyone who was in “continuous employment” before 2008 is allowed to remain in their positions within the district since the more strict nepotism policy went into effect in 2008. This is a kind of grandfather clause allowing the family member to stay as long as they were in their position before 2008. They would argue with me that both of these issues make the hiring and keeping of Stephanie Devlin (Dugger) completely above board. Well, though these legal loopholes might exist, there are still a few questionable activities that just don’t smell right when put to the test. In the thinnest allowances of the law they can justify their actions, but when you really look at how much tap dancing is required to make this allowance you begin to wonder just what the motives of the Kennedale leadership really is. Should the district be working so hard to justify hiring someone or should they focus on hiring people that won’t raise questions or possibly cross ethical bounds? The motivation for hiring a person should be to get the best possible person into the position to allow the district to provide the best resources for families, staff, and students, not finding legal ways of hiring family members.
I would like to tackle the first premise that is usually used to justify the hiring of family members in the district as employees. The fact that none of the school board members are personally related to Stephanie Devlin (Dugger) does not exempt the issue from the scrutiny of legitimacy. Though the school board members are the final say in the hiring of personnel for the district, it is unethical for a direct family member to be working in a position that answers to their relative. Though Stephanie Devlin (Dugger) immediately answers to Karen Furman, she is ultimately under the direct control and direction of her own father Gary Dugger as the Superintendent. There isn’t anyone within the district that doesn’t have to directly answer to the superintendent. This places her own father in a position to make decisions that will affect both her position and financial interests. Secondly to this topic, I would like to point out that it is required by policy that all hiring by the board comes from the direct recommendation of the Superintendent. Since there is no sign in any of the school board minutes that shows Gary Dugger recused himself from his required role of recommending his daughter to the board for hiring, he took an active role in her hiring. Though that might not reach the level of being illegal, it certainly is questionable if not unethical. When her current position’s contract comes up for renewal there is no indication that he has ever recused himself from the process of recommending her for renewal to the board either. That means each and every year that she has been a contract employee he has made an administrative decision to recommend her to the board. This places him in being directly interested and with the ability to affect the financial interests of his own daughter. This raises all kinds of ethical questions when looked at. As an end to why this is also questionable as far as the school board being the sole source of hiring, is the question of hourly employees. You see, it is the job of the Superintendent to hire the hourly employees. Those types of decisions are not made by board members. Based on the paperwork I have (which I will be providing readers with the ability to look at themselves) it is hard to tell whether or not Stephanie Devlin (Dugger) was hired originally as an hourly employee. It appears based on how the new hire documents are filled out, that Stephanie Devlin (Dugger) was originally an hourly employee. Her first real job within the administration of Kennedale ISD was as an assistant for Karen Furman. There is no indication that this was a contract position. Of course the district couldn’t find a copy of the job posting or provide any information as to when this newly created job was posted. Their official response was that they weren’t required to keep that type of information from that far in the past. (2007 is so long ago). If in fact her original job as a “Special Programs Assistant” was an hourly position, then she was directly hired by her father. That is all kinds of crazy, especially when you take into account that they couldn’t come up with any documentation showing the position was ever posted for any non-family members to apply for.
Now I would like to address the whole “Continuous employment” argument they want to make to justify her hiring. You see even if Stephanie Devlin’s (Dugger) hiring in 2007 was legally done, how she was made the District Interventionist Counselor raises all kinds of red flags. As I understand the nepotism policies that are posted in the school board policies and required for all government type of jobs, you can’t hire family. You can’t hire family and you can’t have family members in direct control of their relative’s position (whether financially or managerially). Next the policy does have the loophole that if a person who would be considered in violation of nepotism, but was already employed prior to 2008 they could continue their working in that same position. The problem is that any new position they were hired for after that would have to comply with the new standard of the nepotism policy in effect after 2008. The issue here is that she is no longer still in the same position she was hired for before the 2008 nepotism policy and its grandfather clause. She was made the District Interventionist Counselor on June 23, 2008. Instead of subjecting her to a new hiring position that she most likely wouldn’t have been able to get because of the nepotism policy, you can see from the memo from June 23, 2008, from Karen Furman to Gary Dugger, that they just changed the title of the job she was currently working for the district in. In that memo you will see that Karen makes several eyebrow raising statements. First she states that this is a position that is needed within the district “Full time”. This sounds like it was a brand new position that needed to be filled to help offer resources to the students and community. It is obvious also that this position was never posted for interview by anyone else either. Since the district could not provide any proof or paperwork that shows the posting or when it was made public for anyone else to apply for it. Again they used the statement that they weren’t required to maintain that information. Since all they did was change one job positions title into the other one it is safe to assume that this position was never advertised or interviewed by anyone else. It is also obvious that it was never presented to the school board as a hiring since it was just given to Stephanie by her “title change”. The next terrible thing you will notice that Karen states is that the title change will reflect the work that Stephanie has already been doing for the district. Since she didn’t pass her LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) testing until May of 2008, she could not have been doing much counseling if any in the last month of the school year. If she were performing duties that required an LPC before then while she was labeled just a special program assistant, she was not qualified to be in charge of directing counseling services or providing them before receiving her actual license. The last thing this memo should make you question is how was such an important decision about a position needed by the district was allowed to be arbitrarily decided by the father of the girl being given the “title change”. This was obviously going to be a huge jump in pay and it was a contract position. This “title change”, new position, or any other information about the situation was never presented to the school board. This went from a simple assistant’s position to a district department position with the stroke of a pen. And the pen was held by the father of the person being given such a new and important position within the district.
Stephanie Devlin (Dugger) was on a counseling Intern license from 2008 until 2010 based on the documentation provided by the district. The question that needs to be raised is this, why would you choose to hire someone for a position that was so important to the district that had no experience and was not even a fully licensed counselor. This is a position that is in charge and control of all the major areas of the district’s counseling services. They are in effect the coordinator for all counseling services provided to the students and parents in Kennedale. Instead of publicly interviewing for an experienced and fully licensed counselor, Karen Furman chose to just make a “title change” so that Gary Dugger’s daughter could fill the shoes of this much more lucrative position within the administration. Was this quid pro quo? Since Gary Dugger signed off on Karen Furman paying her son as a vendor for translation services from 2005-2009, is that why Karen allowed Stephanie Devlin (Dugger) to work as her assistant and then change her title to allow her to become the District Interventionist Counselor? This situation could easily be interpreted that way. It is obvious that instead of interviewing and hiring her straight out for the new position they chose a much more questionable and possibly unethical route of the “title change” to circumvent the nepotism policies on the books.
Just because they can find a twisted way around the rules doesn’t make the actions ethical or in the best interest of the district. What might be seen here is a pattern of decision making within the administration that benefits themselves and their families, but doesn’t seem to uphold the clearest, most transparent, and ethical processes that should be expected of the leadership in a school district. For their part, the school board has never questioned the hiring of Gary Dugger’s daughter under him within the administration. There is nothing on the minutes from the last 4 years of school board meetings that shows anyone even raised the issue and whether or not it was in the best interest of the district to take part in a hiring process that raises questions about favoritism, nepotism, and unethical practices. The saddest aspect in all this is that no matter how wonderful a person Stephanie Devlin (Dugger) is, she will always be the superintendent’s daughter and the cloud of ethical and legal questioning about her “title change” will always be attached to her for it. She deserves a position in a district where she earned the position on the merits of her work and not on the position of her father. Kennedale deserves an administration and school board that follows its own policies and the policies of the state of Texas where there is no hint of questionable legal maneuvering or tap dancing. The community deserves leadership with clean hands where the question of friends and family being rewarded isn’t able to even be asked.
The documentation on Stephanie Devlin (Dugger) came in two different requests so some of the documents may be repeated in the two different packets of information.
Packet 1 click HERE
Packet 2 Click HERE
After some extensive research over the last month, I have come across even more unsettling information about how business is run in the great administration of Kennedale ISD. Of course this is all under the watchful eyes of the Kennedale ISD school board. If you found it upsetting and unethical for an administrator to run a private (for profit) business out of the district at an unseemly discount, then you are going to be struck speechless as I peel back the next curtain. You will discover that there are children of administrators that have also profited from how this administration works within what can be described as an ethically “Gray” area of business, policies, and laws.
It is interesting to see how the administration and school board members (or their spouses) have gone on a rampage attacking me and my family personally (or threatening in a few cases) within the community, directly to us, or surreptisuously on their facebook pages. One thing that is the most obvious about it is that you will see they aren’t actually discussing the merits of the questions I have raised or the very unethical activities that have taken place and, in at least the I-zone situation, still taking place. They attack the messenger because they cannot counter the facts of the message that has been revealed for others to see.
Let’s break into the facts shall we. From roughly 2005 to 2009 Ian Furman (the son of Assistant Superintendent Karen Furman) was paid by the district for the job of translating written items from English to Spanish. I know that your first instinct would be, “What??? A child of an administrator was paid with district funds to perform services through the department that they run???” I was shocked as well. I am sure they will say that there was some kind of bidding process or proposal made and he was the cheapest or the “only” one to offer. But let’s look at the mere appearance of this matter. Translation services are not a rare commodity. In fact I would wager a bet that they could have had these same items translated by people already on the payroll within the district. I mean Kennedale ISD had ESL staff members (until the ESL program was dismantled in a special meeting) and there are several Spanish teachers already getting a paycheck.
Even if they weren’t able to provide the immediate service I am betting that Region XI would have been able to provide some already available and previously approved area sources for the translations services. It isn’t like that skill is so rare in Texas that Ian Furman was only one of a small few who could have offered this service to the department his mother ran for the district.
In an age of accountability, ethics, transparency, and limited funding, should the district even allow a direct family member of an administrator to be eligible to provide services of this manner? Even if they were able to justify it using a “gray” interpretation of nepotism policies by saying Gary Dugger approved him as the source of the district’s translation services and not his mother, it does not remove the fact that the work he was doing and being paid for was in under the direct supervision of his mother Karen Furman since she was head of Special Programs at the time. All of the invoices for his job are run directly through Special Programs. Karen or her personal secretaries are the ones who requested the payments or submitted the invoices. In some of the paperwork they are the original requestors or the first to approve the direct financial interests for Ian Furman.
The very first time that Ian was to be paid you can see that Karen approved the request that funding be set aside from various accounts specifically for translation services done by Ian Furman. That might not shock you since I have already stated she had a personal interest in his being paid. What should interest you is that she signed the request at the bottom of the page 2 days (9-16-2005) before he turned in his first and original letter asking to provide these services to the district (9-18-2005). Unless she has the super power to see into the future and knew he was going to be asking for this job or that he would even be the one to receive the translation job for the district, this seems a bit out of sorts to me. You will also see that one of the earliest bill sent to the district by Ian Furman states that he was doing work for the district on August of 2005 to October of 2005. This was a month before he even wrote his letter for the job and was approved to provide those services by his mother and Gary Dugger.
Next you will also notice on the paperwork that Ian was only in the DFW metroplex during 1 or 2 of the receipts he sent the district. All other times his payments and her receipts were sent out town or even out of the state. The majority of the time that Ian was “performing” his services for the district he was either in New Orleans, LA or Houston, TX. You mean to tell me that we couldn’t find someone local to do translation services?
The funny business with the paperwork doesn’t stop there. It would be very important to note at this point that not all of the funding used to pay Ian Furman for doing work under his mother’s department was from general funding (thanks to the generous taxpayers). They actually paid him out of federal funds. There are several pieces of paperwork that show in some ways he was paid for through Title 1, Title 2, and Title 3 funding. This might not mean much to the non-school personnel people, but what it says to those who know about federal funding is that if these activities are unethical or improper; this could jeopardize future federal funding for the district. There are very strict rules on how federal funding is to be spent. I would assume there are also very strict rules on who can be paid through this funding. I don’t know personally if there is any breach of law or ethics here. But, when dealing with the money that helps aide the students in a district, NO administration should take even a slight chance that paying their own child through the department they run could cost everyone to lose that funding.
Based on how the numbers seem to add up, and I will admit it is difficult to follow all of the math and all the various funding they pulled money from to pay Karen’s son, it looks like over the time span of 4 or 5 years Ian was paid close to $10,000. Again you can look through the paperwork I attached to the blog and do the math on your own. I am not an accountant so I could be wrong about that figure, I can tell you that it was in the bare minimum thousands of dollars.
Names and titles to note on the different paperwork that need some clarification would help when you look over the paperwork I am sure. Elementary Education was the Department Karen was in charge of before she took over almost all areas of education within the administration. Special Programs was the name of her department before she became the head of Elementary Education. Now her department is just Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment (pretty much everything but paperwork and toilets). Paula Hommel, whose name appears as requestor or approver on many items was Karen’s personal secretary for several years before she was unceremoniously let go (not sure on all the details of that one so we won’t go into it right now). Wonder if she asked too many questions? Julie Zuniga was Paula’s replacement as Karen’s personal secretary. Gary Dugger is the Superintendent of the district and he seems to have signed off on many of the requests or payments. I am sure he was well aware of the relationship between Ian and Karen.
Each of the payment pages shows Ian listed as a vendor. He has been given a vendor number and the reference number on each payment sheet is just listed as Karen Furman. I have requested all vendor conflict of interest pages and there were none for him or his mother filled out. In fact as I have reported in other blogs there seem to be no conflict of interests at all in Kennedale based on the 9 pages of forms I have previously published when discussing the I-zone information. If you are curious to see those pages you can download them from the “Risky Business” entry in my blogs. So, it would seem that from 2005-2009 neither Karen Furman the administrator, nor her son, Ian Furman, the vendor filled out the conflict of interest paperwork that is stated in the school board policies posted online for anyone to see. I am sure there is a good explanation as to why the parties involved in these “vendor” transactions failed to meet the requirements of those policies. I don’t know if that is something that is even looked at when the district submits itself to audits, but I can’t imagine someone didn’t at least raise an eyebrow to it if I crossed their path.
I have to say I was a little taken back by the fact that Ian gave himself a raise in his second letter to the district in August of 2007 and at the very top of the letter you can see that it was approved by none other than his own mother. Yep right at the top was Karen Furman’s good old John Hancock. I can’t see how that doesn’t show a personal invested interest in monetary matters that affect both her son and the use of district funding.
Before anyone gets all riled up about this information I would like to point out that all of these FACTS were gained through the publicly available information I received through my open records requests to the district. All of the forms that you can download to check my statements were provided through the hard work of Rick Edwards and his office to fulfill my request (shout out). So before anyone goes making more hubbub and threats to try and silence my first amendment rights, they should really look to the issues that are completely held within these factual, publicly available documents. If the documents and the facts paint people within the administration and the school board in a negative light, I would suggest you look at the mess of your house instead of trying to attack the person pointing the mess out to the community. If the house didn’t have such questionable “messes” to begin with, then the district wouldn’t have to be so defensive and aggressive to the people who stumble upon the mess and points it out. I would also like to point out that I did alter the documents that can be downloaded in one way. When I asked for these documents, the district failed to redact and hide Ian Furman’s personal social security number. I took it upon myself to cover those numbers up to protect that information before posting the documents.
So, where does this take us and what questions does this raise? Well, for one thing I am beginning to see a pattern of questionable behavior afforded certain members of this administration. It also sets us up for the next blog were we will see that this may have set the stage for another administrator to also find a place within Kennedale ISD for their child. It looks like this is where the good old Green and Black started operating more in the “Gray”.
To access the Ian Furman Documents please click Ian Furman
I know I said in the last post it might be a little while before my next post, but I was not intending to take this long. As most of you would understand, I am sure, life gets in the way of things you mean to do sometimes. Today’s blog is going to delve into some of the inner workings of how business is done within Kennedale ISD. I have been doing a lot of research and paid a lot of money to get copies of documents from the district. I may choose to add to this blog as more records roll in and more information is learned.
We will forge ahead though with the information I have gleaned so far. Now I will tell you that the information I give to you today has been looked into and the claims I will make have the documentation to back it up. The only discrepancy that can be made on my information tonight might be the amount the owners of the business I-zone make but I will explain my reasoning and the possible fluctuations up and down once we get to that part. I promise you that in no way am I exaggerating or overstating anything. I will present to you the information I have discovered and expand upon it with my own opinion at times, but I will not lie about the risky little relationship going on between the district and a business with the full and complete knowledge of the school board.
I think we will get all the boring paperwork and legal logistics out of the way before we break into the juicy details of money! Let’s begin with the Secretary of State’s office here in Texas shall we. After paying a nominal fee, any person can access the business information and records of any business registered with the state of Texas to do business. Imagination Zone Inc. is a for profit domestic business here in the state of Texas. It is listed as being co-owned (50% each) by Jan Cleere and Karen Furman. This business was created around 2004 and has been active since then. They also have a state license to run a “for profit” daycare dating back to 2004 at the site of Delaney Elementary School in Kennedale. They currently hold 2 licenses to run their daycare business at both Delaney and Patterson Elementary schools in Kennedale, TX. I state all of this because the school board and the administration would like to make it sound as though this is some type of non-profit or some kind of benevolent program that is only concerned about the children and the families of Kennedale ISD. In fact in the the video of the June 21, 2012 school board meeting several board members and even Gary Dugger the superintendent talk as though it’s a charity or that the school district itself in some way seems to be offering these services as an extension of their duties. This cannot be further from the truth. This is a PRIVATE business owned by Jan Cleere and Karen Furman. This is a domestic FOR PROFIT business owned by Jan Cleere and Karen Furman. Why create a business, make it for profit, unless you are planning on making profits. I am a strong believer in capitalism. I applaud anyone who starts a business and makes it successful. I am not demanding that I-zone be removed from the schools though once the truth is out there I can’t imagine that things shouldn’t be changed in some way. As you will see there are some things going on here that are not appropriate. This business does not exist to benefit the district, it is here to benefit the owners and there are some questionable actions taking place that make this business a boondoggle for Jan and Karen. I apologize if this blog is not as witty and engaging as others, there is a lot of meaty facts and documentation to explain and reveal so sometimes it gets a bit stale. I promise though that the revelations are astonishing and worth all the rigamarole you have to put up with to get there! Stick with me!
I know what might perk you up a bit. Let’s talk about money! Everyone loves money and in these hard economic times it is at the forefront of all our minds. The district rents out its facilities. That is no shocker. Anyone who has driven by the PAC has seen it filled with competitive dance troops over the years who have rented the building or seen some of the amazing theater production put on by the Mansfield Community Theater Company (shout out to you great actors!). The paperwork is available to download from the district’s own website and lists the amount each room or facility costs to rent for a certain amount of time. Now you will hear on the video from the June 21, 2012 meeting that Gary Dugger states that they cut special deals when it only deals with “our kids” or is something that benefits “our students.” I hope you can pick your jaw off the floor when I tell you that this is in fact not true. I know, I know, I can just see your shocked face now as you learn that Gary Dugger would be misleading, but it’s going to be ok so stick with me as I prove to you how false this statement is.
First, there is a difference between something for the kids such as a PTA event or a Band Booster event. These are non-profit, school sponsored organizations and therefore are given special treatment (even though they still charge them for clean up and a cafeteria worker on sight when needed). But I-zone is not a non-profit and it is not a school organization. It (as you will recall and hear from me a million more times) is a private, for profit business. This would be the same as Burger Box using the cafeteria to make lunches for the students. Can you imagine the district giving special treatment to the Burger Box to come in and do lunches? Hold on to the Burger Box example because we will come back to it.
Karen Furman and Jan Cleere pay $175 a month to use whatever rooms they want per school. Their total rent to the district for unlimited access to Patterson and Delaney Elementary schools is a grand total of $350 a month. That wouldn’t even cover the electricity they consume in that time. But again, they will tell you it is for the “our students”. How funny to then learn that a Special Ed teacher at Delaney offers piano lessons 6 hours a week at Delaney after school. The only people receiving these lessons are Kennedale ISD students. In fact many of them are in I-zone. This seems to meet the exact same criteria for “our students” that Gary Dugger spoke of. Bet you can’t guess what’s coming. Yup, you guessed it! This teacher pays FULL price to use the one room he offers lessons in. He is charged $90 a week. You see the standard classroom rate is $60 for 4 hours. Well he uses 2 extra hours so he pays an extra $30 a week for that. That means since most months have 4 weeks, he pays $360 a month to use one room at Delaney to teach Delaney students piano. He pays more a month for one room than Jan Cleere and Karen Furman pay to run their entire daycare at both elementary schools, and they get unlimited access to any number of rooms based on the contract signed with the district. How is that for “Special Treatment.”
So how much should they be paying? How much money is the district eating or as some would call it “subsidizing” this private business? Well, I was at the school board meeting and I thought I would limit my estimation to just the rooms talked about by the board members and Mr. Deal Maker Dugger. There were 4 places mentioned that they use, even though their contract gives them full reign of the properties. The cafeteria, gym, playground, and computer room. I looked at what each room costs based on the facility rental agreement online at the districts website. Cafeteria for 4 hours is $175 x 4= $700 a week for just the cafeteria. The Gym they were said to be using for 4 hours is $150 x 4= $600 a week. Computer lab (classroom rate) for 4 hours is $60 x 4 = $240 a week. Playground (classroom rate since it wasn’t listed as a price and I chose the lowest price rate isn’t that nice of me) for 4 hours is $60 x 4= $240. I multiplied everything times 4 because they are in the spaces between 15 and 16 hours a week. this comes to 700 + 600 + 240 + 240= $1,780 a week for just one campus. multiply $1,680 x 2 = $3,560 for both campuses for one week. Assume there are an average of 4 weeks a month and $3,560 x 4 = $14,240.
So in short let’s break it down to this statement: they pay $350 a month if they were made to pay just as any other “outside”, for profit business they should owe $14,240. This doesn’t include cleaning up since they also throw that in as an extra perk for free to them too. I believe the logic is that the cleaning crew is already there so why charge extra for them to have to clean up the kids messes from legitimate school day activities and the mess they make after hours while attending this private daycare. Assume there are 9 month in the school year and the prices get even wider in amounts. In 9 months (the whole time I-zone exists) they pay a total of $3,150. The actual cost for these rooms for 9 months would be a total of $128,160. Now I know what you are thinking. You are saying WOW! no wonder the district is giving them a discount (all be it way WAY too big of a discount). They couldn’t make a profit with that kind of money being owed! Well that is where you are greatly mistaken my friends.
Let’s talk about profits! Now this is where I will admit to you that when I am figuring the rent owed and the money the daycare takes in I am using what would be the ultimate numbers for them. Because weeks aren’t always equal in a month were they may pay for 5 or pay for just 3 (In the case of Christmas break time) I have to find a way to standardize the amount so they are useable. There has to be constants to get a general picture of the money trail here. All the numbers might fudge a little high or a little low year to year based on the number of weeks in that school year or the number of kids who attend that month. The variation would not be so great as to put the numbers off by more than $10,000 one way or the other. Which when dealing with hundreds of thousands of dollars as Karen and Jan are isn’t significant. It is a 10% either over estimate or under estimate.
Ok that disclaimer out of the way let’s talk profits. Listed on the liscense for their daycare I-zone claims to service 130 kids, 80 at one campus and 50 at another. Their website states that parents pay $65 a week for child care. Now I am aware they have some kids who get a discount of $5 for having a sibling, but let’s look at what their optimum revenue is for the 130 kids. They may even have more kids than that, but they are only listed in the state records as these numbers so we will go with 130. Here is how the math plays out. 130 kids at $65 a week = $8,450. $8,450 x 4 weeks a month = $33,800 a month. $33,800 a month x 9 months of school= $304,200. Assume 1/2 goes to pay workers and costs and that leaves around $152,100 for the two owners to split between them. Meaning they would be getting around $76,050 before taxes but still a lot of money considering how little they pay for rent. This is optimum, the numbers could move down slightly if fewer kids came some weeks but still a lot of money. Again in full disclosure and honesty (not something you will get from KISD or their board a majority of the time) I want to again say that there could easily be a $10,000 over or under estimation here because number of kids fluctuates and some get a $5 discount or might half time it a week or so. But even with a little bit of give or take those are astounding numbers!!!!
So now you see why paying only $3,150 is a ridiculously low amount for this profitable business. The taxpayers are subsidizing a business that does not need help making a profit to stay viable which is the only reason a private business should be receiving help with taxpayer money to begin with. A good question to ask though, is when was the role of a School District to subsidize private businesses? I can’t find it anywhere that states schools in Texas were to be engaged in using taxpayer dollars to defer the costs for privately owned business.
I am in possession of an email sent by Mark Biondi to the head of non-profit private Christian school who used the athletic facilities at the Junior High because they did not own their own gyms or football field. The topic was whether or not there could be discount to use the fields and gyms. Mark Biondi stated that the rates were set by the school board and were firm and that there could not be any types of discounts made. Funny that a for profit business can get a heck of deal off those standard rates but a non-profit private Christian school pays full price!
The last and final area I think we should hit involves why the whole situation is a conflict of interest if not an out right corrupt enterprise for the district to be involved in to begin with. Let’s talk about the owners. Karen Furman is an Assistant Superintendent for the Kennedale ISD and Jan Cleere works with (for) her in the administration as the district’s testing coordinator. You won’t find that piece of information anywhere on their website and rarely are they tied to this private, for profit business. Why does this matter? They work in the administration that makes the contract for the relationship between them and the district. This is a clear conflict of interest. There are no conflict of interest forms filled out on behalf I-zone or by Karen and Jan on file with the district showing this very inbred relationship. On top of that with the extreme amount of disparity between what everyone else would have to pay and what they are actually paying makes this a very, very questionable relationship. This is by definition an example of corruption where “certain” people based on their positions receive favorable treatment at the expense of the taxpayer. And if this special benefit also includes any equipment or anything else paid for with federal funds (such as computers, video equipment, programs etc) how is this not mismanagement or misappropriation of federally funded money, equipment,and other items.
I know for a fact, because I witnessed it, that teachers would receive emails on their Kennedale ISD email accounts reminding them of duties, responsibilities (signing their time sheets), and general information from Karen or Jan’s KISD email accounts in the middle of the dealing with I-zone. That bothers me for two reasons. 1.This is theft of school property for use of their private business and 2.why were these women conducting I-zone business in the middle of the school day when they were being paid generous salaries to be doing Kennedale ISD work. It wasn’t until a year or so ago that they spread the word to workers not to do this anymore because questions had been raised about the practice by people. And lets not even get into how when I first started working at Kennedale ISD, I-zone was advertised on the front of the school districts website. No other daycare services that were available to Delaney students (all off site private companies NOT owned by Kennedale administrators) were listed on the site. Bet they didn’t pay for the use of the school website to advertise their business back then. Oh don’t worry it isn’t on the website anymore and I am sure they will all have selective amnesia as to it having been there in the first place.
When I asked for the rental agreements and contracts covering I-zones relationship with the district to find out just how little they were paying each month I discovered some very disturbing information. It seems that there are all kinds of facility use agreements dating back to 2006 for everyone and everything except I-zone. I was informed that the earliest agreement or paperwork that existed began in 2010. If everyone else had to fill out this paperwork to use the facilities why didn’t I-zone. Where were the legal protections keeping the district from being sued if something went wrong or insuring that I-zone was properly insured and would accept the responsibility of something did go wrong? Unless Mr. Edwards withheld those documents clearly asked for under the Open Records Request I made, then they don’t exist as he stated in his official response to my request. So how can there even be a guarantee that before 2010 I-zone was even paying rent for their use of the facilities at Delaney Elementary? I am currently working on getting the financial and budgetary paperwork to answer that exact question.
The conflicts don’t end there though. Look at all the people who are involved in the highest levels of I-zone and where they work in the district or their connection to the district. The current director is a man by the name of David Glenn. He is the husband of Dr. Missy Glenn. Dr. Missy Glenn is the coordinator of Federal Programs in the administration building for Kennedale ISD. She and Karen Furman received their Doctorates together at TCU and then she immediately recieved a newly created job in Kennedale (convenient little coincidence I’d say) working for her good buddy Karen. The former director before Mr. Glenn and now just the book keeper for I-zone is Christy Miller. Christy Miller is the K-8 instructional technologist in Kennedale ISD, which is another administration position. She, Jan Cleere, and Karen Furman (that 1 or 2 years Karen actually taught in a regular classroom) taught next to each other at Delaney. That position too was a newly and specially created position around the same time Christy moved back to Texas from California needing a job. My, my, my, isn’t this just the happiest of little administration families running a private, for profit business out of the very schools they are in charge of overseeing.
I would like to invoke the Burger Box example one last time. This is how it shakes out and ask yourself if this is how Kennedale Administration and school board should be doing business with taxpayer facilities and money. This same situation would be equal to Gary Dugger, superintendent extraordinaire, owning the Burger Box ( a private burger joint in Kennedale) and having a contract with the district for them to sell “snacks” after school to anyone at Delaney or Patterson that wanted them. I mean after all that is a service to KISD students. They need a snack after a long day of learning and they might not get dinner until much later. This is “for the kids.” They would be given the facilities at a fraction of a fraction of the cost. The district would give them the food to make for free and let them keep all the profits from making and selling the food, minus of course that monthly few dollars they pay in rent. Sound like a good business investment for the tax dollars in Kennedale? Because by discounting the rates so much compared to what they would charge anyone else that wasn’t owned and run by an administrator, this is exactly what Gary Dugger and the Kennedale School Board members are doing. Wondering yet why Kennedale taxes are some of the highest in the area? They’ll tell you it is to cover the cost of salaries. I would agree. It seems to cover the salaries that Jan Cleere and Karen Furman pay themselves from I-zone since they aren’t paying that money to the district to cover the true cost of doing business with the district.
I want to state once again that I am not opposed to a business making a profit. In fact, I am and always have been a very dedicated capitalist, but I do not believe that this situation is appropriate. This situation should never have happened. It is one thing to make an honest dollar. It is quite another to make a lot of dollars through “special” deals made through very unethical, conflict of interest filled agreements on the taxpayers’ dime. I will attach the YouTube video where you can hear in their own words that I-zone receives special treatment and just how hard the school board and Gary Dugger fight to protect it from any scrutiny. The attitudes by Janet Adams (brown haired on the left) and Rhonda Barnes (blonde on the right) are rude and confrontational. They talk about Mansfield’s daycare but fail to mention that Mansfield ISD actually owns that program and it isn’t a private business. The question that I will leave you with is this: Nothing in Kennedale comes free! You always have to pay in some way for special treatment. In a good ol’ boy system, I only scratch your back if you scratch mine. What kind of payment or personal benefit (of any kind: monetarily or otherwise), if any, are Gary Dugger, Rhonda Barnes, Janet Adams, Mike Walker, Joe Taylor, and Lori Glovier receiving for the many years of Jan Cleere and Karen Furman receiving such a sweet deal on their successfully profitable PRIVATE, FOR PROFIT business?
Here is the documentation for I-zone. Please click Here
Here is a link to the low quality version of the video:
Here is the higher quality version of the video so you can read the green tiles better. It is just a condensed version of the Money facts from the blog:
I know there is usually a longer time in between my posts so don’t get used to the idea that you will be getting a new one every couple of days. My earlier blog originally contained today’s work but I was advised that it would be to long and people wouldn’t read through to the end. I didn’t want you to miss out on the chance to see some of the basic foundations that make up the character of the man running the district and the environment he has created. I know again it isn’t the most scandalous of issues within the district (we will get to those too, I promise).
Our order of business today deals with King Dugger, also known as Gary Dugger, the superintendent of the district. I will admit to you that unlike Dr. Mike Walker, the president of the school board, I do not have a law degree from an online university. Not having that online law degree, I can’t personally tell you whether or not this particular action of His Highness is considered illegal. I will tell you that I found it to be troubling in the least and severely unethical in the highest aspects. During the opening convocation back when Rick Perry was running for Governor again in 2010 Gary Dugger made a statement to the entire gathered community of educators. He declared that we “needed to vote all the Republicans out of office” in November. I am not sure if that is illegal for him to say. It wasn’t a joke or opinion. It wasn’t a question or even just a statement. It was a command, because he had just stated the poor state of education and the budget issues in Texas. I know that it crossed the line because the following year, this last year’s convocation he made a statement in which he said, “Dr. Walker has made me promise to not make any political declarations this year.”
It shouldn’t matter if you are a Republican, Democrat, Independent, or Unconcerned as to who he was declaring for the staff to remove from office. What should concern everyone is that fact that it was said at all. This creates quite a hostile type environment when the leader of a place as big as this district makes such a statement. Those who would disagree would begin to feel uncomfortable or even threatened solely on their own political views. It creates almost an underground society where fear that you will be judged or looked down upon because of a differing opinion. It creates a kingdom of intimidation. One man’s opinion, view, or politics reigns supreme because he holds your job and your future in his hands. I can tell you from personal experience and from testimony of others that Gary Dugger can be a vindictive man if he feels you have crossed him or not agreed with him. He is a bully.
I find it funny that a Superintendent is such an intimidating, bullying man when we are living in an age where people are adamantly fighting to get bullying out of our schools. During various convocations he has exerted this exact image and demeanor. During one year when there was much grumbling and unhappiness among teachers (because of the environment of fear and intimidation was prevalent throughout the district) he reminded all of us that for only 1 position at an elementary school (a kindergarten teacher if I remember correctly) the district had over 2,000 applicants to apply. This was a clear shot to the concept that if you won’t do as we say or like what we do, teachers are a dime a dozen and you can be replaced. During the disagreement over the removal of the G/T program and the complete and utter destruction of the ESL program we were advised not to pick a side or speak out. Of course those things were never emailed or officially stated because that would be illegal. Those things were passed on from one to another in the great waring against “rocking the boat.” We were to play the “game” as older teachers advised because of the understood threat of the consequences for disagreeing with His Majesty Dugger and Her Highness Furman.
It’s not by coincidence that the moral and job satisfaction for teachers who have been in the district longer than 5 or 6 years continues to drop. People who loved this district and loved the family feeling they got from working in Kennedale routinely whisper of how it’s changed. They talk about the dictatorship and fear of losing their jobs for any little reason so that the administration can just replace them with a “yes” man robot who will do their bidding without question. Some of the greatest teachers are hunkering down and losing the style and personalities in the classroom that translated into success for their students and instead are just counting the days until retirement. They are hoping not to offend the wrong administration royalty or their stoolie and be forced out of their job before they can afford to.
Under Gary Dugger’s leadership and Karen Furman’s tyranny this small town, family oriented district has become WW II occupied France. Disagreement isn’t allowed. Fear of executions (firing) abounds and a gray sense of hopelessness has descended upon each campus. Dissatisfaction is only whispered about among others you know you can trust not to rat you out to the “Thought Police.” Conform or die has taken over from the innovation and out of the box teaching that moved this district from just an acceptable place to it’s recognized status. That effort wasn’t because of the latest boxed program Karen bought at a conference because Highland Park uses it. It wasn’t because of a pay raise offered by the school board in its perpetual cycle of abusive boyfriend behavior. This innovation came because teachers created programs and teaching styles to fill in the gaps and the needs of the students. Thinking outside the box and questioning why things are done a certain way and then changing them to meet the current need of Kennedale’s students (not whoever created Karen’s latest conference program buying spree) is what got the district’s ratings up.
For the last two years Gary Dugger has stood before the staff and demanded that Kennedale will be Exemplary. His tone, the manner in which he presents this statement every year isn’t an encouragement. It is a threat. The only word he leaves out of his statement to finish it properly based on his attitude and tone are the words “or else”. Pretty harsh environment to work in when you aren’t allowed to work outside the lines of the programs forced down the districts throat by Karen’s fascist leadership.
I will finish up my current examples of how a culture and environment of bullying and intimidation has crept into this district through Gary Dugger and Karen Furman’s leadership by showing you how one of the most promising administrators himself has been changed. When Rick Edwards first moved into the administration from being the principal at Kennedale High School he was one of the most encouraging and positive people in a leadership role in this district. He was understanding and accepting. He identified with the teacher’s needs and struggles because it wasn’t that long ago he was on the front lines with them doing the battles everyday to help the students succeed. Most felt he was on a clear and direct path into being the next superintendent for Kennedale ISD. I can tell you that the character of the man he was when he first entered that administration office would have made him, probably, the greatest leader to move Kennedale into the future while still holding onto all the great small town things that made Kennedale an ideal place to live and work.
Rick isn’t that man anymore. After being shunted off into just being the paperwork administrator when Karen gobbled up every program, grade level, and anything else to do with actual running of the district (except of course the toilets, we already discussed Biondi’s area was beneath her interest); Rick changed. It was probably out of the simple necessity to survive in the now hostile administration environment he found himself in, but he changed none the less. His smile went from being honestly concerned and genuine to a forced painted on facade. His character went from inviting to calloused and harsh. Maybe he began to believe the hype up among the ruling class. Maybe he began to think of himself as above or better than the rest. I know he declared his time too precious and valuable when confronted by disagreeing opinions in a Kennedale foundation meeting this last school year. How funny that his time (that he was getting paid for anyway) was more important and valuable than the VOLUNTEERS who are on the foundation board. Guess he drank the Kool-aide with the rest of them. He has adopted the arrogant, overly self important, hostile attitude the rest of them have. It is the saddest out of all the things to come from the kingdom of intimidation created by Their Highnesses Dugger and Furman.
The biggest tragedy of all, though, is the fact that this happened at all. You see it isn’t like there wasn’t a way to fix it before it got this bad. The school board members have been told on more than one occasion just from myself of the treatment and environment that exists in Kennedale (and I know others have expressed it too). They are the Checks and Balance to the administration. Instead of changing the environment through oversight of the harsh retaliations and atmospheres of fear spread by the bullying, they have checked out (unless there is a personal aspect for them in it [Cheerleadergate 2011 for instance]). They act as though they are subservient to the district’s administration when in fact they are above them in the chain of command. The administrators work for the school board who was voted in to represent the public. Until the school board decides to hold Gary Dugger, Karen Furman, Rick Edwards, Mark Biondi, and all those who work with them accountable there will not be positive change. The board again uses the abusive boyfriend relationship model of behavior. They allow the staff and workers to be abused and then clear the conscience by offering a pay raise at the beginning of the next year. I can only assume they are hoping the teachers and staff will forget the abuse they have been dealing with while the board turned a blind eye. They pat themselves on the back by saying “See we treat our people well. They are better paid than others around them.” The entire time ignoring the glaring kingdom of intimidation that has taken root under their noses.
Welcome Back, and to those of you who are joining us for the first time I say, just “welcome to the party.” I had hoped after giving a little bit of time for common sense to set in that the Kennedale ISD and school board would finally choose to do the right thing by myself and my family and I would not have to escalate to the point of beginning the process of exposing their actions and dirty little secrets. As I predicted in my earlier post they have chosen to cut off their nose to spite their face. This was never the way I wanted to deal with this, but now I am left with no other option. I will begin today with the actions by a leader within the district that isn’t as big a deal to some, but I want you to see the ground work that it lays out. Today’s revelations aren’t too big on the scandalous scale but they show just how deep this “culture of corruption”, goes, to use a recent political saying.
Our first example of horrible and inappropriate leadership will deal with one of the women that began the whole charade against me. I have already shown that Myra Rickard was a willing and complicit co-conspirator in the districts retaliation and railroading me on bogus accusations, but for the good of those who just joined us I will give a quick summary of my opinion of why she acted the way she did. You see, Myra has always wanted to be on the “In” crowd. She has her group of girl friends from school back in the 60s that are just the best of the besties and she fought hard to be in that group. She didn’t get in on her brains like Wanda Hibbits or her looks like Rhonda Barnes, but she was one of them anyway. She enjoyed that idea of being in the “elite” group within the community. The “It” girls. Well, Karen Furman had been creating her own little coalition of “It” girls ever since she clawed her way into her throne of power within the administration building. She has thrown promotions to several of her “friends” (Jan Cleere who was elevated to “District testing coordinator” was not only her next door neighbor when teaching but is also her 50/50 business partner in the daycare, IZONE, run out of the districts own buildings for personal profit). Karen has created her own little bubble of girl power. You will notice that she has not hired a single man into any of the principal positions that have come up during her tenure as the all powerful person in charge of everything, except of course the paperwork (Rick Edwards was sidelined as the presumptive next superintendent into that black hole of a position the minute Karen set her sights on being the successor to King Dugger) and the toilets (Mark Biondi is more than happy to just get the super high paycheck while doing as little real work as possible, while his old college roommate is still King of the district).
You see, Myra saw how Karen ruled this district with the micromanaging, heavy handed, self interested, iron fist that would have made Hitler and Mussolini turn green with envy. Myra also noticed that she was not a part of the inner circle of girl power rising up within this district. Being the good Baptist and clique member that she is, Myra felt the innate desire to be within the circle of power too. This is where her slobbering love affair with gaining Karen’s approval began. She needed it, whether for job security (we all know what happens when you oppose the Empress of KISD, just look at what they did to me) or a desire for more power. Myra in my opinion really and truly thought that once Karen ran Danny Greenfield off she would be right in line for his job and the nice bump in pay for when she was ready to retire. Getting rid of me has been a pretty obvious goal of Karen’s since I ruffled her feathers by exposing her G/T program not meeting state requirements back around 2007. What better way to solidify her standing and get in the good graces of Karen than to serve me up on a platter. Apparently Myra wasn’t concerned that the platter involved lies and distortions from a mentally unstable, jealous liar who has a history of accusing people of things and spreading lies. She ratcheted up the issue anyway. You’ll notice that Myra put in her notice of retirement right when she got back from Christmas break. Bet you can’t imagine why. Oh I am sure she will say it is because her husband has been ill or almost died and she needed to spend more time with him. I will tell you what the truth probably is. I didn’t just walk away quietly. Karen Furman and Gary Dugger weren’t able to bully and threaten my into disappearing without exposing to the public what was going on (not that they didn’t try). So in the end someone was going to have to answer for it. Someone if everything really hit the fan and the media or the public rose up demanding a head roll for this egregious over reach and abuse of power was going to have to be the sacrificial lamb. Neither Karen nor Dugger would be that lamb. It would fall on the lowest man on the totem pole. You guessed it, Myra would be the one voted off the island. In her attempt to gain favor all she did was leave herself open to being the sacrifice when it all didn’t go as planned. She saw the writing on the wall and cut her losses. I can tell you she has repeatedly stated she wasn’t leaving until Danny left. You’ll notice he’s still there. So that only leaves you to assume she left earlier than she wanted. But enough about the history of why Myra Rickard chose her ambition over doing the right thing and my family that she has known for over 50 years.
Let’s instead talk about how she has repeatedly broken the law over the last few years! I bet that sentence grabbed your attention. I can personally say that I have witnessed several times when Myra’s actions did not follow with the laws and policies of the Texas Education Agency (TEA). One of the reasons she may have soured on her view of me over the years, besides rubbing her power crush Karen the wrong way, is the fact that I pointed out when I felt things weren’t right for our students. The TEA, several years ago, placed requirements on how much time 6th grade students spent in P.E. Based on the law each 6th grader is required around 30 minutes of P.E. every day. They are not allowed to count any kind of recess or activity like that as part of their P.E. time. As the vice principal of a school it is her job to be aware of these types of requirements and make sure any action she takes is within these laws. No matter how many things are on your plate or all that is required of you, she chose the position and the pay increase and therefor must meet the responsibilities of the job. I can personally and confidently state that with at least 2 of my former students, Myra Rickard placed them in tutoring during their P.E. times because they failed their benchmark testing. I can say that because on both of those occasions I had to go to her and point out these students had complained to me that they weren’t getting to go to PE anymore. The question that should then pop into your mind should be “how many 6th grade students weren’t getting their required PE time and no one noticed because the kids didn’t complain about it?”. The next question you should ask yourself is “If she was willing to ignore the laws on this matter what other laws did she ignore or over look during her tenure as vice principal?”.
I can honestly say that when I brought up the fact that at least one of these particular students needed PE because they were very ADDish and it helped them make it through the rest of the day by getting that energy out, she was very irritated with me. She came across as angry and a bit confrontational about having to even address my concern. I remember her talking about how hard it was to keep up with those kinds of details for so many students and that they had to be in tutoring if there was a chance for them to pass the TAKS test in the spring. Scores were more important than checking to make sure that each student wasn’t being shortchanged on their legal rights to PE. I would love to tell you that she kept those two students out of PE anyway, but she didn’t. I know that at least one of them to best of my memory did eventually go back to PE and had their tutoring at a later time. That begs the question though of how many students over the last few years didn’t get to go to PE?
Some of you are probably wondering why this matters. One, it shows that keeping scores up and the administration happy was more important than the needs of the students. It also shows that one of the leaders within this district was either choosing not to check to fully keep in compliance with the law, or that she was just not competent enough to have been in that role to begin with. If something as simple as not scheduling kids to miss their PE was overlooked and ignored when it comes to laws the district is supposed to comply with, what other deviations from the law have they taken? As long as they don’t get caught or no one ask questions what is there to keep them from continuing to subvert the rule of law for their own benefit? Maybe this is why the administration and school board rally against anyone who asks questions or presses them for any real information at all.
I can personally attest to the fact that though within their legal abilities the district is currently making it difficult to obtain various pieces of information through the Open Records Requests I have begun. I will admit that so far they have stayed within the lines of the law, but I will tell you that they are not helpful in obtaining information. The semantics and word games you have to play to get the types of information you need I would guess toe the line of legality very closely. For a public organization, I find it funny that they are very difficult to get transparency and records from. I am also finding it very interesting that there seems to be a lot of paperwork that should be on file that doesn’t exist (or maybe I just didn’t hold my nose just right and call the report or the list the correct title to make them call “uncle” and hand it over). If they have nothing to hide why be so secretive and not more workable with requests. Again I am not accusing them of breaking the law and not providing required paperwork by playing games (yet), but I will admit to you that they are not making it an easy process either.
Hello friends, family, curious onlookers, pious Kennedale ISD administrators and school board members. I know that it has been some time since my last post, but I can promise you that things will begin to roll much faster now that my contractual obligations to KISD have ended with the end of this current school year. There are no longer any ties that bind me to the administrators and their flagrant abuse of power and so I am now free to begin what I had previously promised I would do if they chose not to do the right thing. It saddens me that Gary Dugger, Rick Edwards, Karen Furman, Mike Walker, and Joe Taylor’s egos have kept them from being able to handle things in an adult and moral manner. You see, all I was looking for was my public exoneration and an apology to myself and my family for what they perpetrated against us. Neither myself nor my family wanted to sue them for their misdeeds and their clear abuse of power in what can only be described now as retaliation against me for speaking out and not being the “Stepford teacher” and sheep that they prefer to employ in this district. We just wanted them to admit, (what anyone who knows the actual truth about the matter and not the lies the district personnel involved put out there to justify their actions) admit I hadn’t done anything wrong and do it publicly since they in their actions have damned me publicly. Secretly anyone who has dealt with these people before probably knew what I always knew. There was never going to be an apology now matter how wrong they were in what they did and how they did it. They can’t conceive any idea that they are wrong. In the way they view the world and how they lead, the ends always justify the means. For them, they got exactly what they wanted. I resigned and they are now free to hire someone who will not choose the best interests of the students over the kingdom building and power mongering that is at the heart of how Kennedale ISD is run. Don’t believe me? We will get into their all out assaults and character assassinations (not as citizens but as the actual leadership entities of this district) in a later post. I promise it will be a doozy!
On a side note, I can’t begin to express my amazement in the overwhelming response to my call for more stories and evidence of questionable behavior by school board members and district administrators. I can assure all of you that I will be following up on many of the things you have sent me. Even I was shocked at some of the details and evidence provided of things taking place within this district. ( Kennedalecorruption@yahoo.com keep it coming!!)
Lets begin with a brief overview of how things got to this point before I move on to where we go from here. I am not going to go over a detailed list of what they tried to accuse me of and defend myself issue by issue because their whole accusation has already been repudiated by more than one person at the school board meeting in December of 2011. It was shown that by the whole way they handled the situation that this was nothing more than a strong armed, abuse of power to force me out of my classroom. It began with accusations to which there was no substantiation, made by a woman who is barely holding her own life together. In her jealousy and (in my opinion) fragile mental state she made accusations against me that dealt with a family that I had been helping through some tough things. These people are very amazing Christians and are like family to myself and the rest of my family. The accusations would have been dismissed after the parents expressed their outrage at how this vindictive woman was trying to hurt all of us for her own personal reasons, except someone within the administration saw this as an opportunity get rid of me (in my opinion, because the facts of how things played out after this point don’t add up to any other logical conclusion, but you decide). This wouldn’t be the first time that someone in the administration had wanted me out of my job. I had a run in with Karen Furman several years ago over her G/T program (or legally lack there of) at the junior high (again a topic we will see in a future post). So, after 24 hours they announced the investigation was over and they were going to seek my termination. This announcement came after quite a bit of lying, bullying, threatening, and other behavior that’s normally considered inappropriate at a school, but I guess the adults running it don’t have to lead by example on those matters.
We told them we would take it and fight it with a public hearing, though they kept insisting they wanted this handled quietly. Once it was clear that I would not just resign on the spot (because I didn’t do anything wrong and even the family they were trying to use was standing behind me in all matters) they began to back away from the termination talk. They wanted a resignation deal or they also floated the concept of just keeping me on “leave” until my contract ran out so they wouldn’t have to make a decision on the matter. The decision would either mean firing me (at which point I would get an actually legal hearing and defense against their bogus accusations) or putting me back in my classroom. They chose the coward’s way out and left me on “leave”. You see once this went to an actual hearing they would have been exposed for just exactly what they were doing. This began to raise some serious questions. If through their threats I had done something wrong, inappropriate, illegal, then why did they not notify both the police which they had a legal 48 hour requirement to do or even CPS again a legal requirement of 48 hours? That is easy to answer: 1. Once turned over to either of these places and the decision of guilt or innocence was no longer in their hands it would be determined by that agency and 2. Knowingly making a false police report and accusation is a crime. But keeping it all in house made sure they wouldn’t end up being exposed for the liars and manipulators they are.
So now we come to the issue of Due Process. You see when an incident occurs in a company, school, organization and an investigation is triggered there is supposed to be a process so that the accused has the ability to defend themselves. I was never given this opportunity. I have never received an official answer to the investigation. I have been given no ability to refute the findings or publicly seek an appeal of the process. By keeping me on leave they short changed my chance to expose the whole charade. But by doing so they have also left it just hanging in the public realm that I did something wrong and left me no public way to seek exoneration. If they were in the right, then why deny me this opportunity? Cowardice! That’s why they chose what they have done in handling it this way. Once exposed for what it was someone would have to answer for this egregious abuse of position and power ( and I don’t just mean Myra Rickard’s early retirement for being the idiot that got the ball rolling with Viola’s lies). One of them would have to be fired for over extending their hand in this matter. To this day I have not been exonerated or terminated for the issue. They just put me in a closet, turned out the lights and tried to act as if I never existed within this district. Their hope is that in the end people will just assume I did something wrong. The whispers created by the void of publicly revealed truth will fill in the holes and of course it will be in their favor, because they will use the line “we make all decisions for the safety of all our students” I think that is usually the party line when they are trying to stop you from asking any further questions into their actions. Or it might be “we are not looking to divide the district but find partners who will help us find ‘consensus’. Another great ploy to keep you from seeing the man behind the curtain pulling the strings or what questionable actions he or she or they are involved in.
Then I am sure you would like for me to talk about the issue with the school board. The final say, the big Kahuna, the people who actually have the power to do all and deal with all things that happen in the district with no limitations. Don’t let them fool you, they could have taken care of this in an instant and set it right (had they wanted to). In fact the suspicious way in which they conducted themselves makes me think (in my opinion) that at least a few of them knew all along what the end goal was. Shortly before the December school board meeting my family members were approached by parents of students I had taught that wanted to know what was going on. The district was silent on the issue and I wasn’t talking to anyone because I had basically been threatened to stay quiet or “it would show a lack of character on my part and would make things worse for me” I believe was one of the many strongly worded and emphasized pieces of advice given by one administrator or another. I am sure they would tell you that wasn’t a threat… but from where I was sitting that is exactly how it felt and sounded. So I cut myself off from my coworkers for fear that they would be retaliated against if I talked to them or they knew the whole extent of what was happening. I am sure the district would point out that retaliation is against the law and they don’t engage in that behavior. Well, I guess how you view retaliation depends on your definition of it and from what point of view you are seeing it. But there again that is my interpretation of how they have behaved and my opinion of how the facts line out. I can name a few names of former teachers and employees who might also have a different view of what constitutes retaliation too. But there again you need a school board that will hold an administration accountable to those issues and sadly that might interrupt Joe Taylor and Mike Walker’s “consensus”.
The school board sat. Some of them listened. What was their response? They used their lawyer the next day to fire off a demand letter and what my family felt was a veiled threat against all of us. They demanded I accept this horrible resignation deal that would have kept me from ever attending a Kennedale school function for the rest of my life without getting personal permission from Gary Dugger (even after I was no longer an employee mind you.) or face termination. Now you might not know this but my father’s family has been in the Kennedale community since 1954. I have many relatives who still live there. It is ridiculous for them to demand that I get permission to go to my little cousin’s graduation in 10 years. If there was an issue that meant I was some sort of danger then they should have contacted the police! What they wanted was to keep me from being a visual reminder to the community that they used their power and a do nothing school board to get rid of me for personal reason and not legitimate ones. I won’t even get into the threats against my Teaching certificate or how very dismal any kind of recommendation for a future job was going to be with these people based on their resignation agreement they wanted me to sign. Why would anyone agree to sign something that basically treated them like they were guilty when even the school wasn’t able to legally terminate them for any guilty reason. I said no.
With me saying “No” you are probably wondering how I ended up resigning anyway. Let me explain. You see with their demand letter and in continuing statements through the district’s lawyer they kept saying the same phrase or something similar. They (the lawyer on behalf of the district) kept saying to my attorney that the Board and Administration blames Amber (my sister) and my family for rallying the community behind me and putting out there what the whole issue was about. Now, my family and I took this as a threat because it was expressed to us more than once. If the district was in the right and I was in the wrong and had actually done something why would they care if the public knew or even if they initially rallied behind me? All they would have to do is fire me, go through the public hearing, expose whatever sorted ordeal they claimed and walk away looking clean while I would look like a lying horrible criminal. They were mad because my family exposed them for what they were doing. They were angry that their act wasn’t done in secret and there would be questions. We all know how much they don’t want the public to ever question them. It was during the week that the date had been set for my signing the resignation agreement or face termination that we were once again confronted from my lawyer with the statement that The district and specifically the board blamed Amber for going public with my fight. The day of the deadline two things happened: 1. A Kennedale ISD school board member came into my sister’s business acting extremely odd. 2. the district posted the agenda for their special meeting which stated they weren’t going for termination but for non-renewal of my contract for the next year. I will address each point individually.
1. When this board member contacted my sister to come in for an appointment, she had no idea who he was. It’s not like my family had the school board members names and faces memorized and was on the look out for them. Instead of calling her business number he had called for the appointment on her cell phone. Odd but something like that can happen when a friend of Amber’s refers someone and all they have is her cell. Amber agreed to a consultation appointment. The man came in and his behavior was so out of the ordinary that the lady who works with my sister and the client that woman was working on became concerned for Amber’s safety. The client wouldn’t have her treatment until the lady went and checked on Amber because she felt worried about Amber being alone with him. Between his mannerism, attitude and the way he kept holding his backpack like some hidden recording device was in it, everyone in the office that night felt something wasn’t right. It wasn’t until a few days later that Amber saw a picture and realized he was on the school board for Kennedale. When contacting my lawyer Amber asked if she should be concerned and we were told yes, because the board has repeatedly expressed that they blame Amber for bringing all this forward and into the community. When my brother in law contacted the man to express how inappropriate this was and that they would not be able to offer him services with what was going on between my family and the school district, the man acknowledged that he knew who Amber was and her connection to me when he made the initial consultation appointment. Why would this happen. My family and I have an opinion on the matter. This particular board member shared in his “debate” recently that he is happy just being a “cog in the wheel” because there were others who take such leadership roles on the board and he was just happy to go along apparently. So we believe based on what happened that he was sent to intimidate us. I bet you can’t guess who we feel are the “leaders” on the board that he just follows along with. Doesn’t seem like he would be a self starter on this kind of idea based on his own words. Look at the “coincidence” of it. The exact day I was supposed to sign a horrible agreement or face “the next step” in the process a board member who admittedly just follows orders and isn’t one of the “leaders” shows up acting suspicious at my sister’s place of business. This was a day after again hearing that their lawyer had stated the board blamed Amber and were angry. If it wasn’t intentional then that is some crazy unbelievable coincidence isn’t it. I saw it as the district targeting my family. It isn’t that big of a stretch really. I mean look at how viscous Joe Taylor and Mike Walker are every election cycle when someone runs against a member of the board. They attack, character assassinate, bully, and intimidate. I can think of at least 3 elections where this behavior has taken place. They always say its just part of the democratic process. This is a lie. If you are running on a platform of solid principles that resonates with the public then they will respond to it and vote for you based on the issue not on the starving, mangy dog fight you create.
2. The move from termination to non-renewal of my contract was a last ditch effort to marginalize me and further hurt my future employment chances. (Like at this point its going to just be a breeze to get a new job with what they have done and how they have treated me. Not to mention what will probably be said once an employer calls for my previous information. I mean come on do you expect me to assume they will be ethical in that situation after all this?) Terminating me (firing me) would allow me to again have a public hearing where an outside person who the district has no sway or influence over would come in and decide whether there was reason and merit to the termination. So if they actually had cause to do what they have done, don’t you think this would be a no brainer for them? Nope they chose the cowards move yet again. They can almost for any reason deny a teacher a contract for the following year. Texas is an at will employer state. The level they have to show as to why it just isn’t a good fit is very, very low. (Like I would have wanted to work for these people after all this anyway!) It would only take them 4 votes out of the 7 to get it done. I am sure it would have been done in one of their closed meetings so they didn’t have to own up to their vote. I also love that in the whole process, I was never…. NEVER… allowed to address the board over the accusation. Wouldn’t you as a board member want to hear everything and not just a report from one side of the issue, especially considering I had taught 3 out of the 7 board members’ children or grandchild and all of them had loved me as their teacher. Wouldn’t you want to get this right and not make a mistake? You see they will tell you oh there is a process and we have to do what the administration recommends. That is bull! The school board does not work for the administration. The administration works at the behest of the school board. They have full jurisdiction over all matters personnel or otherwise. This was evident when Coach Johnson went through her ordeal with the cheerleading fiasco this last year. Though slightly different in some aspects, it still shows that the school board is not impotent in its scope and power. Again I am sure they chose to turn a blind eye in the name of “consensus” and the “good of all the students in their charge”, and ignore the need for doing the right thing if not just the moral thing (Several of them do claim to be strong Christian leaders).
After attacking my family with their little visitor and me logically assuming that they would not bother calling the meeting if they hadn’t already secured the votes to fall in their favor, I chose to resign on my own. I did not sign their agreement. My resignation meant that I would not have any restraints on me like their resignation agreement wanted. I wouldn’t be banned from events or school properties. I wouldn’t be gagged so I couldn’t speak out against their unethical actions.
Several things you should think about if you are still on the fence as to whether or not you believe me or the whispers I am sure started by the district leaders. One is why would you pay a guilty man his salary for the rest of the school year and all the way through August? If I did something wrong the law is in the school’s favor. You don’t pay a guilty man. You pay someone you want to go away but don’t have real legal grounds to get rid of. If I did do something wrong wouldn’t this have been the best set up for me? I would have been able to do something horrible and criminal or heinous and slip out quietly with no word as to being guilty and a paycheck until August. Why would I continue to speak out and draw attention to myself and the accusations if I had done something wrong? Why is the family that was being used in the accusation by a crazy, unstable, unhinged (in my opinion mind you) third party standing up behind me and defending me?
Here is what I will say to answer all those questions that the district can’t answer. It was never about the initial accusations of that mentally unstable woman. Those accusations never had any grounds. This has always been about forcing me out of my position as a teacher. It was a power play. I was never fighting the accusations, I was fighting the Administrators who saw this as their best opportunity to silence the one clear voice of opposition to their misdeeds and inappropriate kingdom building. I have to say I am disappointed in myself. I didn’t know the game that Dugger, Furman, and Edwards were playing when this all began. If I had I would have exposed them in the media about their lies and abuse right away. But I am quite aware of the game now.
My family and I are prepared for the long haul of this crusade. We are aware how Joe Taylor, Mike Walker, Gary Dugger, Karen Furman, and Rick Edwards operate. I can’t imagine they could character assassinate me worse than their actions have already done. But their way of doing business is to attack the people they are after. They bully, intimidate, lie, and assassinate their motives, character, and credibility. I can’t even begin to assume how they will go after me and my family now. Who knows what they will say about us? There is no telling what lies or twisting of the truth they will make and disseminate throughout the people who hang on and buff their butts for them and tell them how great they are. The masses who cling to them with faux adulation in the hopes not becoming the target of their next assault or of gaining an ounce of favor. Is it too far a stretch to worry they would resort to physical attacks? Their verbal ones during elections have been so viscous, vindictive, and without remorse that it makes you wonder just how far will they go to hold onto their kingdoms and their seats of power. What would they do to make sure that nothing exposes them and harms the “consensus” they have done so much to keep?
I am not looking to save my job or receive any type of money for what happened. I will seek the restoration of my reputation. As long as they refuse to exonerate me and apologize publicly I will continue to fight to expose them for what they have done and who they are. You see I have something they don’t have. I have the clear conscience that I stand on the right side of this matter and I have nothing left to expose about it. I have been honest and upfront about helping my friends when they were in need. I have spent my whole life helping, giving and using whatever money I had to try and make the lives of the people around me happier and better. If tomorrow they publicly exonerated me of this issue and apologized to me and my family, I would walk away and let the rest of the teachers fend for themselves because my dealings with these people would be over. But, as long as they refuse to do what is right by me and my family I have no choice. I will not rest, I will not waiver, and I will not stop until I have exposed all the things that need to be brought out into the light so the public can see the whole truth of who it is that is running the schools their children attend. They used legal loopholes and cowardice to keep me from being able to seek justice for myself and my family in this process, but I have firm faith that God will hold them accountable. I do not wish anything bad to happen to these people. I only hope that they are publicly exposed for their misdeeds and behaviors. I hope they are forced to see the looks on peoples faces. They should have to witness them whispering behind an open hand when they walk by, so they have some sense as to what my family and I have had to deal with since November of 2011. They took my job, stole the good memories my former students had of our time together, and tarnished my reputation. My hope and prayer is that God will return the favor upon them for their actual deeds and not based on malice and lies like they afforded me.
In the coming days and weeks we will begin our questioning of their behavior, actions, and decisions. We will look at rumors, we will pinpoint truth, and we will expose what needs to be known. The search for exposing TRUTH in this district begins. It begins today.