Monday, June 15, 2015
Administrator's husband rips Fort, Koch, Martucci, calls me a character assassin
The petitions and other materials which the Turner Report received after submitting a Sunshine Law request to the Jasper County Commission show the types of pressure, subtle and not so subtle, that the Commissioners received before they made their decision to appoint Gary Nodler, Sallie Beard, and Ron Gatz to the Joplin R-8 Board of Education.
A half dozen people, including blogger and frequent Joplin Globe guest columnist Anson Burlingame, submitted their names as board candidates, the husband of one of C. J. Huff's administration team ripped into board members Jeff Koch, Debbie Fort, and Jennifer Martucci, as well as the author of this post, and one candidate withdrew his name, saying that Lynda Banwart was the only board member who wasn't crazy.
After Kent Pratt, an official at Leggett & Platt, wrote Commissioner Darieus Adams to tell of his interest, a week later, Pratt changed his mind. "I know you probably did," he wrote, "but please throw my application in the trash...all of these people left (except Lynda) are crazy!!!"
Dean Orem, the husband of retiring R-8 administrator Lisa Orem (one of those who was being cited by state auditors as not being qualified for their positions), praised C. J. Huff and ripped into those who criticize him. In his e-mail to commissioners Adams and Jim Honey, Orem wrote the following:
I have known and interacted with both of you a considerable number of times throughout the years, both for business and for pleasure. I hope that during those occasions I conducted myself with honesty and professionalism. I am sending this note to you both because I am aware that the Jasper County Commissioners will soon be tasked with helping the Joplin School Board fill their three existing vacancies.
I have resided in Joplin since 1975 and have not felt it necessary until now to make my concerns and thoughts known to an outside authority. However, when confronted with the facts regarding a situation I consider to be potentially very injurious to the present and future students of Joplin Schools, I can longer contain myself.
As you both are aware, my wife Lisa currently is employed as Director of Special Services within the Joplin School System. She will retire at the end of June after 17 years in Joplin and an additional 17 in Oklahoma. This note however does not concern Lisa or her observations, at least directly.
During the time Lisa and I have been together, I have met, interacted, and yes, had the opportunity to assess and judge the skills of almost every principal, director, assistant principal, assistant superintendent, superintendent, and school board member in Joplin. During the years since the infamous Joplin tornado this entire team, teachers and innumerable others included, have been faced with huge challenges and constraints. The morning following the tornado I would have bet the house that three things were evident. First, school could not be completed for that school year. Second, school startup would be delayed during the next year. Third, it would be at least a decade before all 10 (six destroyed and four damaged) schools would be repaired or replaced.
As of this date, it appears as if two of my bets were completely wrong and I can report why. Why? Because the superintendent C. J. Huff, the assistant superintendent Angie Besendorfer, the directors Jason Cravens, Janet Earl, Traci House, Lisa Orem, and the entire school board simply would not allow anyone or anything to frustrate or compromise their efforts to identify, proof, justify, and acquire the latest and best technology available to enhance the learning experience for the students of Joplin and do so within a time span nobody but they thought possible.
All of the accomplishments were due to brains, commitment, and constantly working 60 hour work weeks until all the tasks have been nearly completed. For the past four years, my wife has been working a tremendous number of hours as have most of the teachers, administrators, and support staff. To my knowledge, none of this group received, or asked, for additional favors or compensation. They took on the challenge of one of America's most deadly and damaging storms and met the challenge!
As you consider the appointments that are now open on the Joplin School Board, I would suggest that one question that might come to mind is, Why do the openings exist at this time? From my vantage point, this question has many answers. For the sake of brevity, I am not going to list and expound on each surviving Board member and provide a list of allegations of which I am aware (as) I am sure you both are as well). Briefly, I will say that the agendas of Dr. Fort, Mrs. Jennifer Martucci, and Board President Jeff Koch seem to be at odds with the needs of the children of Joplin. Dr. Fort has shown a strong personal dislike for Dr. Huff since her election and has openly clashed during meetings.
Martucci has been opposed to the school boundary changes since their inception (due to students moving after the tornado) and also seems to hold Dr. Huff responsible. Today's "confusion" regarding School Board members Koch and Martucci regarding the process of "The Swearing In" of Jim Kimbrough is an example of the huge disconnect that now exists.
In my view, something appears to be festering beneath the surface as the three newest School Board members seem to be attempting an end run on the public, and most importantly, on the children of Joplin. I do believe that the rumored threats against Randy Steele (leading to his resignation) the rumored misstatements and public releases regarding Dr. Huff's private personnel file, in violation of his terms of employment, and the ever expanding pool of scum provided by the fired former Joplin teacher Randy Turner, who has most recently been, through is blog, assassinating both the character and qualifications of School Board member Lynda Banwart and anyone else willing to stand up to Fort, Martucci, Koch, or Kimbrough are an orchestrated attempt to subvert the results of the most recent election.
I am not familiar with the statutes that bring the Jasper County Commission into the Joplin School Board election process, but I pray that your involvement does not further empower The Group of Three who seem most intent on the pursuit of personal agendas at the expenses of Joplin's schoolchildren.
Thanks for your time. Your friend, Dean Orem
And then there was Anson Burlingame, who sent four e-mails to the Commissioners sharing his knowledge with them. I will post his comments later tonight.
(Complete disclosure- Mr. Orem's wife, Lisa Orem, is the one who filed the complaint in April 2013 that ended up getting me fired.)