Tag Archives: critchlow

Critchlow Update

25 Sep

Here’s what’s up in Critchlow land:

-You may recall that in mid-July, JeffCo prosecutor Forrest Wegge punted the Dianne Critchlow case to the US Attorney for possible federal charges after a 6-week investigation. That was 10 weeks ago – still no word from the feds.

-The Critchlow home in Arnold is still for sale – the price has plummeted 5.6% since being listed in June to $462,000. Maybe the Fox district could buy the house, and the four families on Chemin de la Vallee and Glenn Drive in Barnhart that are embroiled in a Dunklin-Fox boundary dispute could all take up residence. Or maybe Dunklin should buy it, since they’ve been getting the tax dollars from these families all these years without having to educate their kids.

-Jamie Critchlow has a trial date on October 28 for his challenge to the Dept. of Revenue’s revocation of his drivers license for failure to consent to a breathalyzer test. This relates to his May 30 arrest for DWI and leaving the scene of an accident, which is separately winding its way through the JeffCo court system. The judge for the DOR trial is Travis Partney, who is running for a full term to finish the term as judge on the November ballot. He was appointed to the position by Governor Nixon back in March. Before that, he worked for the JeffCo prosecutor’s office.

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In Defense of My Editorial Decision

14 Mar

The article I published yesterday has received some criticism over whether or not it should have been published, so I thought I would address it here. I debated with myself whether or not to publish that post, and I knew there would be some who disagreed with my decision. However, I stand by my post.

The crux of the issue is this: Are Jame and Dianne Critchlow public figures? If so, the things they do more easily qualify as news. Imagine if a Missouri elected official was accused of the actions detailed in the post; it would clearly be news. On the other hand, if Joe Schmoe did these things, it would not qualify as news (unless he was charged with a crime, in which case it would be in the papers).

Some say that the Critchlows ceased being public figures when the left the school district. I disagree. Case in point, Jamie’s DWI charges, which came after he was fired from Fox, were reported in the Leader (on the front page), so they clearly thought he was newsworthy then. The case is not yet closed on the transgressions that thrust the Critchlows into the public spotlight: the state audit report on the Fox district has not yet been released (which should happen next month). For reference, the St. Joseph district audit was released a year ago, but the FBI is still investigating the widespread fraud that took place there. A Leader article a while back indicated that any potential prosecutorial action regarding the Fox district is waiting until after the audit report comes out. So it is clear that the Critchlow scandals at Fox have not reached their resolution.

Despite this, many (primarily those in leadership positions) want to forget all about the scandal, to put it behind us. And to do that they want to pretend the Critchlows have disappeared. They claim that would be best for the district. But the fact is, only through confession, restitution, and punishment can we move on from this scandal. There has been very little accountability in all this, from the assistant superintendents to the school board to the main scandal participants themselves. A settlement was paid in the Ferry vs. Critchlow libel lawsuit, but it was paid at least in part (and probably in full) by the district’s insurance company (acting as insurer of the defendants). And sweeping it all under the rug only prevents reckoning, and thus prevents closure and reform (the Leader has helped with the sweeping).

Furthermore, we must remember that there are a lot of dumb school boards (as we are painfully aware). It is not inconceivable that another district could hire the Critchlows. Pearson, the company that is trying to take over public education, hired Dianne to do MAP site visits, even after all the scandals (hopefully, my reporting snuffed that out). If the Caruthersville school district can hire a fired superintendent who is under FBI investigation, anything can happen. So my reporting might prevent another school district from doing something stupid.

Won’t Someone Think of the Children?

The objection to my blog post was that it hurts the children involved in the cited custody dispute by giving it publicity. And I sympathize with that. I omitted a fair amount of information from the post to avoid getting into unnecessary details. But one can page through the newspaper every day and find people who did bad things. Many of those people have children. News cannot be suppressed because a perpetrator has children, and as I outlined above, I believe my post qualifies as news. Not embarrassing one’s family is one reason that many of us try to stay out of trouble. However, throughout these scandals, the Critchlows have demonstrated little regard for the reputation of their last name (and little regard for the children of their victims). Ultimately, the harm that is done falls upon their shoulders, not those who report on them.

Jamie Critchlow Downward Spiral Continues

13 Mar

Alarming new developments regarding fired Fox C-6 administrator and Topix scandal suspect Jamie Critchlow have been revealed in a court filing relating to his child custody agreement with his ex-wife. I reported on his double DWIs, from incidents in July 2014 and January 2015, here. But those were only one reason said ex-wife has moved for full custody. Here is an excerpt from her court filing from January 2016 (the case number is 10JE-DR00626-01). In the excerpt below, “Father” is Jamie Critchlow, “Mother” is the ex-wife, and “Father’s wife” is former Fox superintendent Dianne Critchlow:

critchbooze

Critchlow custody court filing 1-12-16

In a counterclaim, Critchlow actually asks for a reduction in his child support requirement, stating that his income is only about half of what it was when he was at Fox. It is not surprising that an overpaid school administrator can’t find a similar salary outside of public education.

In related Fox news, the state audit of the district should be released in April, at long last.

Another Fox Puff Piece in Leader Ignores Scandals

9 Mar

You may recall about a year ago when the Leader wrote a story on the retirement of Fox C-6 acting superintendent Tim Crutchley. While the story reviewed his career at Fox, it totally omitted any mention of the Dianne Critchlow years and all the scandals, during which Crutchley was the right hand man. Well, the same reporter, Kim Robertson, has struck again.

This time, the puff piece in the March 3 edition profiled assistant superintendent Lorenzo Rizzi, who is leaving for another district. Rizzi has been assistant superintendent since 2006, a few years into Critchlow’s reign of terror. One of the highlights Rizzi pointed to was his work on the opening of the Bridges alternative school. Well, guess who ran that for a time? Critchlow’s husband Jamie, who was fired by the district. But still, the article says nothing about those years.

The only intimation that anything controversial happened at Fox was when Rizzi boasted that Fox students’ ACT scores have increased “even in our most trying times.” But what these trying times were was not elaborated upon. Now, Rizzi was not as close to Critchlow as Crutchley was, but it would still have been appropriate to ask him “what did you know and when did you know it” about all the scandals. The Post-Dispatch noted some big expenditures by Rizzi on his district credit card, too:

Lorenzo Rizzi, assistant superintendent, used his card five times between July 20, 2013, and Jan. 31 this year, for a total of $988. That includes a $739.50 bill on Jan. 28 at Pomodoro’s, an Arnold pasta and sandwich restaurant that also does catering. It includes three other restaurants and a $36 charge at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.

Rizzi had an explanation, though:

Rizzi also wanted to stress that he had done nothing wrong. He said a $739 charge at Pomodoro’s was for about 115 staff members to award Fox High School teachers for having the highest attendance rate in the district.

He also other charges at Bellacino’s and 54th Street Grill and Bar were for staff meetings and professional development.

But again, no questions from the Leader on this. I know that Fox wants to forget about all this, but we cannot move on until those involved have been examined and dealt with or separated from the district. It does not help for the Leader to sweep the story under the rug. The next step in trying to deal with the scandals is the report from the state auditor. The school board discussed the auditor’s report in closed session at its March 1 meeting, but I understand that the public presentation won’t take place until April (conveniently after the April 5 school board election, most likely, where incumbents Dan Kroupa and Steve Holloway will be on the ballot).

Hopefully the presentation will be accompanied by certain individuals being perp-walked before the news cameras in handcuffs. But we’ll have to wait and find out.

Fox Audit Update

8 Jan

Posted on Facebook by Mark Jones, who you people should have elected to the school board:

I spoke with the person in charge of the State Audit of the Fox C-6 School District. He said that the field work has been completed and he hopes to meet with the school board in closed session in February to review the findings with them. They will then have a few weeks to form a response before the report is made public. He said not to hold him to those dates, but that is what his target is at this point. We might finally have some answers in March to the mess that was our school district’s past under Diane Critchlow and crew.

Another Crack at a Critchlow Law

8 Dec

State Rep. Rob Vescovo Again Files Legislation

to Prevent Abuse of Paid Administrative Leave

Legislation meant to protect taxpayer dollars

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – State Rep. Rob Vescovo (R – 112th) has again filed legislation to prevent Missouri tax dollars from being used for paid administrative leave for ineffective government employees who should instead be fired. Vescovo’s bill is HB 1432.

Last session Vescovo filed identical legislation to end a practice he said is costing Missourians hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. The bill made it through the House with bi-partisan support and vote count of 118-35 but did not receive approval in the Senate before the legislative session ended. Vescovo said he is hopeful the bill will make it through both chambers and onto the governor’s desk in 2016.

“This is a non-partisan bill that will take aim at ending the ongoing problem of this wasteful practice of paid administrative leave for employees who should be terminated,” said Vescovo, R-Arnold. “This is a practice that would never go on in the private sector where employers would refuse to pay ineffective employees to not do their jobs. However, because there is too little accountability when it comes to how taxpayer dollars are utilized, we have seen this blatant misuse of taxpayer funds far too often in the public sector”

Vescovo’s attention to the problem was drawn by issues that occurred in the Fox School District. It was in June of 2014 when Superintendent Dianne Critchlow and three other school administrators were placed on paid administrative leave. Vescovo noted that Critchlow made an annual salary of more than $260,000. He said the issue resurfaced again when the school district’s food services director, who was hired with an annual salary of $65,000 despite lacking the certifications and education necessary for the position, was also placed on paid administrative leave.

“The situation in the Fox School District was a real eye opener for my constituents, who were outraged that such irresponsible use of their tax dollars could occur. It was an eye opener for me as I researched this issue. This abuse happens in everyday in the Federal Government and all across Missouri’s State Government and the amounts of  taxpayer dollars wasted would make you sick. My goal with this bill is to ensure that we cut down on the waste and abuse of paid administrative leave.,” said Vescovo

More News on Critchlow/DESE/Pearson

3 Jun

Update: KMOV did a story, too.

Local media is on my report about Pearson Education hiring disgraced Fox superintendent Dianne Critchlow as a MAP testing observer as part of a contract with the state education department, DESE, like white on rice. Both the Post-Dispatch and the Oakville Call published articles about it on Tuesday. I provided the results of my research to both reporters, upon their requests, but alas, this blog received no acknowledgement in the articles. Such is blog life, I guess.

Both articles added news and reaction to the story. Here are the highlights:

Post-Dispatch

The P-D provided the names of the other schools that Critchlow graced with her presence as a Pearson MAP observer. They were:

  • Parkway Southwest Middle School (Parkway District)
  • Fairway Elementary (Rockwood District)
  • Lonedell Elementary (Lonedell District, not Fox)

Then there’s this tidbit:

The summary provided to the state from Pearson showed no issues with test security or cheating. It noted “some questions regarding a particular monitor were directed to DESE and Pearson by media and other individuals. As a result, DESE and Pearson will add this topic to a post-project meeting agenda and discuss any relevance to future monitor assignment or procedures,” according to the report.

That’s you, guys. Those of you who wrote to the Commissioner of DESE and Pearson’s Missouri Manager made that happen. If you didn’t email them, I don’t think it’s too late. These articles should provoke another round of angst. If we can cause DESE and Pearson some consternation, maybe they will do their due diligence next time. Here are the people to contact:

– The Commissioner of DESE, Dr. Margie Vandeven, at commissioner@dese.mo.gov

– Pearson’s DESE point of contact at nancy.foerstel@pearson.com

I also think it was worthwhile to contact the Mehlville superintendent, despite that district telling me they can’t do anything. I think DESE would listen more to a superintendent or school board member who calls them to complain, compared to some random Joe Schmoe. Here’s what one Mehlville board member, who also contacted DESE, had to say:

“Are you kidding me? Quality assurance?” said Mehlville School Board member Jamey Murphy. “It is of great concern to me to know that this individual, with her track record, was brought into Mehlville schools. The lack of discretion used by Pearson and the lack of oversight by DESE is troubling. We hold our district employees up to high standards and ask that others do the same.”

Oakville Call

The Call revealed that DESE should have known about Critchlow’s hire before the site visits took place:

[Mehlville Director of Communications and Public Relations John] Wolff said DESE “disavowed” Critchlow’s employment when Mehlville officials contacted the state agency. But if the contract was followed, DESE would have known Critchlow was going to Oakville Elementary since Pearson agreed to send DESE a list of the names of its quality-assurance inspectors and their qualifications at least a week before monitoring, along with a list of specific monitoring assignments for each building.

Here’s a quote from Wolff:

“Why would they send her to our school? There’s no one else but Critchlow? It’s like a joke,” Wolff said. “You hire her as a quality inspector, but she’s accused of misusing money, she’s accused of mislaying things, of slander, of libel. Seriously, that’s the lady you want to be in charge of quality? I’m speechless, I still am — it makes no sense.”

This article also revealed that “Longtime Oakville Middle School Principal Mike Salsman is Critchlow’s brother.” Since Dianne did a site visit Oakville Elementary, it’s not a total conflict of interest, but it might be considered a bit sketchy.

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