So MDE was Down Investigating Bay Waveland School Board Trustee Casey Favre……

Folks I could go three for three posting quotes from Macbeth but not today. This past weekend I almost felt like we were treated to some old news and in a way it was old news:

Bay-Waveland School District retains accreditation status after MDE investigation – Cassandra Favre

A preliminary report of an investigative audit dated Dec. 4 from MDE to Superintendent Vikki Landry and BWSD School Board President Mike Bell – provided by BWSD board attorney Ronnie Artigues – stated that MDE found the district in violation of “Process Standards 1 and 1.1.; a board member is acting individually and outside of the role prescribed by law by giving directives to district staff members.” According to Standard 1, “the local school board’s responsibilities shall pertain to matters of setting policy and shall not interfere in the day-to-day operations of the school district that include, but are not limited to, such duties as those relating to personnel and management decisions.” 1.1 states that “the school board assigns all executive and administrative duties to the superintendent.”

And for all the lurid things found by MDE auditors late last year all it took was a response from School Board Attorney Ronnie Artigues supported by the minutes to cause MDE to withdraw their recommendation that the district be placed on probation.

On Jan. 30, MDE issued its response – also provided by Artigues – where MDE withdrew its recommendation for probation.

However, Office of Accreditation Executive Director Jo Ann Malone said in the letter that MDE “still has concerns regarding the allegations made that prompted the investigative audit” because the superintendent and other board members did not provide information in the district’s response that “confirms or contradicts MDE’s findings.”

“Therefore, the MDE will continue to monitor the actions of the board member(s) of the district throughout the 2017-2018 school year or until such time the Office of Accreditation determines the district is fully compliant with all process standards of the Mississippi Public Schools Accountability Standards, 2017,” Malone said in the response.

It took me a couple of reads of Cassandra’s story for everything to sink in and the bottom line is it appears some elements of school board, my guess being the faction that will soon find itself in the minority after Mayor Favre makes his pick top replace School Board Trustee Joan Thomas, dropped a dime on Mayor Favre’s son Casey and blew a whole bunch of smoke up MDE’s hiney about him and that brings us to the old news quality to Cassandra’s story because it was alluded to here on Slabbed in comments last October on the post Bay Taxpayers, Utility Users Stuck paying Excessive Post Katrina Engineering Firm Fees by commenter SuperStar. Starting with this comment and reading down it is clear SuperStar had no use for Casey Favre. Continue reading “So MDE was Down Investigating Bay Waveland School Board Trustee Casey Favre……”

Bay St Louis Civil Alert: Break out the Hip Waders, It’s getting deep

We have this from the last Bay St Louis Council meeting:

Bay residents urge city to keep Joan Thomas on school board ~ Stacey Cato

I watched the last Council meeting live stream and Stacey’s story was short a couple of paragraphs because not everyone that spoke was highlighted in her coverage. For example one of Ms. Thomas’ former students speak on her behalf which is a testimony to how well respected she is by her former students and that speaks well to her time as a teacher in the Bay Waveland Schools.

Another of the public speakers on the topic of the school board appointment was David Wells, who I thought did exceptionally well making his points in a way that most respectful of Ms. Thomas. For those that are uninitiated in the ways of a Facebook live stream is the audience gets throw cyber-rotten tomatoes in the form of emojis such as angry emoji, the ‘rolling on the floor laughing my ass off’ (ROTFLMAO) emoji etc and sure enough when Mr. Wells started his remarks so did the rotten tomatoes. Then something happened about half way into his time when the assembled audience in the Council chambers were told of the declining, abysmal accreditation scores at the elementary schools and let out an audible gasp. Mr. Wells spoke to nut and bolt issues and never in fact mentioned Ms. Thomas once by name in his remarks. It was very well done.

The point I want to make is a bit over a week ago I predicted there would be a change on the school board and I stand by that prediction. Here Slabbed has no inside intel, no leaks as to who Mayor Favre is appointing other than knowing it will not be Ms. Thomas. Somehow though, things have gotten nasty. As we have this public service alert from Facebook:

Chenaey Beaugez Cody, please change your settings so that we have the ability to share the post. Better yet, make it public.

Enter Ms. Courtney “Cody” Thomas, Trustee Thomas’ daughter with new information that Ms. Beaugez thought needed to be seen widely:

So, apparently, someone paid to spam the residents of the Bay-Waveland area with a text in attempt to disparage my mother, Joan Thomas. I will say three things:
1. It is disgusting that these people are using the school board to push their own political agendas.
2. Every vote that my mother cast was done with the best interest of the children of the BWSD in mind.
3. I challenge them to put the resume of ANY applicant next to Joan’s resume. Not lies, nor innuendo, but a side-by-side comparison of qualifications.

Councilman Smith offered his sympathies:

Larry Smith oh I am so sorry this has happened..i know it happened to you too! My heart goes out to you and your mom.

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage…

Sorry folks that was last post. What I mean is the Ca Ca is getting very deep. Continue reading “Bay St Louis Civil Alert: Break out the Hip Waders, It’s getting deep”

I’m not sure exactly where to start….

Slabbed has an embarrassment of riches and I do not have the time this morning to do any of it justice. In no particular order:

  1. Last week Slabbed was told by a source connected to Diamondhead City Government that Bay St Louis City Clerk Sissy Gonzales had interviewed for the City of Diamondhead Treasurer position with the Assistant City Manager in Diamondhead and that she would be leaving the Favre Administration. The agenda for the next Diamondhead City Council meeting indicates the Treasurer’s position would be authorized to pay up to $60,000. I would look for Gonzales to take the money and run.
  2. Last night, the Bay Waveland School Board by a 3-2 vote extended the contracts of Superintendent Landry and her brother John McGraw the business manager by four years.  Those voting yea were Bell, Kidd and Thomas.  The action was taken after a lengthy executive session and according to one of the trustees in the executive session not authorized to speak for the School Board the action was taken against the advice of School Board Attorney Ronnie Artigues. The contract extensions were not listed on the School Board meeting agenda in advance of the meeting according to Lana Noonan of the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government, who also attended the School Board meeting.
  3. Just weeks ago New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu was the darling of the national media with the New York Times even pumping Landrieu as a national political candidate after he removed the Confederate monuments from public display. Later today Slabbed will join the feeding frenzy on the Landrieu flash flood thanks to a reader that took an observation I made on Twitter to its natural conclusion. It is my hope the local media that has their teeth sunk into Mitch Landrieu’s hiney saves a bit of space for Slabbed to take a bite. 😉  This also illustrates why you should never get your local news from a national news outlet.

It is my hope the readers advance public knowledge of items 1 and 2 in comments, especially item 2, because the local school board really stepped out last night.

I’m afraid a very small group of people will be greatly disappointed and other Miscellany……

But that story isn’t to the point of development where we can share it just yet folks but indications are it will go something like this:

Next up is last week’s Bay-Waveland School Board meeting:

BWSD votes not to attend consolidation workshop ~ Cassandra Favre

Meantime up in Lamar County:

State Board of Education finalizes Lumberton schools’ consolidation ~ Ellen Ciurczak

The dynamics between Bay Waveland Schools and Lumberton are very different. Lumberton is a small community in a long term decline thus the declining student population. Bay St Louis in particular is a community whose population skews older due to its popularity as a retirement destination. Regardless what is now a three vote majority on the School Board wants no part of even discussing the possibility of administrative consolidation.

In other news there had to be a complete lack of internal controls over at Hancock Justice Court: Continue reading “I’m afraid a very small group of people will be greatly disappointed and other Miscellany……”

A couple of thoughts on last night’s recessed BSL City Council Meeting

Sadly folks, City Clowncilmen were spotted. Just a thought, but using a school board appointment to fight a political consultant’s third party agenda is ill advised on so many levels, including and especially invoking a new found love for ethics in government involving a school system which has systemic issues complying with basic state mandates on the subject [Lana Noonan’s first hand account for Slabbed is here]. Whoever put that bug in Councilman Buddy Zimmerman’s ear did well in making him appear to be a Clowncilman rather than a Councilman.

Equally amusing but not quite as inane was the question about whether or not a school level administrative assistant (school secretary) had any  contact with the children. My own experience is a teacher has a kid for a year, maybe two tops while the same child comes to the same office needing help at various times every year they attend school. By definition a school secretary would have more contact with the children over the long haul.

Just an observation but in all my time attending BSL Council meetings, never once did I see the previous council deny the Mayor such an appointment, even when the Mayor and Council were not otherwise getting along. That would have been true in February of this year had then Mayor Fillingame appointed Maurice Singleton to another term on the School Board.

I am told the reason Singleton was not reappointed when his term of office expired was because then Mayor Fillingame was trying to leverage Singleton into qualifying for City Council against Ward 3 Councilman Reed. It is for that reason that Slabbed presented this post, and accompanying artistic rendition of a Toolman. Last night’s short meeting was the final chapter in that particular saga, such chapter titled “disposal”. Continue reading “A couple of thoughts on last night’s recessed BSL City Council Meeting”

Imagine a School Board meeting……

Where the Superintendent’s report shown on the agenda is skipped (routinely) and the Business Manager brings budgetary information to the Board, including raising local property taxes by 4 mils percent, but forgets to bring all the backup documentation in case there were questions.

If you are imagining that all this went down last night on Second Street in Bay St Louis you would be correct. As for the public that was assembled wanting to learn about what is being down to improve the dismal 3rd grade reading scores….well those things are not discussed, at least in public anyhow.

In other news Slabbed has learned that a local law enforcement agency is investigating the public money the School District spent to send former School Board President Maurice Singleton to Denver Colorado after his term of office expired.

We have a complaint plus an election: A playing on the internet update

The mistake was lifting Ms. Ladner’s profile picture and marrying it to a fictitious profile bearing her name.

Identity Politics: The ‘real’ Susan Ladner files identity theft complaint with sheriff’s office ~ Dwayne Bremer

“Susan” is in good company as this is not Slabbed’s first rodeo on this general issue. I’ll add there are two tracks that can be taken to unmask anonymous commenters in civil and/or criminal with criminal being what I would term the fast track. There is a fair amount of law in this area that I will not go into but if I were the person behind Susan I’d lawyer up ASAP.

Next up is a very interesting read from the Hancock Supervisors meeting. If I were on the Board of Sups I think I’d want DMR Commissioner Jolynne Trapani at the next meeting to explain the deal that has been cut for the ice house no one knew anything about to be built on the beach in Hancock County.

Supers hot over ice house proposal ~ Dwayne Bremer

Just a thought but if this tidelands funded construction project is being dictated from on high in Jackson look for the usual suspects to be feeding from the trough.

Next up we had a new commenter stop in with us yesterday leaving his opinion of the current state of the Bay-Waveland School District. Brandon’s comment echoed an anonymous letter to Mayor Fillingame that has been making the rounds: Continue reading “We have a complaint plus an election: A playing on the internet update”

ICYMI: It Stinketh on both ends of the coast…..

Nunn Yabidnez was kind enough to give us his take on the Pascagoula’s mayor’s race in comments. It also pairs up well with Tyler Carter’s article last week in the Mississippi Press:

Pascagoula mayoral candidate addresses speculation regarding his residency

A few more links:

Eighteen candidates qualify for municipal races in Ocean Springs ~ Warren Kulo

Who’s running for city offices? Several Coast mayors face challengers ~ Paul Hampton

Over on the West side what we have is the proverbial culture of corruption:

Bay officers fired amid federal probe of ‘secret’ account, officials say ~ Wes Muller

Off books secret bank accounts in Mississippi local government is more common than one would think. Once uncovered nothing good ever happens for those involved, even if the secret account was created with the best of intentions. This is what Hizzoner told Wes for the above article:

Mayor Les Fillingame would not comment on the investigation but confirmed the officers’ resignations and terminations.

He was a little chattier with the Sea Coast Echo’s Dwayne Bremer:

“None of these officers were targets into the investigation of former Police Chief Mike De Nardo, he said. “They all left for various reasons. I really cannot get into specifics because they are all personnel issues, but I can say that two of them left to take jobs at other departments.”

It is at this point that I will disclose a number in the number 6. Continue reading “ICYMI: It Stinketh on both ends of the coast…..”

Other Voices | Lana Noonan: The Devious Bay Waveland School District

The “dog and pony” show that was put on for public view by the majority of the Bay-Waveland School Board, their attorney, Ronnie Artigues, and guest speaker, attorney Jim Keith on the night of February 15 led me to make a Public Records Request for the CD audio of the meeting.

Mr. Keith’s visit to the School District Board meeting was, I assume, at the suggestion of School Board Attorney, Artigues. The bill for his visit, however, will go to the taxpayers. Obviously the Advisory Opinion of Tom Hood, Director of the Mississippi Ethics Commission either didn’t impress Artigues or Keith, or they knew the majority of the board was dumb enough to follow their advice rather than an Ethics Board Opinion. This is not a first for this board and its attorney.

Hood’s Advisory Opinion pertained to the school board appointing Vikki Landry Superintendent. She is the sister of the Business Manager, John McCraw. Long story short, the ethics opinion cited state law and an AG Opinion prohibiting such nepotism, and held that one or the other should resign their position. The brother sister team could not serve together.

Artigues and Keith convinced the board, with the exception of Casey Favre, to defy state law.

Keith even went as far as to tell the board there were “other districts in the state that do this all the time.” When I confronted him after the meeting for the names of those districts, his reply to me was, ” I’d rather not name them. I don’t want them to get reported.” I replied, “Reported for what? You just told this board it was perfectly okay for sister and brother to work together in the Central Office in violation of State law.” I didn’t get any names.

My experience in acquiring the audio of this meeting is evidence of the devious behavior that goes beyond the board and their attorneys. Continue reading “Other Voices | Lana Noonan: The Devious Bay Waveland School District”

It’s all relative: Senate Bill, Ethics Opinion put the Kibosh on School District Nepotism

Earlier this month we did a series of posts on K-12 education, the last one disclosing a meeting Slabbed had with Bay-Waveland School Board Trustee Mike Bell. The meeting, which included local parent volunteer Cami Cornfoot and Lana Noonan, President of the Hancock County Alliance for Good GovernmentTM dealt with the hiring of a new Superintendent of Education and the optics involving the fact the new Superintendent’s Brother was the existing business manager of the school district.

We covered a lot of ground over the ensuing two plus hours of discussing the state of the school district. I reserved judgment as I was in it for the information and I wanted to hear the School Board’s side of things. Lana on the other hand was pretty staunch in holding her position that the resulting nepotism from the hire of Vikki Landry looked awful. Simply put, Lana held Trustee Bell’s feet to the fire as they would eventually nicely agree to disagree on the subject.

To kick start things we need to re-visit Cassandra Favre’s January 27, 2017 story, BWSD may need 2 assistant superintendents, which left her readers (myself included) with the distinct impression the School District’s Central office expanded by one Assistant Superintendent solely to ameliorate the problems created by hiring the sister of the business manager as the Superintendent. Trustee Bell took issue with that characterization saying the addition of the second Assistant Superintendent was a discreet event that was not done to solve the nepotism problem involving Landry but rather involved a more sweeping reorganization of the business office in a move that cut the amount of local funds spent on Administration.

First what I found strange was both the before and after job description matrices we were presented showed the business manager answering organizationally to one of the Assistant Superintendents, a setup I had never seen in my 20 plus years auditing and consulting with Mississippi K-12s. Every other school district that I have first hand knowledge had the School Business manager answering directly to the Superintendent which makes sense given the job responsibilities handled by the School Business Office. The “before reorganization chart” was thus strange for lack of a better term because the arrangement would have had the Business Manager answering to his sister when she was Assistant Superintendent. Turns out that was not the case but before I get to that let’s visit with Kate Royals at Mississippi Today:

A bill removing a provision in the law allowing school districts to hire relatives of the district’s superintendents and principals passed the Senate on Wednesday.

State law defines a relative as a spouse, child, sibling or parent. The bill would, however, put in place a process for spouses of superintendents to be hired.

This bill was sponsored by Sen. Grey Tollison at the request of the Mississippi Ethics Commission. Continue reading “It’s all relative: Senate Bill, Ethics Opinion put the Kibosh on School District Nepotism”