Rowland Todd: Shadowy Gatekeeper Seeks Re-Election

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In the past several months, a barrage of formal complaints have been made against both the Camden County Commission and Camden County Clerk Rowland Todd for repeated violations of Chapter 610 of the Missouri State Statutes, commonly known as the Sunshine Law. Local business owner Theresa Townsend has filed many of these, although she has not been alone in these complaints. Second District Commissioner Cliff Luber has made his own formal complaint to the office of the Attorney General, as have other citizens of Camden County. While there has yet to be any action taken by Casey Lawrence, Sunshine Law Coordinator of state Attorney General Chris Koster, she has issued letters indicating that her investigations of these complaints have revealed wrongdoing on the part of local government officials. In fact, of Theresa Townsend’s first seven complaints, all were found to be credible, despite claims made by the outgoing Presiding Commissioner to the contrary. A pattern of illegal behavior has been revealed through these complaints and the subsequent investigations into the Commission and the actions of Camden County Clerk Rowland Todd.

On casual review, the written minutes provided by Todd are lazy, incomplete and, in some cases, completely inaccurate. This manipulation of the official record is illustrated time and again.

This is to say nothing of his efforts to skirt the Sunshine Law.

As of this writing, it has been 95 days since a Sunshine request was made for former Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken’s email records. That request, made by Theresa Townsend, was first made in the middle of May. In what appears to be political gamesmanship, Todd completely disregarded MO State Statute. Sunshine Law requires that any request for records be answered in three days. It does not stipulate that requested records be made available in three days, only that an answer to the request be penned in that time frame. In this case, that means that Todd had only to write an email response, indicating that the request for records had been forwarded to the correct department(s) and that the data was being collected and prepared for taxpayer review.

Todd waited a full 17 days to respond to this request.

This was not the first time that Todd has acted outside the law in regard to record reviews. Earlier this year, when another request was made to review billing from county attorney Charles McElyea, Todd illegally halted citizens from examining these records. After initially allowing this record review, Todd then stopped it, after receiving a phone call from McElyea himself. According to accounts, Todd claimed McElyea threatened a lawsuit against the county if this review was allowed to proceed.

This is a crime, as outlined clearly by Missouri State Statutes.

Rowland Todd has repeatedly and without apology, abused the public trust. He has acted not as the keeper of records, but instead as a gatekeeper between the taxpayers and the truth. Todd has consistently blocked and stymied attempts by Camden County citizens to conduct lawful and legal reviews of government records. He has acted in collusion with government officials who seem to have something to hide from the public who pays them.
Rowland Todd is up for re-election in November of this year. If his bid is successful, the citizens of Camden County can expect that he will continue to create illegal roadblocks to keep taxpayers in the dark. Todd has become the gatekeeper for those who choose to abuse the trust bestowed to those elected to office. Instead of being the gateway to transparency in government, Todd has instead proven himself to be the gatekeeper, actively working to conceal the actions of those collecting taxpayer dollars in shadows.

Todd has clearly demonstrated, through his own actions, a willingness to put special interests and personal agendas before his duty to the citizens of Camden County.

Franken, Todd Conspire to Illegally Remove Email Records

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After several weeks and hurdles, Camden County Clerk Rowland Todd finally produced emails for Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken. The emails were received on Friday, July 25. This was 74 days after the original request for these records was submitted by Theresa Townsend, local business owner and resident of Camden County for more than twenty years. The emails were requested as a result of Theresa’s investigation into what she considers to be punitive and selective enforcement of Planning and Zoning, the Camden County Sheriff’s Department and Franken.
What was uncovered after reviewing the records and the redaction process is blatantly illegal. It harkens back to a similar scandal to emerge from the Governor’s mansion in 2007. Former Governor Matt Blunt engaged in the same practices that have been uncovered in the preliminary review of these records, provided by the Camden County Clerk’s office. On their surface, they point to behavior by the current Presiding Commissioner and County Clerk that is criminal and in direct violation of state statutes, adding yet another chapter in Camden County’s resume as the ‘Dirtiest County in America’.

Franken

HISTORY

The Sunshine request to the Camden County Clerk, Rowland Todd, has been a source of contention for weeks. The request, made by local business owner and resident Theresa Townsend on June 17th, was for all emails sent and received by current Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken for the past year. Below is a copy of that email request.

Terri Townsend
Jun 17

to me, rowland_todd
Since you seem to be laboring under bad legal advice concerning public records, I am amending my last request …. I would like to review ONLY Mr. Frankens e-mails for the past year. Please let me know when this can be done.

That request went unanswered by Camden County Clerk Rowland Todd, in violation of state statute, Chapter 610. On June 20, Ms. Townsend sent a follow up email. In that email she included the Missouri Revised Statute, Chapter 610.023. She also indicated that the ongoing refusal to respond to the request in the legally allotted time frame would result in yet another in a series of formal complaints made to the Missouri Attorney General’s office.

Terri Townsend
Jun 20

to me, rowland_todd, casey.lawrence
Mr. Todd, On Tuesday, June 17, 2014 I requested to view ONLY Mr. Frankens e-mail rather than those of all three commissioners. I asked when this would be possible. You have not responded to me.
Since the State Attorney General will only refer you to the statute you are violating rather than STOP these continued, blatant, deliberate violations, I will save her the time and valuable taxpayer money by doing that now.
May I present to you, obviously for the FIRST TIME, the portion of Chapter 610 of the rsMO:

Missouri Revised Statutes
Chapter 610
Governmental Bodies and Records
Section 610.023

August 28, 2013

Records of governmental bodies to be in care of custodian, duties–records may be copied but not removed, exception, procedure–denial of access, procedure.

610.023. 1. Each public governmental body is to appoint a custodian who is to be responsible for the maintenance of that body’s records. The identity and location of a public governmental body’s custodian is to be made available upon request.

2. Each public governmental body shall make available for inspection and copying by the public of that body’s public records. No person shall remove original public records from the office of a public governmental body or its custodian without written permission of the designated custodian. No public governmental body shall, after August 28, 1998, grant to any person or entity, whether by contract, license or otherwise, the exclusive right to access and disseminate any public record unless the granting of such right is necessary to facilitate coordination with, or uniformity among, industry regulators having similar authority.

3. Each request for access to a public record shall be acted upon as soon as possible, but in no event later than the end of the third business day following the date the request is received by the custodian of records of a public governmental body. If records are requested in a certain format, the public body shall provide the records in the requested format, if such format is available. If access to the public record is not granted immediately, the custodian shall give a detailed explanation of the cause for further delay and the place and earliest time and date that the record will be available for inspection. This period for document production may exceed three days for reasonable cause.

4. If a request for access is denied, the custodian shall provide, upon request, a written statement of the grounds for such denial. Such statement shall cite the specific provision of law under which access is denied and shall be furnished to the requester no later than the end of the third business day following the date that the request for the statement is received.
(L. 1987 S.B. 2, A.L. 1998 H.B. 1095, A.L. 2004 S.B. 1020, et al.)

Please be advised there will be ANOTHER formal complaint filed regarding this matter.

Theresa Townsend

June 23rd, an email exchange between Ms. Townsend and Rowland Todd addressed her request for these emails. Ms. Townsend sent Todd the following email:

Mr. Todd, on 6/17/14 I requested to view Mr. Frankens e-mails for the period of June 1, 2013 through the present. You have failed to acknowledge this request as well as the follow-up request sent 6/20/14. I will be in your office tomorrow 6/24/14 at 11:30 a.m. to view these records. Please see that they are available.
Theresa L. Townsend

Todd responded and the following exchange ensued.

From: Rowland_Todd@camdenmo.org
To: gidgetsgadgets@msn.com
Subject: RE: Public Records Request
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2014 16:19:15 +0000

Mrs. Townsend, This request is a revision of your original request for all three Commissioner’s e-mails. The estimate for the revised request is $250, but this is an estimate and you will be responsible for the actual charges for your request. The $250 will be required to be paid in advance. The IT Department will pull records until your initial payment of $250 has been exhausted for labor charges. At this time you will be made aware that your initial deposit has been exhausted and you will be allowed to make a decision as to whether or not we continue processing your request, or you may choose to view the documents that have been prepared to that point. If you have us continue to process your request you will have to pay the full balance of the actual cost of the request before you will be allowed to view any records. Nothing has been made available to you because you were disputing the charges. We usually do not require advance payments but have never received a request that was going to involve the amount of time that your request will involve. As has been explained to you, this office receives all Sunshine requests, however the appropriate department then fulfills that request. This request requires pulling records from the county server and cannot simply be scrolled through and viewed on the server. There are records that we are not allowed to disclose and they must be filtered in advance. This process has been reviewed by Casey in the Attorney General’s Office.
THANK YOU ROWLAND TODD

From: Terri Townsend [mailto:gidgetsgadgets@msn.com]
Sent: Monday, June 23, 2014 3:22 PM

To: Rowland Todd; americanspring2011@gmail.com; casey.lawrence@ago.mo.gov
Subject: RE: Public Records Request

Mr. Todd’ I would believe that when you are charging such an outrageous and, I believe, illegal fee that is in no way reflective of the cost actually involved that you would be able to tell me WHEN this WILL be available. You cannot say it is up to another department and just eave it open-ended … perhaps I should be corresponding with the IT Dept., who I am SURE did NOT come up with the hours that YOU did!! WHEN will June, 2013 e-mails be ready? When will the next months be ready?? Etc. You are not given carte blance to ignore requests for public information when you pass it off to another department. And may I ask WHY IT cannot just put words or phrases into a filter?? If this is Microsoft software as stated by Mr. Franken, this is ALL possible within MINUTES!!!

From: Rowland_Todd@camdenmo.org
To: gidgetsgadgets@msn.com
Subject: RE: Public Records Request
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2014 21:02:56 +0000

Mrs. Townsend, as I have tried to explain many times, I do not set the price or the length of time to fulfill a Sunshine request for another officeholder or department! The elected official over that department does that! The IT Department falls under the Commission Office as has been explained before. Our job is SIMPLY to accept the request! I cannot answer questions about pulling information off of the server any more than he (the IT employee) could answer questions about voter registration. As a matter of fact – the hours are what the IT Department estimated! We have forwarded this request to the appropriate department. Any further correspondence needs to be addressed to the Commission.
Theresa responded:
Mr. Todd, Even though I find the fees you quoted of $250 to be unreasonable AND illegal, I will be in tomorrow with this amount. Please have these documents prepared for my review

From: Rowland_Todd@camdenmo.org
To: gidgetsgadgets@msn.com
Subject: RE: Public Records Request
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2014 17:15:31 +0000

Mrs. Townsend, As per e-mail sent today, the conditions will stand and at this time there will be nothing available at 11:30 tomorrow (6/24/14) to view. But as always you are welcome in the County Clerk’s Office.

Thank You
Rowland Todd

On June 24th, Theresa Townsend spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting of the Camden County Commission. The audio recording of the commission meeting reflects her ongoing concerns, including the handling of Sunshine requests. Below is a transcript of her comments from that meeting.

“I received an email from Rowland Todd yesterday that disturbed me greatly. It said that the fee schedule was the result of a commission decision, that he received those fees from this commission, and I’m wondering when this was discussed? Because in reviewing the past three years of audio and typed minutes, there is no record of fees being discussed by this commission with regard to my records request.

So that tells me, either Rowland Todd lied….again….or that this commission held an illegal meeting in which decisions were made and forwarded to Rowland Todd, or that someone acted alone in giving Rowland Todd this information.

And so again, I’m going to ask, when is this commission going to take its job seriously, investigate the documented allegations I have made with regard to planning and zoning, with regard to Rowland Todd, with regard to Charles McElyea and with regard to your illegal meetings, meetings without notice and meetings without minutes.
Anyone care to respond to that?“

No response was forthcoming from the commission. Instead, they moved on to other business, including over $44,000 in unpaid impact fees at the Old Kinderhoook development. These impact fees, unpaid for months at that time, stood in direct contrast to Theresa Townsend having been charged twice for a permit for an addition to her business, Gidgets’ Gadgets, located on South Highway 5.

Charles McElyea, the attorney for Camden County, clearly had a conflict of interest that case, as he also represented Old Kinderhook. This was one of many facts brought to light by Second District Commissioner Cliff Luber as part of the June 24 meeting.

During this same meeting of the Camden County Commission, at approximately the 23:00 minute mark of the audio recording for June 24, Ms. Townsend’s Sunshine request was discussed at length. It was broached by Second District Commissioner Cliff Luber.

Commissioner Luber addressed the vague timeline offered by Rowland Todd for filling the Sunshine request in the email exchange with Theresa Townsend. Mr. Luber offered his own experience in requesting emails be pulled by the county IT department, referencing a request he himself made for emails from the account of former P&Z administrator Don Hathaway.

According to Luber, it took approximately 45 minutes to an hour for the county’s IT department to fill his request. This was at odds with statements made by Todd to Townsend via email.

Todd indicated that the request made by Townsend, would take eight hours for the IT department to compile. In fact, the eight hours referenced by Todd was for only one month of Franken’s emails. This email exchange, between Theresa Townsend and Todd, occurring on May 12th, May 29th and May 30th, speaks directly to the resistance of the County Clerk in filling ANY request for Franken’s emails.

Terri Townsend
May 12

to rowland_todd, me

Rowland, I would like to know how much I can expect to pay for copies of all emails out of Kris Frankens office for June, 2013. I would like to know, in advance, how many pages I would receive and how many hours it would take your IT Department to gather this information.
You may reply by email. Thank-you
Theresa L. Townsend

To this request, Rowland Todd had the following reply. This reply came a full 17 days after the request was made, in violation of Sunshine Law:

From: Rowland_Todd@camdenmo.org
To: gidgetsgadgets@msn.com
Subject: RE: Public Records Request
Date: Thu, 29 May 2014 20:09:18 +0000

$30.59 PER HOUR, $0.10 PER COPY WITH TWO COPIES PER PAGE . MRS. TOWNSEND ESTIMATED TIME EIGHT HOURS AND THOUSAND PAGES TIMES TWO THANK YOU ROWLAND TODD

Todd, acting as gatekeeper, clearly over-inflated the time necessary to perform the compiling of the email file. Additionally, he attempted to charge an illegal fee to Ms. Townsend. He indicates that there will be a doubling of fees for Ms. Townsend’s request. This is on par with Planning and Zoning charging Ms. Townsend double for a building permit she was told she didn’t need in the first place.

Theresa immediately challenged this attempt to impose an illegal fee.

Terri Townsend
May 30

to Rowland, me

Mr. Todd,
I confess to being confused by ” x 2″ … what does this mean and why would you charge me twice? Also, I question why it would take someone in IT (ESPECIALLY someone worth $30.59 an hour!!) EIGHT hours to hit “PRINT” for e-mails from a specific time frame?? Can you perhaps explain this to me??

Todd replied:

From: Rowland_Todd@camdenmo.org
To: gidgetsgadgets@msn.com
Subject: RE: Public Records Request
Date: Fri, 30 May 2014 17:50:13 +0000

The reason for charging twice one copy goes to you and one copy goes into the file for our record , it’s not just hitting a print button for the emails, they will have to be gone through, make sure there’s no legal confidential information in them

Terri Townsend
May 30

to Rowland, me

Rowland, You cannot expect ME to pay for YOUR copies, surely!!! Also, anything that should be redacted is your JOB and is already being paid for … THAT is NOT research :) Please adjust your billing to meet state statutes and give me the LEGAL amount I can be expected to pay for a month of Kris Frankens e-mails.

As was first reported on American Spring and Guerrilla Radio, the Missouri Attorney General’s office offered case law that substantiates Theresa’s position. This case law was provided to her by Casey Lawrence, the Attorney General’s Sunshine Law Coordinator. It has not been overturned on appeal and the judgment states that a citizen cannot be charged for redactions that are supposed to be occurring already as the normal course of duties of elected officials.

This was the first of many roadblocks and obstacles that were placed between the public and the emails of the current Presiding Commissioner, courtesy Rowland Todd.

As Cliff Luber pointed out in the audio from the June 24th meeting of the Camden County Commission, there had been no discussion or consultation on the fees as a commission body. If there were any such discussions, Commissioner Luber did not take part in them.

In fact, Commissioner Luber spoke with Keith in the county’s IT department that confirmed that it would only take the same 45 minutes to compile Franken’s emails for an entire year. This is clearly not what Rowland Todd was attempting to tell Theresa Townsend. He was pursuing punitive fees that had been arrived at arbitrarily.

Commissioner Luber also indicated, that as a result of his conversation with IT, he was assured that, even if an email had been deleted off of Franken’s computer, it would still be accessible on the county’s server. There was essentially no chance that any emails could be lost. This is not exclusive to Franken. It would presumably apply to every county employee with an email address, including Sheriff Dwight Franklin.

On June 28th, Theresa made a request for three emails, exchanged between her and Sheriff Franklin. This request was also sent to Todd and, predictably, it was also met with a questionable response.

From Theresa:

Mr. Todd,

I would like copies of all correspondence between my attorney, Gail Troutwine, myself and Planning & Zoning for the year 2007, with respect to the postings that were made upon my place of business. I would like copies of ALL notes, documents, e-mails, etc. pertaining to that year. It would have started June, 2007.

Also, I request copies of ALL e-mails to the Sheriffs’ Dept. (There ARE no replies) from myself and/or Gidgets’ Gadgets from 2007 to the present. There are THREE of them.

Please advise me of the cost and when I can expect to come pick them up.

Theresa L. Townsend

Todd’s response to this new request:

From: Rowland_Todd@camdenmo.org
To: gidgetsgadgets@msn.com
Subject: RE: Public Records Request
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2014 17:48:00 +0000

MRS. TOWSEND, BOTH REQUEST HAS BEEN RECEIVE HEARD FROM I.T .DEPT. NOTHING FOUND ON SHERIFF’S DEPT. E MAILS PER YOUR REQUEST THANKYOU ROWLAND TODD

At this point, Theresa sent a copy of the exchange to Casey Lawrence of the Attorney General’s office:

Terri Townsend
Jun 30

to casey.lawrence, Rowland, me

Mr. Todd, as I am in possession of the original copies that were sent, I find this to be totally untrue … those e-mails ARE on your system and they are NOT removable without a trace and failure to produce them WILL result in me filing a suit :)

As mentioned before, this appears to contradict what the IT department relayed to Commissioner Luber with regards to county email accounts. Also, it begs the obvious question:

If Todd lied about the eight hours required for IT to pull this data, might he also be inventing the story that the IT department tried, but was unable to recover the Sheriff’s emails?

To this point, Commissioner Luber also addressed a potential conflict in the Clerk’s office with relation to handling Franken’s emails. He brought up the role of the redactor and the need for the process to be above board. Commissioner Luber addressed Todd, advising the Clerk that he was in possession of an email that caused “concerns”. This allusion to a potential bias or conflict on the part of an employee in the Clerk’s office led Todd to make the statement that he didn’t want his department to handle the redactions at all. Commissioner Luber indicated that he would share the email in question, indicating bias, with Todd.

Todd, in response, said that he agreed with the Commissioner. He outlined his department’s procedure regarding Sunshine requests, which was to forward all requests to the appropriate departments to be filled. In this case, the redaction process, it was agreed, would fall to the Commission itself.

Franken, at this point said that he ‘didn’t care who did it’, regarding the redactions.

Commissioner Luber volunteered to do the redactions. He offered to do them on Saturdays.

Franken then brought up the issue of the deposit he and Todd were requiring Ms. Townsend to make in order to begin the process of collection and redaction of these emails. Despite case law provided by the Attorney General’s Sunshine Law Coordinator, proving any redaction fees to be illegal, Franken boldly stated that the need for the deposit came directly from the lawyer, hired earlier in the month to defend these illegal actions. In Franken’s own words:

“ We aren’t going to allow political phishing for free.”

Franken went on to state that there were approximately 6,000 emails. Commissioner Luber indicated there were 6200 emails making up the dates covered in Ms. Townsend’s request. After considering Commissioner Luber’s offer, Franken then replied:

“I’m ok with that.”

The issue of the $250 deposit, cited by Todd, reinforced by Franken, came up again. Franken, when speaking about the deposit, seemed to have direct knowledge of the emails exchanged between Todd and Ms. Townsend. Earlier in the meeting, Commissioner Luber indicated that the matter of a deposit was not a topic of discussion with the commission as a body.

The meeting was adjourned at that point, with the agreement that Commissioner Luber would handle the redactions as part of the record.

On July 10th, a full 59 days after the Sunshine request for Franken’s emails had been made, Theresa Townsend again appeared before the Camden County Commission. She was the second item on the agenda for discussion.

She was the first taxpayer in recent memory to be taken out of a commission meeting by a CCSD officer.

The meeting of July 10 began with a point of contention regarding the approval of the previous week’s meeting minutes. Commissioner Luber refused to accept the meeting minutes as written by the Clerk’s office. His reasoning for that was the inclusion of a letter read in the July 7 meeting of the Camden County Commission. The letter was reproduced in its entirety, at the request of Kim Krostue, the letter’s author and Bill Pragman, the only two registered officers for Krostue’s PAC. Krostue did not read his own statement into the record. Instead, it was suggested that he was afraid to read his own blasphemy. Pragman read it for him. The letter, as has been proven to be the case with other ‘allegations’ made by the PAC, was patently false on many of its points. As a result of this litany of lies, Commissioner Luber refused to accept any minutes that contained the prepared statement. Luber called the remarks “disgraceful” and indicated that he would not approve the minutes until the statement was removed.

There was no public comment made during the July 10 meeting. After tabling a bid for property, the commission moved to Theresa Townsend.

Theresa Townsend began by asking, yet again, for a response to the sixteen questions she sent to the commission. She stated, and minutes from the Camden Commission confirm, that no actions have been taken to investigate the documentation she has provided to her allegations regarding how Planning and Zoning were used punitively against her business. That documentation can be found on Citizens for a Better Camden County’s Facebook page and by clicking here.

Ms. Townsend went on to mention the efforts of the PAC and Kim Krostue to impugn her character and question her credibility during the June 11 meeting of the Camden County Commission during public comment . Ms. Townsend was on the agenda for June 11, despite Franken’s attempt to have her omitted.

During this meeting, Ms. Townsend went on to discuss the $250 deposit she was quoted by Rowland Todd. The redaction fees she had been quoted seemed ludicrous, in light of the fact that Franken sent Krostue emails containing personnel matters and information. This is a fact substantiated by Krostue’s own admission, as confirmed on the June 24 recording.

She questioned the doubling of her permit fees, considering that Franken himself had unilaterally waived fees in other cases.

Ms. Townsend also addressed the formal complaints she has made to the Missouri Attorney General’s office. She has filed more than a dozen formal complaints with Casey Lawrence, the AG’s Sunshine Law Coordinator. The first seven of these formal complaints have been investigated and, in each case, the illegal behavior of the commission has been proven. Letters from Ms. Lawrence confirm this fact, despite claims of Franken to the contrary.

On June 25th, in the Camden County Reporter, Franken is quoted as saying the formal complaints were ‘dismissed’. This is a blatant falsehood and a continuation of Franken’s casual relationship with the truth. The Lake Sun, instead of investigating themselves, simply reprinted Franken’s assurances of “Nope! Nothing wrong here!”

This seems to also be contradicted by the hiring of an attorney, at a rate of $150/hour, to defend the county against the stream of formal complaints that have been made by Theresa, other citizens and Commissioner Cliff Luber himself.

Theresa continued, calling Franken’s claims of dismissal an “outright lie”.

She also spoke about the way in which Planning and Zoning was allowed to extort money from her, despite her repeated efforts and actions to be considered ‘compliant’. She questioned the perversion of law that appears to be the norm in Camden County government.

Ms. Townsend was composed throughout her remarks. She asked the commission for justification for the doubling of her permit fees, a request she has been making repeatedly since October 21 of 2013. Franken has refused to discuss any of Ms. Townsend’s documentation, including his own email admission that the Planning and Zoning department was responsible for the mistake that resulted in a doubling of her fees.

After Ms. Townsend asked the commission for discussion on her remarks, Franken asked if she was done speaking. She stated she was not finished and that she had been placed on the agenda for that very reason: discussion and resolution.

Commissioner Luber, when he was asked for comment on the doubling of her fees, answered Ms. Townsend.

He stated that fees being waived and lowered without a vote at the sole discretion of Franken and fees not being collected is an ongoing problem in Camden County and that Ms. Townsend’s fees “should be waived”.

He went on to make the point that “extreme preference” has been extended to certain people and organizations, and that Planning and Zoning had not been fairly administered throughout the county.

Theresa offered that Franken, through his email to her, indicated the problem was in how her property was designated through GIS mapping. That was untrue, as she cited that this was the second time Planning and Zoning had failed to correctly designate her property as a business. The very reason former P&Z administrator Don Hathaway claimed, falsely, that Gidgets’ Gadgets was ‘non-compliant’ was because it was zoned, incorrectly, as a residence.

She went on to describe the great lengths Planning and Zoning went to in order to extort money from her. She described a ‘requirement’, also invented by Hathaway, to change the driveway into her store. Finally, MODoT intervened, telling Hathaway that the drive was fine with them and they had no reason to request any changes.
Franken still sat in silence. Theresa went on to read a prepared statement that again cited extortion and additional collusion to impede her access to information. When Theresa went to the office of Circuit Clerk Jo McElwee to obtain evidence related to her case, she was provided a form with an invented statute that granted the Judge, in this case Aaron Koeppen, the ability to either approve or deny her request for records. This is not something that is at the Judge’s discretion. She also cited the efforts of Todd’s office in putting up a procession of “road blocks” with regards to Sunshine requests. She wrapped up her statement by wondering if her status as a Native American woman was the reason for such obvious and blatant discrimination.

After she read her statement, she then asked the commission: When are you going to do your jobs?

Once again, she asked Franken for discussion. He said, falsely, that she was not up for discussion and that he would only make comments after she agreed not to speak. Theresa reiterated that being placed on the agenda means that the county has business to discuss.

Franken began banging his gavel loudly, attempting to silence Ms. Townsend. He then issued the threat:

“One more time and you are gone.”

At that point, Lt. Helms of the CCSD, on the scene at Franken’s request, approached Theresa and told her she had to leave.

“What rules am I violating?” she asked.

“Doesn’t matter.” Was Helms’ response. “I’ve been ordered by the Presiding Commissioner”
When Ms. Townsend continued to press for the reason for her being made to leave the meeting, Helms very clearly threatens her.

“We can do this nice and easy or I can….escort you.”

It was at that point that Commissioner Luber, presumably to protect Ms. Townsend from an assault, encouraged her to leave.

“Am I breaking the law?” she asked.

“Yes.” Replied Helms.

“What law am I breaking?”

“Ma’am, you’re about to find out, ‘cause you are about to go to the hoosegow…”

It was at that point that Theresa claimed, correctly, that her civil rights were being violated. In fact, in using the CCSD as his own private Gestapo, not once, but twice, against Ms. Townsend, Franken violated the agreement he signed below.

March 23

While Theresa could still be heard in the background, outside the meeting, asking for some sort of reason for the involvement of the police, Franken decided to make three comments in response.

First, he said he wanted to record to reflect that he was not a member of a PAC and that it ‘didn’t belong to him’. Second, he stated that Theresa had started an illegal building addition on her property. Third, he stated that she was not the only person to have their fees doubled.

Franken then directed Becky Farris, of the Clerk’s office, that ‘I think those are the three main points that need to be shown on the record’. In the background, Theresa can still be heard asking what law was broken. The inability of Helms’ to provide her an answer is also evident.

Commissioner Luber then spoke about the Theresa Townsend situation.

He began by talking about a request he had made of the Clerk’s office. His request was for all of the meeting minutes from 2012. He requested these to review how business had been conducted before taking office. While he said the clerk staff was always good about providing him information when he requested it, he pointed toward a relationship between Todd’s office and Franken that was “disturbing”.

The email below, sent by Kris Franken to Joyce Miller, editor of the Lake Sun, was generated after the clerk’s office notified Franken of Commissioner Luber’s request for the minutes for 2012.

Joyce:

I am heading out to meetings this afternoon, but I will give you an overview. Essentially, Teresa wants all three Commissioner’s emails from June of 2013 to June of 2014. We cannot give her emails that have items that fall under 610.021, or more specifically to do with legal issues or personnel issues. All of these emails will have to be gone through by hand, and these items will have to be redacted. I know that just for me, that time period contains over 2500 individual emails, some with large attachments. To print all of these out just for me could easily be over 7500 pages. We have estimated (conservatively I might add) the time frame at 35 hours to prepare the documents at an average wage of $20 per hour, not counting the $0.10 per page cost. As per the Attorney General’s office, we are requiring a deposit to begin the work. Using our estimate, we are requiring $700.00 to begin the work, which will probably fall well short of the actual cost of the request. Teresa does not want to pay for the request or make the deposit. I think that it is only right that we get the deposit so we don’t waste an entire week’s worth of county employee’s time for a request that she may or may not pay for and pick up. Since this request, she has decided that she wants print outs of all of the minutes from 2012, which are available for free on the website, and Commissioner Luber is printing these off for her so she does not have to pay for them. If you need more information regarding this, my cell is 216-1145. I am willing to try this route again if we can maintain some mutual respect.

Thanks,

Kris

The claims made by Franken in this email are completely false. Theresa Townsend never asked for the 2012 minutes. She is well versed, as should be obvious by now, in how to find the minutes online.

Luber went on to say that he ‘should be able to request something without the clerk’s office notifying Franken’. The allegations Franken made against Commissioner Luber in the email to Miller were, according to the Second District Commissioner, “false allegations made against me again”.

He also cited an email exchange in 2013 between Franken and Spree Hilliard, also of the Lake Sun. The exchange was in regard to the addition of a public comment policy.

From: Hilliard, Spree [shilliard@lakemediaonline.com ]
Sent: Monday, June 10, 2013 12:49 PM
To: Kris Franken
Subject: Lake Sun article

Kris,
I have some questions about the public comment portion of the Camden County commission meetings. Why was this instated? What is the background of this? Is this opportunity open everyday to residents or only on meeting days when there is official business to vote on? Is there a time limit on public comment? Does the person speaking have to live within Camden County? What do you think the public comment portion will add to the meetings? Why add this now?

Anything else you would like to add?

I am working on a story. Please get back to me as soon as you can. I called and left a message with a secretary just a few minutes ago, but figured I’d try emailing you.

Thank you,
Spree Hilliard
Lake Sun

On Mon, Jun 10, 2013 at 2:40 PM, Kris Franken <kris_franken@camdenmo.org > wrote:

Spree:

This was something that I was asked about by a group of citizens, and I did not have a good reason why we did not provide time for public comment other than it had never been done before, and it was not statutorily required. The Camden County Commission has always had an open door policy with regard to meeting with citizens at any time and about any issue. This formal period will only be on the days that we actually conduct business meetings, but as it has always been, citizens can come in any time to voice their concerns to the Commission. We are going to hold comment to 3 minutes unless there is additional questions from the Commission to the person making their comments. Anyone is welcome to make comments so long as it is done respectfully and within the reasonable confines of standard meeting procedures. People come in very regularly to visit with the Commission, and the only difference that I can see with the comments being made during the meeting is that the comments will be on the official record of the county, where the casual meetings with citizens that we currently have, while still just as important to us, are not a part of the official record. I know that this is something that has been abused in other parts of the state and in some instances it has been discontinued, but I think it is worthwhile to give it a try as long as comments and demeanor remain respectful.

Thanks,

Kris Franken

This email was sent to Hillard before public comment had even been mentioned to Commissioners Luber and Thomas, according to Luber. He had no idea who the citizens were requesting the public comment implementation, although they were later identified as members and contributors to Krostue’s PAC.

He also addressed the fees relating to Theresa’s Sunshine request for Franken’s emails. He asked how the fee was determined, other than by an attorney who works for the County. The terms of the related fees and deposits for Theresa’s request had never been discussed by the commission as a body. There was no consultation or conversation. There was never a vote.

He also mentioned the ongoing stream of complaints to the AG’s office. Commissioner Luber said that the commission had never been provided any of the letters from Casey Lawrence regarding the seven findings of wrongdoing by the commission. Franken had not shared those with Commissioners Luber or Thomas.

Again, Commissioner Luber referenced the relationship between the Clerk’s office and Franken and stated that he had no faith that the clerk’s office could redact properly in an unbiased fashion.

He also questioned information that was provided to Bill Pragman of the PAC. According to the email below, Franken worked to compile information for Pragman at his request, but there was no fee associated with this extra work. This, Luber stated, indicated a discrepancy when compared to Theresa’s request.

From: Kris Franken
To: Bill & Karen Pragman
Sent: Friday, June 7, 2013 3:12 PM
Subject: RE: Statistics

Bill:
 
I have you information…it was a little more work than I expected, but it was informative for myself as well.  A couple of considerations when viewing this data, especially with regards to the business and sales tax numbers.  I can only count the businesses that remit sales tax to Camden County.  If a business does not remit sales tax, like a manufacturer, or a feed store for farm use, or many other uses, they are still businesses but we have no way to count them…and they do not generate sales tax directly from their operation, but we get the sales tax generated by the economic activity from the salaries and jobs they provide.  Many of these types of businesses are located outside of the P&Z boundary.  These are actual numbers from our reports that I have compiled and I would say that the margin of error is a maximum of 3%.  Also, there are a lot of businesses out there that pay their sales tax at their point of purchase and only add labor, so they do not remit and show up on this report as a reporting business.  Business and sales tax numbers are from March, 2013.  On the real estate taxes, it is real estate only, no personal property, and it is for all taxing entities…state, county, fire, ambulance, etc.  If you have any further questions, let me know.  Here is the info:
 
Total number of parcels in Camden County = 65,536
Total amount of property tax paid by this group = $53,092,845.00
 
Total number of parcels in the P&Z District = 60,707
Total amount of property tax paid by this group = $47,817,873
 
Total number of full time residents in Camden County = 44,002
Total number of full time residents in P&Z District = 30,801
 
Total number of RETAIL businesses in Camden County reporting sales tax = 722
Total amount of sales tax collected by this group = $607,813.30
 
Total number of RETAIL businesses in P&Z District reporting sales tax = 711
Total amount of sales tax collected by this group = $606,445.30
 
There you go.  Have a great weekend.
 
Kris Franken

With regard to the doubling of Ms. Townsend’s permit fees, Commissioner Luber asked Franken about a BOA hearing fee, dated 2/11/13. The fees for this were waived unilaterally by Franken.

Even when confronted with this evidence, Franken claimed: “No it was not.”

Franken then attempted to feign shock and outrage, when presented with this proof, some of which was uncovered during the redaction process. It was at that point that Franken’s pathological affliction seems to have taken over. He attempted to rewrite history and claim that he never gave Commissioner Luber ‘permission’ to do redactions on his emails. This, of course, is contradicted by the official record of the June 24 meeting of the commission, as detailed above.

Franken claimed that, after the meeting, he changed his mind. He claimed also that he informed Commissioner Luber of this change of heart. Spree Hilliard, in attendance, backed up her buddy Kris, claiming that she heard Franken say that Cliff couldn’t review his emails. Unfortunately, three other witnesses, including Commissioner Luber, never heard any such statement.

Luber went on to say that because of Franken’s own actions, he was having difficulty in deciding what should or should not be redacted. He cited emails that Franken sent to Kim Krostue, a private citizen, regarding personnel issues.

“What am I supposed to redact when you’ve given a personnel email to a private citizen who supports you?” asked Luber.

Hilliard at that point asked for a copy of the full recording of the meeting and copies of the emails mentioned by Commissioner Luber between Franken and the Lake Sun.

“If the Lake Sun’s going to be mentioned, we should know about it.” Spree said, her naivety on full display.

Franken then, obviously shaken, declared the meeting adjourned.

On July 25th, 74 days after Theresa Townsend made a Sunshine request for one year of Franken’s emails, she received the following email from Clerk Rowland Todd.

To: gidgetsgadgets@msn.com
From: Rowland_Todd@camdenmo.org
Mrs. Townsend, your sunshine request for Commissioner Franken’s emails is finished. For your convenience we put them on the disc that you can take with you, there is a total of 6,074 emails. On June 24 you made a down payment of $250 I had one staff handle this at a rate of $11.77 per hour it took her 16 hours which comes out to $188.32 leaves a refund of $61.68. This can be picked up here in the office Thank you Rowland Todd 1 Court Circle N.W. Camdenton, Mo. 650203) 317-3890 (573) 317-3890 Fax: (573) 346-8445

This email has several important admissions in it. First, according to Todd, there were a total of 6,074 emails. Additionally, he admits that the redaction was performed by a female staff member in his office. This is in direct conflict with the official county record, in which it was decided that Commissioner Luber would handle redactions. In fact, Commissioner Luber had indicated that his redaction was nearly complete several days earlier, as evidenced by audio recording.

Instead, Becky Farris went to the IT department and requested the same emails. She said it was because they had received a call from the Casey Lawrence and the AG’s office. According to Todd’s office, they were told by the AG’s office that they were to do the redactions in question, not Commissioner Luber.

Commissioner Luber, seeking conformation of this directive, called the Missouri Attorney General’s office. They indicated they made no such call to Todd’s office.

On Friday afternoon, the disk containing the emails ‘redacted’ by Todd’s office was picked up and the remainder of the deposit was refunded, per the email from Todd to Ms. Townsend.

After receiving the disk provided by Todd’s office, several discrepancies immediately became apparent, seeming to provide validation of Commissioner Luber’s stated reservations about the redactions being done in the Clerk’s office.

First, according to Rowland Todd, there should have been 6,074 email records included on the disk. This was not the case. Only 5,137 records were provided. According to accounts given by Franken (6,000 records), Commissioner Luber (6,200 records) and Todd (6,047 records) there are, at minimum 937 missing emails. These emails appear to have been completely omitted from the disk provided for review.

What can only be characterized in Commissioner Luber’s word, ‘disturbing’, there appears to be a very deliberate pattern regarding the omission of these 937 emails. Also, as predicted by Commissioner Luber when he voiced his concerns regarding the Clerk’s office handling the redactions, emails that should not have been redacted clearly have been.

In taking a tally of outgoing emails authored by Franken, a noticeable problem exists. This year, in the month of May, Franken sent 85 emails. In June of this year (not a full month based on the Sunshine request), there were 101 outgoing emails. It is important to note that these two months are by far the most reasonable, with regard to volume, than the preceding months.

The disk provided by Todd’s office shows that in the months before May of this year, Franken’s outgoing emails have been severely redacted. A monthly tally breaks down as follows:

July 2013 5
August 2013 7
September 2013 8
October 2013 1
November 2013 5
December 2013 5
January 2014 1
February 2014 2
March 2014 2
April 2014 0

The inclusion of the handful of emails that WERE provided indicate that any outgoing emails should still be on the Camden County’s server and was not a technical or user error. Had outgoing emails been in a separate folder and were not uploaded to the disk, there would be zero records for the months above. Instead, what is presented appears to be a fraction of the emails Franken sent during those months. Nor were all of these emails regarding legal or personnel issues. In fact, an email sent by Franken to Theresa Townsend on December 5, 2013 is missing. There could be no reasonable justification for this email to have been redacted, as it is a response to Theresa’s ongoing issues with Planning and Zoning.

From: kris_franken@camdenmo.org
To: gidgetsgadgets@msn.com
CC: dhathaway@camdenmo.org
Subject: RE: P&Z ongoing issues
Date: Thu, 5 Dec 2013 17:47:18 +0000

Teresa:

I apologize, once again, for the incorrect record keeping in Planning and Zoning regarding your property. We have gone through a series of software updates on our GIS system and sometimes data does not transfer from system to system as we would like. We will do our best to make sure that the zoning map issue does not occur again.

I understand from your email that there are things that you do not like about the rules in Planning and Zoning and would like to encourage you to be a part of the process whenever we have public hearings to take input on proposed changes.

I am not aware of any “selective enforcement” in Planning and Zoning as you have alluded to, but some of that perception may be from variances that were requested and granted to certain applicants by the Planning and Zoning Commission or the Board of Adjustments. As far as incorporated municipal boundaries are concerned, Camden County Planning and Zoning laws do not apply within the city limits of any city or village located within the borders of Camden County.

Finally, you allude to an “illegal meeting”. We have had no illegal meetings. The commission never voted on any action regarding your property. The job of the Planning and Zoning Administrator is to uphold and enforce the laws of Camden County. The action of that enforcement does not, and should not, require authorization of the County Commission. Any “meeting” that you would be referring to would simply be a staff update where the Commission was being made aware of the cases currently being acted upon in Planning and Zoning. These updates help to keep us properly informed should we need to answer questions on case statuses that we may encounter either from the applicant or a concerned citizen.

I appreciate your concerns with Planning and Zoning and will work to improve the program.

Sincerely,

Kris Franken
Presiding Commissioner Camden County

This email does not appear in the records provided by the clerk’s office. It is one of the missing 937 emails. There can be no reasonable argument made to have redacted this email and it stands as undeniable proof of the collusion between Franken and Todd to thwart Sunshine Law.

This illegal action has exposed the county to unknown liabilities. It is in violation of a decision reached during a meeting of the Camden County Commission and clearly violates both Chapters 109 and 610 of Missouri State Statutes. The omission of these records are criminal, plain and simple, as illustrated in 2007, when former Governor Matt Blunt and his staff ignored state statutes in concealing their emails from the public. It represents a violation of the public trust and the oaths of office taken by both Franken and Todd.

Together, they decided that the decision of the commission could be discarded, in order to conceal Franken’s emails. This decision came without a discussion or vote by the commission body. The decision to have someone other than Commissioner Luber do the redactions is a violation of Sunshine Law itself.

Theresa Townsend, who first found this glaring and sloppy discrepancy, sent the following email to Rowland Todd, in order to clarify who made this decision.

RE: EMAILS REQUEST
Terri Townsend 7/25/14
To: Rowland Todd
Also, what do you mean you had one staff do it?? It was decided in a Commissioner meeting that Mr. Luber was going to do the redaction. Can you please tell me when this was changed, when you were notified of the change and WHO notified you of this change??? There has never been another Commissioner meeting where this was discussed or decided after June 24, 2014. Thank-you

Also, the following email was sent by Theresa Townsend to Casey Lawrence of the Attorney General’s office on Monday morning, July 28, 2014.

Casey Lawrence:
On Friday July 25, 2014 I was notified by Rowland Todd that my records request of June 17, 2014 had FINALLY been completed and rather than allowing me to VIEW the records as requested, they were placed on a disc for me to pick up. (Here is copy of request: Public Records Terri Townsend 6/17/14 To: americanspring2011@gmail.com, rowland_todd@camdenmo.org gidgetsgadgets@msn.com Since you seem to be laboring under bad legal advice concerning public records, I am amending my last request …. I would like to review ONLY Mr. Frankens e-mails for the past year. Please let me know when this can be done. ) On June 24, 2014 it was agreed that Commissioner Luber would redact these e-mails at no cost. On July 11, 2014 when I sent a follow up to Mr. Todd, he responded that Mr. Luber had the e-mails and was redacting them. (Here is link to audio of June 24, 2014 Commissioner meeting: http://www.camdenmo.org/min2012/June%2024,%202014.mp3 ) In Mr. Todds e-mail of July 25, 2014 he states ” I had one staff handle this at a rate of $11.77 per hour it took her 16 hours which comes out to $188.32″. Since there have been no commissioner meetings since July 10, 2014 I am wondering WHO told Mr. Todd to have a staff member redact these e-mails, HOW was Mr. Todd notified to do this and WHEN?? Also, according to RSmo 109.280 these records should have already been marked as confidential and separated from “regular” public records which means there should be NO charge for redaction. It should have already been done as I have maintained from the beginning of this request. (Here is 109.280: Agency heads may determine nature and form of records–confidential records to be so treated. 109.280. Nothing in sections 109.200 to 109.310 shall be construed to divest agency heads of the authority to determine the nature and form of the records required in the administration of their several departments, or to compel the removal of records deemed necessary by them in the performance of their statutory duties. Any records made confidential by law shall be so treated in the state or local records center and archives.) Also, on June 24, 2014 I was charged $250.00 AFTER it had been determined that Mr. Luber was redacting the e-mails … what was I being charged for??? THAT $250.00 was for the IT Dept. to redact at a rate of $30.59 an hour as you are well aware from previous correspondence. It took over a MONTH for me to be allowed to VIEW e-mails!!! RSmo 109.80 states: Public records open to inspection–refusal to permit inspection, penalty. 109.180. Except as otherwise provided by law, all state, county and municipal records kept pursuant to statute or ordinance shall at all reasonable times be open for a personal inspection by any citizen of Missouri, and those in charge of the records shall not refuse the privilege to any citizen. Any official who violates the provisions of this section shall be subject to removal or impeachment and in addition shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished by a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars, or by confinement in the county jail not exceeding ninety days, or by both the fine and the confinement. (L. 1961 p. 548 § 1) CROSS REFERENCE: Tax returns and records of department of revenue, confidentiality, 32.057, 92.338, 94.540, 94.620 I hardly think that this request has met this requirement ….. Moving on. I would like your office to subpeona Mr. Lubers computer immediately as there are 837 missing e-mails. In Mr. Todds e-mail he states “For your convenience we put them on the disc that you can take with you, there is a total of 6,074 emails.” In the June 24, 2014 meeting they claim 6200….. HOWEVER, there are a total of 5,237 on the disc provided to me. All but EIGHT of Mr. Frankens out-going e-mails for the period of June 2013 through May 2014 are NOT on this disc, including the one he sent to me on December 5, 2013 which would NOT have met redaction criteria. I would have a hard time believing that ALL of Mr. Frankens outgoing e-mail for ELEVEN MONTHS would have been “closed” records. Since all other incoming e-mails are here, I would believe that the out going e-mails SHOULD be on the county server or have been deliberately removed/destroyed. I am asking that your office conduct a thorough investigation of these allegations and the record keeping system and the methods used by Camden County as these are public records that are now missing, destroyed or being illegally kept from me, even after I paid the illegal fee! I would mention that I shouldn’t pay for redaction under law, but, also because the person who did the redaction was inept, to say the least. There are SEVERAL e-mails with TWO separate attorneys that SHOULD have been redacted and were not. To conclude, I would like to point out the following as you seem to have missed it in your previous dealings with the Camden County Commissioners and my formal complaints: Liberal construction of law to be public policy. 610.011. 1. It is the public policy of this state that meetings, records, votes, actions, and deliberations of public governmental bodies be open to the public unless otherwise provided by law. Sections 610.010 to 610.200 shall be liberally construed and their exceptions strictly construed to promote this public policy. Your office is charged with seeing that these laws are followed!!! You have FAILED miserably in this task over the course of the past three months. It has led to this brazen crime being committed against me. For the last time, I ask that you do the job you are being paid to do and bring these lawbreakers to justice and see that they are penalized for the willful arrogance with which they continue to break these laws. Any further inability on your part to do the job your are charged to do will result in a freedom of information request being filed for all correspondence between your office & Camden County regarding my formal complaints and you will be named as a co-conspirator in these these crimes in the suit I will file.

The entire file of Franken’s emails will be made available to the public on Monday, July 28, 2014. For more on this story as it continues to develop, tune in today at noon on Guerrilla Radio.

Editor’s Note: Because some email programs track and count emails in different ways, there is a working assumption that the total number of records could vary slightly depending on the program used to view them. This does not however, explain the vast discrepancy between emails included after Franken was made aware of the Sunshine request and those months preceding. The difference is certainly worthy of a thorough investigation by the office of the Attorney General.

Federal Lawsuit Filed Against MO School Districts, County Officials

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BREAKING NEWS:

THE COLOR OF LAW – CHILD TRAFFICKING AND MISSOURI SCHOOLS

On Friday, February 7th, a federal lawsuit was filed in United States District Court, Western District of Missouri, Southern Division. This suit was brought by the Lagares’ family in a last effort to protect their children.

The Lagares family has been under siege as a campaign has been waged against them.

The Lagares family has been under siege as a campaign has been waged against them.

This suit alleges that:

“Government workers mentioned acted maliciously and with malice and while under the color of law, restricted Plaintiffs having their freedom and rights to happiness.”

The following persons were named as Defendants in this suit:

Camden County Circuit Judge Aaron Koeppen

Attorney Charles McElyea

Former Camden County Commissioner Carolyn Lorraine

The Camden County Commission

The Lebanon R-III School District

Lebanon Director of Special Programs Dr Tammy Lupardus

Tammy Lupardus is currently the Director of Special Programs in the Lebanon school district.  She held this position previously in the Camdenton school district where she was banned by senior school administration from Denny Lagares educational files.

Tammy Lupardus is currently the Director of Special Programs in the Lebanon school district. She held this position previously in the Camdenton school district where she was banned by senior school administration from Denny Lagares educational files.


President of the Lebanon School Board Robert O’Neil

The Lebanon School Board

Lebanon R-III Administration

Lebanon School District Employees Kyra Crabtree, Rebecca Simpson, Sheila Moore, Deborah Burns, Krissy Jackson and Erica York

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)

The Camden County Office of the Prosecuting Attorney

The Camden County Sheriff Department

Camden County Sheriff Dwight Franklin

Missouri Division of Family Services

Ms. Beverly Chapman

Chapman, pictured here, is named as a defendant in the Lagares' 'color of law' filing.  She was also named in a previous 'color of law' federal suit brought by Mr. Robert Gipson.

Chapman, pictured here, is named as a defendant in the Lagares’ ‘color of law’ filing. She was also named in a previous ‘color of law’ federal suit brought by Mr. Robert Gipson.

Laclede County DFS Agent Amy Rozell Killion

Laclede County DFS

Camden County DFS

Miller County DFS

26th Circuit Court Judge Jackson

The Camdenton R-III School District

School Board President Chris McElyea

The Camdenton School Board of Education

The Laclede County Sheriff’s Office

Also named, acting in their respective roles, are the following attorneys and law offices:

Attorney Ruth Schulte

Attorney Barbara VanTine

Attorney Thomas Mickes

Attorney Ernie Trakas

Mickes, Goldman and O’Toole

The Devil's Advocates

The law firm of Mickes, Goldman and O’Toole represents over 300 school districts in the state of Missouri.

Attorney Michael Carter

Attorney David Welch

Phillips, McElyea, Carpenter and Welch

Attorney Christopher Rohrer

Attorney Brad York

Deputy and Mizell

Attorney Chris Rasmussen

O’Neil and O’Neil

The following organizations have also been named in the suit:

Change Acadamy Lake of the Ozarks (CALO)

Midwest Assessment and Psychotherapy Solutions

Kids Harbor Forensic Interviewers

This is a condensed list of defendants. The entire list of defendants and the draft copy of the filing (NOTE THIS IS ONLY THE DRAFT COPY, NOT THE FILED COPY) can be read in full, here. It is based on the legal premise known as ‘color of law’.

U.S. Code › Title 18 › Part I › Chapter 13 › § 242 18 U.S. Code § 242 – Deprivation of rights under color of law Current through Pub. L. 113-75, except 113-66. (See Public Laws for the current Congress.) US Code Notes Updates prev | next Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or penalties, on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

More with the Lagares family on the federal lawsuit can be found on the February 11 episode of Guerrilla Radio with American Spring.

Stay tuned for part three of our investigation, ‘Child Trafficking and Missouri Schools’.

Follow the blog at http://www.americanspring2011.com to keep up to date on the latest developments in this case. Also, follow on Twitter (@AmericanSpring) and Facebook (Guerrilla Radio with American Spring) to stay current with local, state, national and international news.

Sound and Fury… UPDATE: Child Trafficking and Missouri Schools

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Below you will find correspondence from Shawn Patrick Colgan and this website regarding its ongoing investigation ‘Child Trafficking and Missouri Schools’. It is presented here for public review.

Colgan is the live-in boyfriend of Amanda Rollins, ex-wife of Denny Lagares. Rollins and Colgan currently have full custody of both Nicole and Kyle.

To whom this may concern:

My name is Shawn P. Colgan Jr. and I have just recently read your blog on child trafficking in Missouri. I am appalled to say the least. I am very supportive of every effort that is made to ensure the corrupt government, on any level, is not allowed to destroy our lives and what we ( I, and many others) have fought for.

I am writing to let you know that your research is flawed, and grossly over exaggerated. You claim to have researched this thoroughly, and simply put, you haven’t. I am disappointed that someone of you statute would allow someone to give one side of a twisted story, and you don’t investigate to see if the facts are true.

As far as the story and the allegations that have been made on myself, family, friends and colleagues, and our justice system, you have had the wool pulled over your eyes only to blind you from the truth.

I am more than willing to sit down with you or email you the actual facts of this case. I can prove, through several agencies local, state, and federal, that your claims are frivolous and hold no bearing in the ACTUAL situation.

Please feel free to reach out to me. I will provide what information that I have.
Be sure to research facts before berating an entire community and state of something that makes for dramatic, unrealistic, and slimy article, for news, but in reality is a pathetic attempt that allows the actual demon to go unnoticed and achieve malicious intentions.

Thank you for your time and patients. Look forward to hearing from you.

Shawn Colgan U.S. Army Veteran

Mr. Colgan,

First, let me say I appreciate your reaching out to share your side of things. I am happy to review any and all information you would like to provide. Our goal is to provide facts and any that you can share would be welcome.
Please feel free to email the material you would like us to review. I am anticipating a Monday release for part three of our investigation. Any new insight would be helpful to provide context and balance.

Thank you,
Paul Ellison

Mr Ellison,

After much consideration, I have decided not to tell my side of things. If my facts are received by you and you write or dismiss them as the Lagares’ do then I will be wasting my time. In fact I will be retaining legal counsel to file for a suit of defamation. I will be starting the process this week. But, just for your information the Lagares’ have already been accused of false allegations starting with local law enforcement, and extending the lies and allegations up to the FBI. I have been cleared on all accounts. I find it amusing that you would honestly believe that the entire justice system is flawed and everyone involved have a personal vendetta with that family. There is no motive to, allegedly, destroy their lives. Do you think that the local, state, and federal agencies held a type of lotto to completely diminish this family? Do you think that there is no system of checks and balances in our legal system. You will be able to see the cold hard facts very shortly.

Look forward to hearing from my lawyer.

Respectfully,

Shawn Colgan

After this threat of litigation was received, American Spring discontinued any further correspondence with Colgan. His statement, “I have decided not to tell my side of things” was taken at face value. Colgan however, had an apparent change of heart.

Below is a string of comments left on various articles on americanspring2011.com. These comments were left anonymously, under the pseudonym ‘John Doe’. The comments originated from the email address ‘pcbigdaddy@yahoo.com’. The email address, along with the nature, content and tone of the comments below seem to point directly to Colgan as their author.

11:41 AM

I find it amusing that all of you honestly believe that the entire justice system is out to get this family without motive. There is more to this story than you think. This is just simply not logical.

1:10 PM

Hey, did anyone actually click on the picture of the alleged “beating” of Kyle? No I am sure you didn’t. If you had, you would see that the picture is tampered with. You people have to be just as paranoid and delusional as the family you think you are helping. What is the motive here? What did the family do to deserve such injustice? NOTHING!!! This a weak and pathetic plea by the family to try and manipulate the truth to appear as though they are being picked on. All the while they themselves are the ones that spread lies, manipulate the system. OH! I forgot to mention, Kyle was coached to have aspberger’s syndrome. Kyle exhibited every typical sign for the syndrome and yet when he went to spend time with his mother they went away. Then the testing that the father tried so hard to get, to prove that the mother wasn’t able to care for Kyle’s needs because of his so-called condition, resulted in NOTHING! Kyle didn’t have the syndrome, he didn’t need special treatment. The father went to the extent of covering the child with a weighted blanket, brushing the child like a dog, and putting him on a gluten free diet. Hmmmm… Now who does that sound like? The very people that he is trying to accuse of treating him so badly. I think not.
Not to mention, Nicole, has been seen by many different doctors( with Father) to try and prove sexual assault, with pelvic exams and rape kits. This was almost a ritual when the children would spend time with their father. Even on Thanksgiving, in which he only had her for a few hours and it was spent at the ER. Another Pelvic exam. Yet, as many times as he has done this, never did any result in findings that were consistent with sexual trauma!

Editor’s note: No rape examination has ever been performed on Nicole Lagares. She was taken to see the doctor during a Thanksgiving visit because of rawness and redness, discovered during a visit with her father and his family. Nicole did have a pelvic ultrasound in 2011 for her bladder condition. This was done at St Mary’s hospital, while Nicole was in the custody and care of Rollins and Colgan. Dr. Brockman reported vaginal rawness during this visit.

This fact is confirmed by medical records.

1:16 PM

Your just as delusional as Dennis. Your entire family is absolutely pathetic if you allow their lies to affect you this way. What did you guys do, piss off the Governor of Missouri? Maybe the POTUS?? Give me a break. How do you find people that believe this crap that you are being targeted for no reason?? Their is a reason why Sherry’s own mother doesn’t associate with her. OH wait… Let me guess, she is big meanie and she doesn’t play well with others, and is out to get your family too??

2:03 PM

Okay, again your facts are flawed. The reason why the lovely Sherry didn’t get her motion heard the first 2 times is because between her and her lawyer, they couldn’t come up with why neither the mother AND father should be deemed unfit. The reason? Because you don’t have a case when your son has admitted to coaching the kids to lie about false allegations, and have no proof(even though you tried really hard to create it) that the mother was or is unfit. You think that the government is brain washing you and our children, by believing this lifetime movie-ques web of lies and deceit! And what makes this worse is that the children don’t trust their own father because her has told them multiple times to “play a trick” on Mommy and her boyfriend. By ” playing a trick, the kids thought that by lying the would gain dad’s love. Unfortunately he taught them that lying gets you know where. The truth will prevail. Don’t be sucked into this. Yes, American Spring you may be a great advocate for the community at large, but let me challenge you to research the other side of stories, because when you don’t you become just as deceptive, and slimy as the people that you allegedly are protecting us from. I challenge you as a reporter to DO YOUR JOB!!! Report the FACTS not your conspiracy theories!

2:21 PM

OH NO!! This can’t be! This all-American, god-fearing,amazing family is being targeted again?? Why would you,one, believe that the Dennis story is true, and two, believe that now the same people are out to get his new wife?? If you seriously have nothing better to do than to divulge yourself in the lies and pathetic rhetoric of these articles, then maybe, you the reader, are the ones who need us to be your voice and protect you. Okay, I have posted on every article concerning this story. I would love someone to give me some kind of MOTIVE! Hint: Look really, really hard… It’s kind of like trying to get oil from a water spout, blood from a turnip, or better put… IMPOSSIBLE!

3:19 PM

Okay.. Either my eye sight is going or I just read another assumption that really blows this case apart. So the author attempts to draw us in with all of the horrible, atrocious, and malicious alleged acts. YET, ..haWhen you look at the stated motive it doesn’t even closely link the stories with the allegations. Author says that the motive was to get revenge on a family that stood up for their kids’ rights to an education.
Wait… So(according to the rest of the articles) you want me to believe that Dr. Lupardus, has harbored a huge grudge against the lagares’? With that revenge that she has had bottled up, she could see into the future to when those dang Lagare’s would have kids, and that she needed to acquire a job in Lebanon( because she knew that is where they would be living…Ha). Then lets jump to the most outrageous claim. If the above stated is true then you have to believe this: Dr. Lupardus is a school official who could see into the future where she could get her revenge. She recruited every teacher in the school. As to say: If those Lagares'( who didn’t move to Lebanon til 2012) ever show up in my schools, you must help me destroy them. Then if you believe that, then you have to believe that she knew what lawyers that both parties would have representing them, you would also have to believe that she knew there would be allegations of abuse and paid off the DFS workers. Oh, wait. Let’s not forget to pay off the potential judge, all attorneys(including Mr. Roar) and every police and sheriff’s department( who allegedly wouldn’t enforce the law). But, just in case all else failed, she knew the exact judge that would preside over the case and paid him off too!!
Man that would make one hell of a blockbuster!!! That is EXACTLY what this is people. If you can’t see it from this post , then I will pray for you and your mental state.

The following email was received Monday, February 10.

From: Shawn Colgan

3:01 PM

It would be in the best interest of your bogus story, that you plan to air more on tomorrow, to allow me to speak with you. You have been sadly mistaken, and I think that you know it. However, if you continue to do this, you and all of your income and assets will be at risk, if I have to sue for defamation. Please call me or tell me where I can meet you today!

This email, which stands as a complete contradiction to previous statements from Colgan, was received before a scheduled visit between Denny Lagares and his children. This visit was supervised by DFS agent Amy Killion. A second email was received after this visit.

From Shawn Colgan

8:55 PM

I had high hopes for you Mr. Ellison. I thought you would come to your senses and talk to me about applying some truth to this story. However, you have seemed to fall into the same category as the Lagares’, a sadistic family looking to destroy a honest family’s reputation and lives. Not to mention, you’re actually helping to hurt the very kids you say you’re protecting. I have asked nicely, and warned accordingly. I will make it my life’s mission to expose the crooked, sadistic, and vile lies that you try to pass off as news. By the way, don’t run your mouth from behind a computer screen without giving someone a chance to defend themselves, that makes you a coward. Don’t be a coward Mr. Ellison.

Then, that same night, via Twitter:

Shawn Colgan Jr ‏@JrColgan 9h

How can run your mouth and spread lies but when I call any of you out, you run like cockroaches in light?@AmericanSpring

11:57 PM – 10 Feb 2014

Shawn Colgan Jr ‏@JrColgan 9h

I have tried to contact @americanspring SEVERAL times about his vicious lies he is accusing me of and, to my surprise, he wont answer. Why?

11:59 PM – 10 Feb 2014

Shawn Colgan Jr ‏@JrColgan 9h

@americanspring Why would you report one side of a story, and refuse the opportunity to hear the other side? I have extended my contact info

12:01 AM – 11 Feb 2014

In a telling move, the American Spring twitter account was ‘followed’ by DFS agent Amy Killion on the evening of February 10th, presumably after the supervised visit between Denny Lagares and his children. It would appear a consultation between Colgan and Killion led to her ‘following’ the American Spring account.

Her motivations for this are unclear, although this action appears to speak directly to collusion between Killion and Colgan.

Despite Mr. Colgan’s schizophrenic, inconsistent messages and games of semantic ping-pong, the offer to review any and all relevant information he can provide in this case, stands. It has not been rescinded, despite multiple threats and attempts to bully or cajole.

Stay tuned for the latest updates and Part Three of our investigation into ‘Child Trafficking and Missouri Schools’. Follow us on Twitter and tune in for tonight’s prime time edition of ‘Guerrilla Radio with American Spring’ for more on this story and other local, state and national news.

For the complete investigation to this point, please click here.

Family Under Siege: BREAKING NEWS Child Trafficking and MO Schools

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Yesterday, January 28th, 2014, a hearing was scheduled in a custody matter regarding the children of Ginger Lagares. Ginger is the wife of Denny Lagares, mother to Austin, Jeremiah and Kaden and stepmother to Kyle and Nicole. This hearing appears to be a direct result of the ongoing campaign against Denny and Ginger’s parental rights.

The Lagares family has been under siege as a campaign has been waged against them.

The Lagares family has been under siege as a campaign has been waged against them.

The hearing was scheduled in Laclede County Circuit Court, Judge Jackson presiding.

Posted below is the motion filed by Ginger’s attorney, Joseph McMillen of the Kirksey Law Firm. It is dated Monday, January 27th. It is a motion for a continuance and was sent to Jack Miller, attorney for Ginger’s ex-husband, and Ginger. Because of this motion and her attorney’s assurances, Ginger believed her hearing and all matters pertaining to her case had been postponed until February.

According to entries on Casenet, decisions were made in Jackson’s courtroom without Ginger or her attorney.

It was a shock for Ginger to find that a GAL had been appointed in her case. The name listed was not one that had been discussed previously between Joseph McMillen and attorney Jack Miller. The entry made on Casenet noted the appearances of Jack Miller and attorney ‘O’Neil’, who was identified as Guardian Ad Litem for Ginger’s children.

Attorney Robert O’Neil is a former partner of Brad York at the firm of O’Neil, O’Neil and York.

O’Neil is also the president of the Lebanon school board. In his capacity as president, he was copied on emails regarding the Due Process filed by Denny and Ginger regarding their children Kyle, Nicole and Kaden. The district could potentially face liability for their actions, if the Lagares’ were allowed to file a suit on their children’s behalf.

Brad York is the current GAL in Kyle and Nicole’s case.

It was also noted on Casenet that the motion for continuance was granted and a hearing was set for February 11, 2014.

Ginger was informed by attorney Joseph McMillen of the Kirksey Law Firm, that he was no longer willing to represent her in this matter. He filed a motion to withdraw as council. According to McMillan, he had already exceeded the retainer of $2,100 the Lagares’ paid the firm. McMillen had requested an additional $5,000 to continue litigating Ginger’s case.

Yesterday’s hearing was the first scheduled in Ginger’s case.

Currently, neither of the Lagares’ have legal representation.

For details on the ongoing investigation into ‘Child Trafficking and Missouri Schools’, click here. For last night’s interview with the Lagares family on Guerrilla Radio with American Spring, click here. Follow Guerrilla Radio with American Spring on Facebook for the latest updates and local news.

Child Trafficking and Missouri Schools Part Two: The Skeleton Key

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Introduction

Below you will find part two of an ongoing investigation into child trafficking and Missouri schools. This investigation began with the story of Kyle and Nicole Lagares.

In October of 2010, Kyle and Nicole’s mother, Amanda Rollins, fled with Nicole after it was discovered that Kyle had suffered a broken leg. The injury was an old one, according to the doctor who treated him. When Denny told his wife that he was going to have Kyle tested to determine when and how the break occurred, Rollins disappeared with Nicole for nearly a year and a half.

Part One details the period of time Nicole was in the sole custody of her mother and her boyfriend, Patrick Colgan. The timeline, constructed largely from medical records and court documents, reveals a disturbing pattern and points toward ongoing abuse.

It chronicles Denny’s fight to protect his children and unveils a determined plot to rip them from him. This wicked web of associations have called into question actions of local law enforcement agencies, the courts, the Department of Family Services and the administrations of the Lebanon and Camdenton school districts have worked in concert to strip this father of his rights.

Perhaps the most shocking thing about Kyle and Nicole’s story is that it is not an isolated incident. A pattern of behavior and collusion has been established in Mid-Missouri, each case bearing nearly identical fingerprints.

Click here for Part One of this story, ‘Suffer The Children’.

Click here for the Guerrilla Radio exclusive with Denny, Ginger and Sherry Lagares about ‘The Skeleton Key’.

For notification by email of the release of Part Three of this investigation, please click the ‘follow’ button located on this page.

Under Cover of Darkness

On January 14th, 2013, an article appeared in the Lake Sun titled, ‘Direct email contact with school board now a reality’. The title of this article was a textbook example of the use of double-speak or ‘yellow journalism’. For residents of the Lake of the Ozarks, this propaganda campaign is all-too-familiar. The paper has functioned as a mouthpiece for Camdenton school administration in their promotion of misrepresentations of truth and outright lies regarding operations in the district.

The drive to manufacture consent in our school districts is at an all time high. Camdenton is representative of this trend in the state of Missouri. Media silence has allowed for the full installation of the bully system in the district. This condition is not exclusive to the schools. The policy statement, revealed in this article, is brazen. It speaks directly to the arrogance of the monsterous mechanisms pulling these strings. They wish to control all communication between the parents and the community these elected representatives serve. It is the theft of representative government. It is the theft of the skeleton keys of education.

Theft, such as this, can only be accomplished in shadows and is best performed in silence.

The article referenced above clearly defines what level of contact school board members are allowed to have with the parents and public they serve.

All emails sent to board members will automatically be routed to the district superintendent. In most cases, the superintendent and administration will reply to citizens. All board members are required to sign the district’s ‘Authorized User Permit’ in order to use their school provided account. This ‘permit’ allows school administration to have full, unfettered access to these email accounts. The district’s stated protocol is that any replies be made by the superintendent or board president, with a promise these responses will be circulated to the rest of the board. Individual board members are “allowed” to respond to the public, but they are required to state that their opinions are their own and do not reflect the board as a whole. Board members are “prohibited” from using this email account outside of “district policy”, including all of the restrictions mentioned above.

This “district policy” was crafted, in part, by the law firm of Mickes, Goldman and O’Toole.

The Devil's Advocates

The law firm of Mickes, Goldman and O’Toole represents over 300 school districts in the state of Missouri.

As part of the policy they wrote, Mickes, Goldman and O’Toole reserve the right to filter emails from the public to the board, as well as any board member responses. They have, in other words, ensured that all email communication between parents, citizens and their school board members are subject to their approval.

The construction of this policy is the next evolutionary step of the bully system in Missouri school districts. As the ‘transformation of education’ promised by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan marches on, the need to silence the public has grown more urgent.

Parents have watched as, in districts across the state, greater efforts have been made to limit both their role and voice. School board members are being advised by MSBA and district lawyers that, if parents are allowed to speak openly in school board meetings, the school may somehow be liable for what those parents say. This warped interpretation and application of legal opinion has caused school districts across the state to adopt more restrictive public comment policies, with school administrators having autonomous veto power over all such requests.

This drive to control and monitor what information reaches elected school board members is in full swing. As the cases of Kyle and Nicole reveal, there is a powerful motive for school lawyers to insist on such secrecy. The law firm of Mickes, Goldman and O’Toole have, at the very least, willfully violated the public trust.

This fact, enforced by their actions in the Lagares case, is one they would desperately like to conceal from both board members and the public.

The lawyers of Mickes, Goldman and O’Toole are not the only vultures flocking around the Lagares children. Attorneys Ruth Schulte, Barbara Van Tine and Brad York appear to have acted, not on behalf of two children in desperate need of protection, but in their own interests. Judge Aaron Koeppen has demonstrated a resistance to hearing evidence that, if heard, may well result in a father regaining full custody of his children.

This network of the Devil’s advocates has collaborated, from beginning until bitter end, to strip Kyle and Nicole from their father’s protective embrace in order to deliver them to monsters. They have not acted alone.

They have been aided by a host of willing participants, including the Camden County Sheriff Department, the Camdenton School District and Lebanon School District. In 2010, the CCSD absconded their duty in the enforcement of an Order of Protection issued on behalf of Nicole Lagares. They did this after a statewide alert had been issued, identifying Nicole as an endangered child, and while an active search for her was being conducted by other law enforcement agencies and DFS, at the behest of Ruth Schulte.

Also in 2010, the Camdenton school district introduced the skeleton key of ‘educational neglect’ as a way to gain access to the Lagares children. In 2012, the Lebanon school district also employed this tool against the Lagares’. The law firm of Mickes, Goldman and O’Toole represent both districts.

Aiding and Abetting

In late October of 2010, shortly after Amanda Rollins disappeared with Nicole, Denny Lagares made two telephone calls to the Missouri DFS hotline to report both Kyle and his injuries and Nicole’s illness and disappearance. These calls were placed, one for each of his children, on two successive days and both were received by Laclede County DFS Supervisor Justine Robinson (formerly Justine Trogen). This prompted an Order of Protection to be expedited for Nicole and a multi-jurisdictional alert to be issued to law enforcement. She was to be taken into protective custody immediately and had been registered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. These steps were initiated by deputies Wendy Kost and Donna Ford of the Camden County Sheriff Department. One of these deputies even went so far as to call Rollins’ cell phone, leaving a threatening message, telling the fugitive mother to give herself up or face the consequences. An active ‘manhunt’ for the little girl was underway.

Robinson was in close contact with Denny during the first hours of the hunt for Nicole. During this time, Robinson said that she had called Shawnee Woods, Rollins mother. Woods, during this call, told Robinson that she knew Nicole and Rollins’ whereabouts but was not going to share that with Robinson, despite the alert and Order of Protection that had been issued.

Agent Robinson told Denny that she had unsubstantiated a previous DFS hotline call regarding Kyle’s injuries because of a phone call from their Miller County office. Robinson said that a Miller County DFS Agent had gone to Woods’ house and that it had been declared ‘clean’. Robinson indicated she had no choice in the matter.

The hotline call was unsubstantiated. No further investigation was conducted. No interview with Kyle ever occurred.

These admissions by Robinson were made during a rare period of cooperation with Denny. DFS appears to have abandoned standard operating procedures where the Lagares children are concerned. They seem to be running an entirely different playbook.

Predictably, soon after those admissions to the Lagares family, Robinson refused to have contact with Kyle and Nicole’s father. Unbelievably, it took several weeks and repeated attempts by an attorney just to get Robinson to respond to Denny’s requests for updates about his daughter, her welfare and her whereabouts.

For the Lagares family, the frantic search for their little girl lost began the moment Rollins left their driveway that bleak day in October. They were actively searching for Nicole, tracking down what leads they had, which led them, of all places, to a church in Eldon.

Sherry and Dennis Lagares Sr. (known as ‘Poppy’ to Kyle and Nicole) scoured the area for their granddaughter. It was Poppy, Sherry would later recall, that had said he thought Rollins was going to go ‘underground’ the morning she disappeared into the October mist with Nicole. Poppy was so convinced Rollins intended to leave, that he considered blocking her vehicle in the drive with his truck, to prohibit her from taking off with Nicole. His gut feeling had been correct. It would be the last time he would see his granddaughter for months.

The elder Lagares’ had supplied Rollins with a cell phone. Sherry got those records and compared them to the morning Rollins left with Nicole. These phone records led the Lagares’ to the Aurora Springs Baptist Church in Eldon, Missouri. They arrived before Sunday Services and spoke with the pastor.

The pastor told the Lagares’ that the phone call made that October morning was not placed by him. He was out of town, in Columbia, at the time of the call. After the Lagares’ explained Nicole’s disappearance, the alert and Order of Protection issued for her, they asked the pastor to contact the Camden County Sheriff Department or the Department of Family Services with any new information. Then, the pastor said something that appeared to be shockingly coincidental.

The pastor volunteered that one of the key holding, ‘prominent’ members of his church was also a Miller County DFS Agent. This person had access to the church when the telephone call was placed. Also of note, Shawnee Woods, Rollins mother, was also a member of the church at that time.

Shortly after the disclosures made by DFS Supervisor Robinson and the revelations from the pastor of the Aurora Springs Baptist Church, attorney Ruth Schulte materialized from the shadows. Like a diabolical puppeteer, Schulte, representing Rollins, began pulling invisible strings designed to bind Nicole.

The Camden County Sheriff Department gave the Lagares’ the first real indication of the depth of the dark waters they and Nicole were trapped in. The CCSD informed the Lagares’ they had ‘better get a good lawyer’. According to the CCSD, Schulte contacted them as Amanda Rollins’ representative in divorce proceedings.

Schulte claimed to have no knowledge of the alert and search for Nicole. This seems highly unlikely. It would appear there would be no other reason for Schulte, in this capacity, to be contacting the CCSD.

Schulte informed the CCSD that she would produce Nicole the next day. The sheriff’s department told the Lagares family that Schulte had made a ‘deal with DFS’ and that Denny could not be anywhere around when Schulte brought Nicole in.

An Order of Protection had been issued for Nicole. This order (see below) was signed by a judge. The Camden County Sheriff Department had a copy of this Order of Protection and their own deputies had placed Nicole on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s web site and issued an alert for her.

It was their responsibility to enforce the Order of Protection issued for Nicole Lagares. It was not up for negotiation. It was not up to Ruth Schulte. They abandoned their duty and little Nicole Lagares in refusing to follow the law. Nicole was not taken into protective custody.

It would be weeks before Nicole’s father would be told where his daughter was and how she was.

The ‘deal’ referred to by CCSD between Schulte and DFS appears to have been powerful witchcraft. Not only did this ‘deal’ allow her and CCSD to violate a Judge’s Order of Protection, it also caused the DFS to go into lockdown mode where Denny was concerned.

Robinson refused to communicate any further with Denny. While it is clear that Robinson had conversations with Schulte and Miller County DFS, she never informed Denny about Nicole’s condition or whereabouts. As mentioned above, it took several weeks and letters from the attorney Denny was forced to hire to get any information from DFS regarding Nicole.

The dark arts practiced by Schulte through backroom deals served to both commit violations and hide them. Her actions in the Lagares/Rollins case would seem to indict her in an insidious plot, one she has had a hand in crafting. It comes as no surprise then, during a recent hearing regarding the Lagares children, that she was arguing like it was ‘personal’. Should her actions be exposed, it would almost certainly bring an uncomfortable level of scrutiny to her practice.

The Devil You Know

August 14, 2012 3:06 PM

Email from Becky Simpson, Special Programs Process Coordinator at Lebanon’s Easter Elementary to Dr. Tammy Lupardus, Lebanon’s Director of Special Programs:

FYI Lagares

Transfer student Kyle Lagares
Birth Mother Amanda Rollins

Reply from Lupardus 3:24: Do they really live in the district?
Simpson reply, 3:38: (Simpson gives address) yes, I checked.

Dr. Tammy Lupardus appears to be to special education what Dr. Josef Mengele was to Auschwitz. She has cultivated, developed and exported her personal brand of sadism, borne in the private laboratories of special education. She installed the familiar fascist refrain of survival of the fittest with claims that not all kids deserve a ‘Cadillac education’.

Tammy Lupardus is currently the Director of Special Programs in the Lebanon school district.  She held this position previously in the Camdenton school district where she was banned by senior school administration from Denny Lagares educational files.

Tammy Lupardus is currently the Director of Special Programs in the Lebanon school district. She held this position previously in the Camdenton school district where she was banned by senior school administration from Denny Lagares educational files.

Ironically, only two days before the enrollment of the Lagares children by their father, the Lebanon school district announced a resolution between the district and the Office for Civil Rights. This was in regards to concerns of the forced segregation of special education students.

An agreement was reached to move the district’s two special education classrooms into its elementary schools. Previously, the classrooms were mobile homes located at the Lebanon Junior High. In responding to the move to reporter Fines Massey of the Lebanon Daily Record, Lupardus said:

“The downside is, well, there are many downsides, disadvantages and unintended consequences.”

Perhaps the ‘unintended consequences’ Lupardus was concerned about was the higher level of scrutiny the special education department was under. Keeping the special education children in relative isolation on the junior high campus, where elementary children could be largely ignored, appeared better suited for Lupardus to administer her philosophy regarding special education.

The dark practices of Lupardus have become institutionalized in Camdenton. They were carried on with an executioner’s blood lust by her disciple, Kristy Kindwall. Kindwall’s long history of abusive behavior was so foul that the District held its collective breath as her decision to leave Camdenton was the centerpiece of a Goebbel-like propaganda campaign, designed to cover-up a growing pattern of systematic abuse. The corpses of the dreams, hopes and aspirations of family after family lie piled in the litter of cases in which a child had been identified as not deserving a ‘Cadillac education’. Careers of caring, knowledgeable teachers have been stuffed into body bags, tagged as ‘dissenters’, ‘troublemakers’ and ‘rogue’, and stacked like cord wood in the bowels of Camdenton’s special education department. The full number of casualties under the rule of Lupardus and her acolytes is unknown. What is clear however, is that her fascist mantra ‘not all children deserve a Cadillac education’, is well suited to the Cult of Corporatism’s privatization playbook. What is also clear is that, as her philosophy advances, the body count is escalating.

The email sent by Becky Simpson, within minutes of Denny enrolling the children, must have brought a twisted, sadistic smile to Lupardus’ lips. Lupardus was intimately familiar with Denny, although Denny Lagares had never heard the name Tammy Lupardus prior to enrolling the children in Lebanon. It was a name however, that his mother, Kyle and Nicole’s grandmother, Sherry knew well.

Tammy Lupardus and the law firm of Mickes, Goldman and O’Toole had targeted the Lagares’ for retribution before. In 2002, using Camdenton school funds, they targeted Sherry Lagares’ sister. They took her to court in an attempt to force her to enroll her children in the district. She had been homeschooling her kids.

In a case that was a resounding defeat for Camdenton, lawyers from Mickes, Goldman and O’Toole even went so far as to claim they suspected abuse, although they could provide absolutely no proof whatsoever to that effect. The judge threw the case out of court.

This case cost the taxpayers of Camdenton’s school district thousands of dollars and seems to have been filed as an act of revenge against the Lagares family. This stemmed from a case twenty years old, one Denny knew nothing about, Lagares v Camdenton School District.

Ghosts of Education Past

When we began, Sherry Lagares was a reluctant participant in these interviews. Many times during the course of this investigation, she reiterated her fears about speaking out. Kyle and Nicole are being held hostage by the system. Their health and safety are at risk, to say nothing of the standard of their educations.

“I’m scared to talk. I don’t want to make it worse.”

In 1991, the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan celebrated their first NBA championship. ‘Everything I Do’ by Bryan Adams reigned on the pop charts and the world was introduced to the serial killer Dr. Hannibal ‘the Cannibal’ Lecter in the Oscar winning film ‘The Silence of the Lambs’. The same year this cold blooded psychopath was stalking the silver screens, Sherry and Poppy Lagares enrolled their son, Denny, in the Camdenton school district. Soon after, the family found themselves staring at a crime scene worthy of the fictitious doctor, the school’s special education department.

In the 1990’s, brutish techniques were being refined in the Camdenton school district’s special education department. Each new year presented a new boxcar of students, identified by a label as damning and ominous as a concentration camp tattoo: learning disabled. These children were culled from the herd and transferred them to an educational dungeon, where they were exposed daily to the idea that they were unworthy. It wasn’t long after his enrollment in kindergarten that this system its sights on Denny.

From Findlaw.com, Lagares v Camdenton R-III School District:

” He began attending school in the Camdenton R-III School District in 1991, when he started kindergarten. Dennis achieved satisfactory grades on the majority of his reading and math skills tested in kindergarten, and a standardized test Dennis took that year showed that his reading achievement was better than 89 percent of the national norm. After the first half of Dennis’ first-grade year, however, Dennis’ teacher reported that he was below his grade level in reading. Nevertheless, Dennis’ report card at the end of his first-grade year indicated at least average achievement in all of his subjects except spelling and math, and Dennis was passed to the second grade.

In the second grade, Dennis was placed in Chapter I, a special reading program. Dennis’ report card that year indicated at least average achievement in all of his subjects, and Dennis was passed to the third grade. Dennis remained in the Chapter I reading program in third grade. Dennis’ third-grade report card indicated that he was at least progressing, if not meeting expectations, in all of his subjects, and he was passed on to the fourth grade. “

It was at this time that the Lagares family had Dennis tested by an outside expert. Denny, at that time, had a pre-K reading level according to this testing. It was also learned that Denny had a 12th grade reading comprehension level. His diagnosis was one that is common in society. Denny was dyslexic, a condition that affects approximately twenty percent of the population.

Sherry was happy to have the diagnosis. By clearly identifying Denny’s dyslexia, she had something to target regarding his difficulties. Dyslexia was an opponent a determined mother could beat. Through her research, Sherry learned that a training program was available to instruct teachers how to work with students with dyslexia. The cost of the training was $1,200, a cost the Lagares family offered to pay. She took her research into these grants and programs to the school. The district dismissed the offer and told Sherry that Denny did not deserve a ‘Cadillac education.’

According to Sherry, she was met with open hostility by the special education department. They steadfastly refused to offer Denny anything except the remedial reading course he had already been participating in, a program that clearly had been a failure in his case. Ultimately, Sherry and Poppy would file a lawsuit against the school district.

In it, they argued that the Missouri state statute regarding the a child’s education was a higher standard than the federal standard. It was the assertion of DESE and the Camdenton school district that the lower federal standard regarding education should apply.

The Lagares’ family won in Missouri Supreme Court.

Soon after the decision was handed down by the Supreme Court in favor of the Lagares’, DESE and its lobbyists moved to have the higher Missouri requirement for a child’s education eliminated. The statute the Lagares’ won on was repealed by the Missouri legislature. This left the federal standard, a lower standard for education, as the prevailing law. The elimination of the higher Missouri statute regarding the quality of a student’s education literally paved the way for Common Core’s implementation in the Show-Me State.

The Laboratory of Special Education

Last summer, during an investigation into the suspension of Camdenton middle school principal Sean Kirksey, a pattern of resignations and terminations was uncovered in the district. Evidence of systematic abuse was most visible in Camdenton’s special education department. Former teachers in the department, Jan Michaelree and Kathy Egyabroad, both forced out of the district, described the most hostile of work environments. They were victims of a sadistic, cruel administration that had no interest or desire to serve children with learning difficulties.

As Jan Michaelree said, in talking about her termination:

“I did not believe in the statement, ‘Not all kids deserve Cadillac services. Because the truth is…they do.”

This disturbing assertion, that some children do not deserve a ‘Cadillac education’, offends on its face. It mirrors a public relations attempt to reprogram parents and children. For months, the media has presented the point of view that not all children should go to college and that they should instead lower their goals and expectations. This has become a new national talking point: Our children should not dream or aspire. They should instead prepare for a job Common Core has identified for them. One of the greatest crimes perpetrated against the American people is this re-engineering of our children. It is this narrative of lowered educational goals, combined with the expectation of poor student performance as Common Core is implemented, that adds gravity to the claims that not all children deserve a ‘Cadillac education’. This is the mindset they are trying to institutionalize in our schools, a perfect complement to the bully system.

For opponents of Common Core, a close examination of special education departments in Missouri reveals the realization of parents nightmare scenario. It is a necessary look into the abyss. It has been well-established that Common Core implementation, by design, is weighted against student success. It is designed for student failure. Parents therefore, must look to special education departments for a glimpse into the future of Missouri classrooms. This is the model, as more and more children will be classified ‘learning disabled’ or ‘at risk’ each year under Common Core. In order to gauge the future of Missouri education we must look to the most vulnerable of children, those considered to be on the bottom rung of the educational ladder, exposed to the full, crushing weight of the bully system.

It is clear from the rhetoric of the echo chamber that parents and children should lower their educational standards and expectations. This is in anticipation of Common Core’s implementation and an increasingly privatized educational system. Fewer children will have opportunities to go to college and pursue their dreams. For the rest, the expectation of failure is being projected from all angles. They are manufacturing consent with a pat on the head and reassurances that ‘not all kids are meant to go to college’. It is that concocted notion that has allowed the Jekyll-like metamorphosis in districts across the state. It is the bully system’s liquid antithetic, designed to make the abominable acceptable.

From the moment they were enrolled into the Lebanon school district, Kyle and Nicole Lagares, already repeat victims, were targeted for further abuse by those seeking old style retribution against their family. Lupardus and the law firm set their sights squarely on the children.

Shark Infested Waters

Tammy Lupardus contacted Rollins the same day the children were enrolled in the Lebanon school district.

Rollins is a known friend of Julie Morris, daughter of Tammy Lupardus, and niece to Theresa Lupardus, Miller County Public Administrator.

An email from Rollins on August 14, 2012 stated that ‘all decisions that concern the welfare, education and well-being of the children should be a conversation that transpires between us’, indicating Lupardus.

At the time of their enrollment, Kyle and Nicole were in the primary custody of their father, Denny. This was according to Permanent Custody Plan #2. That plan was used because Rollins had not secured a residence prior to the start of school and the children’s enrollment. This was a result of her own testimony and evidence showing she had moved with Nicole more than ten times. In fact, she stated, she didn’t know how many times they had moved since leaving.

In the divorce decree between Denny and Rollins, both Kyle and Nicole were ordered to be tested by the Thompson Center. Denny made this clear when talking with Simpson the day he enrolled the kids. He gave a copy of this to Simpson who stated that they would accommodate them. Lupardus however, had other plans. Accommodating Denny was not among them.

By September 5th in a meeting scheduled by Lupardus, less than a month after having been enrolled in the Lebanon school district, Denny was charged again with ‘educational neglect’.

This unfounded allegation from Lupardus was made under the mistaken belief that Kyle had been home schooled since the fall of 2010. Previous to enrolling in the Lebanon school district however, Kyle had attended Lakewest Christian Acadamy.

According to Denny, he was “viciously attacked” by Lupardus in this meeting. This understandably took Denny by surprise. He had no idea of Lupardus’ long history with his family.

Lupardus never revealed to Denny that she had been personally restricted by the former superintendent of Camdenton school from ever having access to his own educational records, due to what Sherry Lagares termed “appalling behavior”. Neither did Denny know that Lupardus had instigated the lawsuit against his aunt. He knew very little about his mother’s fight for his own right to a quality education.

Lupardus also informed Denny at this meeting that DFS had been to the school to talk to the children. The skeleton key, fashioned by Lupardus and Rollins, had been pushed into the lock on the Lagares’ door.

Within weeks, Lupardus and school attorney Ernie Trakas would give Denny a calender. On it were highlighted dates and handwritten notes. Lupardus and Trakas had fashioned a new custody plan for Kyle and Nicole and in their supreme arrogance, they then would tell Denny, “if you don’t like it, sue us.”

For the Lagares family an endless nightmare was just beginning…

A Grandmother’s Prayer

Wednesday, January 15th, 2013, a hearing was scheduled before Camden County Circuit Judge Aaron Koeppen. This hearing was in regards to Sherry Lagares’, grandmother of Kyle and Nicole, petition to intervene on behalf of the children as an ‘interested party’.

Judge Koeppen appeared to backtrack, asking that the grandmother refile. He cited that the original motion did not specify her qualifications as a ‘responsible’ party. Oral arguments were offered by both Lagares’ attorney and Ruth Schulte, attorney for Amanda Rollins.

After arguments, two significant developments: One, that Sherry Lagares is allowed to refile her motion and that it will presumably be ruled upon in coming days. This is an important development as it was expected, given the Judge’s previous reluctance to hear evidence in the case, that her motion would be denied. This represents a significant change of course.

Two: A one day, ‘rubber stamp’ trial had been scheduled for the end of this month to finalize custody. Denny’s rights as father have effectively been removed and this trial would have codified that process quietly. In a surprise move, Judge Koeppen moved the date of the trial to April and has set it for three days. The Judge indicated in his remarks that there was ‘obviously a lot of evidence in this case’, when changing the trial date.

Again, another stunning change of direction, given how this case had been proceeding. Previously, without a single hearing, without reviewing any evidence, Kyle was declared a molester.

(Editor’s note: As I am sure you can see, the story of Kyle and Nicole is incredibly dense. There is a lot of material to cover and, as a result, it takes a bit of time in order to sift and present their story cohesively. I thank you for your patience as we navigate this black web. Above, you read the latest update in the Lagares case. We find it a hopeful sign. Thanks again for your patience and for the dozens of people who have asked how you can help Kyle and Nicole, I would ask that you share their story. The evil exposed here cannot survive under close scrutiny. The more people who are aware of Kyle and Nicole’s case, the better their chances for a positive outcome.)

Child Trafficking and Missouri Schools Part One: Suffer The Children

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Editor’s Note: I have never encountered anything quite like the story you are about to read. Investigating it and writing it meant swimming in dark waters indeed, and staring evil in the face. What is going on with Kyle and Nicole Lagares is criminal. It is abominable.
It is truly evil.
Uncovering the nest of snakes that make up this child trafficking ring has been difficult to say the least. Many long, sleepless hours were spent in the company of demons. For that, I owe a special thanks to Jackie for putting up with me for the past two months. They have gone by with the slow drone of dog years.
My partner in crime, Leslie Chamberlin spent more hours than can be healthy researching leads and tracking down aspects of this story. For her efforts, I owe her a huge debt and with her, will soon share a sigh of relief.
What we have uncovered here is a pattern of behavior so heinous as to defy logic…and yet, here we are, looking it square in the face.
All our kids will soon be in danger.
These children already are.
Please help them.
Share their story.
It is their only hope.

Eight-year-old Kyle and seven-year-old Nicole Lagares are trapped in a suffocating nightmare they do not understand, held hostage by sinister forces hellbent on revenge. This twisted conspiracy was initiated by the very adults who are supposed to have the children’s best interests in mind. An insidious cadre of school administrators and lawyers, in collusion with the Department of Family Services and a Missouri circuit court judge, have conspired to terminate their father’s parental rights, placing them in an environment of ritualistic abuse. This orchestrated atrocity is motivated by revenge against a family who dared to stand up for their childrens’ right to an education more than twenty years ago. It is also proof of an institutionalized bully system that has been exported to school districts across the state. The case of Kyle and Nicole would be shocking if it were singular in its horrors. As this investigation discovered, it is only a part of the developing pattern of child trafficking in Mid-Missouri. The monsters who constructed Kyle and Nicole’s nightmare have had practice. They have done it before, in pursuit of the same dark goal: the elimination of a father’s parental rights in order to ensure children remain with those who continue to do unspeakable things.

For opponents of Common Core and children’s advocates, Kyle and Nicole represent an unspoken threat. Theirs is the story of the loaded gun, held against the head of any parent who dares stand up for their children. It is a story of a parent’s fight to protect his children and how that desire to protect can be twisted into the very basis to strip parental rights.

The story of Kyle and Nicole Legares is about two precious children, their abduction and descent into a secret, unspeakable Hell.

“If you don’t stand up for my grandbabies, who will?”

That heartbreaking plea, from a grandmother in Lebanon, MO, came in a quiet moment. It was followed by the gut-wrenching, desperate sobs of a woman whose family has been targeted by the most despicable of forces. The raw urgency in her breaking voice and the helplessness that fueled it, stood as a punctuation mark for the horror story she had just concluded. For Sherry Lagares and her family, the nightmare seems to have no end.

Since the fall of 2012, each day has been an agonizing struggle filled with new torments and fresh fears. Each sleepless night is haunted by the knowledge that Kyle, her eight year-old grandson, is the ongoing victim of ritualistic abuse. He is a defenseless victim of the bully system that has been institutionalized in Missouri schools. Kyle has been marked as an ideal target by the darkest forces of Missouri’s educational system. He has been identified as a perfect lamb for sacrifice on the altar of experimentation in Missouri education.

The case of Kyle Lagares is a look at Common Core’s terrifying end-game, the unspoken, insidious agenda lurking in the muddied waters of ‘education reform’. It offers tangible proof, undeniable evidence, of the natural advance of the cancer that has invaded our collective body politic. The tragic reality of Kyle’s situation removes the hypothetical and demonstrates how far into our lives a determined, fascist government can reach. His case throws open the closet door and reveals the horrific visage of a monster that threatens to devour children and silence parents, the beast lurking in the shadows.

Kyle’s case began with unfounded accusations of ‘educational neglect’ against his father in the Camdenton school district. Dennis Lagares, formally Kyle’s primary custodial parent, is now facing the complete termination of his parental rights after a surreal set of events and circumstances. This detestable, wicked campaign against the Lagares family is an attempt by a coven of entities to test, legally, their assertion that the school’s authority over a student trumps a parent’s right to their child.

What is perhaps most sobering about the Lagares’ story, is that it simply represents the next stage in the bully system’s evolution. The evidence of that is found in school districts across Missouri as malignant tumors are being diagnosed in epidemic numbers. Good teachers are being forced out of our districts for daring to speak out against administrative policy in droves in Missouri. Teachers with experience in education have been targeted for elimination. They represent a threat to the continued privatization efforts in our schools. Their experience has taught them that our education system has been transformed into a corporate model, one that serves a bottom line instead of our children. Our educational system is deteriorating, rotting to its Core. This is a condition districts in the state have in Common.

The sickening tactics that are being employed in Kyle’s case are being brought to bear, in part, by a law firm representing more than 300 school districts in the Show-Me State. These unelected lawyers and their cabal of subservient superintendents have conspired with the Missouri School Board Association to assert more authority in our school districts, teaching elected board members that they are to follow the lead of administration, instead of the other way around. This assumption of authority has worked as a silent coup, a largely successful attempt to wrest control of school districts from locally elected officials.

Under the DESE umbrella, a wicked, sadistic model for corporate education has been unleashed in our school districts. Evidence of this hostile takeover is found in districts large and small. What began in the urban districts of St. Louis and Kansas City has replicated itself in small, rural districts across the state. The bully system, enhanced by ‘evaluations’ tied to Common Core and enforced by DESE’s unspoken endorsement, has been sold as the new norm by snake oil peddlers and silver-tongued con artists. These parasites have grown bloated both on tax dollars and the power they have assumed in our schools. Through them, the Cult of Corporatism is preaching the acceptance of education’s new gospel to board members and parents.

These false prophets have dismantled the framework of American education and erected in its place a dark temple of neoliberal principles, institutionalized oppression and expected failure. They have designed a system that is rigged to fail. This system, promoted with religious fervor by the vultures of privatization, profits from each failed test, each failed course, each failed teacher, each failed district. The carnivorous beast, the bottom line, preys on each child in its reach and with each new victim, its hunger grows. As Common Core implementation continues to advance, and as more children, teachers and districts fall to its ‘standards’, a cannibalistic feeding frenzy is set to ensue. It promises to rend the flesh of education as we know it.

In dissecting the Lagares case, the cold light of examination reveals the horrific extent to which this cancer as spread. When viewed in the frame of the big picture in Missouri education, it offers a terrifying future diagnosis. It provides a glimpse at the next logical step for the Cult of Corporatism: reaching into homes, holding our children under permanent threat of retribution, demanding parents comply.

It is not an empty threat.

The case of Kyle and Nicole, as well as the case of Casey Gipson, shows how this abominable use of schools opens the door to the darkest of all closets. It shows a clear pattern of children being taken away from their birth fathers and placed in homes with abusers. As with all such associations with the Cult, this spiderweb network of deceit, child endangerment and potential sexual abuse shows the sickening strands that bind the stories of Kyle and Nicole with Casey’s. The players in this pedophile protection coven appear in both cases, using tactics that are nearly identical in order to strip fathers of their rights.

The Lagares’ family ordeal is the new American Horror Story.

Educational Neglect

The claim of ‘educational neglect’ was first leveled when Kyle was enrolled in Camdenton school district. It was communicated to Sherry Lagares, Kyle and Nicole’s grandmother, verbally on November 11, 2010.

” I received a phone call from Renee Slack stating she had been contacted by Hadfield (Camdenton school district superintendent), that the Lawyer called and said she had to report Dennis and charge him with educational neglect. She said she was sorry and that she knew that Dennis had been picking up any homework and that Kyle had been hurt and that he had been very sick, but what could she do they were her boss. “

Kyle had been injured, according to him, by his mother on October 20th, 2010. That day, Dennis left the house early, before the kids had gotten up for school. Kyle’s mother, Amanda, was responsible for taking the kids to school. That day, she drove past Dennis’ place of employment as if taking Kyle to school. When Dennis returned home however, he found Kyle there with a hurt leg. The boy was watching cartoons and wouldn’t say what had happened to him. Amanda claimed to have no idea how the boy hurt himself and Kyle did not go to school. According to Amanda, Kyle simply did not want to go to school that day.

Later that evening, when Amanda picked up Dennis from work, Kyle could not walk. Dennis questioned his wife but received no answer about what was wrong with Kyle.

Dennis took Kyle to the emergency room that night. The doctor who examined Kyle took x-rays. He said that Kyle had had a broken femur that had a new bone growing over it. As is the norm with injuries such as these, the doctor had concerns about physical abuse and began asking questions about the injury. These concerns appeared to be reinforced by Amanda’s refusal to answer.

Dennis was beginning to have his own suspicions. He asked the doctor if there were any tests that could be performed to determine how Kyle’s leg was broken. The doctor said yes, with a special test. He also contacted the school to find out if Kyle had hurt himself there. A secretary at the school, the school nurse and Ms. Slack all answered no, Kyle hadn’t been injured there. Dennis told Amanda that he had made arrangements for the special test.

The morning after the trip to the emergency room, Dennis took Kyle to work with him and Amanda fled into hiding, with Nicole. Kyle, after it was discovered his mother had left, told his father that his mother had hit his leg with a baseball bat. Dennis immediately filed a protection order and notified DFS that Nicole was in danger.

The Department of Family Services never interviewed Kyle or Nicole regarding this warning. They had determined that the mother’s house was ‘clean’ without having reviewed the children’s medical records. It was not the first time, nor would it be the last time, DFS’s involvement in this case would be called into scrutiny.

A previous complaint filed with Camden County DFS in 2007 was dismissed after a phone call from the Miller County DFS office. Among the issues raised in the 2007 complaint was Amanda’s killing of the family dog by stomping its head in. The dog was left in the living room floor for the children to see until their father came home.

This complaint against the children’s mother was not investigated. It was simply cast aside. As was the hotline call in October of 2010.

Dennis Lagares’ ex-wife, Amanda Rollins, is the niece of Janet Whittle, Public Administrator for Miller County. She was later replaced by Theresa Lupardus. Lupardus’ daughter and Rollins are known friends.

Laclede County DFS Agent, Justine Robinson (formerly Justine Trogen) was told to invalidate the abuse hotline call in the fall of 2010. She admitted that she had been told an agent from Miller County went to Shawnee Woods’, Amanda’s mother’s home, and that it was ‘clean’. Robinson explained to Dennis Lagares that she had no choice in the matter. His 2010 warning had to be unsubstantiated, even though a review of medical records was never conducted to verify the children’s injuries. Shortly after the 2010 hotline call was unsubstantiated regarding Kyle’s broken leg and Nicole’s abduction, Ms. Robinson received a promotion to supervisor.

November 11, 2010, Amanda contacted the Camdenton school district, reporting Kyle as truant. This prompted Camdenton superintendent Tim Hadfield, after consultation with the school’s law firm, Mickes, Goldman and O’Toole, to level the threat of a charge of ‘educational neglect’ against Dennis. The injuries Kyle had sustained, along with a case of strep, kept him out of school, leading to the phone call from Renee Slack. Kyle’s absence was at the recommendation of his doctor, medical records show. He was medically excused through the 11th of November. Dennis contacted Ms. Slack about Kyle, who still maintained a low-grade fever. Ms. Slack informed Dennis of the district’s ‘no fever’ policy. That day, after the threatening phone call from Ms. Slack and fearful for his son, Dennis withdrew Kyle from Camdenton and began homeschooling him.

On November 16, 2010, while she was solely with her mother, Nicole was taken to Lake Regional Urgent Care. She complained that her “butt hurt”. It was also reported that she had a couple of ‘accidents’ while in daycare. December 7, 2010 she was again taken to the doctor, this time in Jefferson City. At St. Mary’s Hospital, she was diagnosed with erytherma of the labia and perianal erytherma. These irritations/conditions can be linked to sexual abuse.

Amanda took Nicole to doctors, clinics and hospitals across the state more than 20 times between October of 2010 and April 2012 while she had sole or primary custody of Nicole. A regular doctor was not established, instead it appears that Nicole’s mother went to great lengths to avoid establishing a medical history regarding her persistent problems.

Dennis faxed a letter to Miller County Department of Family Services on December 13, 2010 requesting that an outside county handle his children’s case because Amanda’s aunt works in the courthouse, so as to avoid any intentional or unintentional bias.Amanda and Nicole’s whereabouts were kept from Dennis. Agent Robinson would not return his calls or requests for information as to Nicole’s well-being. Dennis retained an attorney, who made similar requests for updates. Similarly, he was ignored.

Attorney Ruth Schulte contacted law enforcement and DFS on behalf of Amanda Rollins near the end of 2010. Law enforcement, the Department of Family Services and the Courts were no longer looking for Nicole or considered her in danger.

In December of 2010, Barbara R. VanTine was appointed the children’s Guardian Ad Litem (GAL). A divorce was pending, as Amanda had retained the services of lawyer Ruth Schulte. Dennis is ordered to pay a $500.00 deposit for VanTine’s role as the children’s GAL.

After a meeting between Rollins, Schulte and VanTine, Dennis had his first supervised visit with Nicole in late December, just before Christmas in 2010. A recording of this visit reveals that Nicole began complaining of vaginal pain and that it hurt to pee. When Nicole refused to leave Dennis, Rollins became furious. Per records, Nicole was seen by Dr. Brockman’s office on January 10th, 2011 with a significant bruise on her arm.

On New Year’s Eve, 2010, Amanda Rollins’ relationship with Shawn Patrick Colgan became public knowledge.

Patrick Colgan appeared with Rollins at the January appointment in Dr. Brockman’s office. He was holding onto her and hugging her tight. It was at this doctor’s visit that Rollins told the nurse it was Dennis’ suspicion that Patrick was molesting Nicole. Dennis made no such claim and had not seen Nicole with the exception of the supervised visit in late December. On that visit, Nicole was diagnosed with vulvagintes and irritation/redness, along with the bruise on her left arm. Rollins did not divulge that Nicole was in her care only at that time.

On January 19, 2011, a vaginal ultrasound was performed on Nicole at St Mary’s Hospital, per Dr. Brockman’s records. At this visit, Nicole was vaginally raw from the front of the vagina to her anus. As before, Colgan clutched Nicole when appearing at the appointment.

2011, for Nicole Lagares, was marked by repeated trips to doctors in the area. Rollins consistently refused to sign releases for medical records when Nicole was taken from facility to facility. It was clear she did not want Nicole’s medical history of genital rawness to be discovered by physicians. Several times during visits with her father, Nicole had blisters, sores and raw places on her feet, although no answers were forthcoming as to how these injuries occurred. Nicole, thanks to Rollins’ ‘doctor shopping’, was on a steady, potentially dangerous antibiotic regimen. Cultures taken to check for urinary tract infections were unable to be performed due to the quantity and regularity of the antibiotic treatments.

Nicole's feet.  Pictures of her condition were given to the GAL, Barbara VanTine.

Nicole’s feet. Pictures of her condition were given to the GAL, Barbara VanTine.

Photographs and medical records were shared with VanTine, along with pleas for intervention from Dennis. VanTine did not act in response to these photographs and reports. These went unheard. VanTine did however, win on an order to collect more fees.

During her Thanksgiving visit with Dennis and his family, Nicole once again complained of vaginal pain. Her grandmother examined her and Nicole was raw and red. Sherry applied basic first aid, showered Nicole and Dennis took her to urgent care in Lebanon. There she was diagnosed with irritation of the vagina, urgency and difficulty urinating and pain in her right flank.

January 3, 2012, Rollins took Nicole, suffering from abdominal pain, to Family Health Associates in Lebanon. There, Rollins told the nurse practitioner that Patrick Colgan is Nicole’s father and states that Nicole’s stomach pain shows up only when the girl is asked to clean her room. A culture is taken to check for urinary infection and once again, presumably due to the high volume of antibiotics the girl has been on, it does not grow a viable sample.

Ten days later, during another visit at the McDonald’s PlayLand with Nicole, Colgan shows up and began acting out violently toward Rollins, Dennis and other customers in the restaurant. Colgan refuses to leave when asked. Two days later, he is admitted to the VA Psychological Ward.

In February of 2012, Dennis received another extortion demand from Barbara VanTine, for her ‘service’ as GAL. The letter read:

“It has been some time since we [Rollins and VanTine] have visited. Please contact my office so you can update me on the children’s status. Also, find a copy of the court’s docket entry of January 11, 2012. Judge Koeppen sustained my motion for additional GAL fees at that hearing. You have been ordered to make an additional posting of $2,000.00. Please make arrangements to take care of this bill immediately. Thank you for your cooperation.”

On February 13, Dennis’ attorney, Lewis Bridges, received a letter from VanTine. In it, she offered and entered into a payment arrangement of $100.00 per month with Dennis until the balance of the additional $2,000.00 was paid off.

Later in the month, Dennis and his attorney, Lewis Bridges, met with VanTine. At this time they asked to see a billing statement for her services as GAL. There was no current billing statement reflecting the $2,000.00 fee. The last statement produced was presented to the court in September 2011. Judge Koeppen ordered Dennis pay this September bill, which he did. No statement reflecting VanTine’s service as GAL could be produced for the January 11 payment order issued by Koeppen.

Correspondence from VanTine to Dennis and his attorney, after their meeting, illustrates the relationship between the supposedly impartial GAL and Rollins’ attorney, Ruth Schulte. Repeatedly, VanTine uses phrasing such as “Before WE divulge where Nicole is attending school…” and “It is OUR goal to start some regular weekend visits with the children…”

Fax 2-23-12 ltr fr VanTine to LB Schulte re weekend visit-kids 2gether

On February 24, 2012, Dennis sent an email request for the most recent billing statement. That day, VanTine sent a copy of the same outdated August statement she had previously pointed toward.

A fax was sent to both Barbara VanTine and Ruth Schulte from Dennis’ attorney, Mr. Bridges. It was a request to attend the deposition of the custodian of records at the Harry S. Truman VA Hospital. The fax offered several dates so as to find an accommodating time for all attendees.

The deposition was regarding Patrick Colgan and his recent admission to their psychological ward.

VanTine replied to the fax the following day, March 1, stating that she would not be attending as Dennis was not able to pay the current bill. This, in spite of the fact she could not produce a statement. She did request a copy of the deposition, however. Schulte responded that she would like to attend and gives dates that would work for her. She stated she wasn’t sure where the VA Hospital was.

On March 8, VanTine’s office receives its agreed upon, monthly payment toward the $2,000.00 bill.

March 26, a current statement is finally produced by VanTine’s office for services as GAL. On this same day, a $300 payment is received from Rollins. April 10, 2012 reflects a payment of $800.00 from Rollins to VanTine.

In a court trial on April 17, 2012, the extent to which the deck is stacked against Dennis Lagares begins to emerge. Appearing before Judge Koeppen, VanTine does not file her agreed upon payment arrangement with the court. She does not disclose this agreement, nor did she disclose that Dennis was abiding by it. Judge Koeppen reviewed the payments received by VanTine’s office, comparing the payments made by Rollins to those made by Dennis. Judge Koeppen then states that Amanda has paid more than Dennis and issues an order that both parties are to pay, in full, the ordered GAL fees by August 1, 2012.

After this court appearance, Barbara VanTine, GAL for Kyle and Nicole Lagares, met Kyle for the very first time.

Dennis and Kyle began to see Nicole under temporary custody arrangements. It had been 17 months since father, son and daughter were reunited for regular visitations. It was immediately apparent that Nicole’s symptoms had not improved. She was taken on April 20, while in Dennis’ custody, to Dr. Campbell with Family Health Associates of Lebanon. While Rollins had previously taken Nicole there to see Dr. Campbell, this was the first time Dr. Campbell actually saw Nicole. She had previously been seen by nurse practitioners. Dr. Campbell diagnosed Nicole with genilalia rash erytherma, vulva, perianeal urethritis and NOS recurrent constipation. A culture revealed no UTI. Rollins refused to return calls from Dr. Campbell’s office.

Under the newly devised custody arrangement, Rollins had custody of both Kyle and Nicole the week of April 22 through the 29th. Dennis sent Nicole with a cream prescribed by Dr. Campbell and instructions were sent via email. On the 27th, Kyle called his father crying, begging to come home, but refusing to say why.

On the 29th, Rollins emailed Dennis. She told him that Kyle’s butt had been “hurting” and “bleeding all week”. She applied the cream prescribed for Nicole on them both.

4-2012 Kyle butt hurting

May 6, Rollins and Colgan regain custody of both Kyle and Nicole.

May 10th, Nicole is taken to see Dr. Samah Murad in Sedalia, Mo. Here, Rollins provided the hospital with false information, stating that Nicole had blood on toilet paper when she wiped on Saturday. Dennis, not Rollins, had custody the previous Saturday. The symptoms listed for this doctor visit were pain and blood while urinating.

On the 13th, Rollins takes Nicole to the emergency room in Warrensburg at approximately 8:30 pm. Rollins reports that Nicole has been in pain since she picked her up at 4 pm on the 6th from her father. A culture shows no UTI. Despite orders from Dr. Campbell, Rollins continues to feed Nicole antibiotics.

These doctor visits, as was Rollins’ rule, were not disclosed to Nicole’s father.

Dennis notifies Rollins via email on May 9 that he has scheduled an appointment with a urologist at the University of Missouri Medical Center for the 14th. At that, Rollins became confrontational and made it clear she did not want Nicole to go. At this appointment, Dennis brought all of the medical records he had been able to run down during the past several months. Rollins did not disclose any of the recent doctor visits to Gina White, the NP at the UM Clinic. A urine sample was taken, again showing no growth. An x-ray taken during this visit revealed that Nicole was severely constipated, full of fecal matter. This occurred during Nicole’s time in her mother’s custody.

From May 19th through May 26th, 2012, Amanda Rollins and Patrick Colgan had custody of both Kyle and Nicole.

On May 26th, Dennis took Nicole to Mercy ER. She was again distributing vaginal redness and painful urination. No UTI was present, per a culture completed on the 29th. Another order to stop antibiotics was given. May 29th, Dennis took Nicole for a follow-up appointment with UM Urology. Rollins called, but did not attend. The diagnosis was dysfunctional voiding, over-active bladder. The symptoms look like a UTI but weren’t, according to Ms. White.

Dennis tried to schedule follow up from the hospital as directed, but Rollins refused. She sent him an email stating that Nicole was not to have any appointments with any health care providers. She was just fine, according to Rollins.

From June 17th through June 24, Rollins and Colgan once again had both children.

On June 23rd, Rollins takes Nicole to the Warrensburg ER at 8:17 pm. She does not disclose the fact that Nicole has been taking Oxybutin, prescribed by the urologist. She is diagnosed with a large amount of blood or hemorrhage cystitis. Nicole was given antibiotics.

During this trip to the emergency room, Kyle was left alone, helpless and exposed to Colgan’s tender mercies.

He called his father that night, told him he didn’t feel well, that he wanted to come home.

The following afternoon, Kyle and Nicole were returned to Dennis’ custody.

Kyle bore strangulation marks on his neck and a collage of assorted marks, abrasions and burns on his back. Dennis took pictures of these wounds and emailed Rollins, asking for an explanation. She waited a day before answering and then offered two different stories within minutes of each other. She warned Dennis not to “make more out of it”.

Kyle bears the marks of strangulation.  Later, the boy would draw a picture indicating he was strangled with a wooden spoon.

Kyle bears the marks of strangulation. Later, the boy would draw a picture indicating he was strangled with a wooden spoon.

From July 8th through July 15th, Rollins and Colgan again had possession of the children.

During this week, Nicole was again taken to the Warrensburg ER, with high fever, a trace of blood and painful urination. Rollins does not disclose her previous diagnosis’ and the doctor gave Nicole a large shot of antibiotics, contrary to previous doctor instruction. While Rollins and Nicole are at the hospital, Kyle is once again left alone with Colgan.

The abuse to Kyle intensifies.  His eye is shown here, swollen shut.

The abuse to Kyle intensifies. His eye is shown here, swollen shut.

This time, the boy returns home to his father with one eye swollen shut and bruising on his stomach and rib cage. No explanation is offered from Rollins. Kyle tells his father that his mother and Colgan are ‘doing stuff’ to him. He reports that his mother sprayed him with something in the face. Kyle said Rollins said that she thought it was sunscreen, but it was not.

On July 10, 2012, VanTine received payment in full from Dennis. This was filed on July 17th.

A final divorce decree, along with a special parenting plan, the children’s special education plan and a medical plan, is entered in the case of Dennis and Rollins in August 2012.

In August, Rollins resisted releasing the children to Dennis. After involving attorneys, she does surrender custody. During this exchange however, Colgan is seen on video wielding a bat. Upon realizing he was being filmed, Colgan threw the bat aside and charged after the car with the children in it.

Nicole is discovered to have a large bruise on her head and bruises all over her body on August 14. Her stepmother, Ginger, takes her to the Lebanon ER for a full scan and x-rays. In an email, Rollins denied any knowledge of the bruises her daughter had received.

Also on August 14th, 2014, Dennis and Ginger took the kids to enroll in the Lebanon school district. At approximately 2:30-3:00 that afternoon, they presented the secretary with copies of the special plans for both children. The secretary notified Becky Simpson, Special Programs Process Coordinator at Esther Elementary in Lebanon.

At 3:06 pm that same day, Dr. Tammy Lupardus, Director of Special Programs, was reacquainted with a name she knew well. An email exchange between Simpson and Lupardus was titled ‘FYI Lagares’. Confirmation of the address and Rollins as birth mother were sent to Lupardus, who immediately contacted Rollins regarding the children.

It was time for the school to step in and finish the job started on Kyle, Nicole and Dennis. In grandmother Sherry Lagares, Tammy Lupardus had a sworn enemy. She had previously used school lawyers to attack the Lagares family, after they won a lawsuit against DESE regarding Dennis’ time in the Camdenton school district.

The Cult once again had the children at their mercy, this time, through a diabolical use of the school…

TOMORROW: PART TWO CHILD TRAFFICKING THROUGH MISSOURI SCHOOLS

The Wake of Laker Nation

Featured

School is back in session in the Camdenton School District. Children once again fill the halls, their chatter echoing off cinder and brick, bright and cheerful. Their enthusiasm hasn’t yet been dampened by the promise of homework, tests and term papers. In the district’s middle school however, the mood is slightly more somber. It is marked by the noted absences of two administrators, Principal Sean Kirksey and Assistant Principal Joel Carey.

Sean Kirksey’s suspension for testing ‘irregularities’ has been a cause the community and students of the district have rallied around. His hearing, resulting from a DESE investigation into MAP test scheduling irregularities and breaches of security, is scheduled for Wednesday, August 28 at 9:00 am.

Mr. Kirksey’s hearing was originally scheduled for Friday, August 16. Tim Hadfield, District Superintendent and Tom Mickes, attorney for the school district, postponed the hearing, indicating there would be additional charges leveled against Mr. Kirksey.

In light of Hadfield’s attempt to include additional allegations against Mr. Kirksey, unrelated to the DESE incident, the school board hired a seperate attorney, Mr. Mike McDorman of McDorman, Ellsworth and Hardwick, LLC. The board met in executive session with Mr. McDorman to discuss the case of Mr. Kirksey and Hadfield’s handling of it on the afternoon of Friday, August 16.

The school board called for a deadline to resolve Mr. Kirksey’s case. This led to the rescheduling of Mr. Kirksey’s hearing for the morning of Monday, August 26. Despite attempts by Hadfield and Mickes to delay it further, the hearing has now also been scheduled for Wednesday, August 28. Tom Mickes, attorney for the administration, sought a longer extension that would continue to leave Sean Kirksey, his family and the students and staff of Camdenton Middle School stuck in limbo.

The case of middle school assistant principal Joel Carey is equally puzzling and has been shrouded in mystery. No formal announcement has been made by the school district as to the reason for his suspension. Mr. Carey’s suspension came soon after Mr. Kirksey’s, leaving many in the community scratching their heads and wondering what is going on in the district.

No charges have officially been presented to Mr. Carey as justification for his suspension. He, his wife and their four children have joined the Kirkseys in the land of uncertainty. Mr. Carey has also joined Mr. Kirksey in hiring an attorney.

These suspensions, and other decisions made by Superintendent Hadfield, have created a wildfire of controversy throughout the Camdenton school district and the Lake of the Ozarks area. The cases of Mr. Kirksey and Mr. Carey are the latest examples in a ritualistic, disturbing pattern of abuse that has tarnished the district’s reputation as a desirable place to work. This was evidenced earlier this year, when it was reported that Camdenton had less than half the applicants of neighboring district, School of the Osage, for a similar job opening.

A Culture of Oppression

The staff of the Camdenton school district do not have the protection of an organized teachers’ union, nor are they locally organized. While they have some protections through the MNEA and MSTA, teachers and administrators work under limited contracts. Teachers are awarded tenured status after renewals of these contracts. Tenured status offers little protection however, against an institutionalized bully system.

The scrutiny brought on by the case of Sean Kirksey has uncovered a culture of systematic oppression in the Camdenton school district. This culture, cultivated by Hadfield, has sewn seeds of fear and loathing throughout the district. Staff members, teachers and administrators have been taught by example, to keep their heads down and their mouths shut, lest they suffer the consequences. Those consequences, in the cases of former principal Kathy Eygabroad and Jan Michaelree, former speech and language pathologist, are severe indeed.

Their stories, like those of Mr. Kirksey and Mr. Carey, speak volumes about the inner workings of the district. The recent behavior of school Safety Officer Wynne Stephens, speaks volumes about how far and how deep Hadfield’s cancer has spread within it.

The culture of oppression in the Camdenton school district is protected and promoted by the district’s legal counsel. Tom Mickes, the attorney for the district, profits from this culture. He racks up legal fees while Hadfield feeds his firing fetish. The tax payers of the district are picking up the tab for his indulgences. It is an arrangement that seems to suit both Hadfield and Mickes well.

For the staff and teachers of the district however, it is a far different situation. They work in an environment where it has been clearly demonstrated that an educator may be fired at anytime, for valid reasons or not. Allegations and charges, threats and resignations, have become hallmarks of the district. These extra-ordinary pressures, in concert with the demands of high-stress, high-stakes testing, have combined to create an unhealthy atmosphere for our children. Hadfield, with his oppressive, bullying style, is leading us down a treacherous path that will eventually do more damage to our district’s accreditation than anything Sean Kirksey has been accused of.

32 Days

“I am not certain why I was targeted or what I did
to make the administration want me out.”

Jan Michaelree is a former employee of the Camdenton school district. Her work as a Speech and Language Pathologist earned her a nomination for Teacher of the Year in the district in 2010.

On April 27th, 2012, she had been forced by the administration to resign.

In a recent interview on Guerrilla Radio with American Spring, Ms. Michaelree spoke candidly about her experience in the district as a member of the Special Education department.

” I am not certain why I was targeted or what I did to make the administration want me out. I speculate that it was because I advocated for the students’ needs even if it meant disagreeing with administration. I spoke out and acted on what I believed to be ethically, morally, legally, and professionally right. I stood against decreasing IEP minutes just because they were transitioning to a building where there was fewer staff to meet their needs, for ELL students to get the same consideration for intervention as all others, for students who did not meet criteria for special education to still have specific and targeted interventions to address their specific weakness and for individualizing education instead of generating cookie cutter services. I did not believe in the statement, “Not all kids deserve Cadillac services.” Because the truth is…yes they do. Camdenton is a Cadillac school.”

“I was nominated for Teacher of the Year in 2010. I had more productivity (meaning evaluations, collaborations, IEP’s etc.) and dismissals due to goals met than any of the other SLP’s in the district. My students made more functional change in the classroom than documented by other SLP’s. For the first three years I was employed at Camdenton, my evaluations were exemplary with glowing narratives about teamwork, being an asset to the building and the district, and embracing the school mission and vision. I do not say all this to give myself kudos. I say it to illustrate that I did not think I had to worry about losing my job.”

Ms. Michaelree went on to describe the events that led to her resignation from the district. After being denied a promotion to process coordinator because she was “too valuable” in her role as an SLP, she was instructed to train the process coordinator they did hire, along with two new special education teachers.

The following year, she was bullied out of the district.

“The year 2011-2012 began without incident. I had my first evaluation in October which read that I met expectations (that is the highest mark a teacher can get) in all areas with a narrative about me being a team player, an asset to the building and the district, and embracing the district mission and vision. On January 25th, I had my second evaluation and again received “met expectations” in all areas except one item on which “recommended growth” was checked. This was the 1st time I ever scored anything other than “met expectations”. “

In her interview on Guerrilla Radio, Jan went on to describe the reason for the item marked “recommended growth”. Her daughter was causing them to be a few minutes tardy for school during a period that school year. Upon receiving this evaluation, Jan fully accepted responsibility for improving the situation and addressed it immediately. Tardiness was not an ongoing issue.

“On February 10th, I had another evaluation but unbeknownst to me the Assistant Director of Interventions was present (she has since resigned from Camdenton). She had a Professional Improvement Plan prepared which listed several paperwork errors I had allegedly made. I was told to fix the paperwork and call all the parents explaining the mistakes and requesting signatures that I had done so.”

“As I went through the allegedly errant paperwork many of the files did not show the mistake that had been documented.”

Jan took her questions to her supervisor, the process coordinator. The process coordinator is the person responsible for proofreading all paperwork. The process coordinator confirmed Jan’s position. He couldn’t see the alleged errors either. According to Jan, the process coordinator went to administration for guidance. He was told Jan’s situation was an administrative matter and to stay out of it. Jan then requested another meeting with administrators for clarification on her alleged errors.

Her building principal and building assistant principal said they could not help her, as they didn’t know anything about Special Education paperwork. As a result, they called on more senior administrators.

Jan presented the paperwork to them and showed them that the errors that were alleged did not exist. To that, Ms. Michaelree was told the “errors” existed when they were doing file review and they accused her of falsifying records. As Jan indicated, she would have to be “super talented to change all those files in two days.”

Still, Jan Michaelree went forward with addressing the alleged, mostly imaginary “errors” and went through the humiliating process of contacting parents and telling them that she had made mistakes regarding their children’s paperwork. She completed this task within thirty days. School policy allows for these corrections to be made within ninety days.

On March 8th, Jan had another meeting with administration. They were joined by Kristy Kindwall, the district’s former Director of Interventions. Kindwall took the lead for the administration.

Kindwall dismissed Jan’s work on the alleged “errors” and instead took a different angle of attack. Kindwall accused her of not seeing students that were assigned to her caseload. In this meeting, the administration added these accusations to her improvement plan without documenting that she had successfully addressed the previous set of fictitious “errors”.

“On March 16th, I had yet another evaluation accusing me of more errors. So I worked relentlessly to rectify these allegations even though I had pages of documentation of how my students were not missing services and how I was called upon to attend meetings, collaborate with teachers, juggle schedule changes due to assessments, etc. and how my paperwork was not in error and always submitted to my process coordinator for review.”

On the March 27th meeting of the school board, the renewal of contracts for professional teachers was on the closed session agenda. At this meeting, the board discussed Jan Michaelree’s case at length with Kristy Kindwall. A vote was taken to table a decision on Jan’s contract until the next board meeting.

That meeting of the board was on April 9th. Jan Michaelree requested that she be added to the agenda of this board meeting, to present evidence in her own defense and dispute the allegations made against her by Director Kindwall. Jan’s request was submitted in writing more than seven days before the board meeting, per public school board policy.

This request, in what has become a pattern for Hadfield, was denied. Hadfield made the decision that the school board would not be allowed to see or hear Jan’s evidence. The school board, elected representatives of our community, were denied hearing any proof that would refute Kindwall’s baseless allegations. The community was denied the opportunity to hear the circumstances surrounding Jan Michaelree’s case.

Jan was forced into silence while Kristy Kindwall, under the supervision of ringleader Hadfield, was allowed to butcher her reputation. Ms. Michaelree was effectively gagged and bound while Kindwall gutted the former teacher of the year nominee in front of the school board with groundless allegations. These tactics, employed by Kindwall and supervised by Hadfield, were successful.

The board voted 1-to-6 against the renewal of her contract.

The next day, Jan was approached by Human Resources administrator Jim Rich. He presented Jan with an offer she couldn’t refuse. Rich said that the board had extended a compromise, aimed at keeping her silent and protecting the district from legal exposure. She was told that if she would submit a letter of resignation, the board would accept it, instead of the board accepting responsibility for voting not to renew her contract.

Jan agreed, wanting to continue her career in education. She submitted the letter.

At an early morning board meeting on April 27th at 7:00 am, her resignation was accepted by the school board.

This however, was not enough.

Later that day, April 27th, Jan was summoned into a meeting where she was accused of testing a child without parental consent. This allegation is a violation of the law.

Jan was handed a letter saying that she was being put on administrative leave. She was escorted out of the building by her principal, as though she were a criminal.

All of this, after she had been successfully bullied to resign from the district, on the day her letter of resignation was accepted by the school board in an unusually timed meeting.

Jan looked into the last allegation that resulted in her being forced to leave the school grounds. She was not present at the meeting where parental consent was acquired. She was with her students at that time, as instructed by the administration earlier that year. She asked her supervisor, who has responsibility for ensuring paperwork is complete and accurate, previous to testing the student, if consent was obtained. He had been present at that meeting with the child’s parents. He confirmed it had been obtained.

A clerical error, made by the process coordinator, was responsible for the parental consent box not getting checked appropriately. The process coordinator filled out the paperwork incorrectly and failed to check that consent for language testing had been granted. The process coordinator and case manager were the only staff members present at the meeting with the parents. The case manager confirmed that consent for language testing was acquired and wrote a letter to the school board stating so.

Jan received her first evaluation containing “recommended growth” for tardiness on February 10. The school board voted against the renewal of her contract on March 27. It took 32 working days to destroy her professional reputation under Hadfield’s leadership.

An Avalanche of Allegations

When allegations of test scheduling irregularities and security breaches were leveled against Sean Kirksey, it prompted one concerned parent, Ms. Mindi Sales, to investigate. Her research into MAP testing rules and guidelines produced more questions than answers regarding Mr. Kirksey’s suspension.

The facts surrounding oversight of testing are crystal clear.

From Mindi Sales’ research:
‘ According to the Spring 2013 DESE Test Coordinator’s Manual which is put out by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, it states on page 11 under the title “Test Coordinators’ Roles” number 7: “Maintain the district’s testing schedule and be prepared to provide it to DESE upon request. If the testing schedule changed in any way, the DTC is responsible for updating this information.” ‘

She went on to explain: “Each district has a Test Coordinator, which is the Assistant Superintendent in our case. She is the one in charge of the MAP testing for our district. Then each building has a Building Coordinator, which at the middle school was a counselor.”

The DESE district coordinator for the middle school was assistant principal Roma France. The responsibility for the testing schedule for the school district ultimately falls to her. If Sean Kirksey made alterations of the schedule, including dividing a Language Arts test over a two-day period instead of administering it in one day, those alterations would need to be approved by Ms. French, per her DESE responsibilities.

If Mr. Kirksey made these changes, Ms. France’s duties as district test coordinator, responsible for testing oversight, should have required her to inform the principal that such changes were violation of testing guidelines. If the school went ahead with an altered schedule, it would have been due to Ms. France’s failure to meet her responsibilities as a trained DESE coordinator.

In the aftermath of these allegations, Ms. France was tasked to investigate the mishandling of the schedule she was ultimately responsible for. Her investigation, upon which DESE’s review was based, did not point to a failure on the part of the building coordinator or herself. Instead, the finger of blame was pointed at Sean Kirksey.

DESE, in their review of this questionable investigation, ruled that the irregularities would not impact the district’s accreditation in any way. These minor violations were not found to have a significant effect for the district. The effects for Sean Kirksey however, are far more severe.

The administration’s campaign to fire Sean Kirksey is a clear case of over-prosecution. Hadfield has elected to doll out fifty dollars worth of punishment for a fifty cent ‘crime’. This, along with her research into DESE testing guidelines and responsibilities, prompted Mindi to write a formal request to add the case of Mr. Kirksey to the Agenda for the school board meeting of August 12.

She, like Jan Michaelree before her, submitted this written request to Hadfield more than seven days in advance of the meeting, per school board policy.

She, like Jan Michaelree before her, found her request denied by Hadfield.

Hadfield, on advice from Mickes, stated that personnel matters ‘should not’ be discussed in front of the public. It was their goal that the board not hear public concerns about Sean Kirksey’s suspension and pending hearing. Together, Hadfield and Mickes constructed a thin legal rationale to justify silencing the very public who pays the district’s bills. Their desire to avoid public scrutiny is troublesome, particularly when this ‘legal cover’ is selectively applied.

While hiding behind the argument that personnel issues shouldn’t be discussed with the public in order to protect the district from risk, Hadfield has repeatedly violated Mickes’ advice. Through the Lake Sun, Hadfield has leaked details of personnel matters designed to sway public opinion in favor of his administration. It would seem that, in Hadfield’s regime, he alone decides when and how Mickes’ legal advice is applied.

Hadfield unilaterally denied Mr. Kirksey’s request to have his hearing open to the public. It was Hadfield’s position, formulated with Mickes, that Mr. Kirksey should be denied the right to a public hearing. The legal justification Mickes offered for wanting to conduct the hearing in closed session was one predicated on the idea that to having Mr. Kirksey’s hearing open would somehow legally expose the district to harm. This, of course, is the same legal opinion that prevented the matter of Mr. Kirksey being added to the August 12 meeting of the school board.

This is the position one takes when they have engaged in wrongdoing and feel they have something to hide. It is not one consistent with how a school should operate.

Hadfield and Mickes have been instrumental in wanting to postpone Mr. Kirksey’s case. Their determination to terminate Sean Kirksey seems not to be confined to the questionable DESE allegations. They have repeatedly indicated their desire to add additional charges against the middle school principal.

The school board and their attorney have instructed Hadfield and Mickes that there will be no further delays in the case of Mr. Kirksey. His hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, August 28 at 9:00 am.

Improbable Cause

American Spring has learned, from sources close to the situation, details surrounding the suspension of Middle School assistant principal Joel Carey. They point to a deeper level of collusion between the office of attorney Tom Mickes and Hadfield. Tax dollars are exchanged to protect an abusive administration while it routinely engages in systematic bullying and harassment. This behavior has corrupted the moral foundations of our district. The parasitical relationship, between a sadistic administrator with a history of bullying and the district’s attorney, is on full display in the case of Joel Carey.

Joel Carey was officially suspended shortly after Sean Kirksey. His suspension was the result of an investigation conducted by an “independent contractor” chosen by Mickes’ law office.

The investigation into assistant principal Joel Carey, according to the report, was prompted by Camdenton School District human resources principal, Jim Rich.

According to the report, shared exclusively with American Spring, Jim Rich lodged a complaint against Mr. Carey. Rich, in the last year of his contract before taking retirement, stated that a third party had told him Mr. Carey had said something negative about him. The report also states that Rich was afraid to go to the middle school to ask Mr. Carey about this heresay.

The result was a phone call to Mickes’ office from the administration. The law firm recommended an independent contractor to look into Rich’s complaint. The investigator, according to his own findings, could find absolutely no evidence of the claims made against Mr. Carey by Jim Rich. The investigation vindicated Carey.

The false allegation became the improbable cause used as an excuse for the district to conduct an investigation into Joel Carey’s behavior as assistant principal. The investigator, working at Mickes’ behest, pursued a line of questioning that appeared destined to end in the murky waters of ‘sexual harassment’.

Sources close to the investigation confirmed that some of the questions posed during the investigation seemed to lead potential witnesses down a pre-determined path. It was this line of questioning, completely irrelevant to the implausible cause used to begin the investigation, that led to Carey’s suspension.

The investigation into Joel Carey uncovers the horrible truth about our district under this current administration.

It was initiated as a direct result of gossip, by the district’s human resources principal. The allegations made by Rich, which began the investigation, were found to be, according to the investigator, unsubstantiated. The investigator, referred by Mickes’, said the accusations that were levied against Mr. Carey by Jim Rich were not true. He could find no evidence to support Rich’s assertions.

The harassment of Joel Carey did not stop there. An investigation that yields no charges will not produce billable hours. For reasons that are not clear, the scope of the inquiry was expanded, resulting in allegations of ‘sexual harassment’. Ironically, the investigation did not end in concrete charges. According to the report, the new allegations were “more likely than not”, true. This hardly sounds like proof of wrongdoing, particularly when the context of the investigation is considered. It would appear that, continuing in the persecution of Joel Carey would instead expose the district to a wrongful termination lawsuit.

It is important to note that this investigation has yet to yield any charges in the case of Joel Carey. He has not been presented formal charges of any kind as of this writing. Joel Carey, his wife and their four children are suffering under huge strain, caught in the same unbearable limbo as the Kirksey family. The Camdenton school district has produced a different sort of alumni, as they join the Michaelrees and Eygabroads, all victims of a morally corrupt system that is becoming institutionalized in the district.

As previously mentioned, Mr. Carey has hired a lawyer. This will ensure more billable hours for Mickes, while he and Hadfield seek to use the results of this questionable investigation to, presumably, add more charges against Sean Kirksey.

If they are allowed to create the perception that Carey is a predator and Kirksey knew of this behavior and covered it up, it is suddenly a lot more plausible to fire both. Never mind that the investigations in both cases are highly questionable.

Follow The Money

There is a decided, dedicated effort to spin fact from fantasy, to manufacture a justification the public will endorse for the firing of two more educators from groundless allegations. The enablers of Hadfield’s bully system collect thousands in tax payer dollars. Evidence of the profit motive is found in the bills that were approved for payment by the school board on August 12th. At that meeting, the board saw in black and white, proof of the financial impact of protecting the bully system. The district paid Mickes’ law firm more than $25,000 for the previous month and his work on the persecutions of Kirksey and Carey. Mickes’ profits directly from Hadfield’s sadistic streak. The more allegations Hadfield and his administration invent, the more money is diverted from education to Mickes’ firm.

Tom Mickes knows how to turn a buck at the tax payers expense. He has built a cottage industry in Missouri education. He has a long history in representing school districts in the Show Me State, but his influence over education doesn’t end there. Mickes has had his talons in several different political and educational pies during his career.

Mickes was asked to resign from the firm he previous worked with due to his financial stake in a company that sold textbooks and manuals to the same school districts the firm represented. The firm he founded in the wake of this conflict of interest scandal represents several lake area school districts, including Camdenton, Eldon and School of the Osage. Mickes also represented the Camdenton school district in a suit brought by the ACLU.

During a board meeting addressing the district’s decision to settle that case, Mickes was famously heard to say that the $25,000 the district had to pay as a settlement ‘could have been a lot worse’. He stated that his legal fees would have been much higher, had it not been for the Alliance Defense Fund. The ADF is closely aligned with organizations such as Focus on the Family and Eagle Forum. They aided Mickes during this legal fight.

During an examination of Eagle Forum last year by American Spring, it was revealed that at a conference sponsored by Phyllis Schlafly, several far-right tactics were discussed by various speakers, headlined by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. Other attendee included former Rep. Todd Akin and current MO-4 Rep. Vigilant Vicky Hartzler.

At that conference, a philosophy was promoted that seems to have some relevance to the lawsuit with the ACLU. “Picking insignificant legal fights” with the goal of shifting the bar further to the right was the subject of one of the event’s featured speakers.

Mickes, when discussing the settlement with the ACLU, broke into several political diatribes. These rarely had anything to do with the lawsuit directly, they instead were meant to instill the notion that he was a good conservative fighting the good fight against the ‘evil’ ACLU. He overplayed his hand however, when he chose to state, loudly and clearly in front of the gathered crowd:

“Here in Camdenton we practice the King James Version of the Constitution.”

By his actions, it would appear that Mickes’ pocket version of the Constitution is an Old Testament translation. It is long on punishment and sinfully short on mercy. It is about the whip, damnation and subjugation. It has nothing to do with decency, morality or understanding.

That statement does not instill confidence throughout the district in Mickes’ ability as a lawyer. After all, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are the documents upon which our laws are founded. If the lawyer who is depositing thousands of our dollars each month to ‘represent our interests’ doesn’t even have a basic understanding of the separation of church and state, how effective can he be at real litigation?

Mickes has shown a history of relying on bully tactics to terrorize staff members into resigning without a fuss. This is a man whose legal shadow is long and deep. This unelected educational equivalent of an ambulance chaser has given himself nearly complete autonomy in personnel decision made around the Lake of the Ozarks and the state of Missouri. He has, in his role as lawyer, set himself up as judge, jury and executioner. Mickes, like Hadfield, appears to have a taste for the axe. In Mickes’ case however, he gets paid each time it falls across another accused teacher or administrator’s neck.

In his capacity as counsel for the Eldon school district, Mickes recently made headlines in the case of coach Jimmy Lincoln. Lincoln was represented by Mike McDorman, the same attorney the Camdenton board hired as their representative in the case of Sean Kirksey. This sound decision by the school board likely didn’t sit well with Mickes. In his position as legal counsel for many districts across the state, Mickes isn’t used to being challenged within district’s he is paid to represent. In our own Camdenton school district, the facts point to Mickes as an attorney who has far too much power over personnel matters.

During the same school board meeting in which the school board approved Mickes legal bills, another conspirator received an installment of tax dollars for their continued cooperation in creating an illusion around Camdenton’s school district. Joyce Miller, a bully of the same feather as Hadfield, and the Lake Sun collected their monthly installment for their contributions in misleading the public about the truth hidden in the wake of Laker Nation.

The Lake Sun continues to promote whatever storyline Hadfield provides, without concerning itself with matters of fact or context. When challenged about the clear bias shown in their pieces, their editorial staff cries a familiar refrain: “no one will talk to us”.

The reason for that should, by now, be obvious. The Lake Sun, under its current publisher and editorial direction, has engaged in a willful attempt to manipulate public perception in favor of the bully system. This was on full display during the last school board election cycle, as the paper printed a barrage of editorials and articles seeking to condemn board members who stood against the standard operating procedures of the bully system.

As was discovered in the American Spring investigation into the paper’s coverage of Brian Henry’s resignation proves, the editorial staff of the Lake Sun knowingly misled the public by omitting important context regarding the resignation of the former assistant superintendent. Instead, as a direct result of this decision, Henry’s resignation was allowed to become the rallying cry against those board members who stood in opposition of these tactics.

This was not the only false narrative promoted by the Lake Sun during that election cycle. Another of these focused on the aforementioned Kristy Kindwall.

Kindwall, whose contract came up for review earlier this year, received a renewal from the board, 4-3. The three dissenting votes were cast by the school board members targeted by Hadfield and the Lake Sun. These same board members voted against offering an extension of Henry’s existing contract. The votes of board members Jim Bescansez, Laura Martin and John Beckett against the renewal of Kindwall’s contract were used by the Lake Sun to continue a campaign of misinformation.

The tabloid characterized these votes as “micro-managing” and “playing politics”. These three board members were promoted as obstructionists and extremists bent on undoing the order and sanctity of our school district. John Tucker, Gatehouse publisher, led the charge with a series of hack-job editorials designed to maintain the ‘status quo’.

Context was omitted in the Lake Sun’s coverage of Kristy Kindwall’s resignation. Kindwall received her contract extension, after all. What was not reported was that Kindwall made the decision to leave the school district well before the Lake Sun’s propaganda piece on her resignation.

The last of her children had graduated from the district, she was newly divorced and was offered much more money to take a job in a different district. She elected to take a position for more money in the Saint Louis metropolitan area.

The Lake Sun knowingly tied their manipulations of Kindwall’s resignation to the false narrative they first presented with Brian Henry’s resignation. They glued their misrepresentations to their assumptions with bile and venom, failing to provide the smallest grain of truth and context to their readership.

What also went unsaid in the Lake Sun coverage of Kindwall’s resignation was that the only school board members who had personal and professional experience with Kristy Kindwall, voted against her contract renewal.

Board members Laura Martin and John Beckett both have special needs children in the school district. In their roles as parents, Ms. Martin and Mr. Beckett had real world, practical experience in dealing with Kindwall. This personal exposure to her management style and tactics gave them a unique perspective that informed their votes against her contract renewal. Mr. B. had previously worked with Kindwall during his time as a teacher in the district. This experience certainly weighed in his decision to not renew her contract.

The case of Jan Michaelree shows that Kindwall, like Jim Rich and Brian Henry, before his resignation, was one of Hadfield’s ‘McCoys’, a co-conspirator in perpetuating a bully system that punishes those who go against the regime. The collusion between the Lake Sun and Hadfield serves to conceal these actions from the public. They have worked in concert to create a web of half-truths and manipulations to hide the actions of an administration clearly out of control.

Unfortunately for the public, it was revealed on Friday morning that the Lake Sun is not alone in attempting to manipulate the truth in order to suit Hadfield’s needs. KRMS radio allowed Hadfield to do a public relations appearance, providing him a platform to proclaim how this year is off to the “best start” in his tenure. Manny Haley did not challenge Hadfield on this assertion. He did not ask, or was not allowed to ask, questions about the cases of Kirksey and Casey. Instead, Hadfield was given a soapbox from which he spewed a load of candy-coated crap.

He stepped up and proudly and boldly declared, “Nope! Nothing’s wrong here!” If you listened between the lines however, you might have heard:

“Pay no attention to what’s behind that curtain!”.

A Spreading Moral Cancer

The environment created by school administration, the school’s lawyer and local media outlets has become the perfect incubator for the spread of a moral cancer that is rotting the body politic of our community. Together, they have schemed to keep the public blind to a bully system that has become institutionalized in the most personal level of local government, our school system.

This incubator of oppression has hatched district safety officer Wynne Stephens. Stephens serves double duty in Camdenton, serving on the city police department as well as in his capacity as resource officer for the school district. On two separate occasions, Stephens has acted in a way described by concerned parent and founder of the Facebook page ‘Mr. Sean Kirksey for Camdenton Middle School Principal’ Mindi Sales as bordering on ‘harassment’.

The first incident surrounded her intentions to give away free T shirts in support of Kirksey’s cause. Stephens was responsible not only for rudely demanding that Mindi leave the parking lot, but he failed to disclose alleged ‘threats’ that were phoned in and directed toward Ms. Sales. This decision, when coupled with the fact that the anonymous caller followed Mindi and her children to a new location, first cast Stephens motivations in a disturbing light.

A second incident of harassment, this time at the middle school orientation, confirms that Stephens is a willing participant in Hadfield’s bully system. He made Ms. Sales physically uncomfortable while she attended orientation. He invaded her space and sought to intimidate her.

Mindi Sales is a mother. Her daughter, a student at Camdenton Middle School, was with her. Stephens’ harassment and his attempts to intimidate her led Mindi to meet with Camdenton Police Chief Wright the following day. There, she expressed her concerns to the Chief.

To date, no official comment has been issued by the Chief’s office regarding American Spring inquiries regarding Stephens’ behavior and the anonymous threats that were made against Mindi Sales. It is expected that Chief Wright will choose the route we are all too familiar with. We assume there will be no comments forthcoming on potential wrong-doing by officers under her command.

The desire of local government officials and employees to keep their dealings hidden away from public scrutiny is born from a very real fear. If the public is informed, if we are told the truth, we may refuse to be governed by those unscrupulous, uncouth, immoral and unethical betrayers of our trust. It is necessary to have consent in order to govern. Those determined to keep us in the dark, those who seek to silence us, are not seeking our consent. They would rather ask for forgiveness for continued and repeated violations of their office rather than ask for permission from the people they pretend to serve.

They have embarked on a desperate campaign to keep their actions hidden from public view. They have scurried like cockroaches exposed to the light, attempting to silence those who would demand real accountability of school administration instead of a succession of show trials based on trumped up, manufactured allegations. As cases continue to pour from the wounds Hadfield and Mickes have inflicted on our school district and money continues to hemorrhage from our district’s coffers, public outrage and awareness has spread.

A United Front

The scandalous suspensions in Camdenton Middle School have brought the Laker Nation together in a way that was wholly unforseen. A patchwork coalition of concerned citizens from all walks of life and background have rallied around the case of Sean Kirksey. There is a common understanding that it is much more than the fate of one administrator that is on the line this week during the hearing of Mr. Sean Kirksey. In many ways, the outcome of Sean Kirksey’s hearing will become a clear commentary on what type of community Camdenton and the Lake of the Ozarks is.

For those who have supported Kirksey’s rights, his hearing is an opportunity for the board to function as they are supposed to. The members of the Camdenton school board represent our community. They, in that capacity, will have the final say in the case of Mr. Sean Kirksey. They have the opportunity to stand up in front of the community they serve and make a stand. The members of the board can stand up to Hadfield, Mickes and the bully system they have instituted and say “not in our school”. They have the opportunity to send a message, loud and clear, that Camdenton is better than that. They have the ability and responsibility to cast a vote that will restore morality and compassion in our school district. They have the ability and responsibility to cast votes that will improve our children’s environment.

They have the opportunity to serve our community and restore common sense, transparency and legitimacy to a process that has been severely abused by Hadfield in the past.

They have the power to tell Tim Hadfield, we don’t trust your leadership because we can’t trust you.

They have the responsibility to answer to our community if they choose instead to endorse Hadfield’s brand of cancer.

We will be here, all of us, to make sure you do.

Editor’s note: Thursday night, on a special edition of Guerrilla Radio with American Spring Prime Time, at 8pm, we will be joined by Kathy Eygabroad, who will add her experiences in the district to the growing list of casualties left in the wake of Laker Nation. Hope you will join us. It is sure to be informative.

Hadfield and the ‘McCoys’

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Despite rhetoric from Camdenton School Board president, Chris McElyea, the District is following through with a determined effort to silence public input on the allegations that led to Camdenton Middle School principal, Sean Kirksey being suspended, pending a disciplinary hearing. Hadfield and the board want to decide the fate of the Mr. Kirksey, the 2004 Missouri State Assistant Principal of the Year award winner, in secrecy, behind closed doors. They wish to avoid public discussion of the matters related to Mr. Kirksey’s suspension and the minor infractions reported by DESE. They have gone so far as to ask the opinion of the District’s lawyer, Tom Mickes, to provide ‘legal cover’, no matter how flimsy, to justify the ”need” for secrecy. Those on the Board and in school administration are incredibly determined to keep their actions in Mr. Kirksey’s case secret. They would prefer that there be no record of their actions for the public to scrutinize. They would prefer to be able to manipulate the story and issue only their ”official version” of what happens behind closed doors. Washington-style politics have wormed their way into the school district. The recent actions, or rather, inactions, of some current board members shows that they are willing to promote fallacious stories in order to further their own ends. This same inaction and lack of leadership by the Board has allowed Hadfield to decree that the public should have no say in decisions he makes.

Chris McElyea has listened to the pleas of the public in the case of Mr. Kirksey. He is content to shrug his shoulders and give us an ”aww shucks” while refusing to address the public’s very basic right to comment on cheating allegations. He would duck and cover behind technicalities and legal opinions while dodging his responsibility as an elected official to open the hearing to the public. Chris McElyea has chosen to discard the District’s own school board policy. In much the same way as Washington has dismissed the Constitution, McElyea seems content to ignore the policy’s own suggested remedy in handling personnel hearings.

The policy states the hearing shall be open to the public.

This section applies to tenured teachers, not administrators like Mr. Kirksey. The School Board Policy would suggest however, that the hearing process can be applied to administrators, in lieu of other avenues. Certainly, Mr. Kirksey, under whose leadership has led to teachers in the Camdenton Middle School being awarded Teacher of the Year, would deserve this same consideration, especially since he is asking for a public hearing. It is a reasonable request from a man with nothing to hide. He would prefer the public have access to the facts and merits surrounding any disciplinary action taken against him. As an educator, his entire career rests on the actions that will be taken by the Board. Termination because of ‘testing irregularities’ will make it difficult for him to continue his career as a principal. The livelihood of his family is at stake. If the man wants a public hearing to clear his name, he should have it. Those willing to speak publicly have nothing to hide. Those who would rather operate in secret and behind closed doors create the perception that they do.

Their silence earlier this year in the case of Dr. Henry’s resignation from the District is precisely why Mr. Kirksey’s hearing must be open. Unfortunately, we cannot trust most of them to deliver truth to the parents they serve. As witnessed earlier this year, they are content to remain silent while the media reports fallacy as fiction. The fiction, the false narrative, served their political will, after all. It became the basis of a smear campaign against three then-board members. Four current board members, those who weren’t targets of this public relations siege, were also board members at that time.Of them, not a single board member came out to state the facts regarding Dr. Henry’s resignation. They did not countermand the Lake Sun’s false report that his contract was not renewed. They simply sat quietly, shrugging their shoulders, giving us the ”aww shucks” routine, while the truth was manipulated. This manipulation led to the character attacks on the members of the board who stood in opposition to closed doors and hush-hush deals, such as the one that has a maintenance supervisor at the school making more than two teacher’s salaries each year. These same board members also sat by while a coat of white-wash was placed over this same maintenance supervisor’s role in construction bids and cost overruns that resulted in a transfer of a million dollars to the general fund from the teacher’s insurance account. Nancy Masterson went so far as to indicate if the transfer were a true manipulation of funds, would it go unnoticed for so long?

The answer, Ms. Masterson, is yes.

The ‘fix’ was in when the District decided to hire a maintenance supervisor at approximately $70,000 a year in salary. The ‘fix’ was in when companies affiliated with Mr. Dickeman were then awarded contracts for construction on our school. The ‘fix’ was most certainly in when construction costs from these companies ran over budget approximately $1.5 million dollars.

Chris McElyea, Selynne Barbour, Jackie Schulte, along with Ms. Masterson, all endorsed this, in whole or part, with their silence on the matter when the local paper used those allegations as a means with which to construct yet another false narrative. This time, the target of their ire was the local website LakeWatchdog.blogspot.com. Another “aww shucks” routine and political two-step from these four board members clearly indicates a willingness on their part to mislead the public as to the goings-on in the District. They again sat back in silence while the propaganda machine did its work.

These board members have, at the very least, acted irresponsibility, particularly as related to budget oversight. This is particularly concerning for the Lake of the Ozarks community, as Vice President of the Board Nancy Masterson has also had oversight of other construction projects in her capacity on the Ha Ha Tonka park board. In that role, she oversaw construction by our very own current Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken.

These board members have also acted dishonestly, by remaining silent as fiction was peddled as fact in the local tabloid, the Lake Sun. Their silence was an endorsement of the paper’s blatant misrepresentations of fact. Selynne Barbour, who is a regular contributor to both the Lake Sun and LO Profile magazine, certainly could have phoned Joyce Miller and ask that she print a retraction. She chose not to.

Instead, the paper ran a series of pieces that viciously attacked the board members and those who supported them. The editorial bias, highlighted by Gatehouse publisher John Tucker’s editorials, ensured the re-election of Nancy Masterson and election of Mr. Williams. It served to marginalize the board members who were actually serving the community by asking questions about the District’s dealings, as well as investigating the ties and strings associated with Federal programs such as the Race to the Top grant and Common Core standard implementation.

Tucker’s decision to use his paper as a propaganda factory is one that is as simple as this: It is a business decision. The local political establishment are tightly linked to their advertisers. One of their largest is Lake Regional Hospital. One look at past and present board member reveals a who’s who in our business community that serves to outline a greater architecture of business interests using government to advance their own ends. Tucker chose to sell his paper’s credibility as a news organization in exchange for the higher profits of tabloid journalism. This decision, while despicable, can at least be explained by the profit motive. The board members have no such justification.

Now, they would seek to play their ”aww shucks” routine to the public while scheming to continue this disgusting bully system, in silence and behind closed doors. They have systematically applied these tactics to those who don’t go along with the program, as the case of Jan Michaelree clearly demonstrates. They are now using these techniques to tarnish, and potentially end, Sean Kirksey’s career as a principal.

Sean Kirksey graduated from Camdenton High School in 1989. He graduated from SBU with an education degree and earned his masters at Missouri State University. In 2004, as an Assistant Principal, he earned the Missouri State Assistant Principal of the Year award. Sean Kirksey has served us in a fine capacity as CMS principal. He has the respect and admiration of parents, students and teachers alike. That respect should be given him. He should be able to avail himself of the right to have his hearing public, in order to defend his good name.

Our board needs to show some respect, not just for Mr. Kirksey, but for the public they serve and the community members who would like to see Sean Kirksey remain as principal of our middle school. Common sense should prevail in this case, not pettiness.

Those who have stood in support of Sean Kirksey have had threats leveled against them. The pattern of behavior, the standard operating procedure, is clear. We see who endorse it. They would seek to silence any discussion about Sean Kirksey’s situation. They seek to keep the doors on Mr. Kirksey’s hearing closed, in order to continue the cycle of career and reputation violence. They would like to keep this dirty little secret out of the public view.

This is nothing new for our local politicians, in every capacity. Elected officials throughout our county are seeking to hide their dirty little secrets. They are conspiring to hide the growing level of corruption that has infected our systems like a cancer. The tabloid press has refused to report on Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken’s software scandal. They have refused to investigate Franken’s role in the county’s expenditure of $53,000 for software that did not meet the standards of the contract.

Franken also would prefer to do business behind closed doors.

Recently, in an email to Stacy Shore regarding a missing audio file of the July 23rd Commission meeting, Franken complained about using recording devices. He said, “as far as non-agenda meetings are concerned, people who come in to speak informally with the commission do so in confidence to try to get preliminary information on a project or a problem that they are having. I, nor they, believe that those informal meetings should be recorded.”

While we all appreciate Franken’s opinion, the Missouri state statute regarding meetings of the commission, even ‘informal’ ones, are subject to Sunshine Law. The reason for this is obvious, as the software scandal and TIGER Five grant discussions, in which a large sum of tax dollars was considered to subsidize private profits, should be part of the public record. The public has a right to know what’s being done on our dime, like it or not, little Lord Franken.

Franken wasn’t done there. He had more to say, in a deceitful, arrogant tone:

” In fact, since a certain individual has demanded that all commission meetings be recorded regardless of their content of importance, I have had several businesses that are considering coming in to the area or increasing their presence in the area reuse to meet at the courthouse and I have had to go out to meet with them so they were certain they had control of the environment that the meeting was held in. “

Control of the environment the meeting was held in? Sound familiar?

A business wanting to expand in Camden County shouldn’t be afraid to have its dealings with our county commission public. If they are reputable and have good intentions, they have nothing to fear from the taxpayers of this county hearing their proposals. It is our money, not theirs, after all.

Franken went on to say that openness and transparency ” …sends a poor message to businesses about Camden County”.

If that is truly the case, we can have no better representative to sell us out than Kris Franken.

We are tired of watching those of you who would abuse the positions of responsibility we have given you. We are sick of you lying to us. We are tired of being bullied. All of us.

August 12th at 5:30, the community has its first opportunity to speak out against this type of behavior. We have the opportunity to shout it down and say ”no more”.

The question is: Will we?

The Curious Case of Mr. Kirksey

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In June, the Camdenton School District announced that they were self-reporting possible MAPP testing violations to DESE. As part of these potential violations, Superintendent Tim Hadfield announced to the media that a principal at the Camdenton Middle School was being suspended as part of the investigation into wrongdoing. According to Hadfield, the principal had violated scheduling rules for administering a Language Arts test, along with other infractions.

Superintendent Hadfield might have consulted DESE’s Spring 2013 Testing Manual before publicly linking an administrator to potential cheating allegations. Had Dr. Hadfield been knowledgable of DESE’s own guidelines for MAPP testing responsibilities, Mr. Sean Kirksey might have been spared the personal and professional anguish that inevitably follows in the wake of these allegations. As Mindi Sales, founder of the Facebook page ‘Mr. Sean Kirksey for Camdenton School Principal’ reported on Friday, these allegations seem to hold Mr. Kirksey responsible for something he has no responsibility for.

” According to the Spring 2013 DESE Test Coordinator’s Manual which is put out by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, it states on page 11 under the title “Test Coordinators’ Roles” number 7

“Maintain the district’s testing schedule and be prepared to provide it to DESE upon request. If the testing schedule changed in any way, the DTC is responsible for updating this information.” “

Ms. Sales went on to explain:

” Each district has a Test Coordinator, which is the Assistant Superintendent in our case. She is the one in charge of the MAP testing for our district. Then each building has a Building Coordinator, which at the middle school was a counselor. Notice Mr. Kirksey’s name or position were NOT just mentioned. Both the Building Testing Coordinator (BTC) and the District Testing Coordinator (DTC) go to training for their respective jobs. Once the scheduling is decided, that information is placed in the hands of the District Testing Coordinator, which happens in either late March or early April. She is then responsible for maintaining the schedule, making sure it complies with all of DESE’s rules. “

This poses a couple of questions, as Ms. Sales went on:

” I am completely confused as to how this responsibility, which is clearly that of the District Test Coordinator’s became Sean’s? It just doesn’t make sense.

One more point: DESE only has one side of the story, Dr. Hadfield’s side. They have not heard from Mr. Kirksey and I don’t think they are going to since they have already compiled their report. So here is my question:

IF DESE HAS ONLY HEARD ONE SIDE, AND THEY STILL ARE NOT GOING TO SANCTION CAMDENTION SCHOOL DISTRICT IN ANY WAY, WHY IS MR. KIRKSEY STILL ON LEAVE AND HIS JOB IN JEOPARDY????? “

Sean Kirksey has been an administrator for the Camdenton School District for several years. His suspension has sparked an outpouring of support throughout the Laker community and a growing group of community members have rallied together in his defense. The curious case of Mr. Kirksey has rapidly spread across social media and throughout the Lake of the Ozarks area. Laker community members, alumni, parents and concerned citizens have rallied together in support of Mr. Kirksey in advance of an August 16 hearing, scheduled to decide his fate.

The Laker Nation, its board and the district, has seen its share of conflict in recent months. In a bitter school board election earlier this year, local media portrayed the district as a political battleground, where battles over ideology got in the way of progress and resulted in staff resignations, presumably in protest of a work environment made toxic by political in-fighting. A narrative of ‘obstructionist’ behavior was repeated and reinforced by business leaders, local media and former board members to characterize the behavior of three-then board members. These board members had questioned grant programs and personnel decisions. Refusing to ‘rubber stamp’ decisions became recast as obstructionism and argumentative. It became the central issue of the spring elections. Important facts were left in the background, victims of a brutal public relations campaign intended to restore the status quo. Hyperbole and accusations covered up convenient omissions of fact, a trend that seems to be repeating itself in the case of Mr. Kirksey.

The Lake Sun, the Lake area’s largest newspaper, has been instrumental in forming public opinion in favor of the current school board. This spring its publisher, John Tucker, took to the editorial page to issue a series of scathing editorials that attacked board members who would question the direction of the district. These editorials also endorsed, by proxy, establishment-approved school board candidates with deep political ties to state and local government. The board’s makeup, after the spring election, now better reflects the influence of the Chamber of Commerce over our school and further highlights the organization’s growing role in shaping our children’s education. Board members willing to stand up against Common Core’s corporate-sponsored take over of education have been safely put back into the ‘bitchy minority’ of the Camdenton School District. Now, it is ‘back to business’ in the district.

Mr. Kirksey, his family and his reputation are the human costs of business as usual. He now stands firmly in the crosshairs of local public relations and marketing machine: Gatehouse Media’s Lake Sun. A recent article on Mr. Kirksey’s suspension in the Lake Sun reflects an editorial bias that is as slanted as any cable news outlet. It is most noteworthy for its focus on the allegations against Mr. Kirksey and for its omission of several key facts that appear to call these accusations directly into question.

For example, Spree Hilliard reported:

“The state requires MAP testing be done during specific time periods for targeted sections without breaks under the supervision of a certified testing administrator. Among the irregularities with the testing procedures identified in the report alleged the building principal allowed an uncertified staff member to oversee classrooms where testing was taking place, handle testing materials and had not followed the testing criteria that states testing should be completed during specified times and in one sitting.”

What the Lake Sun piece neglects to mention is that the investigation was conducted by the DESE District Test Coordinator, the person who is responsible, according to DESE’s own rules, for all things related to test scheduling. This appears to represent a clear conflict of interest. The sole person responsible for testing scheduling is allowed to investigate allegations into breaches of security regarding scheduling. The DTC is then allowed to point the finger at an administrator and cast blame on him for not doing the DTC’s job.

According to Hadfield, this flawed investigation is justification enough to place the popular Mr. Kirksey on leave, pending an August school board meeting that will determine Sean’s future with the district. He announced the appointment of an interim principle in a memo he shared with local media. In it, Hadfield said: “As permanent employee decisions are pending, we thank you for your cooperation and patience at this time.”

Hadfield has been scrambling to suppress debate, commentary and input from the Laker community into the case of Mr. Kirksey. In a move that seems to be beyond the reach of his position as Superintendent, Hadfield and the district’s attorney have ruled that the community cannot add discussion about the DESE investigation and Mr. Sean Kirksey to the agenda of the August 12 meeting of the school board. Their legal argument to prevent citizens from speaking out on behalf of Mr. Kirksey is that it is a ”personnel matter”. As Mindi Sales has pointed out, Hadfield himself has discussed this highly sensitive ”personnel matter” in the local media. This seems to fly in the face of his own attempts to “logically” and “legally” restrict the public’s right to comment.

An investigation that is fundamentally flawed from the beginning, as in this case, where a person is responsible for investigating their own potential wrongdoing, should be the subject of debate. Especially if someone’s job is on the line in the school district we fund. It should be public and should be informed. It should be vigorous and maybe contentious, but it shouldn’t be feared. Hadfield should not have a reason to want to silence the community about the case of Mr. Sean Kirksey.

Nor should Hadfield be considering ”permanent employee decisions” in the case of Mr. Kirksey. As DESE themselves have stated, this will not negatively affect the district’s accreditation. Camdenton School historically has had both high scores and have been free of testing concerns. Because of the DESE grading system, the violations at Camdenton do not have any significant impact. As such, the case of Mr. Kirksey should end on equal terms. It should not be pursued and should not be allowed to have any more of an impact than that already suffered by this man and his family.

Instead, we see what is becoming an all-too familiar strategy being employed and are offered a glimpse at a fundamental national transformation of education.

As previously noted, the local Chamber of Commerce has a significant amount of influence over the sitting school board. These business leaders have a great deal of influence in shaping the direction of our school district. The CoC endorsed and supports implementation of Common Core, which will, in part, produce a scoring system that will lead to an escalation in public school closures. In Missouri, letter grading systems, that have been shown to lead to higher school failure rates in other states, have been proposed in our state legislature. This proposal has been endorsed by CoC sponsored politicians serving our communities in Jefferson City. Votes have been cast in our state capital that will expedite the closing of schools that don’t meet standards. Legislation that makes it easier to fire teachers has been rolled out under the guise of accountability. Millions of tax payer dollars are the real prize, however. The more public schools fail, the larger the market becomes for corporate education to step in with charter schools. This creates more schools that aren’t accountable to elected boards, but to bottom lines and corporate endorsed administrators who can stick to a one-sided story and help keep quiet those who would tell another. This is business as usual.

This type of one-sided narrative can quickly become perceived as fact when debt saddled media outlets, such as Gatehouse’s Lake Sun, refuse to challenge it for fear of upsetting their advertisers. Under these circumstances, a one-sided story, such as the one presented to the board in the case of Mr. Kirksey, becomes adopted as the official narrative while facts and the other side of the story are forgotten.

The case of Mr. Kirksey deserves debate and a presentation of facts to counter the flaws that led to his being suspended in the first place. That he faces possible termination in this case is more than a little curious.

Where in the World Is Joyce Miller?

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Last year, Gatehouse Media implemented a paywall system for many of their small newspapers across Missouri and the country. This led to changes in the website of the Lake Sun, a Gatehouse outlet serving the Lake of the Ozarks’ communities. The Lake Sun has been the area’s undisputed leader in print media for the Lake for years. Before last years changes to their website, the paper enjoyed thriving, lively conversations in the comment sections on articles. Changes to the site have made it difficult to access articles on mobile devices and have restricted comment and conversation to articles selected by the editorial staff. Additionally, Facebook is linked to the comment section, and requires a user profile to post. Facebook, one of the most popular social media brands, has been cooperative with the NSA in data mining US citizens. These factors, along with the paywall which restricts access to online content, have muted conversations on articles from the online community and were the subject of conversation between American Spring and the Lake Sun last year.

Thursday however, the Lake Sun comment board saw a rare amount of traffic after the Lake Sun posted an article titled ‘Lake Ozark could be the setting for a reality show’. This piece referenced a story, first reported on by Manny Haley of KRMS Radio on Tuesday. The Lake Ozark Police Department have received an offer from a California production company to shoot a reality show centered around the LOPD. The city’s attorney and police chief are drafting an agreement that would ”be beneficial to the LOPD and the city of Lake Ozark”. This article from Dan Field sparked a rare firestorm of debate on Facebook. Many comments, critical of the LOPD and their ability to show the community in a good light, were voiced from across the lake area. These comments ranged, in part, from videos of the LOPD in action to recounts of personal experiences with the department. The examples offered from the community shows a side the department and the city would prefer to keep off-camera. These stories were reinforced by Lake Ozark city attorney Roger Gibbons.

“What if the material shows how people come here on vacation and party only to be arrested and placed on probation?” Gibbons, who authored the infamous ‘free speech ordinance’ which the Board of Aldermen passed in an apparent violation of state statute, has reason for hesitation. Video links found during a youtube search of ”lake ozark police” offer a look into what a reality show based around the LOPD might show the public about an area based around tourism. “Frankly, I do not see how the city or its police department benefits”, Gibbons said.

The Lake Sun’s article is underpinned by Lake Ozark’s failure to retain the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout Meet and Greet event. In recent weeks, that event announced a move to Laurie as political failure ensured no action would be taken to lift the city’s open container ordinance. The comments on the Lake Sun’s article reflected a deep frustration within the Lake of the Ozarks community.

As the editor of American Spring and host of Guerrilla Radio, I commented on the article as well, inviting further conversation about this and other issues involving Lake Ozark government. One of my comments, suggested listening to Guerrilla Radio, which was discussing the article on air.

The Lake Sun, within moments of its posting, deleted that comment.

This is the most recent in a string of questionable editorial decisions.

On June 27, American Spring ran ‘Franken’s Software Scandal’. That article clearly outlined a political kickback scandal orchestrated by Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken. The controversy surrounded a contract awarded to HCPS Software for accounting and payroll programs. In late 2011, as reported by the Lake Sun, Franken appeared to violate state statutes to ensure Timothy Otten and HCPS received this contract. Otten was a friend of Franken’s campaign during the election of 2010. Less than two years later, the county had to terminate the contract, as the software programs provided by HCPS were ineffective and failed to meet the specifications of the contract. This scam cost the taxpayers of Camden County $53,000.

On July 5, the Lake Sun ran Franken’s attempts to explain away HCPS’ failure to deliver a working product. Through manipulation and political double-speak, Franken attempted to minimize the situation. Joyce Miller, editor-in-chief of the Lake Sun, gave Franken the stage. Inexplicably, she did not challenge Franken’s white wash of the scheme. This came as a surprise and may indicate an about-face from Miller, whose exceptional reporting in October of 2011 first uncovered this scandal.

Under Miller’s leadership, the Lake Sun has had a contentious history with the embattled Presiding Commissioner. The Lake Sun has been critical of actions taken by Franken during his time in office. They have given insightful, thorough reporting of questionable dealings and decisions made by the politician. These have included Franken’s attempts to cover up wrongdoing by former campaign contributor Tony Beabout and the scandal that ensued regarding Beabout’s termination. The Lake Sun brought us Franken’s threat to sue then-reporter Deanna Wheeler for recording discussions related to audit results, even though all conversations involving a quorum of the Commission is subject to Sunshine Law. The paper has questioned Franken’s attempts to keep records surrounding county tax sales hidden from public scrutiny and recounted the way with which he drug his feet regarding those records. The Lake Sun has helped map out Franken’s term of treacherous behavior with their honest and frank reporting during the past two years. Recently however, this seems to have changed.

Over the past two weeks, a consortium of individuals have been laying the groundwork for an argument in favor of Article 600. The Lake Sun has documented these attempts in detail. The details they have chosen to bring to light offers a look at the usual suspects in Lake of the Ozarks politics and their attempts to justify the need for enforcement of Planning and Zoning through a series of complaints, using ‘nuisance’ claims. The Lake Sun has reported on the campaign of these same individuals to publicly chastise Commissioner Cliff Luber for bringing attention to Planning and Zoning issues and concerns, the termination of the HCPS contract, the TIGER Five grant and other questionable decisions made by our county government. Through their reporting, the Lake Sun has provided a rogue’s gallery for public scrutiny. The paper has shown the efforts of the Camden County Republican Club, the Village of Four Seasons Property Owners Association and the Lake of the Ozarks Community Bridge Corporation to influence policy in Camden County. They have also cited a telling May 10 audio recording of the Camden County Commission in which Franken calls the appointment of a lake area business owner to the Planning and Zoning board as a ”covert attempt to crash the system from the inside”.

The questions the Lake Sun haven’t asked: What system is it that might crash from the appointment of a board member who is well-educated on the effect of P&Z on citizen’s rights? What threat does that represent? To whom? Why is Franken so eager to label those who would speak out in opposition to Article 600 “extremists”? Where is the audio recording for the meeting of the Commission in which they discuss the TIGER Five grant and the use of county funds to subsidize private profits?

What did we wind up with after giving one of Franken’s buddies $53,000?

Where in the world are you, Joyce Miller?

The Lake Sun has prided itself on its local political coverage. As well they should. Historically, they have been an outlet that has been dedicated to uncovering government malfeasance. They have broken stories such as the Macks Creek speed trap and have shown the ability to stand up to politicians who would abuse their office. More than at any other time in our nation’s history, we need you to do your job. The media are the unspoken check and balance in a democracy. Their willingness to report truth in the face of power protects the interest of the people. When they willfully choose to obfuscate truth and promote instead, a public relations spiel, it leaves us vulnerable to those who would act unethically and recklessly while serving in offices we the people, own.

It is not the job of media to manipulate conversation around issues. It is the responsibility of our media to tell the truth. We do not want them to look the other way. We expect more, we deserve more.

We demand more.

We the people can influence the conversation and challenge the narrative. Monday morning, Kris Franken will appear on the Morning Magazine with Manny Haley. Call in. Join the conversation. Demand answers.

*Editor’s Note: American Spring sent an email to Joyce Miller, asking if she intended to do a follow up piece on the software scandal. She did not respond.

Franken’s Software Scandal

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The controversial purchase of accounting software systems made by Camden County officials in 2011 continues to dog Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken. Recently, the county terminated its contract with HCPS and Timothy Otten, who were contracted to provide accounting software programs for payroll, purchasing and accounts payable and receivable. County officials did not pay the final installment of the $60,000 contract. This decision was reached after a meeting of county employees revealed deep troubles with the contracted systems.

The contract has been the subject of public scrutiny from the beginning, as questionable behavior surrounded the bid process. After spending $53,000 on software that has been an unmitigated failure, the citizens of Camden County demand answers. They are, after all, stuck with the bill.

On October 14, 2011, the Lake Sun Leader’s Joyce Miller reported on the irregularities of the bidding process. In her investigation, it was learned that only two companies were given an opportunity to bid on the contract. These bid solicitations were hand-delivered by Kris Franken. As Joyce points out, this appears to bypass state statute.

Additionally, state statutes require that any bid solicitation for contracts in excess of three thousand dollars MUST be advertised in a local paper with a circulation of at least five hundred copies per issue. As Ms. Miller reported, the contract was not advertised for bid in either the Lake Sun or the Camden County Reporter. This was uncovered when the county could not fulfill a Missouri Sunshine Law request for documents relating to the bid.

The two bid requests were given to HCPS Software of Licking, MO, who specialize in software for the fuel distribution industry and Huber and Associates of Jefferson City, who had provided technical and network support to the county for years. Of these two bid requests, the only one that was returned in time for consideration for the May 10, 2011 vote was the bid belonging to HCPS and Timothy Otten. The bid request from Huber and Associates was not received in time for the vote.

According to former county IT employee Leslie Chamberlin, the reason a bid was not submitted by Huber and Associates was a matter of timing. On a recent podcast of Guerrilla Radio with American Spring, Ms. Chamberlin described a bid solicitation that was doomed to fail.

“Mr. Franken had told a rep from Huber and Associates that the county was having issues with the payroll package they had. They were using MAS2000 and were not happy with the response they were getting from that company when issues arose. Huber was never told about the accounts payable or purchasing side to my knowledge. Huber was not made aware that a normal bid process had been issued until the day that bid deadline occurred. Franken came down one half hour prior to the meeting where the bid was going to be awarded and asked if he had his proposal ready. He explained that the company was close to completing the proposal, but not finished. Franken told him he was sorry, but the bid process was ending that day in thirty minutes. Camden County has done business for years with Huber. In my opinion, this was an underhanded way of removing a true competitor from the bid process. Huber and Associates chose not to say anything to Camden County about the subject because they wanted to keep their relationship intact, but I am sure they were not pleased that they had spent hours creating a proposal that was never to be seen.”

The result was a sole bid, confirmed by both meeting minutes and Commissioner Bev Thomas, who, when questioned by the Lake Sun about the software purchase said: ‘ “It was not included in the 2011 budget. I am aware that the sheriff was looking at computerizing some of the financial information in his department but was not informed when it was decided to incorporate the entire county. I became aware of it at bid opening for a provider. I am not aware of any presentations that were made to the county. At bid opening there was only 1 bid,” Thomas said. ‘

Franken defended his position in the Camden County Reporter, stating that the software was not an ”off-the-shelf” product, therefore normal bidding procedures need not apply. In an online response to the scandal, Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken hailed the software purchase as a “positive accomplishment” with “multiple” county officials working together. County Clerk Rowland Todd contributed $50,000 toward the purchase. Sheriff Dwight Franklin and the Commission each made $5,000 available for the software.

Franken, from the Reporter:

“Our entire package, which encompasses far more employees than any of the local cities and also includes accounts receivable, accounts payable, and purchasing, all on one platform, will only cost the county $60,000.”

His undocumented claim was in reference to payroll systems used by other municipalities.

At the heart of the software scandal lies the relationship between Timothy Otten and several local political officials. Franken, for his part, has come out in attempts to minimize the nature of his relationship with Otten. He has stated, in a June 20, 2013 letter to the editor of Lake Expo, that he met Otten on “the evening of the primary. So at that point, I did technically know him.” At the time of this writing, it is unclear if Franken’s biodiesel business, RK Services/GoBio! and Otten’s HCPS, specialists in software for the fuel industry, had ties prior to Franken’s 2010 election campaign.

What has been confirmed however, is that Otten was friendly with the campaigns of Diane Franklin (R- State Rep. 155th Dist.), Aaron Koeppen (R-Assoc. Circuit Judge, Camden County) and Kris Franken in 2010. This is a fact confirmed by American Spring, citing a Facebook post made by Franken that October. In that post, Kris Franken confirms that Otten, Franklin, Koeppen, John Beckett and himself formed a trivia team for a local political event.

Accounts provided by former county IT department employees go further in describing the relationship between Kris Franken and Timothy Otten. Tony Beabout, in addition to having formerly worked for the county, was a contributor to Franken’s campaign for Presiding Commissioner. Beabout had worked on Kris Franken’s campaign website. After the software contract had been awarded to HCPS, Beabout introduced Otten to fellow former employee Leslie Chamberlin, as “Kris’ friend”. He also indicated that Otten had helped him to some degree with Franken’s website during the 2010 campaign.

“Tony and Tim worked out together at a local fitness club prior to Tony being fired. I remember Tony telling me how excited he was to be part of that crowd. They played him like a fiddle. The day Tony got Franken had hired Huber and Associates to secure the County’s IT Systems in order to lock Tony out of any potential ways into the network. Kris Franken used Tony’s relationship with Otten against him by having Tim text Tony to keep track of his whereabouts. Tony had to go to Columbia that day for his wife’s high risk pregnancy appointment. He was supposed to be back in the office around noon, but Franken wanted to make sure that Tony did not walk into the IT Department and see the Huber team at work. I thought it was awful that he would use that type of doctor’s appointment to his advantage and also use Tony like he did. Tony created the blog that Franken used which was key to winning his election. Please go to http://www.electkrisfranken.com. Franken tried to tell me, not realizing I was friends with Tony, that Tony had hijacked his website. Tony was able to post the comment out there and remove Franken’s blog because he owned the domain, not Kris. That proves he did the work for free for Franken. Then he used Otten to keep tabs on Tony. Seems pretty strange for a third party payroll vendor to do such a thing for Camden County. To me, that proves they were friends all along.

When Tony brought Tim Otten in to meet me, I immediately questioned Tim about the programming languages that were going to be used in our purchased software components. He said it was RPG, which is a native language to the County’s System i (formerly known as an AS400 and iSeries). I asked him if it incorporated service programs knowing that was a more modern use of the language. He told me no. I then asked if it was written in RPGIV. His response was some but mostly RPGIII which was used in the late nineties. I was astonished that we were buying a new system written in old code. My next question was whether or not we would have access to the source code. He said potentially but not until the system was in place and working. This seemed odd to me because that would give the county the ability to make its own custom changes if they did have access and should be something directly discussed in any contract between HCPS and Camden County. It showed me that Franken had no forethought or had plans of permanently hiring Mr. Otten. Right around the same time, Franken had brought me into his office and I was told I had to choose between programming and GIS and was not going to do both in the future. I chose GIS and he was very pleased although he just let me work for a year after that without telling me whether or not I should still be doing both jobs. He left me in limbo because he had planned on firing me.”

In the rush to issue this political kickback, county officials failed to use due diligence. For example, no research appears to have been done, either by HCPS or county officials, into possible connectivity issues. The network was not equipped to support aspects of the software system. This has led to additional costs for the tax payers of the county and has contributed to the overall ineffectiveness of the programs. To this date, the purchase software has not been implemented. The payroll software has been riddled with issues. Information still drops out and must be manually entered for retirees. It was these issues that prompted courthouse employees to bring the issue up with Commissioner Cliff Luber.

According to Commissioner Luber, he was approached by a county employee regarding the purchasing software. The employee had numerous concerns and described the HCPS program as ‘not user-friendly’ and ‘difficult’ to use. The program was nearing implementation and the employee didn’t feel comfortable going to Franken with concerns. The employee cited the close relationship between Franken and Otten as the reason for turning to Commissioner Luber.

Commissioner Luber followed up with courthouse employees and officials in various departments. The complaints were echoed throughout. ‘The system didn’t do what HCPS claimed it could’ was a popular refrain.

Then, Commissioner Luber brought his findings to Franken, who responded that the employees were complaining because the program was new. When Luber pressed for a meeting between departments on the subject, Franken complied.

In the meantime, the county’s IT department took it upon themselves to design an alternative purchasing program. A meeting was scheduled with employees, the IT department and county officials to discuss the various problems with the purchasing program, which was nearing installation by HCPS. At this meeting, the IT department made a presentation of their alternative program. The employees and officials agreed it was a superior product and decided to use the in-house product instead.

It was after this meeting that the decision was made not to pay the final installment of the contract, in the amount of $7,000. The $7,000 bill was not a negotiated refund. It was a bill the county simply didn’t pay.

Franken, in his recent letter to Lake Expo, claimed that he “negotiated a $7,000 credit with the company and the termination of this contract”. In a letter from the county to HCPS, as recounted in the Camden County Reporter, “the scope of the project had changed internally.”

It is not known if this is intended to reflect the county’s need for software that worked.

What are known, are the following facts: Kris Franken engaged in a cover-up in order to protect campaign contributor Tony Beabout after Beabout admitted to Franken that he had broken into the emails of a county employee. Franken chose to hide Beabout’s actions until they came to light in reports from the Lake Sun. At that point, out of options, Beabout was terminated. It is not unreasonable to assume he would engage in more unethical behavior in order to benefit another friend of his campaign.

The bid process was not handled according to state statutes. This alone creates the appearance of impropriety. The bid process appears to have been manipulated to ensure that Tim Otten’s bid was the only option for the county. As is a matter of public record, the project was not budgeted for. As a result of real world application, the project was not researched. The contract was rushed out the door. This was both reckless and irresponsible. The result of this lack of discussion and discourse led directly to some of the issues the courthouse has experienced. Commissioner Bev Thomas has confirmed that there was no previous discussion of the software program being implemented throughout departments. Her first knowledge of the programs came when she saw the solitary bid from HCPS.

The county spent $53,000 dollars on software that has not lived up to the specifications of the contract. Under no circumstances can the goods and services received from HCPS be said to have fulfilled the requirements of the agreement. Thanks to the letter Franken claims credit for, legal options for suing HCPS for breach of contract could be limited. Franken’s letter lays the fault for this breach on the county, even going so far as to say that “the county’s in-house computer department had gotten involved in modifications that were not initially contracted”. Thanks to that letter from Franken, a lawsuit to recover any part of the $53,000 contract may be difficult. He has issued a legal defense to his friend, Tim Otten, that may protect him against any future action the county might consider.

It is not a reach to characterize this software contract as a political kickback. Every piece of the puzzle bears the stain of scandal. Tim Otten was rewarded for his work in Camden County during the 2010 elections. The county, on the other hand, bears the cost for a product that does not work as laid out in the contract. It is unclear at this time the final cost to the tax payers will be.

Kris Franken has offered us assurances and assertions, yet there are precious few facts to back up his claims regarding the software scandal. He has left a litany of spin in his wake and his trustworthiness has been called into question on several occasions. What is clear is that the Franken File is far from complete and the software scandal is far from over, despite Franken’s attempts to sweep it away.

Requests for comments to this piece have been sent to County Clerk Rowland Todd, County Attorney Charles McElyea, Sheriff Dwight Franklin and Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken. Additional comment has also been requested from the Missouri State Attorney General’s Office and the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Indians Kickoff Season Friday Night

The Indians football team kicks off the 2014 season Friday night at 7:00 PM against the DeKalb Tigers in Chilhowee.  This year’s squad features a number of seasoned veterans and one unique rookie.  Last week, the Indians participated in a ‘jamboree’ in order to sharpen up for the season opener.

Senior QB Cody Grant said the team had things they could improve on, but was confident heading into the season.   Veteran leadership and experience is one edge the Indians have this season. 

The squad features four seniors from Chilhowee High.  Grant is joined by Wyatt Bell, Dustin Wharton and Jordan Lankford.  They will anchor the squad with the help of Juniors Daniel Harness, Tyler Grant and Chris Mann.   Another Junior, Kimberly Raine, will be the team’s first female member. 

The Indians should be competitive this season in the Central Rivers Conference, with home games against Norborne and Hardin-Central.  They travel to face Northwest. 

The Indians have high hopes for the 2014 season.   Join us for our own version of Friday Night Lights at 7.

‘A Trip Down Memory Lane’

It is nearly fair time in Chilhowee. For small rural Missouri communities, those lucky enough to still put on a fair, it has been a time of friends and family, of seeing old faces and telling new stories. A fair represents the traditions each town is founded on and reminds us we have a heritage worth preserving.

The 67th Annual Chilhowee Community Fair will be held this August 28th-30th. This year’s theme is ‘A Walk Down Memory Lane’ and, for our family, it couldn’t be more appropriately named. Jackie and I know most of the people who make up this community.

We grew up here. This was our home town.

Across the state and across our country, small towns exactly like ours are facing a new reality. They are under increasing pressure with a fall in property values, and as a result, tax revenue. Rural farming communities have been among the hardest hit by the changes in our economy during the past five decades. These communities are literal outposts, out of the way places forgotten by the super-highway of the 21st Century economy. As a result, towns like Chilhowee have struggled to survive. With a lack of opportunities for real, sustainable employment, generations of Chilhowee families and their children pulled up stakes, put the wheel back on the wagon and headed for greener pastures elsewhere. That exodus has been a leading contributor to the Chilhowee condition and a vacuum was left in its wake.

Two years ago, Jackie and I visited Chilhowee on Fair Weekend. For me, it had been the first time I had visited Chilhowee in nearly twenty years. Although Jackie, to her credit, tried to prepare me, I was stunned by what I saw.

In the amount of time it takes to cook a frozen pizza in the oven, a person can cruise every block of Chilhowee. You don’t even have to speed to do it. It is a small town, a spot in the road, although Chilhowee was once projected to be the seat of Johnson County due to the thriving economy and population the community enjoyed from coal mining and the railroad’s prominence.

What I found, upon returning, was a town that was an anemic ghost of itself. Chilhowee had taken on the appearance of a meth addict.

Rotted houses disgraced the streets like crooked, abscessed teeth. Vacant lots were jungles. Other properties looked like the offspring of junkyards and landfills. Once well-kept, beautiful historical homes have been transformed into creepy places kids cross the street to avoid. Store fronts and businesses have been abandoned. Their vacant eyes stare out behind dusty cataracts. Others had the lunatic leer of madness, with motley assortments of fixtures, chairs and junk peering out onto Walnut. Chilhowee had become more Norman Bates than Norman Rockwell.

Still, there were positive signs of life in the community. The park has been maintained and expanded. Now, it boasts planting gardens, although it looks like they could use a hand from someone with a green thumb.

City Hall now has a place of its own, instead of meeting at the Community building. It serves a dual function as a public library, where almost two hundred community members are patrons.

The school building, which has long served as the center of things in Chilhowee, has good facilities that reflect the care they have received over the years. The gym has never looked better, a part of the continuing legacy of our little Indian tribe.

A community investment, of energy, time and love have preserved and improved the gym and that effort is reflected in the shiny floors and murals and on the banners hanging on the wall. There is no reason that feeling of pride can’t grow from that fertile ground to the town that surrounds it.

Pride was at the center of Mayor Jack Campbell’s recent election bid. Jack stated that he was tired of feeling ashamed of saying he was from Chilhowee. That was a sentiment that many Chilhowee residents appeared to share, as Jack won his bid.

There have been positive steps. The town has fewer eyesores than before and more lawns have been mowed. The reality of running a small town like Chilhowee is that there are never enough funds to go around. Attempting to find a way to compel some people in town to comply with requests to clean up their property is never easy. It is like having to tell a co-worker that they need to apply deodorant. It is uncomfortable and can be unpleasant. Still, it is a job that needs to be done in town. The evidence of that is staring at each and every one of us.

The decision to move to Chilhowee was a conscious one by Jackie and I. We wanted our children to grow up with small town values, the ones that have served all of us so well. We wanted them to go to a small school, where teachers, coaches and administrators share those same values. We wanted them to know the sense of community we did when we were growing up. When we put pen to paper and calculated peace of mind and quality of life, no other destination made sense for us.

Certainly there are inconveniences with small town life. You can no longer drive down to the station and get gas. You can’t enjoy early morning coffee with the farmers or sit down and grab a bite of lunch with friends at a café. There is no longer a locally owned bank, barber shop or beauty salon. There isn’t a local garage to service your vehicle. There isn’t a bar in which to laugh or rant and rave in.

What is sorely missing from the Chilhowee skyline however, isn’t a Casey’s sign. What is truly in short supply in town, based on visual evidence, is pride.

Most families who lived in town when we were kids had enough pride to keep their yards mowed. They had enough pride to put their garbage out for collection instead of chucking it in or at a collection of overflowing barrels. They cared enough about what their neighbors thought to take junk to a dump, instead of turning their yard into one. Not so long ago the homes on Pennsylvania, Walnut, Missouri and Ohio were cared for, even if in varying degrees. Abandoned houses or derelict buildings were removed and although the process was never fast enough, it was steady. The town’s business district provided Chilhowee with a communication hub and no one wanted to run afoul of any small town’s gossip network. Peer pressure and pride were the only tools needed to keep our town from looking like a pig pen. Now, without a central area for the community to gather in daily, that sense of accountability and responsibility has dwindled.

It doesn’t mean the pillars of the community aren’t still standing. The churches in town remain gathering places and the Chilhowee Store sees its fair share of traffic. School functions and athletic events draw us together.
So does the Chilhowee Community Fair.

While it is also a shadow of its former self, the fair has always brought out the best of what it means to live in Chilhowee. It is people getting together, enjoying one another’s company, showing off jelly recipes and tomatoes, pumpkins and pies, catching up with old friends. It is the very fabric of who we are and where we come from. The heart of this town and the community that surrounds it is worth preserving. ‘A Trip Down Memory Lane’ is a journey we all should take. There is no reason Chilhowee’s glory days should be distant red taillights fading into the distance down Highway 2.

There has been some progress in cleaning up properties in town, but there is still much to do. We would all like to feel a restoration of pride in the town we call home. Our traditions and values are worth defending, they are worth fighting for.

While the town may not have its best Sunday dress on during the fair, Jack and the city council are genuinely trying to at least cover her ripped fishnets. Maybe, with a little magic and a bit of help, we can all keep the carriage from turning into a pumpkin.

Chilhowee R-4 school district requires high school students to perform a specified number of community service hours before graduating. Asking the students to donate their time to help clean up the town, and accepting volunteers from the community to help with that same effort could go a long way toward achieving the Mayor’s goal. Almost certainly, when presented the opportunity to help the clean-up effort, donations of equipment like lawn mowers and weed eaters would follow. One sustained effort, on the part of the people who live in this town, could go a long way in addressing some of the town’s most glaring cosmetic problems: overgrown yards.

We don’t have to check with a lawyer to make sure we can bill an absent owner for the work. We can just do it. Because it’s almost fair time and because some of our neighbors would genuinely appreciate, and genuinely need, the help. We can just do it because it is the right thing to do. We can do it because we have pride in our neighborhoods and our streets. We can do it because it needs to be done and that’s who we are.

That, like the fair, is a Chilhowee tradition worth preserving.

We grew up here, after all. This has always been our home town.

Jackie’s family tree connects to almost every corner of Chilhowee. While my family wasn’t originally from here, my grandfather preached in the Baptist Church here. The existing auditorium was built during his time serving here. My other grandfather literally built that church, doing most of the work on it’s interior that you see today. My sister was married there. My grandmother’s funeral was there.

Our town is worth preserving, it is worth maintaining and it is worth the effort necessary to effect real change because our way of life is one worth defending, even if it means a few hours of hauling someone else’s trash, trimming sidewalks so our kids can walk to and from school and pruning a tree on a vacant lot.

Our kids are going to grow up here, after all. This is going to be their home town.

City Council Meeting Far From Uneventful

Last night’s city council meeting at the Chilhowee City Hall was well attended by the community.  Nearly two dozen residents filled the chambers, as the board of aldermen went about the business of the city.  Unspoken allegations and tensions were apparent in the room, as the board and mayor Jack Campbell worked through the agenda.

Jeff Parsons, from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department, gave the police report for the town.  There were three reported incidents occurring in Chilhowee over the course of the past month, including a motor vehicle vs pedestrian incident on Highway 2, which is being investigated by the Missouri Highway Patrol. 

Tony Lerda, owner and operator of O&M Enterprises, was scheduled to give a report on the town’s water system, but was not in attendance.  Alderman Donnie Willcockson showed frustration over Lerda’s repeated absences, stating that the city ‘paid this kind of money for them not to show up at meetings’.  It was announced also that the city’s water bill was paid from the general fund, as there was a shortfall in the account designated for water payments. 

Paula Newman, of Clinton, Missouri, delivered the Treasurer’s report.

City worker time sheets were reviewed and a $100 gas reimbursement was issued to Alderman Jimmy Tawser for transporting materials. 

Dawn Wendeln discussed the Chilhowee Park’s fundraiser, scheduled for Sunday, August 17th at the Woods in Warrensburg and a new grill that had arrived for the park.  The grill is to be a permanent fixture in the park.  Ms. Wendeln also discussed the town library, announcing that the library serves 181 patrons in the community. 

Discussion surrounding the due date for water bills was tabled and Alderman Ernie Wilson proposed a mutual relationship between municipalities to collect delinquent accounts.  No action was taken regarding these issues. 

Also, an update on the sewer project from Mayor Jack Campbell revealed that it would be necessary to obtain a tract of land of 30 to 50 acres for a new wastewater treatment facility.   Lift station pump issues have made this a priority and the board agreed to help with locating a suitable piece of land for development of a new facility.

The board then went into closed session, citing Chapter 600 of Missouri state statutes, to discuss a personnel matter.  When the board emerged from closed session, it became clear that there were larger issues than a simple employee dismissal on the table for the Chilhowee City Council.

Announcements came quickly.  One city employee was terminated and it was announced that the library would be temporarily closed, pending an investigation by the Johnson County Sheriff Department.  The reason for the investigation appeared to revolve around the computer used by the city for generating water bills.  According to comments made during this brief session before the meeting adjourned, allegations of tampering with the computer contatining water bills were levied.  Statements were also made indicating that the only people with a key to where the computer is located are the Mayor, the Clerk and the Treasurer.

What is clear is that the library is temporarily closed pending an investigation.  The scheduled fundraiser on Sunday, August 17th has also been cancelled.  According to the board, the closure is a temporary measure while the investigation is conducted.  Officer Jeff Parsons said that the results of the investigation will be made public once it is completed.

Stay tuned to Smoke Signals: Chilhowee’s Community News for more on this as it develops.