Bad Faith Investigation

Ozark School District Retaliation Against JROTC

Read the story of how the Major was forced from his position by the Ozark, MO School District. 

Bad Faith Investigation

The administrative overreach by the Ozark School District, a story which began with a summary on this page, became clear in its malintent as their “investigation” turned out to be anything but an honest examination of facts…

When the high school principal, Dr. Brownfield, provided me my letter of suspension, he presumed that an honest investigation would follow. In fact, he told me he had some mandatory training scheduled for later that week which he was going to postpone so that he could conduct the required investigation that very week and get me back into the classroom as soon as possible. After two weeks passed without my having been invited to answer any charges (or really to even know what concerns the District harbored about my presentation), I emailed the superintendent to request that they invite me in to hear and answer their concerns.

JROTC-cadets-and-Major

“In fact, [Dr, Brownfield] told me . . . he was going to . . . conduct the required investigation that very week and get me back into the classroom as soon as possible.”

From: The Major

Sent: Tuesday, December 21, 2021 6:24 AM
To: ‘chrisbauman@ozarktigers.org’ <chrisbauman@ozarktigers.org>
Cc: ‘Jeremy Brownfield’ <jeremybrownfield@ozarktigers.org>
Subject: Request to respond to allegation

Dr. Bauman,

I have now been on administrative leave for two weeks with only the vaguest of explanation provided as to the allegation against me.  I request I be invited in to answer the complaint so that we can put this to rest and move forward as soon as possible.

Thank you,

The Major

He responded that the investigation hadn’t yet reached the point where it would be appropriate to talk to me.  He also encouraged me to route questions to him through my attorney.  This was the first of several times he discouraged me from contacting him about my case.

“This was the first of several times [the superintendent] discouraged me from contacting him about my case.”

From: Chris Bauman <chrisbauman@ozarktigers.org>
Sent: Tuesday, December 21, 2021 12:55 PM
To: The Major
Cc: Jeremy Brownfield <jeremybrownfield@ozarktigers.org>; Gerald Chambers <geraldchambers@ozarktigers.org>; Craig Carson <craigcarson@ozarktigers.org>
Subject: Re: [External email] Request to respond to allegation

[Major]

We are working through the process as quickly as possible. If you have any specific questions for us you can send those through your attorney. I am sure Jeremy or Gerald will be in contact with you to set up a time for an interview around the first of the year. 

Take care and I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season. 

Chris

Normal procedure when the school has a concern about a teacher is to immediately address it with that teacher, to get the teacher’s perspective on it.  That courtesy was not been afforded me.  But of even greater concern, two weeks into the District’s “working through the process,” they still were not ready to hear my perspective.  It is baffling to consider what possible investigation could be taking place into my presentation that didn’t involve talking to me or ANY witnesses.

“It is baffling to consider what possible investigation could be taking place into my presentation that didn’t involve talking to me or ANY witnesses.”

When Dr. Brownfield provided me my notice of suspension, I proposed to him then that the District give me the opportunity to pitch the class in its entirety, exactly as I do to students, to whatever administrators they chose. Dr. Brownfield didn’t feel that would be necessary. When Mr. Chambers, the Director of Secondary Learning, eventually brought me in to answer questions about the class, I reiterated that request. He likewise declined. When Dr. Carson, the Assistant Superintendent of Learning, subsequently discussed my case with me I proposed for the third time that I be permitted to pitch the class in its entirety to whatever administrators were concerned about it. He also ignored the request.

It quickly became evident that the District did not intend an honest investigation. The allegations against me and the investigation itself were simply a ruse they were employing to fire me. There is abundant evidence that this was never an honest investigation. This includes:

  • They didn’t come directly to me with their concern, as is standard practice and as has been done with me in any previous instance of concern.
  • They solicited my lesson material via a colleague and under false pretenses. As a result, given the nature of her request for my lesson material, what I provided her goes well beyond what was actually taught in the classroom. This excess material continues to be the focus of their complaints, despite my repeatedly informing them it wasn’t presented.
  • They never actually investigated the lesson that they claimed was the source of their concern. They didn’t interview my JROTC colleagues who sat in on the lesson. They didn’t interview the students to whom the lesson was presented. (One of my daughters is in the year group this lesson was presented to. There is absolutely no chatter among her classmates about anyone’s being interviewed about this lesson.) They refused to even interview me, despite my requesting that they do, until over a month into their investigation.
  • They decided the outcome of the investigation – a “Notice of Deficiency,” the final notice before firing – barely a week into their “investigation,” long before asking me about my class presentation and without ever interviewing any witnesses to the presentation they were allegedly investigating.
  • At the outset of their investigation, the school district’s attorney relayed to my attorney that the school district had found me to be a troublemaker. That is not the characterization given to one whom the district simply believes taught an inappropriate lesson. That is a reflection of and evidence of their having tired of my resistance to their inappropriate agendas and their determination to get rid of me.
“This excess material continues to be the focus of their complaints, despite my repeatedly informing them it wasn’t presented.”
  • They never actually investigated the lesson that they claimed was the source of their concern. They didn’t interview my JROTC colleagues who sat in on the lesson. They didn’t interview the students to whom the lesson was presented. (One of my daughters is in the year group this lesson was presented to. There is absolutely no chatter among her classmates about anyone’s being interviewed about this lesson.) They refused to even interview me, despite my requesting that they do, until over a month into their investigation.
  • They decided the outcome of the investigation – a “Notice of Deficiency,” the final notice before firing – barely a week into their “investigation,” long before asking me about my class presentation and without ever interviewing any witnesses to the presentation they were allegedly investigating.
  • At the outset of their investigation, the school district’s attorney relayed to my attorney that the school district had found me to be a troublemaker. That is not the characterization given to one whom the district simply believes taught an inappropriate lesson. That is a reflection of and evidence of their having tired of my resistance to their inappropriate agendas and their determination to get rid of me.
“That [label applied at the outset of their investigation] is a reflection of and evidence of their having tired of my resistance to their inappropriate agendas and their determination to get rid of me.”
  • They banned me from the school board’s recognition of my Raider team’s second consecutive national championship, lest it present a favorable image of me to the school board. A week after my suspension, the Raider team I coach was to be recognized in front of the school board for winning our second consecutive national championship. I was prohibited from attending, even though my daughter was captain of one of the teams (placed 2nd in the national championship.) Given that the meeting was attended by numerous administrators, there can’t have been concern that my interaction with cadets there would somehow have been subversive, especially since I was still prohibited from communicating with any of them. In fact, many weeks later – after the District had declared me guilty of numerous concocted charges – the District permitted me to attend two spring Raider meets my daughter was competing in. They had already lifted my prohibition against talking to students, given that they had invited me to return to teaching, so they certainly knew that this setting would provide ample opportunity for me to interact with cadets. This is pretty compelling evidence that the only plausible grounds for their denying my attendance at this recognition event was that the District intended to build a case against me to the school board shortly and didn’t want to risk the board forming a favorable opinion of me right before the District sought to paint a picture of me as insubordinate.
  • They manipulated witness testimony to use to their own agenda, despite the witness insisting that their version of her testimony was false. The young lady whose nose ring I assisted in removing was adamant to the school district that the version of her narrative they were advancing was false. She reports that they refused her correction as they preferred their version of her story to her own version of it.
  • They withheld exonerating information from their own attorney about allegations against me. The school initially did not tell their own attorney about my version of the events in the nose ring incident. They thereafter told her that there is no way the young woman would have consented to my assisting her in the removal of her nose ring. And this was after she had already adamantly insisted to them that she had requested it. They refused her story and then lied about it to their attorney.
“They refused her story and then lied about it to their attorney.”
  • They denied concerned parents an opportunity to share perspective on my case. While it is appropriate for the District to refuse to comment on personnel issues, they were certainly at liberty to receive perspective from concerned parents about those same personnel issues. In fact, an honest investigation would have demanded attentive, careful consideration of their perspective.

    When the District eventually (weeks after their initial request) permitted some concerned parents to address the school board regarding my case, the District moved that discussion into closed session to prevent public audience to their statements. The District justified this on the grounds that the concerns related to personnel issues that couldn’t be aired in public. But there is no restriction against parents airing their perspective on personnel issues in public. And the District is prohibited against divulging any information on personnel issues even in closed session when an outsider (i.e., concerned parent) is present. So moving the parent comments to closed session was solely to limit public audience.

    Whether they permitted parents to share perspective or not and whether they met with parents in open or closed session are not so important as the dishonest justification the District provided for this. That attests to the character of their handling of this whole affair.

“So moving the parent comments to closed session was solely to limit public audience. . . . Whether they permitted parents to share perspective or not and whether they met with parents in open or closed session are not so important as the dishonest justification the District provided for this. That attests to the character of their handling of this whole affair.“
  • They repeatedly refused my requests to know what policy governs their investigation. This allowed them to repeatedly insist they were following policy when they clearly were not following the policies that would seem most relevant to their allegations.

  • They repeatedly ignored my requests for a status update on the case, for a list of charges against me, an explanation of what policy(ies) I was alleged to have violated, etc.

  • They concluded their investigation with a Notice of Deficiency that raises allegations as far back as six years ago. A genuine investigation into a single class presentation would not take three months and would not include allegations outside of that class presentation. That this did both makes clear evidences that their intent from the beginning was to
    produce cause to terminate me.

  • They included in my “Notice of Deficiency” numerous allegations against me which I was previously cleared of. They now present those as having been founded.

  • Beyond gross distortions of the truth, they included in my “Notice of Deficiency” numerous allegations that are blatantly false. When I pointed this out, they repeatedly responded with “it doesn’t matter if it’s true, as long as you don’t do it again.”

 

In the end, the Notice of Deficiency evidences that this investigation was never about a class I taught. That was simply their dishonest cover story for buying time to research and concoct whatever accusations about me necessary to serve their purposes of terminating me.

“This investigation was never about a class I taught. That was simply their dishonest cover story for buying time to research and concoct whatever accusations about me necessary to serve their purposes of terminating me.”

Not only did the District avoid an investigation to discover the truth themselves, they kept others from hearing the truth as well with their illegal gag order

Make a Change in the Ozark, MO School District

Sign the petition today to make a change in your school district!

Scroll to Top