June 24, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Taxpayer exposes Olathe school board president’s bullying, misinformation tactics

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The Olathe school district says it won’t tolerate bullying and harmful behavior, which should also apply to school board members.  But school board president Joe Beveridge seems to think he is exempt.

At the May 5 school board meeting, Olathe business owner Rebecca Shipley questioned the ethical basis for giving Superintendent Brent Yeager a bonus when teachers, aides, and paras have lost jobs, and academic scores are down.

She also objected to the grounds for awarding a bonus.

“Correct me if I have been misinformed, but I understand that our superintendent will be receiving a bonus based solely on the implementation of social programs such as DEI and not on academic achievement.”

The Olathe school board restricts access to public comments at board meetings.  The so-called public forum occurs before the official board meeting, so it is not recorded as part of the board meeting.  But a private recording of Shipley’s statement can be seen here.

As reported by The Sentinel last week, Shipley’s understanding of the basis for awarding a bonus is mainly correct.  Yeager’s bonus isn’t solely based on DEI implementation – there are four other non-academic criteria – but the essence of her concern is valid and accurate.

Beveridge didn’t respond to Ms. Shipley at the board meeting or subsequently, but he falsely accused her of misinformation in emails to others who shared her concerns:

“It’s somewhat ironic that you bring up the fact that you did not know the reference made during our regular meeting regarding one of the community member’s public comments.  In this case, the community member made a false statement that was 100 percent incorrect about Dr. Yeager.  This is one of the many reasons I am against live-streaming public comments; misinformation is shared on a regular basis and this ends up costing our staff members time correcting the misinformation and not doing the job running the school district.”

Beveridge is consciously deceiving parents about the basis for Yeager’s bonus, and he’s using misinformation to disparage Ms. Shipley while preposterously purporting to be preventing misinformation.  And he’s doing it to protect the economic interests of school leadership to the detriment of everyone else.

Staff and parents share Shipley’s concern

USD 233 Olathe is finally feeling the financial impact of its handling of the COVID situation.  The board’s actions prompted many parents to pull students, and next year’s budget will reflect the loss of upwards of 1,000 students.

Shipley tells The Sentinel that over a dozen teachers and other staff have since contacted her, saying the district has “lost its way.” They believe that the social programming of children has gone too far.  Employees are emotionally spent, and they have the added worry about being laid off this year or anticipating larger class sizes and no aides next year.  A few are afraid to speak up because it would be more cause to let them go.   Others tell Shipley that working for the district is toxic, and they are pursuing other careers.

Those employees are describing life under authoritarian rule.  The system is designed to protect the economic interests of the ruling class to the detriment of the peasantry – students, parents, teachers, and other staff.

Olathe’s claim of “high expectations” and “relentless pursuit of excellence” is just propaganda to keep the masses misinformed.  According to the Department of Education’s 2021 state assessment, nearly a quarter of all students are below grade level in math and English language arts, and the numbers are worse for high school students (38% below grade level in Math, 25% below grade level in ELA).

Actions by education officials like Joe Beveridge repeatedly demonstrate the need for legislative intervention to give kids a fighting chance – and for more people like Rebecca Shipley to encourage legislative leaders and other parents to step up.

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