In 10 hours of long, drawn out testimony, Huff's hired gun, a Kansas City lawyer named Shellie Guin, laid out a case against me that eventually led to my firing, by a 7-0 vote of the Board of Education.
Essentially I was fired for three reasons:
1. No Child Left Alive was "dangled" in front of students who could have read it, though to this day they have never found one who actually did. Originally, they had charged me with assigning it to the students.
2. I did not have permission from administration to publish Scars from the Tornado, a book which included student writing about the tornado and our first year in the warehouse school. This was despite the fact that I had kept East Middle School Principal Bud Sexson informed numerous times throughout the year about my book and two of my witnesses, the president and treasurer of the East PTO testified that Sexson had told them about the book and was excited about it- 10 months before he claimed he first heard of it.
3. I recorded my four-and-a-half minute" interrogation by H. R. Director Tina Smith, which they claimed violated board policy, though the policy they claimed it violated had nothing to do with the situation. And they must have known that, since a year later, they did put it in the board policy.
I was fully aware that there was only a slight chance that I was going to come out on top. School boards, as we have seen in Joplin, invariably back their superintendents no matter what they do. The difference in this hearing, as anyone (except Anson Burlingame) who sat through it will tell you is they wasted no opportunity to try to assassinate my character through a carefully orchestrated group of witnesses, almost all from the Huff Administration.
I am not going to go through everything that was said. I will let you read about that in the portion of my new book Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud that is devoted to that topic, but I don't think there is anyone who would say that day did not start the beginning of the end for C. J. Huff in Joplin.
I am not saying that because of anything I have done necessarily, though I certainly have brought a number of the problems in the Huff Administration to light. What the people who watched that hearing discovered, and even those who saw just brief snippets of it on the news or read about in the Joplin Globe, is just how vicious C. J. Huff and many of the people who work around him are.
My hearing was no different from the way they had behaved in other situations, but this was the first time their tactics had been put on display for the public.
The fact that these people, who have lowered the standards of education in Joplin year after year (not just since the tornado) and who have run hundreds of teachers, many of them veteran teachers who gave everything they had for the kids (and not just used that phrase as a closing for e-mails), are still running the school district is a slap in the face to every taxpayer.
As subsequent events have conclusively proven, the C. J. Huff who was in that hearing room two years ago was no aberration. The smiling Dr Jekyll of Bright Futures masks a Mister Hyde who has damaged lives and wasted millions of dollars.
It is time to make C. J. Huff someone else's problem.