Saturday, June 20, 2015

R-8 taxpayer money used to promote C. J. Huff for national awards

Those thinking of hiring departing Joplin R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff to speak at their events at $8,000 a pop (plus travel expenses) can read the long list of awards he has won, primarily for heroism following the May 22, 2011, Joplin Tornado, on his Washington Speakers Bureau page:

Huff is well-respected by the community and his peers as a man of vision and a man that keeps his word. People magazine named him as one of their "2011 Heroes Among Us." Other recognitions include the 2013 Missouri “Superintendent of the Year” award, one of four finalists for the 2013 National Superintendent of the Year award, 2012 Missouri “National Education Association Horace Mann Award”, National School Public Relations Association’s “Bob Grossman Leadership in School Communications Award”, eSchool News 2012 “Tech-Savvy Superintendent Award”, Missouri Association of School Administrators 2012 “Pearce Award”, Missouri School Public Relations Association 2012 “Administrator of the Year” and the 2011 American School Board Journal Magna Award/Grand Prize Winner for “Joplin’s Bright Futures” initiative focusing on community engagement and drop-out prevention..

The Turner Report has confirmed through current and former employees, as well as people in the Joplin business community that district employees submitted Huff's name and filled out paperwork promoting their boss for nearly all of these awards- from templates that had already been approved by Huff.

The promotional work, in most cases, was directed by current Bright Futures USA CEO Kim Vann, who at the time was wearing two hats, being paid $20,000 a year to head the not-for-profit, while pulling down a full-time salary as the Joplin R-8 School District's executive director of communications and community development.

A major part of Vann's job, administration sources told the Turner Report, was accompanying Huff on most of his speeches and serving as a highly-paid assistant. As noted in earlier posts, Vann was responsible for keeping two calendars for Huff- one for the public and the media, and the other which listed his speaking engagements and various trips to promote Bright Futures USA.

During 2014, Huff spent the equivalent of four weeks of workdays on those speaking engagements, none of which were Joplin R-8 business.

One of Vann's responsibilities during those trips was to make sure that Huff had tissues to use as he related the story of what happened during the tornado.

Vann's efforts to promote Huff were also considered part of her duties as community development director.

In at least one instance, Huff's unsuccessful attempt to become the national Superintendent of the Year (he was a finalist as noted above), the work to promote Huff for the position was mostly done by Bright Futures employees, including at least one who was hired by Bright Futures USA, but then was paid by R-8 taxpayers.

In addition to submitting paperwork, the taxpayers also paid for R-8 employees to contact local business leaders and politicians, asking them to submit letters of recommendation for Huff for awards. In each instance, the community leaders were provided suggestions for some of the nice things they could say about Huff.


Anonymous said...

Ah, now we have some white line, crystal clear corruption. Maybe not technically illegal (but the board should, at some point, make this sort of thing a firing offense), but many an ambitious prosecutor has made life absolute hell for others much less or not at all guilty of corruption or a crime. In the case of Huff, that won't happen prior to countering his reputation of saving all of Joplin, much less the school district, from the tornado and our ignorant ways.

Anonymous said...

Wow! What will they think of next?

Anonymous said...

Corruption at its finest. This makes me wanna puke. Huff, Vann, so took advantage of the taxpayers. His tears are so phony, he should be an actor. Cry on demand. Too bad the truth can't be heard in Washington...The Huff & Puff 5 hit Joplin big time. Still wondering, where did all the money go...

Anonymous said...

This is just scratching the surface of what was done in Joplin's version of Bright Futures and Bright Futures USA. And, if district money really was used to pay these people, then that is a misappropriation of funds, much like using Title One funds to pay secondary teaching and learning coaches and stating that those coaches are reading teachers in elementary schools.

Huff is a crook, but he has had a whole lot of help from his Board and from the community and politicians. That's why they are so desperate to keep control. If they lose control, then BF, BF USA, and the school foundation (Gatz is its treasurer) can be investigated.

Anonymous said...

You are correct. There is a cash drawer. Huff and Vann helped themselves out of it regularly in front of witnesses. The IRS needs to visit them in a hurry.

Anonymous said...

It's good to know that it really was all for the kids.

In awe. said...

Where is Annie to lead us all in the wave? That would make it all better.

Stay positive!

Anonymous said...

I think this sums up CJ Huff best