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.
“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.
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.