30 May

Nasty, outrageous, vindictive comments about critics of the Fox C-6 school district that led to a libel lawsuit have been traced back to several top administrators, including Superintendent Dianne Critchlow, the third-highest paid superintendent in the state of Missouri.

Let’s go back to the beginning, to explain how this explosive development unfurled. In December 2012, public outrage erupted when the daughter-in-law of school board president Linda Nash was hired to be the district’s food services director despite her, uh, unimpressive resume. This led district critic and blogger Rich Simpson to speak out at the subsequent school board meeting. Online attacks against Simpson had occurred before, but as he stated in March 2013:

[T]he personal attacks made against me have really picked up after I spoke at the December 2012, January 2013 and February 2013 board meetings. Those personal attacks have also been directed at others who have voiced their concerns about our school district, superintendent and school board. I believe as well as many others in our community that there are only a few people that would be so upset over critical comments made of our superintendent and school board. The language in the posts and the people that have been attacked speaks even stronger as to who might be posting these defamatory and slanderous comments. Even more telling is the fact that some of the information posted would have only been known to school administrators.

And he was correct. December 2012 is when the thread “Nepotism on Fox schoolboard” was created. This thread contained the posts that sparked the lawsuit by the Fox critics. The Leader reports that these posts were made under handles such as “Newbie,” Troop 5 or 6” and “Finally the truth.”

In March 2013, the district sent out letters threatening lawsuits to four critics of the school (three of whom are involved in the current libel lawsuit) if they didn’t shut up. The Post-Dispatch article reporting this is full of delicious irony:

“You don’t have the right to make up lies and defame someone’s character,” Critchlow said.

AHAHAHAHA! Pot, meet kettle, as they say. And this:

[Sam] Ferry is accused of…making defamatory posts on the Topix website about the administration.

This is at the EXACT SAME TIME that Critchlow herself was making defamatory posts! Ferry’s posts were under his own name; you can judge whether they were “defamatory.” He says they were not. Critchlow, however, was using nicknames to do her defamation. She is currently on medical leave (convenient?) and isn’t commenting.

So jump ahead to this February, when critics Simpson, Ferry, and Michelle Tyler filed a libel suit in Jefferson County against “John Doe.” They then filed a motion to compel AT&T and Charter to provide subscriber information. Basically, this meant taking the IP addresses attached to the defamatory posts in question and getting the identities of the posters from their internet service providers. This motion was granted, and then it was time to pop some popcorn and wait for the names to come out.

And now they have. The implicated administrators are (with 2014-2015 salaries):

  • Superintendent Dianne Critchlow – $263,069
  • Jamie Critchlow – director of Bridges at-risk student program – $124,079
  • Dan Baker – assistant superintendent for elementary education – $156,142
  • Angie Baker (or Burns) – assistant principal – $107,289
  • William Brengle – retired assistant principal

According to plaintiff’s attorney Dan Herman, “the information gleaned from that order showed the majority of those comments came from computers at the Critchlow household.” Wow. Now the John Doe lawsuit will be amended to add these names and, perhaps, the district. It would be hard for me to see the district paying for lawyers for these five – they made these posts at home. That’s something to watch for.

So here’s what needs to happen: the four non-retired administrators need to be fired at once. Not given early retirement, not allowed to resign, not given a buyout. FIRED. And new leadership needs to come from outside the Critchlow cabal, which probably means from outside the district. And don’t be making any of Critchlow’s yes men the acting superintendent. Email the board members here and tell them how you feel about all this.

Then, voters need to finish the job of clearing out the school board, under whose watch all this happened. Three longtime board members remain: John Laughlin, David Palmer, and Cheryl Hermann. Laughlin unfortunately was just re-elected, so he’ll be around for a while, but the other two come up next year. And no more electing the NEA’s favorite candidates. They won’t do anything to cut the administrative bloat or to enforce transparency.



  1. Anonymous May 31, 2014 at 6:18 am #

    You really think they’ll be fired? Or that we, the tax payers won’t foot the bill for their defense? This is Arnold where this is normal!


    • Anonymous May 31, 2014 at 9:02 am #

      So, we taxpayers should continue footing the bill for unqualified family members of the school board placed in high paying positions? We shouldn’t put our children’s education first? We should just be like sheep and look the other way saying, “oh, this is normal”? No thanks


      • Anonymous May 31, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

        No, I wish it weren’t so, but have come to expect shady, corrupt and crooked dealings from those in power in this city. And those working to change it are generally ignored or ostracized. .


  2. Anonymous June 1, 2014 at 6:31 pm #

    what an embarrassment to our school district! There has always been so much “talk” of what goes on but we try to take it with a grain of salt and not put much weight into it since it is just “talk” but now I have to say I believe most of the “talk” now because it has been proven! They should all be FIRED without any severance pay or additional pay other than their last paycheck…just like anybody else would receive from their place of employment. Also, get rid of off the “additional positions” created by Mrs. Critchlow, hire a new superintendent at a reasonable salary and get some dollars going back into the schools instead of to salaries of people who had jobs “created” for them. We believe in our district which is why so many parents volunteer to help with their time and financially but we can only be stretched so far. I would love to get a hold of the school’s budget. I’m so frugal, there would money left over for god knows what! The district needs to get their priorities in order as they have been out of whack for a very long time!


    • Anonymous June 1, 2014 at 9:32 pm #

      I think you’ve covered all the bases with your comment and I LOVE it, especially the “created positions”. I don’t know what happened to ppl to make them incredibly selfish and entitled?? My jaw hit the floor when I saw Critchlow’s salary! She has done nothing to deserve it and then expects ppl to keep quiet about any opinions questioning her choices. Personally, I don’t think the district should pay for any lawyer fees but I have no problem helping foot the bill if that gets her and her “followers” out of our schools.


      • JC Penknife June 2, 2014 at 6:28 pm #

        And where was the board when the positions were created, and when Critchlow’s salary was inflated? They are guilty too.


  3. Anonymous June 3, 2014 at 6:13 am #

    These 4 are sick and twisted. There cannot be be any justification for this behavior.I want them far away from my children.
    I wonder just how “deep” this story really goes. I am afraid this is just the surface of it.


  4. RDS357 June 4, 2014 at 11:25 am #

    Hopefully next ones to be exposed Hellsboro+ Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department,as my lawyer put it to good ol boy club(which is is part of) Make c6 school district look lIke choir boys+girls!!!
    Hellsboro has highest crime rate in county,meth capital of Country(7out of last10yrs)heroin epidemic,burglary,assaults all top the list of crimes!!! Research it yourself snd see what you find??? Time for Change!!! My Family’s roots go back to 1865,no longer can U say UR from Jefferson County with Pride!!!



  1. Let’s Not Forget Shockey Nepotism | Jefferson County Penknife - July 7, 2014

    […] Arnold Police Chief Robert Shockey’s son-in-law as a cop (back in 2011), the Dianne Critchlow scandal broke. The news of the defamatory online posts that came from her house sucked all the air out of the […]


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