Come on, Cheryl

27 Sep

Ask and ye shall receive – in a way. On September 6, I called for the resignation of Fox C-6 board member Cheryl Hermann. Rich Simpson at the Fox C-6 Watchdogs blog also called for her to step down on that date. Then, on September 12, Hermann announced that she would, indeed, resign.

hermann ksdk

However, she didn’t resign because of embarrassment or shame over her failures to stop the scandals of disgraced superintendent Dianne Critchlow. She didn’t step down over the climate of intimidation that she allowed Critchlow to create. She didn’t even resign because of the revelation that Critchlow apparently gave Hermann’s daughter a scholarship in what could be interpreted as a back-scratching, thank-you gesture. No, she quit the board in a fit of pique because the Fox relative-hiring game of musical chairs came to an abrupt end and Hermann was left without a chair when the music stopped.

The resignation took place after the school board fired Hermann’s daughter on September 9 from a teacher’s aide job it had hired her for only three weeks previously. The board, in a move suggesting they still aren’t giving their board packets the attention they deserve, failed to notice the daughter’s name in the packet. When the hire was discovered, a special meeting was called to reverse it, at which assistant superintendent Todd Scott was dressed down by board member Dan Kroupa for not mentioning the relationship. David Palmer was the only board member who voted to stick with the hire (Hermann abstained, as she did on the original vote, although she didn’t tell anyone why she was abstaining). While the hire was not against district policy, Kroupa rightly stated that:

“We can’t be doing this kind of stuff,” he said. “The public is incensed, and we can’t say, ‘We don’t care what you think; we’re going to keep hiring relatives.’”

Exhibiting her total tone-deafness on this issue (as with all the Critchlow scandals), Hermann said this when she resigned:

“However, when my volunteer work hurts my family, it is time to find new volunteer work,” the letter says.

The other side of that coin would be to say “As long as my volunteer work benefits my family, I will keep doing it.” Hermann mentions correctly that a lot of other board members (including Hermann) have relatives that work for the district. But she says this not as an indictment of the system (although some of those family members were there before the board members were elected); but as an argument that her turn was denied. Hermann also said the board has “sunk to a new low,” which suggests she hasn’t been paying attention the past four months.

I had some sympathy for Hermann’s daughter on the issue. She may well have been the best person for the job. It’s not her fault that her mom failed to read the pulse of the public and didn’t a) encourage her daughter to apply elsewhere, b) mention the relationship at the August 19 board meeting, or c) resign from the board in time to save her daughter’s job. But then the Hermanns took to the cameras of KSDK to plead their case. This despite the fact that we were told she was already “humiliated.” I’m not really sure what they were hoping to gain from that interview.

As for the charge that the firing should not have taken place in open session, that is wrong. Meetings of government bodies should only be closed for specific purposes, as outlined in state law. One such purpose is: “Hiring, firing, disciplining or promoting of particular employees by a public governmental body when personal information about the employee is discussed or recorded.” It sounds like no real personal information about Ms. Hermann was discussed – only that she was related to Cheryl and some stuff about her qualifications. In an era when boards are overly aggressive about closing meetings, the Fox board was right to do this in the open. The board should continue meeting in the open unless it is absolutely appropriate to go to a closed session.

And so, while Hermann’s resignation was not for the reasons I would have preferred, the important thing is that she is no longer participating in the decision process at Fox, especially as the board is about to hire a new superintendent. It is now up to the board to appoint a replacement for Hermann, and I think Mark Jones would be an excellent choice. He was sounding the alarm about some of these issues before they hit the front pages.

As a bonus, it looks like the district’s nepotism policy may change, too, reports the Leader.

The district’s nepotism policy only prohibits the board from hiring relatives for administrative or supervisory positions.

However, [board member John] Laughlin said he wants to revisit the nepotism policy.

[Acting superintendent Tim] Crutchley said he’s going to present a change to the policy that would prohibit the hiring of any board members’ relatives.

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3 Responses to “Come on, Cheryl”

  1. Jill Carter September 27, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

    I really appreciate your posts!! Do you give tutorials on getting information from your school??

    *~*Jill*~*

    Like

    • JC Penknife September 27, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

      Thanks! As for your school, I would start by reading all of the board meeting packets. They should be posted online – if not, that would be something to push for. Also become familiar with the Missouri Sunshine Law, and use that to make requests if there is information you think people need to know. Read the Fox C-6 Watchdogs blog to get an idea of what information a watchful citizen might want to find out about.

      Like

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  1. Palmer to Run Again for Fox Board | Jefferson County Penknife - December 21, 2014

    […] that he just doesn’t get it. After the controversy over the hire of former board member Cheryl Hermann’s daughter, when the board performed an about-face and quickly rescinded the job, Palmer was the only board […]

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