Citizen Oversight, Public Records & the Spokane Public Schools

Laurie Rogers:

For this sincere effort on my part to be careful, thorough and accurate, I have repeatedly been implied to be, or accused of being, a hater, a whacko, a nut job, an antagonist, a loud critic, a conspiracy theorist, a gadfly, abusive, a person who “needles” public officials, and perhaps “less than fully hinged.” In a Spokane paper, my efforts recently were placed under the heading “Friends and Enemies.”

It isn’t as if I enjoy reading records from Spokane Public Schools. They do not tend to improve my day or my mood. There is typically very little in records from the leadership that I can praise. They often contain grammatical errors, and their focus on money is near absolute. The needs of the children, particularly academic needs, are reflected almost nowhere. Reading the records through the years, it seems that many in leadership have viewed teachers, parents, children and voters as pawns in a chess game of “Get More For the Leadership” and “Do Whatever It Takes to Avoid Seeing and/or Telling the Stark Truth.”

Many people have asked me to share the records. Below is an email string between Associate Superintendent Mark Anderson and what he calls the “levy leadership team.” I’m providing this string without comment. No accusation or assumption about the records, or about those within the records, is being made or implied. The records speak for themselves.

I just think you might like to see them. And, you have a right to.
Following is a reproduction of the text of an email string I received from Spokane Public Schools; formatting issues prevent it from being an exact duplicate.

Legislature should look into the PDC’s investigation of Spokane Public Schools

On September 28, 2011, I filed a complaint with the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) regarding election activities by Spokane Public Schools. These activities entailed a bond and levy election in 2009 and a school board election in 2011.

The complaint stemmed from public records I obtained from Spokane Public Schools in January and July 2011. In those records, I saw a clear pattern of school district officials using public resources to promote bond and levy ballot propositions, as well as evidence of certain employees using public resources to assist in the campaign of a school board candidate. There appeared to me to be multiple violations of RCW 42.17.130, a law that governed disclosure, campaign finances, lobbying and records. (The law was recodifed as RCW 42.17A.555 in January 2012.)

In the afternoon of Election Day 2011 (Nov. 8), the PDC announced it would investigate; the case was numbered 12-145. After two and a half years of investigation, PDC officials Phil Stutzman and Tony Perkins presented their findings on 12-145 to Commissioners at their Feb. 27 hearing in Olympia.
If you read through the PDC report, you might feel a cold chill down your back. There must be an immediate and thorough legislative investigation of the Public Disclosure Commission. The PDC has essentially sanctioned repeated violations of election law with respect to school district elections.

If you think I’m exaggerating, please read this article. Then, I invite you to read the PDC report.