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?