Derisive website comments linked to home of Fox school chief : News

Derisive website comments linked to home of Fox school chief : News

I have posted about similarities of Fox and Lee's Summit.  That is all I am going to say.

Derisive website comments linked to home of Fox school chief

JEFFERSON COUNTY • Computers traced to the homes of Fox School District Superintendent Dianne Critchlow and another Fox administrator were used to make nasty allegations about three critics of the district, said an attorney representing those critics in a libel lawsuit.
Dan Herman filed suit in February on behalf of Arnold residents Sam Ferry, Rich Simpson and Michelle Tyler. All have been critical of the Fox School District, which sent them letters in recent years warning them to tone down their behavior or face legal action. They say they have become the victims.
But the defendant in their suit is listed as John Doe because they did not know who made the comments on a website. Now they do, Herman said.
He said the comments had been traced to computers registered to Critchlow’s home address as well as that of Angela Burns, who is married to Dan Baker, an assistant superintendent. Burns is an assistant principal in the district, Herman said. They also were traced to the home of William Brengle, who retired as an assistant principal at Fox High School in 2009 after more than 30 years in the district.
Critchlow could not be reached for comment. A woman who answered the door at the home of Baker and Burns declined to comment. Brengle said he was very careful in his posts not to be libelous.
“I was only defending the district. I wasn’t bashing anyone,” he said Friday.
The suit, filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court, claims libelous comments were made about Ferry, Simpson and Tyler on a Topix website between Jan. 15 and May 15 last year.
People using screen names including “Seriously” and “must be drugs” made false and humiliating statements about them on the website, according to the suit.
The comments were made on a forum discussing nepotism allegations in the Fox district.
The Fox School Board was widely criticized for hiring Kelly Nash, who was an assistant manager at a McDonald’s restaurant and is the daughter-in-law of then-board president Linda Nash, as food services director in 2012 for $65,000 a year, even though she had only a high school diploma and lacked the certifications and education required by other districts.
The district has since tightened its anti-nepotism policies.
Some posts accused Ferry, Simpson and Tyler of depravity and criminal acts, including sex with animals and possession of child pornography, according to the suit.
Herman subpoenaed Topix, which turned over the IP addresses, which are specific codes assigned to each computer, connected to the offensive comments.
Jefferson County Circuit Judge Gary Kramer ordered last month AT&T and Charter Communications to provide the names, addresses and phone numbers connected with those IP addresses.
The information gleaned from that order showed the majority of those comments came from computers at the Critchlow household, Herman said.
Dianne Critchlow’s husband is Jamie Critchlow, director of a program for at-risk students and a former Fox High School football coach.
Dianne Critchlow is one of the top-paid superintendents in the state, according to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Her base pay for the 2013-2014 school year was $260,598, the third-highest in the state behind the superintendents of Lee’s Summit and Kirkwood schools.
Simpson, one of the plaintiffs in the libel suit, has decried Critchlow’s salary on his blog, Fox C-6 Watchdogs, where he has advocated for the district to be more transparent about its finances.
“It’s retaliation for my clients’ criticism of their job performances,” Herman said.
Dianne Critchlow previously announced she was planning to retire in 2015 at age 49.
She was hired as superintendent in 2004 when her name was Dianne Brown. Her salary at that time was $133,000.
Previously, she had been the district’s assistant superintendent, and was principal and assistant principal of Lone Dell Elementary School in Arnold. She also was a teacher at Holy Child Middle School in Arnold and at Lone Dell Elementary.
Emails and phone messages left for her and Jamie Critchlow at the district central office were not returned.
The email sent to Dianne Critchlow generated an out-of-office message saying she is on leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act.
The Fox School Board held a closed-session meeting Thursday, but members could not be reached about what was discussed.
Herman said he expected to amend the lawsuit to include the names of those traced through IP addresses. He would not say whether he intended to add the district as a defendant.


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