Fox Audit Blame List

26 May

Updated below.

I intend to write a few posts on the state audit of the Fox C-6 school district, which was released today with a “poor” rating for the district (Post-Dispatch article here). But to start with, I want to compile a list of people who are culpable in this whole affair, based on the audit and from what we have learned in the past two years. Obviously Dianne and Jamie Critchlow are the main villains, but many others let this happen. So here we go. Let me know if I missed anyone, or if you think someone here does not deserve blame.

  • Mark McCutchen – the former district Assistant Superintendent of Business and Financial Services/CFO was clearly in on all the scams, evidenced by his shredding of documents and his quick, dead-of-night departure from the district at the end of the 2013-14 school year. Like apparently every Fox administrator, he received unauthorized pay thanks to Critchlow. I don’t think his full role in this scandal has been revealed, and will not be unless it happens in a courtroom.
  • James Berblinger, Fox CFO before McCutchen.
  • Every Fox school board member who served with Critchlow is guilty of lax oversight, and some appear to have aided and abetted the fraud. I will name those who served during the period covered by the audit:
    • David Palmer
    • Ruth Ann Newman
    • John Laughlin – still on the board
    • Dan Kroupa (one year) – still on the board
    • Steve Holloway (one year)
    • Cheryl Hermann
    • Pete Nicholas
    • Linda Nash
    • Dan Smith
    • Marc McEneny
  • George K Baum and Company – the board’s financial adviser and underwriter. The district made the financially unsound move of using the bond underwriter for financial advice instead of getting independent advice. According to the audit, the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board says a person can’t do both. Fox blames the company in its audit response for not acting in the district’s best interest and intends to consider reporting the company to the Securities and Exchange Commission and trying to recover excess interest costs, which the audit pegs at up to $5.6 million.
  • Bryan Cave law firm – district bond counsel, implicated by Fox in the above.
  • All of Critchlow’s assistant superintendents, who had to have known things were going on, and who made questionable credit card expenditures of their own:
    • Tim Crutchley
    • Lorenzo Rizzi
    • Andy Arbeitman
    • Todd Scott
    • Dan Baker – also involved in the Topix scandal
    • Arnold Stricker, Jr.
  • Debby Davis – Critchlow’s administrative assistant. Critchlow used Davis’ credit card for many unauthorized purchases. Davis also would have been knowledgeable of/involved in the refusal to grant Rich Simpson’s Sunshine Act requests for credit card statements (which ultimately blew this scandal wide open). In general, admin assistants know what is going on. I recognize that, as a subordinate, she would have had reason to fear repercussions if she spoke out, but sometimes you have to step up (especially in a District of Character). Plus, any retaliation would have put her in line for a big lawsuit settlement.
  • I’m not sure how much blame to place with Dan Jones, the district’s longtime auditing firm. The audit points out that the district had not solicited requests for proposals for auditing services, and also that Fox Director of Accounting Matt Norrid used to work for Jones, which constitutes a conflict of interest. Furthermore, I know financial audits are different from performance audits like the state auditor did here, but I find it hard to believe Jones and Norrid found nothing amiss with all the fraud that was going on. Norrid become Director of Accounting at Fox in 2013.

Additions:

  • Topix online defamation participants (along with Baker and the Critchlows, named above). They helped intimidate and smear district critics:
    • Angela Baker Burns
    • William Brengle
  • Mickes Goldman O’Toole – former district law firm, helped Critchlow intimidate and thwart critics, including by sending them threatening letters. The firm was replaced after the scandals broke.
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5 Responses to “Fox Audit Blame List”

  1. Rhonda Mabley May 26, 2016 at 9:35 pm #

    Stacey Dockery. The special services director who went to Orlando with her husband Cord. He doesn’t even work for the district.

    Gayle Beck, social worker. College roommate of Diane’s who only holds a bachelors degree. She cannot get into a masters program due to poor grades. She finally introduced herself to the elementaries she was allegedly serving after 5 years. She’s a waste of space.

    Chellew for retiring and leaving us with her.

    I ll keep thinking.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

    • Anonymous May 26, 2016 at 10:19 pm #

      Gayle Beck is a very real asset to the school district and if you were to look into her duties you would amazed at all she does for the district.

      Like

    • wrongonred May 28, 2016 at 9:35 pm #

      I like Chellew, but he hand picked Dianne.

      Like

  2. Janice, retired educator C-6 May 26, 2016 at 10:16 pm #

    I am not certain about where all of the blame rests. This is not the appropriate format for my input, but what is?

    Please investigate and reconsider the following board members. From my perspective, as a former teacher, they were problem solvers and really a part of the solution: John Laughlin, Dan Kroupa, Steve Holloway. I know they are not perfect, but I am very grateful for their service and courage.

    In addition, Dr. Rizzi is someone that I still respect after following the details of this story through the years. Many other educators have voiced the same opinion..

    Like

  3. Rick Hoelzer May 27, 2016 at 8:22 am #

    There is a level of trust that must exist in any relationship. Many times , because such problems have not been part of the past, people are naive and complacent. A procedural checklist, if in place, certainly was not followed. Most of the time, line items are presented to the board with a beginning and ending balance and it is assumed the people are doing their jobs. They pass most of the time unquestioned. Wrong assumption here! We often do not close the barn door until the cows are out. Certainly, a greater accountability must be in place now and the future. Many of the best lessons are learned the hard way. Now, will we learn?

    Like

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