October 21, 2014

USD 231 emails debate board member protocol

Editor’s Note: The following string of emails was provided to The Gardner News. They are the result of a request made by a patron to USD 231 for a public document that was later supplied free by the Kansas Department of Education.
Ordinarily we would not print private e-mail addresses; however, several board members are using their personal email addresses to conduct public business rather than the USD 231 e mail addresses indicated on the district’s website.
The emails discuss whether elected BOE officials can intercede for their constituents and a potential closed door attorney/client session to discuss how to handle open records requests. KORA is regulated by state statute.
Also included is a letter received from the district’s attorney saying the district did not supply the  information due to an outstanding, unpaid KORA request. The patron continues to dispute the $122 charge, saying the request was not originally made as a KORA request, and the information he’s being billed for is not what he requested. To date, the board has declined his requests for appeal, and his name continues to be listed as an unpaid bill on the USD 231 website, despite his requests it be removed.

—–Original Message—–
From: Walter Hermreck
Sent: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 10:46 PM
To: Lisa Berg
Subject: SO 66 Report

Mrs. Berg,
Good day! Could you please email me the SO 66 Report for the 2013-2014 school
year. I spoke with a lady at KSDE and she said that it should be something you
can email to me and should not require a KORA request.
Thanks,
Walter Hermreck

On Sep 30, 2013, at 4:55 PM, Lisa Berg wrote:
Mr. Hermreck,
The 2013-14  SO66 deadline for submission to KSDE is October 10, 2013.  You may
submit a request to me following that date.
Thank you.
Lisa Berg

From: Walter Hermreck
Subject: Re: SO 66 Report
Date: October 16, 2013 12:47:00 PM CDT
To: Lisa Berg <BergL@usd231.com>
Good day!
Could you email me a copy of the SO 66 report for this SY when you have a
chance. I appreciate it greatly.
Thank you,
Walter Hermreck

From: Walter Hermreck
Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 8:53:06 AM (UTC-06:00) Central Time (US &
Canada)
To: Rob Shippy; Brad Chandler; Mary Nelson
Cc: Bill Gilhaus
Subject: Fwd: SO 66 Report
As recent as yesterday I requested the SO 66 from the District office. In
addition to the below email requests I called Lisa Berg Monday for a verbal
request and sent an additional email request yesterday. According to the KSDE
this is a document of public record and should not require a KORA request. The
document can be transmitted digitally in PDF format and should just take a
couple of minutes.
I’m not sure what it takes to get a copy of this document from our School
District. I have contacted 3 other districts in our area and had a copy within
the same day. Can either of you help me out?
Thanks,
Walter Hermreck

From: Rob Shippy [mailto:rmshippy@gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 9:33 AM
To: Lisa Berg; Bill Gilhaus; Mary Nelson; Brad Chandler
Subject: Fwd: Re: FW: SO 66 Report

Please send Walter this document.  It is apparently important to him and he has
asked repeatedly.
Thanks

From: Bill Gilhaus
Sent: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 5:32 PM
To: Rob Shippy
Cc: Brad Chandler; jrepshire@hotmail.com; Mary Nelson (gmgmn@embarqmail.com);
mherbert@centurylink.net; mlgrannell@yahoo.com; Rob Shippy; Tresa Boden
(sboden@kc.rr.com)
Subject: RE: Re: FW: SO 66 Report

Rob,
Over the past 18 months we have received well over 200 requests for information
from Mr. Hermreck, Ms. Hickman and the Gardner News.  The amount of time
district administration and support staff were spending on responding to these
requests was inordinate and detracting from the mission and goals of USD 231.
In addition, the information and data that was provided to these individuals was
not always reported in a fair and accurate manner through social media and the
Gardner News.  After discussion with the Board of Education, it was determined
we would always attempt to meet any reasonable requests for information from
patrons in a timely manner; however, not at the expense of losing our focus of
student learning.   Please understand we serve approximately 25,000 constituents
and over 10,000 parents yet 99.9% of requests for information derive from three
entities.
With respect to the SO66; none of the Johnson County School Districts post the
SO66 report on their websites.  The data from the SO66 is already publically
available via the KSDE School Finance website under the various reports that
allow patrons to view specific data points from the SO66 in relation to the same
data from every other school district in the state.  I provide the following
links directly to KSDE reporting where information from the SO66 may be
reviewed.
KSDE School Finance Reports and Publications http://ksde.org/Default.aspx?tabid=1870
KSDE Comparative Performance Fiscal System http://ksde.org/Default.aspx?tabid=1870
The information Mr. Hermreck requested has been provided to him by KSDE.
Lastly, I have offered to meet with Mr. Hermreck on numerous occasions and he
has declined.  Mr. Hermreck has also been invited to address the board and/or
administration with his questions at prior, as well as future Board Meetings.
He has declined.  Rob, if you would like to discuss this further, please feel
free to give me a call.

Dr. Bill Gilhaus
Superintendent of Schools
Gardner Edgerton School District

From: ShippyR@usd231.com
To: GilhausB@usd231.com; rmshippy@gmail.com
CC: ChandlerB@usd231.com; jrepshire@hotmail.com; gmgmn@embarqmail.com;
mherbert@centurylink.net; mlgrannell@yahoo.com; sboden@kc.rr.com
Subject: RE: Re: FW: SO 66 Report
Date: Thu, 24 Oct 2013 17:32:44 +0000
Dr. Gilhuas,
While I understand your frustration with the continued request of information, I
do not believe in this case sending the SO66 form as requested, would detract
from the focus of the staff to a level of inordinate effort. SO66 is a PDF
document that can be attached readily to an email. My concern is that in the
email thread Lisa explains to Mr. Hermreck it would be available on October
10th, and to submit his request then. I understand that you believe the
information may not be used in a positive light for the school district, but it
does not relieve the school district of the obligation to provide the public
with documents that are of public record.
If your intention was not to fulfill the request a simple email to
him on how to obtain the document should have been provided at the very least.
As you told me in a previous discussion as a school district we have nothing to
hide and the public is more than welcome to look at any document they legally
have the right to view. As noted by you, that Walter already has the document, I
am sure his repeated request and no reply by the school district will be used in
negative manner more effectively than if the document itself was delivered. I
see no reason for continued discussion on the topic at this time, as it appears
we are not going to agree on how this situation should be handled. This topic
may warrant discussion at the next board meeting. The new board may need to
re-determine the previous action of the former board on how to deal with these
requests. Thank you, for time and consideration in regards to this manner.

From: James Repshire [mailto:jrepshire@hotmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, October 24, 2013 7:41 PM
To: Rob Shippy; Bill Gilhaus; Rob Shippy
Cc: Brad Chandler; Mary Nelson (gmgmn@embarqmail.com); Mary Herbert; Mark
Grannell; Tresa Boden (sboden@kc.rr.com)
Subject: RE: SO 66 Report

Rob,

I will confess to you that after I received the e-mail string that came out last
evening, I put together a response to you that was written with perhaps not the
best of mindsets.  Put another way, I was angry when I wrote the message.  I
decided not to send it for that very reason.  Knee-jerk decisions made during
emotionally charged times typically don’t turn out to be the best decisions.  So
I determined to give myself a cooling off period.

Given that roughly 24 hour period and your latest addition to the “string,” I
feel compelled to express my thoughts on this matter.  To begin, I appreciate
that Dr. Gilhaus, when he responded to you, brought the whole of the board into
the conversation.  For reasons I can only speculate on, you apparently saw no
need to do so.

I was offended by your first e-mail to Dr. G.  That was the reason for my anger.
I will give you that your follow-up message has what I consider to be a
different tone and I have only a couple of small “issues” with it.  Your first
e-mail, in my opinion, was completely inappropriate and suggests to me that you
do not have a clear understanding of a public board, nor your role as a member
of the USD 231 Board of Education.

I quote; copied and pasted from your original e-mail in the string below:

“Please send Walter this document.  It is apparently important to him and he has
asked repeatedly.”

Rob, not only do I see this as a directive which implies to me that your
understanding of your role as a school board member is skewed, as a fellow
school board member I consider it a slap in the face that you would take it upon
yourself to direct Dr. Gilhaus to take this action or any other without you
having the consideration to obtain consent of your fellow board members.

I will refer to two sections of our board policy that address this matter.
First, Section 1310 “Conduct of Board Members.”  I quote directly from part C:

Individual Authority of Board Members–Except as otherwise provided by state law
or other Board policies, individual Board members have no authority over the
affairs of the District.  Therefore:

1.     A Board member’s interaction with the Superintendent and other
administrative staff must recognize the lack of authority vested in individual
Board members except when explicitly authorized by the Board;

Herein lies my first issue with your actions, Rob.  Individually, one board
member has absolutely no authority in regard to the day to day matters of
directing the school district.

I now refer to Section 1100, paragraph three to affirm this statement:

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the day-to-day management and administration of
the District’s affairs are to be entrusted to the Superintendent of Schools, and
his or her designees.  After discussion with the Board of Education, it was
determined we would always attempt to meet any reasonable requests for
information from patrons in a timely manner; however, not at the expense of
losing our focus of student learning.  Such authority may be exercised only by
the Board acting as a whole.

While in my opinion it seems these policies are so self-explanatory there is no
need to clarify them, I feel the need to do so since you seem to be unclear
about the matter.  As an individual board member you directed school employees
to send Mr. Hermwreck the forms he asked for.  If I were mistaken about my role
as a board member and there were not clearly defined policies in place to deal
with exactly these types of matters, I would have e-mailed district staff and
said, “Do not provide Mr. Hermwreck with the information he is requesting unless
it is mandated by state statute that you do so.”  If all board members were
confused about their individual roles, it is highly likely that our employees
would be faced with trying to determine which of the seven members opinion’s
they should try to appease.

In conclusion, Rob, I would like to address your second e-mail to Dr. Gilhaus.
Again I quote, copied and pasted from your e-mail below:

“I understand that you believe the information may not be used in a positive
light for the school district, but it does not relieve the school district of
the obligation to provide the public with documents that are of public record.”

We are not obligated to provide the public with any information requested unless
it is through a Kansas Open Records Request.

Quote, copied and pasted from your e-mail below:

“I see no reason for continued discussion on the topic at this time, as it
appears we are not going to agree on how this situation should be handled. This
topic may warrant discussion at the next board meeting.”

If you feel this topic may warrant discussion at the next board meeting, my
response is that this topic should have been discussed at the next board meeting
before you took it upon yourself to try to revise or rewrite adopted policies.

You and I are two members of a seven member publicly elected board, Rob.  You
have one-seventh of a vote in the decision making processes of our school
district as do I.  There are five other members besides you and myself who have
the same authority as you and I.  That equals zero, individually.  As a board,
7/7’s equals one.  From the perspective of a fourteen year veteran of this board
of education, I would ask that you conduct yourself accordingly.  Furthermore
from the perspective of a fourteen year board member I can tell you that if
someone were to suggest that your antics are a form of “grandstanding,” it would
be difficult for me to defend you against such a suggestion.

One final thought: If we as a board of education determine to focus our concerns
and efforts to the 10,000 or so kids that we are charged to educate and make all
of our decisions with their best interest in mind, three or four naysayers who’s
main focus seems to be to detract and detour us from our mission will become
nothing but a bad memory.

If you would like to meet up again at the Wooden Spoke in Baldwin for beverages
and conversation to discuss the role of the board of education and the roles of
individual board members, I would be happy to do so.  Let me know what your
schedule looks like.

Your fellow BOE member and one seventh of a whole vote,
James Repshire

From: Scott Boden <sboden@kc.rr.com>
To: ‘James Repshire’ <jrepshire@hotmail.com>; ‘Rob Shippy’ <shippyr@usd231.com>;
‘Bill Gilhaus’ <gilhausb@usd231.com>; ‘Rob Shippy’ <rmshippy@gmail.com>
Cc: ‘Brad Chandler’ <chandlerb@usd231.com>; ‘Mary Nelson’ <gmgmn@embarqmail.com>;
‘Mary Herbert’ <mherbert@centurylink.net>; ‘Mark Grannell’ <mlgrannell@yahoo.com>;
Tresa Boden <BodenT@usd231.com>
Sent: Friday, October 25, 2013 10:17 AM
Subject: RE: SO 66 Report

James,

I must say I had the same feelings about your email response to Rob as you had
to Rob’s email.

Many of you don’t know me, so I’ll take a quick opportunity to let you know my
view as a new BOE member.  I am neither for nor against the Hemreck/Hickman
group.  I am neither for nor against Dr. Gilhaus/prior BOE group.  I am for the
District and doing what is right for the District.  Dr. Gilhaus and the prior
BOE have done many many positive things for our District.  I appreciate and
applaud how well our District has done compared to before Dr. Gilhaus.  I also
feel there are some mistakes which have been made along the way which need to be
fixed.  The Hemreck/Hickman group, in my opinion, are correct in some of their
criticisms of the District and are equally wrong in some of their other
criticisms.

Going back to the email string below, I don’t feel the request by Rob was a
demand.  I did not read it that way initially and I don’t read it that way right
now.  It was a polite request which Dr. Gilhaus has NO obligation to fulfill.
If Rob would have stated something like , ‘Send the document or I’ll have your
job”, or “Send the document because as a BOE member I can make you”, then Rob
would have been wrong to the extent you put in your email.  I do feel the
request would have been better stated as a question as to why the demand by Mr.
Hemreck wasn’t being fulfilled but I don’t feel what was typed deserved the tone
of your email.

I do like the fact you posted policies in the email.  As a new member it is good
to see those policies and for those who have been around it is good to be
reminded of the policies.  Let me use a quote from Dr. Gilhaus’s email:

“After discussion with the Board of Education, it was determined we would
always attempt to meet any reasonable requests for information from patrons in a
timely manner; however, not at the expense of losing our focus of student
learning.”

How is providing a singular document which is already completed for the State
not a reasonable request for information?  How is this singular document causing
a loss of focus with student learning?  The email was about a single document
not about all requests sent in via the mentioned group.

I appreciate your opinion related to Rob’s email as I hope you do mine.
However, I do feel it was wrong to “scold” him to the entire board without
seeking all of our opinions first.

The transparency issue and some other issues are something the whole board needs
to discuss in future meetings.  The below emails truly only come down to a
singular document and was made into an overall issue by Dr. Gilhaus commenting
on all of the documents requested in the past.  Obviously the board needs to
revisit these issues as this is a different board than has been here for the
past 14 years.

Tresa

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: “Mark Grannell” <mlgrannell@yahoo.com>
Date: Oct 25, 2013 2:30 PM
Subject: Re: SO 66 Report
To: “Scott Boden” <sboden@kc.rr.com>, “James Repshire” <jrepshire@hotmail.com>,
“Bill Gilhaus” <gilhausb@usd231.com>, “Rob Shippy” <rmshippy@gmail.com>, “Brad
Chandler” <chandlerb@usd231.com>, “Mary Nelson” <gmgmn@embarqmail.com>, “Mary
Herbert” <mherbert@centurylink.net>
Cc: “Tresa Boden” <BodenT@usd231.com>, “Rob Shippy” <shippyr@usd231.com>

All,

It is obvious that sometimes emails can be mis-read or mis-interpreted.  As a
result, and in the hopes of not trying to solve the concerns listed below
through email, I have requested that Dr. Gilhaus set aside time in executive
session at the next board meeting for:

> an overview by Joe Hatley of what information we are obligated to provide,
> a history of issues which the board has faced in the past, and
> a discussion by all of us, as a team, on how we would like to proceed forward

Finally, it is my sincere hope we can come together to reduce issues similar to
those herein and get back the focus on what’s important: the growth and
development of our kids and staff.

I appreciate all of your cooperation on this matter in advance and feel free to
call me with any questions or concerns.  I have the upmost confidence we can
work together to solve any issue and get back to our true mission which is the
future of our district.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Mark
913-w
913-m
913-h

(Editors Note) Also on this site is a pdf of the letter received from Mr. Hermreck from USD 231 attorney Joseph Hatley indicating why his original request for information was not supplied.)
(Editors Note) Below are a series of e mails regarding Mr. Hermreck’s original request for board policy that eventually resulted in a $122.00 KORA charge. Mr. Hermeck has disputed the charge.)
From: Walter Hermreck <>
Date: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 4:05 PM
To: Leann Northway <
NorthwayL@usd231.com>
Subject: Re: Guidelines
 
Ms. Northway, 
   I know you are probably very busy, particularly with Ms. Berg out. So, if I understand what you are saying is that the document I asked for (The BOE policies and procedures and guidelines for handling of Activity funds) was “not easily accessible or combined in one document to copy and print.”
   Please don’t take my tone as disrespectful because I’m obviously confused on how your system works. It seriously took me less than less than two minutes to find that policy on the Olathe Public School District website and it didn’t cost me anything but a couple minutes of my time. How are BOE policies not easily accessible? If there is anything that should be readily accessible it should any and all policies. To ask me to pay $122.47 cents for 6 pages of a policy that should be public in the first place is something that I cannot grasp. Does this seem logical to you?
    
 
    Please do not take this as a personal attack because I know you are just following the policy and procedure of the district but perhaps this is something that should be reviewed. 
 
Hope to visit with you soon!
 
Walter W.Hermreck
 
From: Leann Northway <NorthwayL@usd231.com>
Date: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 3:51 PM
To: Walter Hermreck <
>
Subject: Re: Guidelines
 
Walter,
 
I apologize for the delay in getting back with you. I spoke to the Finance Director regarding your inquiry.
 
Regarding your questions on student activity accounts, the information you requested was not easily accessible or combined in one document to copy and print. The Director of Finance gathered the information he believed would assist you in your research. However, there is a cost associated with the time to gather and copy documents. KORA requests such as this is usually done outside of staff member’s daily responsibilities.
 
Regarding your question about open records policy in Olathe, yes, USD 231 also adheres to this policy. With the exception of those subject to KORA requests, records are available during business hours to the general public. You are welcome to visit the district office at any time and we would be happy to accommodate your requests, or schedule a time to meet with any of the administration team.
 
On the below requests you sent to Mrs. Berg, this information would need to be researched and will take some time to gather. Attached is a KORA request form if you would like to proceed with the request.
 
I would like to also request the total amount of miles turned in by Dr. Gilhaus for 2004 and 2005 and what he was paid for those miles on use of his car.
Would it be possible to show how much “sick leave” Dr. Gilhaus cashed in at the daily rate for each year from 2004 until 2011?
 
I hope I was able to answer your questions. Have a good day!
 
Leann
>>> Walter Hermreck <whermreck@gmail.com> 9/5/2012 11:00 AM >>>
Ms. Northway,
      Thank you for that. I was just taken back a bit by such a large fee for something as simple as a Board of Education policy, it sort of caught me off guard! 
I’m not sure if you received a separate email from me but I was wondering if you allow citizens to come to the USD office to view public documents as other districts do?
 
Thanks again,
 
Walter W.Hermreck
 
“Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought…”
~Henri Louis Bergson
 
From: Leann Northway <NorthwayL@usd231.com>
Date: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 10:18 AM
To: Walter Hermreck <
>
Subject: Re: Guidelines
 
Good morning Walter,
I will forward your e-mail on to the Finance Department for clarification.
 
Thank you,
Leann
 r.
>>> Walter Hermreck <> 9/4/2012 5:09 PM >>>
Ms. Northway,
    I have to pay $122.47 for District Policies for guidelines and handling of school funds? This is a policy that should be made available to the public online. I did not request any financial statements as of yet. All I requested was the USD 231 Policies and Procedures which govern District activity funds. This is what was in the original email;
 
USD 231 School board’s “policies and procedures” for handling and guidelines on Activity Funds? This would include:
<!–[if !supportLists]–>1.       <!–[endif]–>The lines of authority for activity funds
<!–[if !supportLists]–>2.       <!–[endif]–> Segregation of duties related to activity funds
<!–[if !supportLists]–>3.       <!–[endif]–>Internal controls over the activity fund cash collections 
<!–[if !supportLists]–>4.       <!–[endif]–>Disbursement procedures for student activity funds
 I did not submit a KORA form with this request because I’m not sure why something like a simple school board policy would need a KORA request to view. Again, I did not ask for any financial statements, fund balances nor am I concerned with any audited statements as of yet. I only wanted the policy. This should not take someone 2.5 hours to gather. Something as simple as a policy should be available on a computer file unless your systems are severely outdated. 
 
Perhaps you could take another look at what I requested, leave out the financial statements that I did not request and then we can go from there. Again, I would not imagine that a few pages of a policy would take 2.5 hours to find and copy.
 
As a rule are your policies kept in a computer data base to access and print?
 
Thanks for your attention to this,
 
Walter W.Hermreck
 
“Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought”
~Henri Louis Bergson
 
From: Leann Northway <NorthwayL@usd231.com>
Date: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 4:32 PM
To: Walter Hermreck <
whermreck@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: Guidelines
 
Walter,
 
The Finance Department gathered the information you requested.
Provided is an explanation of the process for accounting for District activity funds which should help illustrate the process and the applicable segregation of duties and internal control procedures that the District has implemented. Second, copies of the applicable board policies which govern District activity funds. Third, the District audited financial statements as of 6/30/2011 which include the District activity fund balances, see page 29-31, and Note 1, page 33, for the Districts policy as it relates to Fiduciary Funds. Audited financial statements as of 6/30/2012 will not be available until our CPA’s perform their audit later this fall.
  
Per this KORA request, these documents are available for pick up at the Reception Desk at the District Office. Cost for these documents is listed below:
Time involved: 2 hours, 30 minutes, $120.97
Copies of Records: 6 copies @ .25 cents per page, $1.50
Total Cost: $122.47
Please provide Connie Epp, our receptionist, a check for payment made out to USD 231 for the documentation requested.  Ms. Epp will be available from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
 
Thank you, Walter.
 
Leann
>>> Walter Hermreck <> 9/4/2012 12:16 AM >>>
Ms. Northway,
      Good day!  I was wondering if I could be provided the USD 231 School board’s “policies and procedures” for handling and guidelines on Activity Funds? This would include:
<!–[if !supportLists]–>1.       <!–[endif]–>The lines of authority for activity funds
<!–[if !supportLists]–>2.       <!–[endif]–> Segregation of duties related to activity funds
<!–[if !supportLists]–>3.       <!–[endif]–>Internal controls over the activity fund cash collections 
<!–[if !supportLists]–>4.       <!–[endif]–>Disbursement procedures for student activity funds
Thank you for your assistance,
 
Walter W.Hermreck
 
“Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought”
~Henri Louis Bergson

Comments

  1. It is amazing how much email traffic occurs from our USD HQ to the Board Members using personal email. Each member is assigned a USD.231 email and should use it accordingly for any and all discussion of USD 231 business. By not using the USD 231 emails it becomes difficult for the public to KORA any email traffic.

  2. That’s our hometown boy! They put on their pants just like you do Robby don’t let those suits talk down to you. And to Mrs. Boden, well said.

  3. Gardnerwhos says:

    Thank goodness for Rob and Tresa as they seem to be the only BOE members with a lick of common sense!

    “I understand that you believe the information may not be used in a positive light for the school district, but it does not relieve the school district of the obligation to provide the public with documents that are of public record.”

    Mr. Gilhaus and James, when you circle the wagons it makes the public wonder what you’ve got to hide.

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