School Board Dereliction

Ozark School District Retaliation Against JROTC

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

School board dereliction

As evidence accumulated of this being an entirely dishonest and hostile affair, I requested in December that the school board review the District’s handling of my case. They permitted Dr. Bauman to answer for them, denying my request.

I reiterated my request in January, requesting to address the Board at its next meeting. I included in my email request to the board a document summarizing the evidence of this being a bad faith investigation. The Board again permitted Dr. Bauman to answer for them, again denying my request.

JROTC-cadets-and-Major

In February, after Dr. Bauman denied me the required hearing on my case, I appealed directly to the Board for this. However, on that same day, the District provided me the predicted Notice of Deficiency, as a result of their 3-month investigation. This notice was so full of rank lies and gross distortions as to convince me that there was no further prospect with the District. I now understood Dr. Carson’s earlier warning that no one survives a Notice of Deficiency. So I submitted my letter of resignation to the District and the Board two days later. I reiterated in it that I was still entitled to a hearing on my suspension. While the Board had previously refused to respond to my requests for their oversight of my case, they responded immediately to my letter of resignation. They accepted my resignation and denied my request for the required hearing.

"They accepted my resignation and denied my request for the required hearing."

I requested again in March that I be permitted to address the board at its monthly meeting. This request was
accompanied by a document summarizing the history of the District’s conflict with JROTC and its subsequent agenda
against me as the head of our JROTC program. No one responded, not the superintendent or any member of the Board.

From: [The Major]
Sent: Wednesday, March 9, 2022 12:35 PM
To: 'Chris Bauman' <chrisbauman@ozarktigers.org>; 'Tom Bass' <tombass@ozarktigers.org>
Cc: AndyHedgpeth@OzarkTigers.org; AaronJohns@OzarkTigers.org; JeffLaney@OzarkTigers.org;
ShaneNelson@OzarkTigers.org; SarahAdams-Orr@OzarkTigers.org; PattyQuessenberry@OzarkTigers.org
Subject: Request to be added to board meeting agenda

Dr. Bauman, Mr. Bass, et al,

I request to be added to the upcoming school board meeting agenda to explain to the school board the history of what I adamantly believe to be the District’s retaliation against me for engaging in legally protected behavior. I am attaching here a short summary of my concerns.

When I last petitioned the Board to review the District’s handling of their investigation into me, I provided a summary of my concerns about the investigation. Once my access to my school computer was restored, I discovered that some of the timeline I presented in that summary was inaccurate. I regret that. It was the best I was able to construct from memory given my lack of access to any of the documents that would have clarified the timeline. Nevertheless, the substance of that summary – that the investigation was being conducted in bad faith – remains valid. The evidence of the bad faith has only grown as the investigation progressed.

Should the Board presume that each of the concerns I raised then were simply misperceptions or unfortunate consequences of circumstances at the time, I hope that my sharing with them the history that preceded this investigation might help them to see clearly the retaliation I allege.

Again, my ongoing request is simply that the Board hear out my case. It surely wearies the District that I am so reluctant to just be forced out quietly. Please consider the prospect, however implausible it may sound to you, that I genuinely believe my story and that I genuinely believe I have compelling evidence of vicious behavior that can only serve to undermine the quality of our school district. You might just discover that I am more whistleblower than lunatic.

Appreciatively,
[The Major]

My emails to the Board have made it clear that this is not a case of my simply disagreeing with how Dr. Bauman adjudicated a dispute I was having with administrators beneath him. My problem was specifically with him and his abuse of authority. Thus they were the only ones (short of a district court) that could resolve the issue. However, they showed no willingness to even investigate the concern, despite being obligated by both Board policy and state law.

The purpose of the school board is to exercise oversight over the school district. Its own policies concerning its duties and responsibilities include:

Policy BBA: SCHOOL BOARD POWERS AND DUTIES

The Board of Education is a representative body elected by the registered voters of the Ozark R-VI School District of Christian County. It is the purpose and the role of the Board of Education to exercise general supervision over the schools of the district, and to ensure that the schools are maintained as provided by the state statutes, the rules and procedures of the Missouri State Board of Education and/or the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the policies, rules and procedures of the school district. In addition, the Board is accountable to the electorate, and shall be responsive to the educational needs and the imposed financial constraints of the district. In conducting its various functions as the legislative and policy-making authority for the district, the Board recognizes the following general responsibilities as paramount: . . .

• Executive -- The Board shall employ a superintendent to serve as the chief executive officer of the district. The Board shall delegate, in writing to the superintendent, the executive and administrative duties and responsibilities necessary for carrying out its policies, and shall hold the superintendent accountable.
. . .
• Judicial -- The Board is responsible for acting as a court of appeals for the professional and support staff members, students, and the district patrons when issues involve Board policies and their fair implementation.

Policy BBF: SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER ETHICS
Members of the Ozark R-VI School District Board of Education accept the responsibility to improve public education in the Ozark R-VI School District. To that end, all Board members will: . .

o Render all decisions based on the available facts and independent judgment rather than succumbing to the influence of individuals or special interest groups.

o Become informed concerning the issues to be considered at each meeting.

The school board’s refusal to provide the hearing required by board policy and state law is both disturbing and revealing. The board is supposed to be independent and impartial. If so, the board itself has nothing at stake. They have nothing to fear. Why would they not want to hold the hearing? The only reason for the board to show any reluctance toward this hearing is that they favor a certain finding for the hearing and are concerned that the evidence won’t support that finding. A genuinely neutral board should be interested in uncovering the truth. Their resistance compellingly suggests two highly incriminating details about the board:

1. They are not independent and impartial, as they are required to be.
2. They strongly fear that the evidence will implicate the district leadership and are eager to avoid having that evidence presented in a public hearing.

"My emails to the Board have made it clear that this is not a case of my simply disagreeing with how Dr. Bauman adjudicated a dispute I was having with administrators beneath him. My problem was specifically with him and his abuse of authority."

After a new school board president was elected in April, the new board president began reaching out to teachers and even some parents to get a sense of their concerns about the District. She invited a parent to share her phone number with teachers who wanted to voice concerns directly to her. Accordingly, I called and left voicemail requesting an informal discussion. She didn’t respond. So I followed up with a text. She didn’t respond. I then emailed both her and the new board vice-president, requesting an opportunity to discuss my case with them.

From: [The Major]
Sent: Thursday, May 5, 2022 11:55 AM
To: 'SarahAdams-Orr@OzarkTigers.org' <SarahAdams-Orr@OzarkTigers.org>; 'PattyQuessenberry@OzarkTigers.org' <PattyQuessenberry@OzarkTigers.org>
Subject: Request to meet

Ms. Orr, Ms. Quessenberry,

I request to meet with the two of you to discuss my suspension from teaching and the conditions prompting my resignation from the school district. Some of my story I shared previously with the school board by email. I received no response to it. In fact, every request I have made so far to speak to the board has been denied or ignored by the district. Since my last disclosure to the board, I have received a Notice of Deficiency that is even more appalling than the retaliatory actions that preceded it. I am concerned that only one perspective, the superintendent’s, has really been presented to the board. I would appreciate your giving me an opportunity to provide another perspective. If I am right in my concerns, there is a real crisis within our school district that requires school board intervention. If I am wrong, you will at least have heard me out. Please let me know if you are open to our meeting.

Thank you,
[The Major]

"After a new school board president was elected in April, the new board president began reaching out to teachers and even some parents to get a sense of their concerns about the District."

I received, in response, an email from the Board secretary that stated, simply, “On behalf of the board, thank you for your email and request. The board will review your request.” Both the president and vice president were CC’ed on that email. After receiving no further response to my request, I then emailed both the president and vice president a list of difficult questions about my case that I felt warranted a response. That email was as follows.

From: [The Major]

Sent: Tuesday, May 10, 2022 10:22 AM To: 'SarahAdams-Orr@OzarkTigers.org' <SarahAdams-Orr@OzarkTigers.org>; 'PattyQuessenberry@OzarkTigers.org' <PattyQuessenberry@OzarkTigers.org> Subject: Difficult questions about my case

Ms. Adams-Orr, Ms. Quessenberry,
Although I am departing the school district, I continue to have grave concerns about how my case has been handled by the District and ignored by the Board. I offer some questions for your consideration which I would appreciate as your viewing as more than mere rhetorical questions.

1. When inviting me to resign several months ago, Dr. Carson informed that if I did not then I would receive a Notice of Deficiency. He further informed me that no on[e] survives a Notice of Deficiency. Or rather, in his eighteen years at the District office, no one had recovered from one. They all end up being fired or resigning under pressure. If this is true, that no one survives a Notice of Deficiency, what does this say about the school district? When Mr. Chambers read me my Notice of Deficiency, he assured me that the district’s goal was to see me return to good standing and have a long and successful future with the District. The content of the Notice of Deficiency demonstrated that his assertion was wholly disingenuous. The putative purpose of this notice is to give teachers an opportunity to reform their conduct before being terminated. What does it say about the school district – or the teacher’s confidence in their administrators – that it has evidently NEVER succeeded in fulfilling this purpose in the past 18 years?

2. If you have taken the time to read the abbreviated background I have previously provided you on my case, do you believe I was acting within my authority to:
• Resist being directed to coach an extracurricular team on top of the one I was already coaching, while not being paid for either one, and still learning my teaching position?
• Invite JROTC parents to share with the District their thoughts on the District’s plan to relocate JROTC to the Ozark Innovation Center?
• Report to the Army the District’s directive that we ignore elements of Army JROTC uniform regulations?
If you believe I was NOT within my authority in any one of those instances, would you please elaborate, given that the default interpretation is that I was well within my authority.

3. Do you presume that the timing of my last act of resistance and my suspension a week later bear any relationship to each other? Or do you presume their timing to be complete coincidence? Do you presume my resistance had ANY impact on the subsequent handling of the case?

4. The stated purpose of my suspension was to enable the school district to investigate a concern about one particular lesson I taught. Do you believe that an honest investigation into that particular lesson would take three months and would dredge up every bit of dirt they could dredge up or make up on me over the duration of my employment in the District?

5. Do you believe that an honest investigation into one particular lesson I taught would decline to allow me to hear the charges or weigh in on them for more than two weeks?

6. Do you believe that an honest investigation into one particular lesson I taught would decline to interview any of the audience, students or teachers, to that lesson?

7. What degree of due process ought to be afforded an accused teacher?

8. Do you believe an accused teacher should have access to the evidence of charges against him/her, especially when he/she alleges that the charges range from deliberately distorted to blatantly false?

9. Whatever level of confidence you have in our present District administrators, do you believe there are sufficient procedural safeguards to prevent their simply making up outlandish claims and discharging a District employee on the basis of those claims? If you believe such safeguards exist, would you kindly point them out to me?

10. Do you believe the Board can gain an honest perspective on a disputed case by hearing only the District administrators’ perspective on it (i.e., not also allowing the targeted teacher to prevent an alternative narrative)?

11. What degree of “evidence” should the District have before raising an allegation? To what degree should the District attempt to verify an allegation against a District employee before asserting it as true?

12. What degree of integrity should be required in a Professional Improvement Plan or Notice of Deficiency? Is it acceptable for a District employee providing a PIP [this should actually have read “providing a Notice of Deficiency”] to respond to the targeted teacher’s protests of “that claim is absolutely false and nothing even remotely like that ever happened” with “It doesn’t matter whether it is true as long as you don’t do it in the future”?

13. Does the District have the authority to prohibit me from participating in ALL extra-curricular activities with ANY student in the District, even when the activity (e.g., Boy Scouts, Sunday School, youth soccer, etc.) is not school-sponsored? If so, could you please explain the source of that authority?

I believe all of these questions will prove difficult and uncomfortable. All of them allude to glaring impropriety in the District’s campaign against me. And there are many more I would happily raise if you are open to considering the possibility that we really do have a malicious, tyrannical administration. Despite the difficulty of these questions, I would your appreciate your making a genuine effort to answer them.

Thank you,
[The Major]

The next day, I received an email from the Board president stating that my case was “permanently closed” and that no member of the Board would ever communicate with me about my case again in any form. Her email stated:

This email will respond to your continuing requests to meet with the Board of Education. These requests have included requests to speak to the Board in open and/or closed session during a scheduled meeting of the Board, and to meet with one or more Board members outside of Board meetings. The Board has reviewed, in detail, the large volume of information pertaining to your situation, including the information you have provided, and is in full support of the administration. Therefore, this email is to inform you that this matter is permanently closed. Accordingly, the Board, whether collectively or individually, will not engage in further discussion with you regarding your personnel issues or anything related to those issues. This applies to all communications, whether in person, via email, during or outside of Board meetings, or through any other means. Further attempts to discuss your personnel situation with the Board will receive no reply.

"I received an email from the Board president stating that my case was “permanently closed” and that no member of the Board would ever communicate with me about my case again in any form."

My previous communications with the Board have made clear that what I presented to them was only intended to be enough to persuade them to grant me an audience. I even reiterated in my preceding email to the president and vice president that what I had previously sent them was only part of my story. Still, they purport to be adequately informed about my case without ever talking to me and knowing that I had more information I felt was critical for them to hear. They felt comfortable dismissing my case without ever hearing it, despite being required by both law and their own Board policies to grant me a hearing.

Interestingly, in Facebook chatter between Board members and some concerned parents around this time, one of the Board members chastised parents for showing sympathy to my story when they had only heard one side of it. Two aspects of blatant hypocrisy arise here: first, the District is accusing parents of not considering information that parents have been begging the District for but which the District refuses to divulge (while some of this is protected personnel information, it most certainly isn’t all); second, the District is accusing parents of not considering both sides of the story while refusing to hear my side of the story, even when required to do so!

Interestingly, the Board member that chastised parents is an attorney and should have a better sense of what justice and fairness require – unless, of course, unless he has lost his interest in them in defense of an administration he is determined to defend whether right or wrong.

"Interestingly, the Board member that chastised parents is an attorney and should have a better sense of what justice and fairness require – unless, of course, unless he has lost his interest in them in defense of an administration he is determined to defend whether right or wrong."

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