Notice of Deficiency

Ozark School District Retaliation Against JROTC

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

Notice of Deficiency

"I finally received the promised Notice of Deficiency on 28 February. It was emotionally deflating, not so much because of the specific falsehoods it contained but because of how clear it was that the District was determined to ensure no prospect of my continuing to work in Ozark Schools."

Until that point, despite the bad faith the District had continually manifested over the preceding months, I had maintained hope that as long as I was extra cautious in my conduct, there would be no grounds for the District to fire me. This delusion was now permanently shattered. There would be no possible way for me to remain with a program I had loved so much and invested so much of myself in.

JROTC-cadets-and-Major

"It is best understood as rank lies and gross distortions of the truth designed either to provide a pretext for firing me or to convince me to depart voluntarily."

It becomes clear while reading through this Notice of Deficiency, that it was prepared for an audience other than me. That is, both the District and I know how dishonest this Notice is. They aren’t persuading either of us by this document. But they do hope to be able to suggest to the Board or whomever else might someday have cause to see it that I have been guilty of egregious offenses. At a minimum, they clearly hope to stir up enough doubt that readers will adopt a “where there’s smoke, there must be fire” attitude and presume I’ve done something wrong. It is best understood as rank lies and gross distortions of the truth designed either to provide a pretext for firing me or to convince me to depart voluntarily.

As I discussed this Notice of Deficiency with Mr. Gerald Chambers and Dr. Brownfield, immediately after it was presented to me, I pointed out repeatedly claims in it that were absolutely fabricated, some without even any basis I could begin to recognize. Mr. Chambers’ response in each instance was “It doesn’t matter as long as you don’t do it again.” That is a shocking degree of disdain for the truth, especially when the matter is so very weighty.

VIA HAND DELIVERY
February 28, 2022

Dear [Major]:

This letter will serve as a formal notice of deficiencies in accordance with Section 168.116 of the Missouri Revised Statutes, which if not removed by December 31, 2022, may result in charges being filed against you pursuant to the Missouri Teacher Tenure Act. If satisfactory improvement is not made, formal charges will be brought against you, and your employment may be terminated for willful and/or persistent violation of Board of Education policy; and/or incompetence, inefficiency, and insubordination. Although the length of the probationary period is approximately ten (10) months, failure to comply immediately and/or consistently with the terms of this probation may result in charges being filed prior to the end of that period.

You should also be advised that, pursuant to the Teacher Tenure Act, the District is not required to provide any probationary period prior to filing charges for willful and/or persistent violation of Board of Education policy. Therefore, if you engage in conduct that would constitute willful and/or persistent violation of Board policy, at any time during or after the probationary period, you will be subject to an immediate statement of charges for which your employment may be terminated.

"A notice of deficiency is purportedly intended to provide an opportunity for a substandard teacher to reform his/her conduct to avoid being fired"

It is important to note here that even though the opening paragraph indicates that I am susceptible to firing during the ensuing 10 months of probation, the subsequent paragraph explicitly states (in boldface) that I am perpetually subject to immediate firing without further notice for any action that displeases administrators. A notice of deficiency is purportedly intended to provide an opportunity for a substandard teacher to reform his/her conduct to avoid being fired (see RSMo § 168.116 (2)). This assertion – that they can now fire me at any point – amounts to a permanent revocation of tenure. That is surely a direct violation of the very reason legislators had for establishing a tenure system and an explicit violation of the District’s authority!

Areas of performance deficiencies include the following:

I. INCOMPETENCE AND INEFFICIENCY

A. Failure to establish secure teacher-student relationships, as demonstrated by:

1. In or about the fall of 2016, you presented a presentation regarding dress codes to sophomores in an Honors English II class that contained inappropriate pictures and concepts. Specifically, it was reported that you said during this presentation that “girls have this way that they present themselves sometimes that is just like saying I was to lay down and spread my legs and come and get me.” It was also reported that you made an analogy comparing girls to ham, stating that “if a ham is all by itself, all you want to do is eat it.” On or about October 25, 2016, you met with a District administrator and admitted that you made that analogy, and it was referencing saturating a sexual appetite. You also admitted to making a comment regarding “legs spreading” and stated that it was in reference to human slavery. Specifically, you stated that “you can shackle them to a bed and have them spread their legs and have their way with them.” You were informed by a District administrator that this presentation was inappropriate, particularly given the age of the students you were teaching, and that you also must remove the inappropriate images from your presentation.

Yes, I taught a class on why modesty in dress matters. No, I did not make any claim even remotely resembling the first one it is said I made (“girls have this way . . .”). More importantly, this charge was brought up at the time, investigated, and dismissed. It also valuable to note that the colleague in whose class I presented this material is the most educated, intellectually gifted, universally respected teacher in the school. After the conclusion of the presentation, he invited me to stay to present it to his following class, as well. He would not possibly have done so if he found it offensive or otherwise inappropriate.

As to the claim that I compared girls to ham, that is grossly misleading. In response to my argument for modesty in dress, an objection arose that perhaps the reason immodest dress is provocative is because it is uncommon. If everyone dressed that way, it would then be mundane and would not arouse the same degree of interest. In response to this, I suggested that while there was surely some truth to that objection, any sexual interest that stems from immodest dress is a matter more of appetite than of novelty. And one does not eliminate appetite by overstimulating it. I offered, for example, that if you presented a person a choice between a single ham and a Thanksgiving dinner, he/she would not be less enticed by the Thanksgiving dinner, due to the abundance of its olfactory opportunity. I will happily concede that this was not the most effective way to respond to this challenge. It also is not the slightest bit objectifying to note that we can infer things about one type of appetite by noting how other appetites function. Nor did it make any comparison to women versus men.

"It also is not the slightest bit objectifying to note that we can infer things about one type of appetite by noting how other appetites function. Nor did it make any comparison to women versus men."

To the third claim, about “legs spreading” and “shackling people to a bed,” I fully acknowledging having said almost verbatim what I am alleged to have said. Now let me put it in context, as that makes all the difference in understanding the message that was delivered. The presentation starts out by pointing out the great distance between valuing things the right way and valuing them the wrong way. It runs through numerous examples, including:

• Ice sculptures – valued for their beauty and skilled craftsmanship . . or valued as potential sources of water for your lawn
• Libraries – as a repository of centuries’ worth of learning . . . or as a source of heat if burned
• The U.S. flag – as a symbol of our heritage, identity, and values . . . or as a drop cloth to protect your floor from paint, oil, etc.
• Money – as a source of power (for good or evil) . . . or as tinder to start the aforementioned library fire
• Elephants – as highly intelligent social animals . . . or as a source of ivory to make trinkets for our curio cabinets
• Horses and dogs – as fulfilling companion animals . . . or as meat for our consumption

After running through those graphic, and disturbing, examples, I ask cadets: “What has gone wrong in each of the preceding examples?” They have a visceral reaction to the exercise, even if they have trouble putting into words what was wrong with it. I then explain “In each of the previous examples, things of significant value were being treated as if their principal value were something far less significant.” I proceed to inquire how often we misidentify value and explore further examples – including iron pyrite (“fools gold”), lost masterpieces of art history, and “Antique Roadshow” finds – as examples of how easy it is for us to misidentify value.

After sensitizing cadets through this exercise, I then turn the question to humans: “Are we ever mistaken about people’s value?” I cite Hamlet’s famous soliloquy:

“What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form, in moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals!”(I surround that quote on the screen with images of loving family relationships, space exploration, athletic achievement, advanced medical care, etc. to highlight the enormous capacity humans have)

I then contrast the beauty of human-ness against widespread practices of human exploitation through slavery and sex trafficking. The very point of this part of the lesson is to note what a tremendous tragedy it is when something of great value is regarded as if its value were so much less. Noting that people in the sex trade are treated as mere objects is a key part of my emphasizing how much greater potential people have and to encouraging each cadet to seek out that higher potential for themselves and others.
The allegations raised against me here are made to sound as if I was promoting the very things I was exposing and condemning. This is precisely the same as condemning a social studies teacher for teaching about the Holocaust, implying that in doing so he/she was advocating for the genocidal internment and incineration, or condemning an anatomy teacher for a dissection lab, given that it involves mutilating corpses. When you isolate these events from the context in which they occurred, when you remove these from the attitude that was expressed toward them, you completely pervert the nature of these events.

Two students evidently reported concerns about this class to another teacher back in 2016. That teacher forwarded those concerns to Dr. Amy Ramsdell, one of our vice principals at the time. She requested all of my lesson material. I shared it all with her and sat down with her to explain it. She referred it to Dr. Sam Taylor, our principal at the time. He summoned me to explain it as well. I explained to him that I normally only teach this material to students in JROTC, students who already know me well and are less prone to misinterpreting something I said. I told him I was happy to simply discontinue teaching this if it was a source of concern. He assured me I was at full liberty to continue teaching this material exactly as I had taught it with precisely the same graphic content it included then.

"He assured me I was at full liberty to continue teaching this material exactly as I had taught it with precisely the same graphic content it included then."

The District’s attempt to now suggest I was directed to do otherwise is simply gross dishonesty.

2. In or about June 2017, you had a group of students at a JROTC camp in Iowa. According to parents, you created a rule that your students could not have cell phones even though the students were at an out- of-state, overnight camp. When you found out that two students had violated your rule, you called the students’ parents and required them to pick up their students from the out-of-state camp without informing or seeking the approval of a District administrator. During this incident, you also discussed confidential student information with other District parents. Furthermore, one District parent reported that he felt like you were retaliating against his student after the incident, which was unprofessional and inappropriate.

It has long been the policy of Ozark JROTC, since well before my arrival, that cadets could not take their cell phones with them to camp. This is not a universal camp policy. It is part of the higher standard Ozark JROTC regularly observes that contributes to the tremendous success of our program. It pays dividends in countless ways. At the parents meeting several weeks before this summer camp, we inform all cadets and parents of this restriction. We advise them all that a cadet who violates this rule will be sent home, with their parents obligated to drive to pick them up. We specifically noted that camp this time was a six hour drive from Ozark, so it would be an uncommon inconvenience to their family for a cadet to violate the rule this year. They all – parents and cadets – sign paperwork indicating their readiness to support these rules. Despite this, two cadets conspired together to smuggle their phones in to camp.

It is true that we did not ask the District about sending kids home. It never occurred to me that we should, both because this policy long pre-dated me and because this seems entirely within the authority of our JROTC program to decide and enforce on our own. It would be a failure to live up to one’s position for one in charge of a program to constantly request permission for various routine aspects of the program. That is inherent in the commission to head up the program. That said, we still discussed this return with the school anyway! I had multiple conversations with Dr. Amy Ramsdell, an assistant principal at the high school, about this. One of the young men involved allegedly committed another infraction at camp – the details of which are best omitted here – which warranted the school’s attention. Based on camp rules (set by the Army), he had to return home with or without the school’s consent.
I also discussed with Dr. Ramsdell the alleged disclosure of confidential student information with other District parents. The context for this was that the parents of one of the cadets involved was wondering about the prospect of their child riding back wit the family of the other cadet, so that only one family had to make the long drive. The parent expressed some reservations, stating that he didn’t know the other cadet or family but that he had heard disconcerting details about this cadet. I addressed his concerns with a bid to assure him that whatever concerns he might have regarding the other cadet’s character, I didn’t share any concerns that should make him reluctant to have his son ride home with the other cadet and his family. I further noted that the family was a highly respectable, responsible family he would likely feel very comfortable with. I don’t know how this got mistranslated back to the other set of parents as my having spoken inappropriately about their child. I conveyed the entirety of my conversation to Dr. Ramsdell and she assured me that I hadn’t disclosed anything I was prohibited from sharing.

I don’t recall ever being told before that one of these cadets felt discriminated against thereafter. Both cadets played prominent roles in our program the following year. One served on staff (which is a hand-picked honor reserved for our top cadets) and one competed exceptionally well on our Raider team the following year. Despite my initially prohibiting his return to Raiders, I invited him back to the team and regularly lauded him for his exceptional performance. I didn’t have that latter cadet in class the following year. He was in a colleague’s class. I cannot fathom any restrictions, censure, limitations, etc. that could have been perceived by either cadet (or their families) as the basis of any claims of retaliation. In fact, both young men have come back to visit us several times since their graduation, suggesting that they left feeling that there was a relationship of mutual respect.

"It would be a failure to live up to one’s position for one in charge of a program to constantly request permission for various routine aspects of the program."

Perhaps most disturbing is that the school is now alleging a fictitious concern that is five years old and never came up before.

3. On or about November 25, 2019, and November 26, 2019, you sent an inappropriate email to District parents painting the District’s administrators as not supportive of the District’s JROTC program. While the District supports your ability to share concerns regarding the JROTC program, you should have addressed your concerns with administrators, instead of attempting to create discord and unnecessary concern among District parents.

As I have already addressed this earlier in this narrative (see section titled “History of District Conflict with JROTC”), I will not say much more about it here other than just to note that we most certainly had expressed ourselves on this point to the District and to the architects. (In fact, during the verbal reprimand Dr. Bauman issued me when he summoned before a panel of District administrators over this, he never even brought up anything then about our needing to have first expressed our concerns to the District because we had already done so.) It was a consensus among all three JROTC instructors that the District was ignoring our concerns (or rather a consensus among the two who spoke with the District and architects, as I was not available for those conversations but I had full faith in their report of them). It was likewise a consensus among all three instructors that the only remaining recourse to avoid the anticipated harm to our program was to invite parents to weigh in on this. I did not know at the time that doing so was protected by both state law and District policy. I knew only that our District had modelled that behavior to its faculty numerous times in sharing its opposition to some legislative matter under consideration and asking us to contact our state representatives to oppose it. I presumed that if the District considered it appropriate for them to do, it couldn’t be inappropriate for us to do the same. Again, the District cannot here condemn my informing parents and inviting their comment, it can only condemn my allegedly bypassing them in doing so. And that is entirely false.

4. In or about 2020, it was reported that you drew a line in class and wrote “stupid” on one end and “smart” at the other. You then turned to your class, pointed toward the word “stupid,” and stated that one of your students fell in that area of the scale (indicating that one of your students was “stupid” in front of other students).

I do not believe this charge to be true. With no more context than what is provided here, I cannot really speak authoritatively to this allegation. It is disturbing that the District never previously presented this allegation to me before, so that I could respond to it properly. If it wasn’t a concern for them then, then it is inappropriate for them to raise the allegation now, when there is no recollection of the situation it alludes to. Nevertheless, I will do my best to treat this allegation legitimately. It is conceivable that there is basis to it. I do banter with students periodically. All of the JROTC instructors do. It is an off-shoot of the broad relationship we have with our cadets, wherein we seek to address their development holistically, not just in a single academic subject. Still, this is inconsistent with the care I generally employ, even when bantering with students. I think there is a more plausible explanation, especially given how ready the District evidently is to misattribute to me something someone else said (see #11 below).
In one of the classes I teach, I undertake to persuade cadets that they cannot leave their character development to accident.

I approach this by drawing several spectrums on the board, including:

• Health – with “healthy” and “diseased” at opposite ends
• Wealth – with “rich” and “poor” at opposite ends
• Athleticism – with “world-class athlete” and “couch potato” at opposite ends
• Intellect – with “genius” and “imbecile” at opposite ends

I sometimes might also include spectrums on other dimensions of human development, as well, each time putting extreme achievement at one end and extreme underdevelopment at the other. I then ask the cadets where they would like to rank on each spectrum. They all note that they want to rate at the high end of most of these. I then ask what is required to do so. I specifically ask what is required to be above-average and whether they would be content to just be average. They note that to be above-average, they have to work harder on that dimension than does the average person. I use this to preface my asking them about the spectrum of human character. I ask if there is any reason to presume that this spectrum is smaller than the others. That is, I ask if there is any reason to believe the distance between those with the greatest character and the least character is any less pronounced than the distance between those at the extremes of any of the other spectrums we previously considered. I then ask them if they would be content to just turn out to be of average character. I use this to charge them to work deliberately on their character, to not just leave it up to chance, lest they turn out decidedly average in character.

It is quite conceivable that in the course of graphing these various spectrums one year, a cadet may have unkindly – and playfully – suggested that one of his/her classmates lay at the bottom of the intellectual spectrum. It is highly unlikely that I had anything to do with it or showed any tolerance for any mean-spiritedness.

"Perhaps most disturbing is that the school is now alleging a fictitious concern that is five years old and never came up before."

5. On or about September 11, 2020, Dr. Chris Bauman, the District’s Superintendent of Schools, received an email from a District parent claiming that you had been showing inappropriate videos to your students in class. Upon the District’s investigation of these claims, it was revealed that you showed two videos in your class that contained obscene and/or explicit images and profanity.

In the fall of 2020, Dr. Brownfield informed me that the District had received a report that I was “showing sex videos on my phone in class.” This was right after I taught a lesson on developing a vision for what kind of person cadets wanted to become. In that class, I challenge prevailing norms of masculinity and femininity.

In doing so, I show trailers for two documentaries:

  • The Mask You Live In – Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hc45-ptHMxo
  • Miss Representation Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ap2xnMcvpw

These are shown specifically to help demonstrate what is so very wrong with our hyper-aggressive view of masculinity and our hyper-sexualized view of femininity. The former includes two or three instances of cursing. The cursing is part of a toxic male persona that the video is condemning. The students all know that I, more than probably any other adult in their lives, object to cursing. The latter video includes highly sexualized imagery. Again, the point of the video is to show how highly destructive this is. Again, the students all know that I, more than probably any other adult in their lives, objects to sexualizing or otherwise objectifying people.

Interestingly, while the District did not inform me who had complained about my video, they inadvertently disclosed who some weeks later. The parent who complained didn’t even have a student in my class. Her child must have simply brought home a rumor based on something she heard/misheard from a student after the class, quite possibly something shared in jest. More to the point, when I taught that exact same material again this year, her daughter was now in my class and made a point after the lesson to come thank me for it, expressing how valuable the lesson was!

Additionally, after I provided Dr. Brownfield with my entire lesson plan for this class, including these two videos, the year prior, he said nothing more to me about these. Or rather, if he said anything at all, it was simply to dismiss the concern. There was never any further concern or directive from him with regards to these videos. That he sat quietly through the reading of this Notice of Deficiency when he knew very well that he himself had investigated this concern and offered me nothing but exoneration thereafter indicates his complicity with the District’s dishonesty over this all.

6. In the fall semester of the 2021-2022 school year, you implemented a change in the JROTC dress policy and procedure. Specifically, you decided that the exception to allow students who had piercings (other than those located near the bottom of their ear) would no longer be allowed to cover them with a band aid or a mask. You also informed students that they would be required to either remove their piercings or forgo uniform wear requiring them to drop JROTC. This was done without proper notification to students or approval of the District’s administration.

7. On or about September 9, 2021, you allowed students access to a District fitness room with your keys and work unsupervised for a period of time. On or about September 10, 2021, Dr. Nathaniel Gillespie, Assistant Principal of Ozark High School, specifically instructed you to refrain from allowing students to access the fitness room with your keys while unsupervised.

8. On or about October 22, 2021, you provided a student with your keys and allowed him access to the District’s maintenance yard and JROTC shipping containers while unsupervised. On October 22, 2021, you were specifically instructed by a District administrator to refrain from allowing students to go into District facilities using staff keys while unsupervised.

9. On or about November 18, 2021, you provided two students with your keys and allowed them access to the District’s maintenance yard and JROTC shipping containers while unsupervised. As previously instructed on September 10, 2021, October 22, 2021, and during your PIP conference on November 19, 2021, you are to refrain from allowing students to go into District facilities using staff keys while unsupervised.

10. On or about November 9, 2021, you brought wire cutters to school and used them to cut a nose ring from a student’s nose. Thereafter, you inappropriately addressed two students who reported concerns regarding your actions.

Allegations 6-10 are a reiteration of the charges in my Professional Improvement Plan. I have already addressed them at length in the corresponding section of this narrative. Perhaps the only additional insight to include here is that this is further evidence that the District entirely ignored my response to my PIP.

11. On or about November 9, 2021, it was reported that you told a student that she “shouldn’t celebrate a 2nd place finish, after all they are first place losers” after a female student finished in 2nd place at Raider Nationals.

"Perhaps the only additional insight to include here is that this is further evidence that the District entirely ignored my response to my PIP."

This is perhaps the most disturbing of all the allegations. I am curious at the source of many of the ridiculous allegations the District has raised, given that most of them bear enough relation to something that actually happened as to suggest they weren’t fabricated purely from scratch. But this allegation also reveals how absolutely little effort the District put into investigating or confirming any of the allegations. As long as they found something critical to allege, they have seized it with blind enthusiasm.

The cadet they are alluding to is my daughter. For the past eight years, she has accompanied me to every single Raider meet, with the exception of the very first one as I wasn’t yet certain enough of the atmosphere to honor her request to come. We even withheld her from school so that she could attend Raider Nationals with us each year. She and I have enjoyed a particularly close relationship since her birth.

She got started with us in Raiders her 8th grade year. She recruited other girls to come join the team as well. As a sophomore, she was an integral part of our national championship Raider team (mixed-gender division). Since her freshman year, she has expressed a desire to captain a female Raider team someday. Until her junior year, we didn’t have enough females to do so. This year, we had a bunch of females, mostly 8th and 9th graders, join the team. She was torn between then wanting to again be on the mixed-division team with which we aspired to (and achieved!) another national championship and wanting to captain all the new girls. I asked her to captain the girls team through the fall season with the offer that if she was competitive enough for the mixed-division team, she could switch to that team for the national championship.

Our captains this year led their teams through all of our practices. In years past, I largely directed the practices and the captains took over for the meets. But with so many Raiders this year, I put team captains in charge of directing their own teams during the practice while I over watched all of the teams. My daughter worked incredibly well with her team and they bonded extremely close. They consistently beat out many male teams in our fall season Raider meets. They were so impressive that I assured them they had the right dynamic to win a national championship in the female division the following year if they would keep up that effort. I assured them that I did not see them winning one this year, as they were still too new.

Each of our four teams performed so well this year that I lobbied to find a division for each of them at the national championship. There wasn’t room for another girls team in the all-Army female division, so we entered them in the all-service female division. (Despite the sound of it, the all-service division is not generally as competitive as the all-Army division.) This girls team consisted almost exclusively of 8th and 9th graders. The only members that weren’t in 8th or 9th grade were my daughter and two other girls that didn’t get put into the events very often. So with a team whose average grade was barely 9th grade, our girls took 2nd place in a national championship. I was overwhelmed with pride in these girls and pride for my daughter.

The insinuation that I harbored or conveyed any other emotion to any member of that team is grossly ignorant and highly offensive.
When I informed my daughter the evening after receiving my Notice of Deficiency of this specific allegation, she responded in shock, “Dad, I know what they’re talking about.” She then related a running joke she has fostered with another instructor, which was evidently popularized by the famous race car driver Dale Earnhardt, Sr.: “second place is the first loser” (meaning that everyone but the victor loses, and second place is just the first person to claim their slot as a loser). Since she has deliberately fostered that joke, when she sided up to another Ozark instructor after the award ceremony and playfully said something like “How do you like me now? We just won second place at nationals?”, he responded with a reminder that “second place is the first loser” and then walked away.

An outside observer who didn’t know the background could surely have misunderstood that interaction. But even the slightest effort to investigate this concern (at the time or now) would surely have revealed how false this allegation was. This is pretty compelling confirmation of the District’s absolute preference for slander over truth in my case.

12. On or about November 19, 2021, you were placed on a Professional Improvement Plan (“PIP”) to assist you in remediating your performance deficiencies.

While this is a true claim, it is a bit strange as an independent allegation. It is simply a reference back to the District’s previous response to allegations 6-10. If I am guilty of those allegations, then I am guilty of those allegations regardless of whether I was placed on a PIP. If I am not guilty of those allegations, then I am not guilty regardless of whether the District holds me so and places me on a PIP. At best, this charge is redundant. At worst, the District is suggesting that their act of placing me on a PIP constitutes a new offense I committed. By this rationale, they make me more guilty each time they accuse me. That would be absurd.

It would be most generous to just dismiss this as an embarrassing lapse of perspective on the part of the author. But it is surely most accurate to recognize this as representative of the absolute lack of integrity which has characterized the District’s dealings with me ever since their determination in November to be rid of me.

"This is perhaps the most disturbing of all the allegations. I am curious at the source of many of the ridiculous allegations the District has raised, given that most of them bear enough relation to something that actually happened as to suggest they weren’t fabricated purely from scratch."

13. On or about November 29, 2021, and November 30, 2021 you presented your “Personal Appearance, Personal Identity, and Value Presentation.” Specifically, it was reported that your presentation contained images, videos, and concepts that were inappropriate for District students to view, including, but not limited to:

• Showing students a video entitled, “Auction Day,” which depicted a slave auction.
• Stating that females can be tied to a bed with their legs spread for entertainment/pleasure.
• Stating to female students, “so ladies, if you give your boyfriend “candy,” then that is what he will value you for.”
• Using the terms “sexy” and “sex partner” discussing the value of students.
• Using statistical information regarding female beauty and when females are “the most attractive.”
• Telling a story regarding a female officer and stated that the officer “thinks during her presentation, especially if it is not being received well, that ‘well if I rip my clothes off right now you wouldn’t be able to resist me’ or ‘you would be salivating over me’”.
• Showing students slides that contained pictures of women dressed in minimal clothing.

Students have reported this presentation made them feel like you were comparing them to a piece of meat or a car. This presentation was completely inappropriate, unprofessional, and outside the designated curriculum for JROTC.

You are specifically directed to refrain from giving this presentation or any version of this presentation to District students in the future without prior approval from the District’s Superintendent of Schools.

The allegation above presents a deliberately misleading perspective on the presentation in question. Also, knowing how the young lady who requested my assistance removing her nose ring has since related that the District deliberately twisted her report on that incident to serve their own malicious agenda, despite her insistence that their version did not reflect her experience, it is not hard to imagine where the District came up with their reports of students’ concerns about this class. It is evident from the detail in the allegations the District levied against me that they spoke with at least one student. When senior officials with strong personalities summon a young student and interrogate him or her with a clear and obvious agenda concerning what answers they want to hear, it is not hard to imagine that even the most supportive cadet will provide information the District can readily contort to their purposes. It remains certain, however, that they did not make any effort to assess the general response to this class, which is decidedly positive every single time.

I have given this presentation to our new cadets every year for the past several years. A colleague had been present every time. My colleagues have not found it objectionable. Students have routinely thanked me for what they found to be an invaluable presentation. I have also three times invited District administrators to let me pitch this class to them in its entirety, exactly as I pitched it to cadets. They have each time declined that offer. For them to now characterize the class this way, despite declining to hear the class themselves, declining to interview cadets over it, and ignoring my colleagues’ experience with the presentation is evidence that neither their initial concern nor this present Notice of Deficiency has anything whatsoever to do with this class.

Nevertheless, for the benefit of those who are now alarmed over this depiction of it, I will address each of these charges. I will reiterate the charge above in each instance for clarity.

• Showing students a video entitled, “Auction Day,” which depicted a slave auction.

As noted earlier in this narrative (see section titled “Suspension”), this class is titled “Personal Appearance, Personal Identity, and Value.” It seeks to teach cadets that how they present themselves to the world affects their sense of who they are and what their lives are about. That then affects their sense of why they matter, or their value. In part of the presentation, I make a point about the cost of sexualizing themselves. I assert that doing so leaves them basing their value in their ability to provide sexual pleasure (even just visual) to others. Because the ability to entice others constitutes a degree of power with respect to them, it is not obvious to cadets what is wrong with this. So I use three examples to demonstrate the emptiness of this approach. In the first one, I ask them “Can you imagine priding yourself on what a great slave you would make for someone?” It is tough for them to take this point seriously, to visualize its really happening, without an illustration. So I show them the Key & Peale comedy sketch called “Auction Block” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zB7MichlL1k). In it, two slaves start out railing against how wrong it is to subjugate another human being. Then, as they watch other slaves on the auction block being chosen by the plantation owners while they themselves attract no interest, they start to feel overlooked. Feeling competitive, they then seek to advertise themselves as capable, productive, and highly desirable slaves. The absurdity of the situation is precisely why this contributes so well to making the point that we shouldn’t even allow ourselves to be objectified, let alone seek our own objectification. In the second example, I ask them whether they can imagine priding themselves on their ability to satisfy someone else’s hunger through cannibalism. That is, can they imagine finding value in what a great ham could be made from their thighs or what a great roast could be extracted from their carcass? Again, the absolute absurdity of this is key to setting up the third point. In the third example, I ask them: “Can you imagine claiming as your principal quality your ability to provide sexual gratification?” I then relate the following true story (verbatim, as printed on the slide I showed):

A friend in the Army once recounted that as a lieutenant, one of her fellow female lieutenants dealt with the stress of briefing her battalion commander by donning her most sexy lingerie under her uniform whenever she was scheduled to brief. She would then take confidence from the fact that she knew that she was sexy. If he could only see underneath her clothes, he would really want her. This thought empowered her.

I invited the cadets to see that perspective really robbed the individual of more than it gave them. It was more abasing than empowering. I challenged them to aspire to more in their own lives.

• Stating that females can be tied to a bed with their legs spread for entertainment/pleasure.

As I addressed this allegation extensively in my response to point #1, above, in this series, I will not bother to do so here again other than simply to note that the presentation emphasized that both boys and girls are subject to sexual exploitation this way. This claim was not targeted exclusively toward girls.

• Stating to female students, “so ladies, if you give your boyfriend “candy,” then that is what he will value you for.”

"I will not bother to do so here again other than simply to note that the presentation emphasized that both boys and girls are subject to sexual exploitation this way. This claim was not targeted exclusively toward girls."

I fully admit and endorse the caution about giving “candy.” Here is the story that preceded it, again presented verbatim as it was printed on a slide for the students:

When my daughter was young, she would greet me enthusiastically as I returned from work each day. She would shout excitedly “Daddy, Daddy,” come running to me, jump into my arms, give me a hug and kiss, and then run off to continue playing. One day she joined me for a lunch date at my office. During this visit, she discovered my officemate’s candy dish and asked if she could have a piece. Because my officemate disbursed candy from it freely to visitors, I let my daughter choose a piece. She called me at work the next day and after a very brief dialogue asked if I would bring a piece of candy home for her. I did so. This became routine for several days. I would return home from work and she would come running to me excitedly shouting “Daddy, Daddy, jump into my arms, give me a hug and kiss, and then ask “Did you bring me a piece of candy?” I would then pull a piece of candy out of my pocket for her and she would run off to play. When I had to apologize for forgetting a piece one day, she said with only a hint of disappointment in her voice, “That’s okay. Would you bring me one tomorrow?” After a couple of weeks, I decided I didn’t want to perpetuate this routine. I didn’t want to encourage her sweet tooth and I didn’t want to have to resupply my officemate’s candy dish. When I returned home from work that day, she greeted me with the usual elation. After running to me, calling out “Daddy, Daddy,” hugging me and kissing me, she asked “Did you bring me a piece of candy?” I replied simply, “No, I didn’t.” She scowled and loudly directed me: “GO BACK TO WORK!

This story illustrates extremely well a truth borne out repeatedly through countless social science studies: we naturally favor immediate, easily obtained gratification over distant satisfaction that requires effort. We have to learn to favor the distant, greater reward over the immediate, lesser one. When both are presented together, the latter commonly interferes with our ability to appreciate the former. So, yes, I warned the ladies that if they give “candy” to their boyfriends, then that is what he will value them for. That is absolutely true. They are still welcome to choose that path if they want. But at least they are now informed.

• Using the terms “sexy” and “sex partner” discussing the value of students.

I used the terms “sexy” and “sex partner” while discussing various ways students might aspire to shape their identity. In each case, the point was very clearly that their sexual identity is ancillary to their other identities. Or rather, if they chose to make “sexy” their primary identity, then it would likely be their dominant identity. But if they chose to construct their primary identity out of other virtues, they could still be sexy as well.

• Using statistical information regarding female beauty and when females are “the most attractive.”

We considered in class at what age men rate women most attractive and at what age women rate men most attractive. I will explain the point to this momentarily. But first, this was not an inquiry simply into female beauty. However, there is a difficulty with this inquiry in that men reportedly consistently rate women to be most attractive when they (the women) are about 26 years old. When ladies are asked at what age men are most attractive, the answers don’t converge so readily. That is, women’s answers change as they themselves age. They find younger men more attractive when they are younger, then middle-aged men as they themselves age, and finally older men as they themselves advance in years. Because of this, I was only able to put on the screen the age at when men rate women as most attractive. That is the only fixed data point.

The reason for this exercise was to point out thereafter how absolutely irrelevant this is to our actual assessment of one another. I pointed out that we principally focus on appearance when it is the only quality we know about someone else – i.e., before we get to know them. I then assert that within two weeks of knowing someone, we assess them based on their personality, character, ambition, generosity, etc. The very point of this exercise is to persuade cadets to care more about developing their inner qualities more than their physical beauty.

• Telling a story regarding a female officer and stated that the officer “thinks during her presentation, especially if it is not being received well, that ‘well if I rip my clothes off right now you wouldn’t be able to resist me’ or ‘you would be salivating over me’”.

This is fully addressed in my response above to the slave auction allegation.

• Showing students slides that contained pictures of women dressed in minimal clothing.

I have repeatedly informed the District that this didn’t happen. More importantly, no student ever alleged it happened. As noted previously, District officials solicited my slide presentation via a colleague under false pretenses. As a result, what they received went well beyond what I present in class. The fact that they continue to allege this contrary to all evidence manifests their indifference to truth.

Lest anyone be concerned at the insinuation that there was still inappropriate material in my slide packet, even if cadets didn’t see it, I offer the two slides they continue to find so disturbing. The theme of the section these slides fall in is labeled “The more attention we devote to our appearance, the more INSECURE we risk becoming.”

The very point of these slides is to illustrate that point with familiar celebrities the cadets will all recognize and appreciate. Again, neither of these slides have been used in the presentation over the past several years, but they remain part of the extra content my slide presentation packet contains as they are components of additional thoughts I have compiled on this topic over the years. I share them here simply to mitigate any prospect of someone thinking there was a “smoking gun” in the slideshow which I have been unwilling to reveal. That section concludes with a slide that acknowledges cadets can aspire to be as beautiful as they want, without significant risk, so long as they develop their character FIRST. But if they put these two in the wrong order, they risk settling for being beautiful and not developing their character.

I find it highly improbable that any honest audience could read the content on these slides and believe the message to be objectionable. But if so, they rest assured that these haven’t been used in the class I have taught these cadets over the past several years.

"I find it highly improbable that any honest audience could read the content on these slides and believe the message to be objectionable."
danger of pursuing beauty
danger of pursuing beauty 2

For context, the slide that preceded these two featured a video excerpt from supermodel Cameron Russell’s TED Talk, “Looks aren’t everything,” which she opens by showing how much switching from the “little black dress” and high heels with which she entered the stage, to a simple skirt, sweater, and flats significantly changes the audience’s perception of her.

danger of pursuing beauty 3
danger of pursuing beauty 4

Despite the fact that these slides were not part of the presentation, the District’s response to them presents a revealing paradox. In his interview with me over this class presentation, Mr. Chambers asserted that it is not our job to tell kids what to wear and what not to wear. I assured him that my presentation does not do this. It simply informs them that how they present themselves to the world affects their sense of who they are and why they matter. When the District then claims that these slides (again, which were never shown) are inappropriate because they display “women dressed in minimal clothing,” then the DISTRICT is now telling kids what to wear and what not to wear. If the District is undertaking to tell kids what to wear, then had I been doing so, I would only have been doing wrong if I was inconsistent with what District’s dress code. When the District says it isn’t our job to tell kids what to wear, they surrender the very basis they are relying on in condemning these slides as inappropriate (due to featuring people wearing the wrong thing).

"Society has a tendency to treat anything framed as a “safety issue” as if it is a trump card which overrides all other considerations."

Students have reported this presentation made them feel like you were comparing them to a piece of meat or a car. This presentation was completely inappropriate, unprofessional, and outside the designated curriculum for JROTC.

This is simply false. The absolute lack of any dialogue about this among 8th and 9th grade cadets indicates the District didn’t interview cadets about this presentation. If they had, they would have found the overwhelming attitude toward it to have been positive. Even if they had then found an outlier who received the presentation critically, that would not be evidence against the presentation. When so many others received it positively, that would be most plausibly a commentary on an insecurity that particular student carried. Recall that two other JROTC instructors have repeatedly sat through this version of the presentation and found no problem with it. So I see two possible origins for this claim. First is that administrators did talk to a student and “fed” this complaint to him/her the way the student in the nose ring incident relates they attempted to do with her. They would have done this just so that they could claim a student complained. Second is that they are referring back to the complaint raised six years earlier by a student in another class to which I taught a more controversial class on a similar topic. That charge is raised and addressed in the first paragraph of this Notice of Deficiency.

B. Failure to use appropriate technology to facilitate student learning, as demonstrated by:

1. Your conduct outlined in Section I(A) in the entirety.

Pretending that because some of the activities referred to in the preceding section took place via a District projector somehow constitutes an additional problem or a misuse of technology is preposterous.

C. Failure to cooperate in partnerships to support student learning, as demonstrated by:

1. In or about the summer of 2020, you met with your colleagues in the JROTC program to discuss upcoming activities for the 2020-2021 school year. During this meeting, your colleagues expressed safety concerns regarding continuing with one student event — the 50-mile hike. Specifically, your colleagues informed you that they had concerns about the event being held overnight, particularly because it required your colleagues to stay up all night to assist with the event. During this meeting, your colleagues believed that you had agreed to no longer conduct this event as an overnight trip. However, later in the year, you informed others, including District parents, that this event would continue to be held as an overnight event. This was unprofessional, uncooperative, and potentially dangerous given the concerns identified by your colleagues. Additionally, you failed to appropriately communicate the exact timeline of this event with District parents, which caused some parents to become upset and confused.

This allegation is disturbing on numerous levels. I will attempt here to provide context and perspective to this all. During my first year at Ozark High School (2014-2015), we hosted a 50-mile through-the-night, continuous hike. I pitched the event to Dr. Sam Taylor (principal at the time) and obtained his approval. This event was organized exclusively for the Raider team that year and for the next two years, when we hosted it as a daytime hike only. In the spring of 2018, we opened this up to the entire battalion, while still keeping it a daytime-only event. The problem with a daytime-only event is that it afforded walkers only 14 hours (6am-8pm) to complete the hike. This kind of event is typically hosted with a 20 hour time limit (which necessitates its going through the night). So for 2019, we decided to host it as a through-the-night event again, open to the entire community. While I hiked the event with cadets, my two JROTC colleagues supported the event by driving the recovery vehicle from aid station to aid station to pick up any cadets that dropped out along the way and returning them to the start/finish point. Afterwards, my colleagues reported two concerns about the event: 1) that it is grueling to stay awake driving through the night, and 2) that the event wipes out their entire weekend, given that they are out supporting it on Friday night and then are home late enough on Saturday and tired enough that their recovery bleeds into Sunday. I acknowledged both concerns, while also noting that with two of them in one vehicle, they can tag-team the driving through the night, while the other sleeps, to reduce (but not eliminate) both concerns. Still, I informed them that I was receptive to their concerns and we would consider moving it back to a daytime only hike, even though that substantially undermines the experience.

At a subsequent booster club meeting, I announced that we were anticipating reverting our next year’s 50-mile hike back to a daytime only hike. The only parent who had completed the previous year’s through-the-night hike pulled me aside afterwards and implored me to keep it as a through-the-night event. He cited from personal experience many of the same reasons that so attracted me to this challenge when I first encountered it 25 years prior. The through-the-night aspect of the hike is a tremendous part of the experience, not to mention it makes it possible to have far more finishers. Whereas we had averaged less than 2 finishers each year to the daytime only hike, we had a dozen finishers from our JROTC program alone (not to mention community members) during our last through-the-night hike. So I then informed my JROTC colleagues that I wanted to try another year as a through-the-night event and requested their support. They both consented to support it again, although it was clear they preferred the daytime only version. That year’s hike ended up being cancelled due to COVID-19, so we didn’t conduct the hike again until 2021. After that event, I assured my colleagues we would go back to a daytime-only hike for the future. When I reserved the trail for 2022, I reserved it for daytime only. I have email confirmation from the trail managers that confirm this fact.

It is absolutely false to insinuate that this was a point of contention within our program or conflict between instructors. We had a difference of opinion on whether the experience could be adequately achieved in a daytime-only event. As the senior instructor of our JROTC program, it is surely within my position to assert myself to resolve some differences among us, especially since I was the only one to have experienced the hike. But that is not how I operate. It is inconsistent with the respect I have for my colleagues to not consider their opinions equally with my own. So I shared with them my desire to do one more year as a through-the-night hike and REQUESTED their support. They offered it voluntarily, even if reluctantly. I then subordinated my own preferences for this event to theirs and reverted back to a daytime only hike for 2022 and beyond, specifically to honor their preference that it be conducted this way.

The assertion that I “failed to appropriately communicate the exact timeline of this event with District parents” is laughable. No evidence is even attempted in support of it. (To be fair, it would be hard to provide evidence of what I failed to do in a case like this.) This allegation reduces to faulting me because one of our hundreds of JROTC parents didn’t know the details of an event as well as they wanted to. It’s impossible to move directly from that fact to an assertion of failure on the part of the program to adequately advertise the event. Every participant in the event had to get signed by their parents a permission slip that had the complete details of this event on it.

That the school depicts this as my ignoring a legitimate safety concern from my colleagues is laughable given the District’s recent and current campaign against teachers at the middle school for continuing to call attention to safety conditions which they felt the school was inadequately attentive to. Society has a tendency to treat anything framed as a “safety issue” as if it is a trump card which overrides all other considerations. That is inappropriate. But if the school wants to take that position, then they indict themselves for ignoring the multitude of teachers who have pressed their safety concerns to the point of being forced out of the district over their unwillingness to be silenced on the issue.

"The District’s criticism that I didn’t request authority anew each time for activities that had become commonplace is reflective of our District administrator’s lust for power and control."

II. INSUBORDINATION

Your conduct as outlined in Section I constitutes insubordination in that you have failed to follow district and school policies, regulations, and procedures, as well as specific administrative directives regarding (1) establishing a secure teacher-student relationship; (2) effectively using appropriate technology to facilitate student learning; and (3) cooperating in partnerships to support student learning.

That is not what insubordination means. In a 1969 Missouri Attorney General opinion, provided at the request of State Senator William B. Waters for an official opinion on the meaning of the term, insubordination, in the context of RSMo § 168.107, is characterized as:

A teacher's willful, intentional refusal or neglect to obey an express or implied command, instruction, order or rule of the teacher's employing school board, which command, instruction, order or rule is known to the teacher, is reasonable in nature and is given by and with proper authority.

(https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/opinions/1969/413_1969.pdf?sfvrsn=2)
By the District’s usage of the term here, anyone who ever violates any District policy is also thereby automatically insubordinate as well.

III. WILLFUL VIOLATION OF BOARD OF EDUCATION POLICY
The conduct identified above constitutes knowing and intentional violation of Board of Education policy in that the policies identified in this Section are duly published and are made available to District staff. Furthermore, the District provides information and instruction regarding its policies and conduct that could be construed as a violation thereof. Nevertheless, you have engaged in the conduct outlined in Section I above, which in whole or in part, constitutes or could reasonably be construed as a violation of the following policies:

This allegation asserts that my alleged violations of District policy were “willful” and “knowing and intentional.” For an act to be a willful violation, one would have to 1) know that it was a violation, and 2) do the act deliberately. No evidence is presented in support of either. If it is important that the alleged violations were “willfully” done, then the District should undertake some effort to demonstrate that this is the case. Unfortunately, that is impossible, given that the only allegation that has merit – that of my permitting students to use my keys to access our JROTC storage facility –was a simple matter of misunderstanding, as I have previously explained and as was demonstrated by my asking Dr. Brownfield the next morning to please clarify expectations as we were sure trying to comply with them but evidently missed something.

A. Board Policy, GBCB, entitled Staff Conduct, which requires staff to “act professionally, ethically and responsibly; use good judgment; .. . [and] maintain positive relations with student, parents/guardians, coworkers and the public.”
B. Board Policy, GBCB, entitled Staff Conduct, which requires staff to become familiar with, enforce and follow all Board policies, regulations, administrative procedures, other directions given by district administrators and state and federal laws as they affect the performance of job duties.
C. Board Policy GBCB, entitled Staff Conduct, which requires staff to “properly supervise all students.”
D. Board Policy GBCB, entitled Staff Conduct, which requires staff to “communicate clearly and professionally.”
E. Board Policy GBCB, entitled Staff Conduct, which requires staff to “obey all safety rules, including rules protecting the safety and welfare of students.”
F. Board Policy GBCB, entitled Staff Conduct, which states that school employees “shall not direct a student to remove an emblem, insignia or garment, including a religious emblem, insignia or garment, as long as such emblem, insignia or garment is worn in a manner that does not promote disruptive behavior.”
G. Board Policy GBH, entitled Staff/Student Relations, which requires staff members to “maintain courteous and professional relationships with students.”
H. Board Policy EHB, entitled Technology Usage, which prohibits the use of and access to “visual depictions that are obscene or harmful to minors.”

IV. PERSISTENT VIOLATION OF BOARD OF EDUCATION POLICY

The conduct identified in Section I above constitutes persistent violation of Board of Education policies, as such policies relate to instructional requirements and professional conduct toward staff and students, in that you continued to engage in conduct that is contrary to such policies despite prior conferences, directives, and interventions intended to ensure your compliance with the foregoing policies.

If multiple violations occurred that didn’t happen simultaneously, then I guess they automatically qualify as “persistent violations.” But that doesn’t become a new charge. It is just a re-characterization of the previous ones.

Accordingly, you are hereby directed to comply with all directives, whether oral or written, given by the Ozark R-VI administration. Moreover, you are directed to conform your behavior to District, Building, and Board policies, and to state and federal law. Specifically, you are directed to (1) establishing a secure teacher-student relationship; (2) effectively using appropriate technology to facilitate student learning; and (3) cooperating in partnerships to support student learning. Failure to conform to written or oral directives as well as to District, Building, and Board policy, regulation, and procedure will be deemed to be insubordination and will become an additional basis for dismissal or charges.1

This is a helpful summary of the three categories of failure I stand accused of. I don’t think anyone can pretend that any of my conduct genuinely falls short of these requirements in any appreciable way.

Additionally, because it will be essential for you to focus on your teaching and on student learning during the pendency of this notice of deficiencies, and going forward, you will not be assigned any extra duties, including but not limited to extra duties associated with the Raiders program, for the 2022-2023 school year. Furthermore, because the Raiders season has concluded for the 2021-2022 school year, you are directed not to engage in any further activities related to the Raiders, in any manner whatsoever, during the remainder of the current school year. You will receive full pay for the services rendered pursuant to your extra duty contract for the current school year.

My teaching has never been a concern. If they want to allege it is a concern now, it is would be the quality of my teaching that is being called into question, not the content of my teaching. They were alleging all my offenses were willful, not inept. So correcting the alleged misconduct wouldn’t require that they protect time for me to learn to teach better. It would require nothing more than their simply directing me not to teach particular content again. So this restriction from coaching Raiders was nothing more than a move to separate me from the kids and families who had rallied at the school board meeting a week or two prior to protest my absence. The support of those cadets and parents constitutes irrefutable evidence against the District’s claim that I am a danger for students.

Additionally, it is outrageous for the District to allege to the Raider team coach, who has conducted spring Raider training and attended spring Raider competitions for the preceding seven years that “Raider season has concluded for the 2021-2022 school year.” The spring season is key to our building up for the following fall season. Immediately after my resignation (i.e., the very next day), they emailed all the JROTC cadets and families to announce my resignation and to offer their support to make the spring Raider season happen anyway, implying that my departure had put it in jeopardy. Dr. Brownfield’s email makes clear that the District knew very well that there was a spring Raider season. He states: “We want to assure you that the district will take care to minimize the impact of this transition upon the Raider’s spring season. The sustainability of this valuable program is important to the Board and to the administration.”

Finally, you are further directed not to engage in any other extra-curricular activities, whether school-sponsored or non-school-sponsored, with students of the District, including but not limited to the marathon club and the 50-mile club, both of which you were conducting with district students without prior notice to and consent from the administration. This is of particular concern because some of the activities associated with these unauthorized clubs occurred at times and under circumstances that were entirely inappropriate.

This paragraph constitutes pretty compelling evidence of my previous claim that the District’s real intent was simply to alienate me from the cadets I had grown close to, many of whom had recently, with their families, shown me so much support. In the verbal instructions provided alongside this written Notice of Deficiency, Dr. Brownfield also explained that he intended to put one of the assistant principals in my classroom as often as possible whenever I was teaching. He likewise indicated that one of the administrators would sit in on our weekly department meetings as well. This tradition of oppressive supervision is evidently a common tactic within the district to harass a targeted teacher into resigning.

Nowhere prior to this does the District suggest that there is anything inappropriate about the time at which Raiders were training. When we have conducted morning practices, they have been at the same time, approximately, for the past eight years. Dr. Brownfield has even hosted one of those practices and joined us for another some years ago. It is roughly the same time that the cross country team holds its periodic morning practices. When we have conducted afternoon practices, they were at the same time as all other after-school sports. So nothing in the time of our training was either a surprise or inappropriate. The only thing they can be calling inappropriate here is the through-the-night aspect of the 50-mile hike. As noted previously, we previously did solicit approval for this but didn’t thereafter see the need to request permission anew each year for an event we conduct annually. Furthermore, as we had invited Dr. Brownfield on this hike before, it is a bit disingenuous for the school to act as if they didn’t know about it.

Also, it is certainly well beyond the school district’s authority to prohibit me from engaging in any extra-curricular activity whatsoever, even when not school sponsored, with any student of Ozark Schools. This would preclude my teaching Ozark kids in Sunday School class, coaching them in youth sports, working with them in Boy Scouts, etc. The decision of whether I engage with these students in those capacities lies between them, their parents, the sponsor organization, and me. The school district has no authority over this kind of activity.

This letter will also confirm that a conference was conducted with you, Mr. Gerald Chambers, and Dr. Jeremy Brownfield for the purpose of discussing this notice of deficiencies. The conference was held on Monday, February 28, 2022 at 3:15 PM in Dr. Brownfield’s office. Dr. Jeremy Brownfield has been assigned to work with you during the probationary period following your receipt of this notice of deficiencies to assist in the resolution of these matters.

1 As stated above, however, the District is not required to provide any probationary period prior to filing charges for willful and/or persistent violation of Board of Education policy. Therefore, if you engage in conduct that would constitute willful and/or persistent violation of Board policy at any time during or after the probationary period, you will be subject to an immediate statement of charges for which your employment may be terminated. Furthermore, nothing in this notice is intended to suggest that you are entitled to any guaranteed period of employment if you fail to demonstrate immediate and sustained improvement.

As this footnote reiterates (given that it was also clearly laid out in the second paragraph of this notice, there is, in fact, no longer any guaranteed period of employment even if I do “demonstrate immediate and sustained improvement.” The purpose of this whole exercise was to rescind my tenure so that they could fire me.

Sincerely,
Dr. Chris Bauman
Superintendent of Schools

Several troubling themes pervade this Notice of Deficiency. One of them is the recurring suggestion that I needed to have asked permission before conducting various activities. What authority does one who runs a program possess, if not to conduct the activities inherent in that program? I don’t mean to imply carte blanche authority to anyone given charge of a program or activity to pursue any new activity he/she choses, but it is certainly ridiculous to suggest that people should routinely solicit approval for activities that fall well within the parameters of the programs they have charge over, especially when those same activities are conducted year after year.

One of the things that most sets the U.S. Army apart from its near-peer adversaries is the Army’s recognition that delegating decision-making authority to the lowest level possible is precisely how organizations succeed best. Requiring approval from higher levels encourages micromanaging, discourages responsibility, stifles initiative, guarantees inefficiency, and limits buy-in of the subordinate leaders. If we do not delegate decision-making authority to the lowest level possible, then it is unclear where that authority lies. When I ask the principal for approval, can he grant it or does he have to turn to the superintendent? When he asks the superintendent, can he grant the approval or does he have to solicit it from the school board? When he asks the Board, do they have authority to approve or do they have to petition the voting public? I’m not seeking to be contrary here so much as simply to illustrate the conundrum. If one doesn’t vest decision making authority at the lowest level, then one needs to clearly articulate what kinds of matters must be elevated to the next level for approval.

Whenever I introduced a new activity into our JROTC program, something that went beyond the kind of activity we had previously conducted, I made sure to solicit approval. I introduced several such activities into our program. After receiving approval, unless the activity was markedly changed, I accepted the previous permission as not just a special accommodation made once for mysterious reasons but instead as recognition that this kind of activity was acceptable for our program to pursue. The program continues to conduct these activities and the school is well aware of them, having never made an objection to any of them until needing to find a reason to dismiss me. The District’s criticism that I didn’t request authority anew each time for activities that had become commonplace is reflective of our District administrator’s lust for power and control.

Make a Change in the Ozark, MO School District

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

Scroll to Top