Friday, May 23, 2014

Huff in 2012: Don't write about my speaking: I have received threats

Just how much money Joplin R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff has been making over the past three years as a motivational speaker remains in doubt.

As noted in the Turner Report Thursday, Huff mentions no speaking fees during those years in the financial disclosure forms he is required to file with the Missouri Ethics Commission. Superintendents are required to sign the forms, signifying that the information they have given is the truth, under penalty of perjury.

Yet a representative of the Washington Speakers Bureau says Huff speaks frequently and charges $8,000 plus travel expenses for those speeches.

And over the past two years, Huff has gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent the public and his employers, the Board of Education, from knowing just how many speeches he has been making and where those speeches are taking place.

In July 2013, I wrote about one of his attempts to curb information..

In the months following the May 22, 2011, Joplin Tornado, as I tried to link to as many tornado-related items as I could on The Turner Report, one thing I did on a regular basis was to publicize when Joplin officials were going to speak at various locations.

During that time, I posted stories about speaking engagements by such local notables as City Manager Mark Rohr, Fire Chief Mitch Randles, Emergency Director Kent Stammer, and Joplin R-8 Assistant Superintendent Angie Besendorfer.

I made it a practice when I knew about these speaking engagements to run the stories before, then to check afterwards and see if there were any articles or YouTube videos and to post them or links to them, also.

A few months after the tornado, I received an e-mail from Joplin R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff asking me not to run any more posts before his speaking engagements because he "had received threats" and he was "worried" about his family.

I never asked about the nature of those threats and I have never heard anything about them since.

I stopped writing about Huff's speeches at that point. After all, he was my boss and it was clear he did not want the speaking engagements mentioned.

Huff also wasted no time jumping on the Joplin High School students whose Joplin Schools Watch blog revealed in July 2013 that he was making $8,000 per speech from his speeches. Shortly after the post that included the recording of the Washington Speakers Bureau representative saying how often Huff made speaking appearances and how much money he made, Huff started a full-court press designed to muzzle the students.

Pressure was placed on both of the high school students, as well as their parents. The blog was eventually shut down.

Nothing else was written about the speaking engagements by the students after their initial post on Joplin Schools Watch, but the effects of that post concerned C. J. Huff enough that he proposed a story on the school district's travel expenses to the Joplin Globe, which assigned reporter Emily Younker. The story ran only a few days after the Joplin Schools Watch item.

In that story, it was revealed that the district had spent $89,000 for Huff's thank-you tour following the tornado. Jeff Flowers, who was board president at the time, said the board had approved all of the travel, and in one paragraph, the Washington Speakers Bureau situation was addressed with Huff saying the Bureau had approached him, he had made only one speech for them and that was it.

Nothing more was ever mentioned about the subject in the Joplin Globe.

Maybe he told Carol Stark he and his family had been receiving threats.


Anonymous said...

when will Joplin wake up and fire his ass

Anonymous said...

I'm now really wondering or better yet hoping there will be an audit of his finances by the ethics commission. What does it take for concerned parents and the school board to take action? someone needs to Huff and Puff and Blow his house down.

Anonymous said...

didn't someone say at some point in a comment on this blog that Huff lives in Arbor Hills? I wonder if Huff goes and visits Mike Pence down the street in Arbor Hills.......I recall and could be mistaken that Pence was a big Flowers supporter (Flowers who is now without powers)and Pence was passing out flyers at the Y in support of corrupt city council members

Anonymous said...

This is off topic, but I have a question that I would like an answer to. The teachers of Joplin Schools have been asked to participate in a survey of what our schools are doing right and what needs improvement. Tina Smith keeps pushing everyone to participate. She has added that this survey is completely confidential. I would love to have the operatunity to voice my concerns, but not at the expense of my career. Do you know if survey monkey is completely anonymous? Thanks

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @7:29 PM: certainly don't do an honest survey from a district network. Don't know if they're sophisticated enough, but they can intercept everything anyone does on it.

As for its anonymity, from the site itself:

Are my survey responses anonymous and secure?


It is up to each survey creator to decide if they want to collect responses anonymously, or to capture respondents’ personal information. Respondents’ personal information can be captured by the survey creator in two ways: by expressly asking you for your personal details (name, address, etc.), and by configuring the survey to automatically capture your IP address and/or email address.

It then goes into more technical details. The district can always get your IP address and the time you filled out the survey (if they're paying real money to Survey Monkey), but without cooperation from your ISP, e.g. AT&T or Cable One, that's a dead end.

However, there are several additional ways anonymity could be compromised, and given that the basic form of a Survey Monkey URL is

Those last 7 characters could be used to encode your email address, although that only works if the district sent each teacher an individual email. And if there's anything after those 7 characters you can bet it's not anonymous.

If there's nothing after the 7 characters, compare the 7 you got with another teachers. If they're different, you can be quite sure it's not anonymous.

And as mentioned there are other potential pitfalls, they'd tend to require trickery from the district in the email they sent you.

My advice, especially since I trouble believing district headquarters is truly interested in your opinion, is to fill it out---if they're doing tracking, they'll know who didn't---with harmless answers. Save the honest concerns for when the district eventually comes under new and less dangerous management.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Debbie Fort could get a TRULY anonymous survey going about what all staff really thinks.
I can tell them, they need to start by treating EVERYONE with respect. Treating non-certified staff with no respect is a Besendorfer legacy. Let the teachers actually teach. They claim to be giving teachers time to collaborate but all they really do is suck up their time with manufacturing data.
They preach building a positive, team culture but all they've really done is put everyone into a hide-and-survive kind of mode.
Besendorfer and Huff came in and destroyed most of what was built and was good. It's time to do to them what they did---get rid of all of them and what they've done.

Anonymous said...

I was told by a wise old man every rat get"S caught in a trap once they smell the cheese