Sunday, April 14, 2024
HomeBoard Meeting RecapsBoard Recap: April 12th, 2023, Deer Valley Unified School District

Board Recap: April 12th, 2023, Deer Valley Unified School District

Four board members were present for the April 11th, 2023, Deer Valley Unified School District governing board meeting. 

  • Kim Fisher
  • Paul Carver
  • Stephanie Simacek
  • Ann Ordway

Jennie Paperman was absent. 

The agenda is adopted unanimously. 

3. Action 

3A. Approve Recommendation for Principal of Sunrise Elementary School

The district administration recommends Tanya Knight as the Principal of Sunrise Elementary School. She has a wealth of experience as both a principal and vice-principal, a track record of academic success, and has worn many hats in her career. The Administration believes she will be a welcome addition to Sunrise Elementary. 

The motion passes unanimously. 

4. Preview

4A. City of Phoenix Proposal for State Land Adjacent to Sandra Day O’Connor

The City of Phoenix and Arizona State Land representatives give a presentation on a development opportunity adjacent to Sandra Day O’Connor High School. The city is exploring a development that would be mutually beneficial to DVUSD and the city. 

They understand that there are parking concerns at SDOHS and that there is interest in access to trail systems for cross-country training. They’re considering purchasing some of the state’s land to build a trail system and developing their existing 10-acre lot into a trailhead with parking that the students could use during the day and special events. The land in question backs up to Deem Hills recreation area, which already has existing trails with two trailheads. The current City of Phoenix park site is undeveloped. 

SDOHS currently sits on Arizona State Trust Land under a 99-year lease. The city proposes they purchase the undeveloped portion of that land lease to develop into this park and trails, including them in the preserve system. The city would offer a 250′ buffer between any developments and the school for a meaningful separation between the trails and the campus. 

For this to move forward, the DVUSD governing board must approve it through an action item. The city would then open the development up to community engagement to get input from all stakeholders in the community. The State Land Department would work with DVUSD to modify the current lease to open the land up for the city to apply for this state land. 

DVUSD’s Mr. Migliorino explains that this excess land would be very difficult for DVUSD to develop – it’s not a buildable space. DVUSD has built everything it can at this location, as most of it is steep terrain. 

Board Questions: 

Ordway: How would the parking spots affect SDOHS’s parking spots?

Answer: There are about 128 parking spaces that the city will develop. They expect 100 to be available to students, reserving a handful for hikers during the week.

Ordway: For the 250′ buffer, would we figure out a way to ensure the buffer is meaningful?

Answer: There are minor concerns – due to the steepness of the terrain, there is not currently a perimeter fence. They’ve had some conversations addressing this through additional foliage, a fence, or signage. This is something conversations are in process. 

Carver: This can be a big win for all sides, assuming we agree with safety protocols to keep our students safe. Doesn’t think that steep terrain alone is enough of a safety consideration if the city develops the property. 

What does it look like for the protection of this development in the future? Can the city of Phoenix walk away from it?

Answer: It would be very difficult for the City of Phoenix to walk away from – it would be part of the preserve system, meaning it would have to go to a public vote to dispose of. It’s never even something the city has considered for preserve land. It’s very well protected.

Simacek: If the lease is modified, does the lease start over, renewing for 99 years?

Answer: It’s just a modification to the existing lease. The City of Phoenix would bare all expenses for the acquisition. 

Finch: There is potential for the future development of additional trails for the cross-country team practice. The ROTC also uses this land for orienteering training, and they should be able to continue using it as long as they aren’t digging or geocaching. 

4B. Annual K-12 Use of Facility/Field Fee Schedule for 2023-24

The facility use schedule has been updated with two changes. There is a cost reduction for field light usage at the stadiums, as the district improved with LED lights. DVUSD can pass along those savings to the user. They also propose increasing the student technician employee fee from $15/hr to $20/hr. 

5. District Reports

5A. Finance Reports

Student enrollment report first – through March 29th, a 1.1% increase from last year. The EL population has grown primarily due to TSMC families joining the DVUSD community.

M&O Financial report has no significant changes compared to last month. The projected carryforward is $16.1M. They’re still waiting to charge the increased substitute pay to the Federal relief funds, so that line item currently appears to be over by $500k. 

The May budget revision will be presented next month, along with the April M&O report. 

Board Questions:

Carver: Curious about $16.1 carryforward, is that different than what is referred to as dead cash?

Answer: Yes, that is the project budget carryforward, not necessarily the amount of cash on hand. The M&O is a budget-controlled account, and those dollars have to be collected through property taxes and other means. This report is the budget capacity, it does not address the cash on hand.

6. Public Comment

Public comment starts around 30:00. 

7. Consent Agenda

The motion passes 3:1. Mrs. Fisher votes nay. 

8. Action

8A. Approve Employee Professional Development (Out of State)

The motion passes unanimously.

8B. Approve Addenda Pre-Approvals

The motion passes unanimously.

8C. Approve the Revised FY24 Employee Benefit Recommendation

The benefit recommendation was revised but to the benefit of the employees. It has a better rate for a voluntary benefit on the short-term plan – the board approved a 5% increase, but Valley Schools negotiated a 0% increase and locked that rate in for two years. 

The motion passes unanimously.

9. Discussion

9A-B. Board Ethics and Board Etiquette 

Mrs. Simacek requested a discussion on governing board ethics and etiquette for the February board retreat – they did not discuss it during the retreat. Mrs. Simacek and Mrs. Ordway have requested adding this topic to the agenda for every meeting since then. It was finally added April 11th, 2023 meeting, with Simacek leading the discussion. 

Stephanie Simacek: “Good evening, board members, Dr. Finch, and DVUSD community. As a new board member and prior/current DVUSD community member, I have noticed a pattern of behavior that I believe is unhealthy for our school board and, therefore, unhealthy for our school’s staff and all of our DVUSD community. 

“I have noticed a pattern of behavior that I believe is unhealthy for our school board and, therefore, unhealthy for our school’s staff and all of our DVUSD community. “

– Stephanie Simacek

“I would like to define three words – ethics, morals, and etiquette. Ethics are moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of an activity. Etiquette is the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group. Morals are a person’s standards of behavior or beliefs concerning, what is, and what is not acceptable for them to do. 

“Essentially, I’ve gone through many pieces… sorry… I have gone through many pieces of information, including emails and screenshots from social media. I’ve provided our other board members with this information. I’ve also gone through and redacted all names to and from as well as any symbols or pictures that were present that might lead to someone… coming from a particular person. I did this because I don’t want to be pointing the finger; I just want to have a discussion about it. I would also like to add that overall, the last several weeks, I felt frustrated, even angry, that these items, ethics, and etiquette, have not made their way to a board discussion even though two board members had requested it previously.

“I have realized, however, that this is perfectly okay. Tonight, they are being discussed because that is what is supposed to be. This time has allowed me to think about what I really want to say and deliver it in a way that didn’t feel like I was pointing the finger but rather providing facts, the facts, and the viewpoints from our community and not just me personally. I want to thank our community members for coming forward and sharing what they have observed, even if it means becoming a target yourself or risking volunteer opportunities you could have with working with our community – no parent should be denied opportunities for speaking out or shunned for providing facts. 

“I want to say that I have approached this subject with the understanding that we are all human. We are people with feelings, hence, why I redacted the names of the provided documents. That being said, the goal is to discuss proper ethics and etiquette about behavior. We have each been voted into this position. The community has selected us because they care about their community, and they want to know and to feel that at the end of the day, we are able to have civil disagreements without personal attacks; I will say that again; personal disagreements, civil disagreements, without personal attacks. I want to point out that as humans, we are told truths, and we are told lies all the time.

“We often pick and choose what we really want to hear and believe in a way that will best serve ourselves. We are here to serve our community and we cannot do that when we pick and choose what we want to hear for our own personal agendas. If a parent emails me with questions or concerns, it is not okay to take their words and twist their truths and opinions to better serve myself. That is not why I was elected. 

“I was elected to listen. I was elected to hear all sides and opinions. I have never received an email from a Community member saying ‘Thank you, Mrs. Simacek, for publicly humiliating other members of the board,’ or ‘Thank you for creating untruths about our superintendent, but the best part was when you brought his wife into it.’ No, I do not receive those types of emails or witness these actions on social media by board members. What I do receive is ‘Dear Mrs. Simacek, I just want to express my concerns for what I witnessed at the board meeting the other night,” or “It seems like there is a board member who chooses to talk more about her own issues rather than issues for our DVUSD community,” and “I noticed there are certain board members that think it’s okay to publicly humiliate other members of our DVUSD community and their families. I have also noticed Facebook posts that seem to be promoting homeschools and ESA vouchers rather than public education. Why would a public school board member be saying this?’

“So when I talk about having a discussion on ethics and etiquette, this is what I am referring to – the customary code of polite behavior in a society or among members of a particular profession or a group. In this case, it is our DVUSD school board. I would like to request that the school board members abstain from putting down others, making assumptions, and then posting them on social media. I would like to have civil disagreements without personally attacking other members of our community, including other board members, our superintendent, and his staff, our staff families, parents, guardians, or grandparents that express concern via email. Thank you.”

Kim Fisher: “Mrs. Ordway?”

Ann Ordway: “Oh, I’m going to wait for a while. I’d like to hear other people’s thoughts.”

Fisher: “Mr. Carver.”

Paul Carver: “So, yeah, ethics. So that’s something that plays a part in everybody’s lives. Whether you’re a board member or just out in the community, I think that we can definitely do better. When you get elected to an office, you’re being held to a higher standard than your average bear. And I think we need to conduct ourselves accordingly. It’s hard sometimes because you can’t get the same treatment that people want, right?

“When you get elected to an office, you’re being held to a higher standard than your average bear.”

– Paul Carver

So people say things and do things and are less than genuine towards you, and we’re human beings. And I’m not condoning behavior; please don’t misconstrue what I’m saying, but I wish we could all, people that have issues, just come together in a room and agree that there’s been mistakes on both sides, and can we just start moving forward? I can’t speak for the groups. I can only speak for myself, and I’ve tried to do that. Lord knows I was, and have been, the focus of negative attention from time to time just because I” ve got a different way of looking at things than other folks. 

“But I would encourage everybody, whether it’s the community or whether it’s members on this board, too, when we’re going to have a communication, whether it’s verbal or whether it’s written, to think about the words you’re saying before you put them down or let them come out of you. Think, ‘How would I respond if somebody talked to me like that.’ That’s what I try to do. And I’m just going to let everybody know, if I ever interact with you and for some reason something [inaudible], I’m going to tell you I like I tell my wife – I’m a guy, so there’s a good chance I said something stupid. ask me about it and let’s make sure we come to an understanding on it because I never intentionally try to set out to do that. 

“So, I guess the only two cents that I just want to say is you have every right to expect more out of your leaders, and I would just hope that we could try to foster enough mutual respect – mutual respect for the common goal that we all have as community members and board members, for why we’re all here. And because my friend Stephanie’s shirt says, ‘Because kids,’ right? So I want us all to start focusing on that and stop getting so hung up on trying to have the last word or be right. There’s a saying I share with my kids when they were growing up in the house; sometimes, when I’m talking to them, there’s only two letters I want to hear out of their mouths: O-K. And I think sometimes as adults, we need to practice that. 

But yeah, I could go on and on about that, but that’s enough. 

Ann Ordway: “I’ll keep it brief. I’ve been doing this for 15 years and listening to all sorts of interesting dialogue, and then I read a lot of dialogue, but I don’t react to most of it. I think, possibly, what we might look for, and we used to have these, but maybe we look at some board norms knowing full well that anything that we agree upon, we have no power to ensure that it happens. But I think if we were to look at board norms, leading by example and servant leadership might be something that we could find commonalities in. 

“I will say that there are times when people, in my opinion, have an issue with supporting the district, and they confuse that with always having to be the quote-unquote cheerleader – you support your district knowing that it’s run by humans, that it’s continuous improvement, that we hire people that have expertise in many areas. And we kind of look at all that information, weigh what we hear on the outside, listen to what we hear at board meetings, and process that through.

“I think that when we give reports, and we refer to emails, text messages, and phone calls, and we talk about children or staff members being hurt or having the possibility of being hurt… But we waited for two weeks, and I’m not doing this to be cruel; I’m just saying that we wait for two weeks for this because nobody will listen. It almost seems disingenuous because I know that the five people on this board don’t want kids to be hurt any day of the week. So they’re not going to wait two weeks. I think sometimes it makes it louder, and whatever, but I think that board norms are a good way to deliver and almost ensure etiquette. You have your own ethics, people have their own morals, and that’s a personal thing. 

“I would guess that you guys expect us to have all of that, and I’ve tried to deliver that for every day of my life. So I think that is personal for everyone because I’ve heard someone say well, ethics, well, it’s however, someone perceives it, so… and that’s great. But if we could get to board norms that give everyone an opportunity to blend what their beliefs are, we can come to an agreement on behaviors that we are not going to quote-unquote tolerate, and perhaps we can get back or start a new trend in school boards and concentrate solely on students, staff, and community. 

“And that’s 15 years of listening to a lot of stuff rolled into, I think, 4 minutes and 37 seconds.” 

Fisher: “You know, I know that there was issues with it ‘wasn’t on when I said it was going to be on,’ it was within the 60 days required by policy. And Mrs. Paperman is not here to defend herself, so I will; she put it on in the appropriate time in what she felt was best. It is her intent, from what I could tell, was never to upset anyone. 

“If anything, she might have thought that I was afraid of this topic, which I am not, for several reasons. When you have a group that comes together to make a statement as if it’s factual when there are no facts in it. When they want to state that somebody else’s statement is not factual when they haven’t even tried or looked at the evidence, that’s concerning. 

“I don’t know that we’ll ever agree on board ethics or norms for several reasons. If I was elected and I believe, and it is my belief, that my constituents expect to know what’s happening, it is not for me to gossip on the back end, have gossip in the community, whether it’s on the topic of our curriculum, the topic of programs, or the topic of anything of that nature. Or the about board members. Or the topic about past board members. Or community members making up stuff, pretending it’s real. 

“The beauty of the screenshots that you provided is that everyone can screenshot. And no board member should have to deal with the harassment of community members, or false statements, or slander from community members. And it’s not all community members; it’s actually a very small group, but they are affiliated with board members, and that was by plan. They are a member of a group that board members wanted, an exclusive group and that is what started the division with our parents. 

Editor Note: Community members have asked Mrs. Fisher publicly and via email to provide evidence of harassment, false statements, and/or slander. She has yet to produce such evidence.

“For every parent that you can find in that one group that is attacking multiple board members, because yeah, I get the limelight of it, but they’ve also hit Mrs. Paperman and Mr. Carver, there are other parents who have been excluded from that group – have been removed from that group, have been told their opinion is not valued or wanted in that group. And so we have a great division than us. So, when a board member wants to bring that one group here and say this group determines the ethics of our board, I’m sorry, but they don’t because we must be honest and forthcoming with our community.

“No statement has ever been made about Mr. Finch or his wife that cannot be factually… facts can be provided… they’re in writing. And so no, there is no false statements. But there are on the other end. And I actually feel sorry for the way this has happened. Because what people don’t know is that he never stood a chance. He was pulled aside from the moment he was hired and was told one line that was desired. 

“No statement has ever been made about Mr. Finch or his wife that cannot be factually… facts can be provided… they’re in writing.”

– Kim Fisher

“I will give Mrs. Ordway credit. I will give her credit that, in that time, she was at least courteous enough not to contact me when I was in ICU at my husband’s bedside. Unfortunately, Mrs. O’Brien did. So this started on a back-end secret thing, and I get it, you don’t want the open dialog. We don’t have a choice at this point. We have to be open with our community because we have had multiple individuals who have been allowed to resign without consideration of the fact of where they could go beyond. We have issues… Um, Friday update…”

Ordway: [interrupts] “Can I just ask a question? When you talk about these multiple employees that resigned, what was the reason for that? Do you remember what the reason was? And is this something that we can talk about? Is this close enough to the agenda, Dr. Finch, or not? I feel very far away. I feel you’re very far away from the topic of board etiquette. But perhaps, maybe we shouldn’t talk about things that are not that close.” 

Fisher: “But here’s the problem, Mrs. Ordway. This is actually about ethics, and here’s the question. Okay, so you believe it’s unethical for the community to know what’s happening back here unless it’s done in a behind the scene whisper?”

Ordway: “I’m not quite sure what you mean by that. No, I don’t understand what you’re talking about.” 

Simacek: “I don’t understand that statement.”

Fisher: “So, so, that’s my point.”

Simacek: “Just repeat the statement. I just want to re-hear it again.”

Fisher: “Do you believe that it is the board’s responsibility to keep quiet about things to keep that peace, but go ahead and gossip and spread it in a different way?”

Simacek: “I’m not gossiping and spreading anything.”

Fisher: “I’m not accusing you of that; I’m just asking if you believe that’s…”

Ordway: “No, I don’t believe that when you post on social media things like ‘Friday Lieday,’ I don’t think that’s appropriate. Absolutely, I don’t think that gossiping on the back end is good.”

Simacek: “Pictures of the superintendent with other board members and making accusations, you know, bringing family members into it… It’s just not valid.” 

Fisher: “Do you believe that it’s appropriate to…”

Simacek: “Those are not facts. Those are just…”

Fisher: “Do you believe that it’s appropriate to go to a community and tell them their program is going to, that board members are trying to pull their community, their program?” 

Ordway: “No, I don’t.”

Fisher: “Really?”

Ordway: “Really.”

Simacek: “Yeah, so I…”

Ordway: “Mrs. Simacek I’m going to excuse myself, or excuse me for a second I didn’t mean to talk over you. This is not a, you were elected four years ago or however many years ago, and then you were re-elected… You have chosen to make statements about people that many are not presented in a factual way. There might be facts to them, but out of context, kind of like, ‘Mrs. Ordway’s a farmer John out standing in her field.’ I am out standing in my field, but that wasn’t your intent. So I’ve chosen for all these years to let this go aside because this is not about us. It is not about this stuff. It is about kids and how we spend our time and resources.”

Fisher: “You and I both know that’s not true.”

Ordway: “Pardon me?”

Fisher: “You and I both know that’s not true.”

Ordway: “No, you may know that’s not… Okay. I am here to be a servant leader. I have proven that for years. I am here for kids. I am here for staff. I am here for community. I get nothing else out of this except for, you know, serving the community. 

“So you can disagree with that all you want, but when we’re at this dais, a board norm is to treat people with respect and let the business of the district go on. That’s what board meetings are for. “

Simacek: “So I just wanted to point out, before… I heard a lot about a particular parent group and how this parent group was kicking their parents off the page for their opinions and whatnot. I’m very familiar that there are actually multiple parent groups, some of which other board members take part in, that are doing exactly what you said. And it’s not the group that you’re referencing. So, I have seen concerns from parents who are on a parent Take Action page, and they were completely removed for sharing some sort of opinion or questioning some sort of statement that they felt were false – they were just immediately kicked off the page.” 

Fisher: “That page is an entire page of parents kicked off from the other parent page. The sad part is that board members took a hand in establishing that page and took a hand…”

Ordway: “Which board members?”

Fisher: “Mrs. O’Brien, for one.”

Ordway: “Mrs. O’Brien does not sit here at this moment in time.”

Fisher: “When she was, and she still established the page, Mrs. Ordway.” 

Editor Note: Ann O’Brien did not create any parent group, nor has she been an administrator of the parent groups Mrs. Fisher is speaking of.

Ordway: “I don’t know that. I’ve never been a member of those pages. I guess the point is, is social media obviously is not working for anyone, so maybe we should all stay off it.” 

Simacek: “I think that’s a great idea.” 

Fisher: “Well, then we bring it here, and we have the then, and we share the truth because our community has a right to know the truth.” 

Simacek: “That’s why I brought this up. That’s why I had asked for this to be on the agenda. And to go back, you don’t need to defend Mrs. Paperman or yourself because I truly feel, after all these weeks that have gone by, that this is the night this was supposed to be discussed. Everything happens for a reason, and I feel confident about that. 

But I also like I’m bringing it to the board meeting because these are the time and the place to bring this information, not to be posting it on social media where no one can, you know, provide their opinion such as you can or Paul or Mrs. Ordway – we are here to discuss it. My whole approach was to have it be a discussion that didn’t need to involve names… But we have, as a community, have experienced so much of this drama on social media, as well as received so many emails from the concerned community, that I really wanted to bring it forward so it could be discussed. I have never taken this to social media. I will not take this to social media; it’s not the place. I was elected by this community. I am professional, and that’s not – that’s why I brought it here today rather than posting it all on social media and going on and on about it where people can not defend themselves, including yourself, or Mr. Carver, or Mrs. Ordway. And I felt like this was the appropriate place to do that so that’s why I brought it here and not just social media.”

Fisher: “Yeah, and I agree, we can talk about it here. But the problem is when you’re making false statements. Are you aware that at no time have I ever, ever gone to Mrs. Finch’s, any social media of hers? And [points at Simacek], she mentioned Mrs. Finch specifically. Are you aware I have never, ever…”

Simacek: “I did not mention. I did not mention her. I mentioned spouses and families because I thought it was very disrespectful. Something that might work for you, if you feel that, I’m not sure that it comes into play here because she’s a member of the community, she’s not sitting on the board as an elected official… but when you continue to respond and feed that, sometimes, the best thing to do is just walk away. Like don’t feed it, just walk away, be the, you know, bigger person and deal with it that way. To have to go back and forth and argue and argue and then as that person to, you know, to be seeing pictures of your spouse on social media, with accusations of, you know, inappropriate things… No one can defend themselves and it’s just not true. 

“And the information I provided in this packet are all our emails from parents, grandparents, and community members who have expressed their concern to me. If, like I said earlier, if people were emailing me and thanking me for, you know, throwing my superintendent under the bus and being disrespectful to community members, I would have shared that – it’s not coming to me. 

“What is coming to and what’s being reported to me are concerns about the behavior of our board, and my goal is, what can we do to make it better? What can we do to work as a group instead of constantly pointing the finger or not talking at all about it? And then going to Facebook after a meeting or something and then just venting it all for the world to hear in a really awful way. You know? It’s just not kind.” 

Fisher: “For starters, we’d have to be honest.”

Simacek: “We would. We would have to be honest.”

Fisher: “So, Mr. Carver…”

Carver: “Thank you, ladies. Appreciate that. So I think I’ve probably shared this with everybody at some point in time or another, but I know the necessity of this particular topic or two during this meeting because there’s been an expectation from the community. However, I strongly suggest, and my viewpoint moving forward is, if issues arise that need to be discussed, whether it’s about this person or that person or what have you, or I feel slighted, they feel slighted, or I’ve heard this, or I know that… There are certain few times that a board can call an executive session, and one of the main reasons is for personnel issues, and we may not be employees, but a lot of the interaction is taking place, and a lot of the negativity that’s happening out there in the world involves employees. And it involves the interpersonal relationships of board members. And so I would strongly suggest to the board, since we’re having this conversation out in the open, that after tonight, if issues need to be discussed about things that you feel, things that you know, things that you think you know, then we should have an executive session. We have one almost every time because we’re hiring somebody. Plug one in someplace, and let’s talk about it and do all the yelling and screaming you need to do behind those two or three closed doors because I can guarantee you the community would probably like to see us after tonight move forward more hand-in-hand than spending any considerable amount of time calling each other out for real or otherwise imagined issues. 

“So, it’s not an attempt to hide things, it’s not an attempt to be secretive, but I believe that the community will go the way that we do… and if we don’t know how many people are paying attention…”

Ordway: “Thousands…”

Carver: “I’m just saying… Just a side note, Stephanie and I are making a very strong effort to work together and we’re not on the same side of the ideological aisle, but we’ve identified through casual conversation that we were both here for the kids.” 

“Stephanie and I are making a very strong effort to work together and we’re not on the same side of the ideological aisle… we were both here for the kids.”

– Paul Carver

Fisher: “Mr. Carver, if Mrs. Ordway won’t point it out to you, I will…” 

Ordway: “Oh, I was going to…”

Fisher: “We are very limited in what we can have executive sessions for.”

Ordway: “I think there is a statute that provides for that. However, we could have a session to discuss board norms.” 

Carver: “Okay, I’m just, I’m coming from a point of legal consultation on knowing what the executive sessions are for and experience, but we’ll have that conversation.” 

Ordway: “Yeah, I guess Dr. Finch, you could have Denise figure out a way that we could talk about our personality problems in private.” 

Finch: “Yeah, that’s the only one. You really only have one employee, and that’s me. And so that you can have an executive session on that if you are going to, that would be correct.” 

Simacek: “I just want to say, last thing I want to say, is I have no intention, I had no intention of this yelling and screaming and blaming people. So I really want that to be clear; I tried to come with an approach that made people feel like they had an opportunity to speak and share. I’m just asking, once again, for the sake of our students, for us to work together. Like Paul said, we don’t have to agree on everything. But, and I said this earlier as well, we don’t have to agree on everything. We can disagree but we don’t need to be taking personal attacks against other people when it does no good for our students and our community here in DVUSD.”

Fisher: “Mrs. Simacek, I will ask you one question. In preparing for this, did you at any point reach out to me to get facts on anything?”

Simacek: “Well, I’m actually able to go to things that you have directly posted. So if they’re coming from your mouth and you’re writing them out for the world to see, then I would assume that’s what you wanted people to hear.” 

Fisher: “So, if any part of that was not clear to you, did you reach out to me at any point to ask what the premise of that was, or what the background of it was?”

Simacek: “It doesn’t matter to me. I personally, honestly, one of the main reasons I ran for the board was a year ago or two years ago, probably at this point… When I emailed the board, and I received an email back from you that completely had nothing to do with what I was saying and accusations about me… I witnessed it firsthand from you. So I apologize that I’m not 100% comfortable, you know, asking directly questions to you when it seems that when I have done that in the past, they get completely twisted and turned around. So instead, this time, I just used your words, and I provided them in this packet, and they are for everyone to see. Again, I did redact names, but you know, I think that a lot of people will be able to read through and understand who’s who and whatnot. 

“My intention of that was to just get that out of the way, but I have had personal experiences with you via email prior as a parent of this district.” 

Fisher: “And I’m more than…”

Simacek: “You have shown my emails, you have shown my emails on social media. I’ve seen you post them to your page. This isn’t new for me, but I don’t think that…” 

Fisher: [inaudible]

Simacek: “Yeah, I have them in my personal email box before I was a board member, and I have ones… actually, they all were before I was a board member, so they were me as a parent. I was accused of, I think something about like, CRT and SEL, and you had really pushed back at me about all these things, which really wasn’t anything I was trying to talk about. But again, they also… I think you had me confused with somebody else. I never get on social media and post about that kind of stuff. Again, I’m here for the students; that’s why I did this. 

“When I was presented with my response from you a couple of years back, I was, I just said enough is enough. Because as a parent, when I come with concerns and to be blown off, and I see it now as a member – it’s just not appropriate behavior for a school board member. Our job is to listen to all of the sides; it’s not to take it away and twist it and call it a conspiracy theory. 

“So those are my facts. I can speak for my facts, and I can speak for what I received, and those are facts. They were written down by you. And I, again, what one presents on social media is always going to be there. I don’t go on social media and personally attack people; it just makes no sense to me. I get nowhere with it, and it serves nobody, and especially it does not serve our students and our community at DVUSD.” 

Fisher: “So, what part serves the students, or the community, or the district, or the board? Which by the way, the board is here for business. We’re not here to be PTA parents. We are here for business.”

“We’re not here to be PTA parents.”

– Kim Fisher

Simacek: “I am not here to be a PTA parent, and I actually take that to be very offensive.” 

Fisher: “I’m just saying, I think that’s what we are here for.” 

Simacek: “We are here for business, but all business is surrounded by our schools, making the decisions on where money needs to go and what direction.” 

Fisher:  “I was asking a question.”

Simacek: “I answered it.

Fisher: “I haven’t finished asking it, how could you answer it? What purpose does it serve for a small group to be creating pages where they are putting stuff with their spin on it, for board members to post through others for individuals to seek one thing and when they get a very professional response, they respond with nastiness. This is far beyond… You can put up the print of sweetness or the innocence of what you’re doing or why, but what you’re not aware of is all these things that are said on that group by the individuals, by your running mate, by individuals… It’s really the same handful, dozen, of people.” 

Simacek: “Because they’re the only ones who aren’t afraid to speak up for our community, otherwise they get…”

Fisher: “Well, what about the ones that picked the screenshots and send them to me? So I have them all sent to me. And I don’t generally respond to them because I have come to realize that there is a divide in this district in whether or not we will somewhat remain parent-centered in raising their children, or whether we will remain, become more of a… what is the statement… I believe I heard someone say it – a parent’s decision ends once they decide to send their kids to that district or to that school.”

Simacek: “As a parent, I’m just going to say… Really, if you’re referring to DVUSD, I’ve never felt that at all. So I am really confused.” 

Ordway:  “Could I make a suggestion? This is a circular conversation that is going to remain a circular conversation. So, Mr. Carver, I mean, Dr. Zehrbach, look, he’s paying attention, no kidding. 

“Perhaps we could put it on the agenda to discuss board norms and what board norms would look like? Does that sound like a suggestion, and also simultaneously, Dr. Finch will find out from Denise, if there is a statute that we can talk about personalities in private.” 

Carver: “Well, good idea. My concern is, is like we already have here, BCA, we can talk about norms and we can talk about what our expectations are, but we can’t, like you said, we can’t make people.”

Ordway: “But I think that in the formation of board norms, you get to peek a little bit inside someone’s head, and at the very least – we agree, we don’t agree, we vote on and we don’t agree with them – the public knows that we are, the we, I don’t know who we will consist of, knows what we’re working on something because again, I’m going to mention the 15 years of being on a board.

“I just want the kids go, the students be the spotlight again.” 

Carver: “I would support that. I just think that we need to not make it part of our normal business meeting.”

Ordway:  “No, I said a special session.”

Carver: “Sorry, it’s that guy thing again.”

Ordway: “Well, it’s a girl thing, we expect you to listen. Actually, it’s a board member thing. I expect you to hear what I say when I’m in the microphone.” [both chuckle]

Carver: “Yes, I agree with you as long as we could take it to a study session or whatnot, executive session but something else.”

Finch: “Something that I could help to is I could collect from other districts so you don’t have to start from scratch, and then you guys can decide to etch them out, or I don’t know if other districts have that concept.” 

Fisher: “We do; we have one here on the wall.” 

Finch:  “We do have one on the wall.” 

Fisher:  “And it’s not been followed for the last five years.” 

Ordway: “Well, you know, the perception is maybe you didn’t follow it; your perception is I didn’t follow it. The point is that if we, as a collective five people, create norms again, maybe it’s a new normal.” 

Fisher: “So, do you not want to start with this one?”

Ordway: “I don’t know, that wouldn’t be up to me. That would be up to the group as we decide to put on a thing; we can all send our ideas on how to do that.” 

Carver: “I think that any document that’s in existence should be read in bits and pieces, kept, and dismissed.” 

Ordway: “Yes, because it was done by brilliant people.”

Carver: “That’s right, at one point in time, somebody on that was smart.” 

Fisher: “We worked on it. Mike, Ron, myself… Mrs. Ordway. Mhmmm. Alright. Are we done?”

Ordway: “For the moment. It’s board report time, isn’t it?”

Fisher: “This is Mrs. Simacek’s. Are we done?”

Simacek: “No, I’m good. I don’t want it to appear like I’m coming off as like I, you know…”

[Mrs. Fisher mouthes something toward’s Simacek]

Simacek: “But I am? Like, if you have to say it, just say it in your microphone.” 

Fisher: “You are.” 

Simacek: “What am I coming off as, Kim? What am I coming off as?”

Fisher: “This has every single meeting, no matter what the topics are. Even our board retreat has come forth with aggression and immediate… so please don’t say you’re not wanting that. Have it out if you want to…”

Simacek: “I don’t, I don’t… I actually, really, truly don’t. The reason I don’t is because I don’t post it on social media. I don’t because this is the way I’m approaching it. I don’t feel like I’m approaching this with aggression. I feel like I tried to present this as a discussion. I’m not raising my voice. I’m not…”

Fisher:  “How is posting it on social media not okay, but getting a group together…”

Simacek: “I don’t have a group!” 

Fisher: “You had individuals at our study session or at our board retreat.”

Editor Note: the board retreat was open to the public. Several individuals regularly attend board meetings and other meetings that are open to the public. Fisher also has supporters at various meetings.

Simacek: “The only time I speak up, to be honest, is when I’m trying to say something and I get talked over – and that happened several times at the retreat. Then it gets posted on social media that I need anger management classes… and for so many people who really know me, it’s just comical. But it’s just a way to put me down as a way to put other people down – it’s constant. So I really am not coming at this with, you know, guns blazing. I really want this to work. I want our board to work together. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. I think our community wants our board to work together. That’s it!” 

Fisher: “Right? But that’s my point. If that’s truly what you want is to work together, then why would you bring the false narratives that are already being spread and being.. by one small group?”

Simacek: “I didn’t bring, no, they didn’t bring false narratives. Being a lot of it is strictly from your ‘Things to Ponder with Mrs. K,’ they’re direct things that you said, and they’re also emails that we’ve all received from parents in our community. So those aren’t my words, I just presented them.”

Carver: “A point of order just real quick, Mrs. Fisher, you asked if we’re going on to board reports, and all I did was ask Mrs. Simacek if she still needs to cover 9B.” 

Fisher: “No, I didn’t ask her if we’re going on to board reports.”

Carver: “I’m sorry.”

Fisher: “No, I asked if we’re done so we can move on to the next…”

Simacek: “Sure, we can be done for now.” 

Fisher: “Okay, let’s go on to discussion item B.”

Simacek: “No, we’re good; I think it all, my idea was that it all kind of was together – a similar topic of work together with each other.” 

Fisher: “Okay, let’s go on to board reports.”

10. Reports

10A. Governing Board Reports

Ordway: “Let’s see… We have that prom thing still going on throughout the district and throughout the valley. I think we’re up to 60-something dresses gone. Soon it will be the promotion, eighth grade promotion, eight grade dance, and graduation dresses, underneath the gowns. So the place is popping. I am so happy that I am able to do that because the… You have to look on those kids’ faces… 

“We also have the Battle of the Books thing with Marie Brennan… Marie, could you please, like, stand up, so we could all clap for you because we never do that during the right time. Stand up, Battle of the Books woman! She, very much tirelessly, works for our students and our teachers, and I think that we have the nomination for the… Could you just give me the dates for that? It does, start when? So you can nominate your Teacher of the Year or your Rookie of the Year and you need to get that in by April 26th. And the nomination form is on the district website and the school websites. So, let’s not complain that only certain teachers get it – everybody has the opportunity to pick one from their school or two or three, I guess. 

“I did enjoy the district visual art show. As usual, all the ones I wanted weren’t for sale, which is good because I wouldn’t be able to afford them. The venue was awesome. I think we just need to work a little bit on the lighting on [inaudible] corners was a little dark for the paintings. But wow, there’s a lot of unique things there and the talent is just unbelievable. 

“I think that we had a job fair that day. I saw a lot of people smiling and they were principals… and it was Saturday, and they were smiling. Jenna Moffitt, is that true? Did we get good people? Alright, so apparently, we’re doing something right. 

“And again, I will, I will reiterate the fact that because you have a good and positive relationship and words about this district does not in any way, shape, or form mean that we are perfect. That is why we are a continuing improvement district, why we work hard on a strategic plan, and why we work hard on implementing it. It is why we exist, to make sure we are as best as we can be for our students. So at some point in time, sit back and reflect on if you would want kindergarten students to join us during this part of the meeting, as opposed to just the part where I wish they would come and sing again because we haven’t had kindergartners sing but I just threw that in there. 

“So I am done. There are graduations. There are promotions. There are basketball games. There are sand volleyball. There’s volleyball. There’s band stuff. There’s retirement. What else is there? I mean, oh my goodness, there’s something for every day of the week, if you choose to split yourself in half… So, and thank you, guys, for staying.” 

Simacek: “Good evening again. I hope everyone enjoyed the nice holiday weekend. Once again, I want to thank our community for advocating for our students and our staff, and our administrators in DVUSD. I was a little bit nervous about tonight’s discussion, but I think it was started out well. I think we’re on; we’re on the right path. 

“Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve had members of our wonderful community work together to provide for others in our community. This is, to me, what community is about, why I’m part of this board, to bring our community together last week. Paul and I distributed over 200 pairs of shoes to our Title One schools, and I finished two deliveries yesterday to Greenbriar Elementary and Arrowhead Elementary. Both schools were very happy to receive the donations, and all of the schools wanted me to, and Paul, to tell you all thank you for the support because they really appreciate it. 

“Two weeks ago, thanks to Deer Valley High School, National Honor Society President Selina R.. I hope I said your name right, Selina. We were able to provide over 20 families with laundry detergent for their homes, which might seem small, but it’s not.

“Last Thursday, our Union Park second graders got to step outside of the classroom to learn more about Westward Expansion by visiting the Pioneer Living Museum that’s just north of us. Many of our DVUSD students have been able to go up to that place – it’s a great time. I had a great time volunteering and just seeing the kids learn through hands-on experiences and, you know, they read it and they watched some information about it and they got to go out and like see at them and they were really excited to do that.

“In the upcoming months, our schools will be presenting many Fine Art performances, including band, and choir, and dance. I’m looking forward to attending some of those, and I hope that you will as well this week. And in the upcoming weeks, our high school students will be inducted into the National Honor societies at their high schools. So I would like to extend congratulations to those students as well as our Middle School students that will be inducted into the National Junior Honor Society and JHS. 

“And then the last item, actually, I have one more item before I want to talk about that. Two weeks ago, we lost a beautiful human in our community. She was a mother, a wife; her daughter is a sophomore at Barry Goldwater. And it was very sudden and unexpected. So, I just wanted to, to say that during this moment of silence that we had earlier this evening. She was in my thoughts, her family is in my thoughts, and it’s been a hard thing to process. But again, I think this is where the community comes in and kind of helps and rebuilds this family.

The last topic I would like to discuss is my request to look into additional programs that could help our schools with obtaining additional support for our safe schools. I look forward to providing that information in the near future. Thank you.

Carver: “I just want to start off by saying just a note on the previous agenda item. I think a lot of what’s going on in a lot of angst is just because there are people in the community and some folks on the board that’s been, they’ve been hurt. And we can’t get some reconciliation out of that. And so, I just want everybody to try to think about that, as we try to find a way to move forward, and try to find a way to be better, and try to love each other a little bit better.

“I just want everybody to try to think about that, as we try to find a way to move forward, and try to find a way to be better, and try to love each other a little bit better.”

– Paul Carver

“So I’ve been working with Mayor Beck out of the city of Peoria; the city of Peoria wants to give us two SROs for the two schools that we have that are in Peoria. Working with Dr. Z in that to make sure that we can get that taken care of.

“And on April 4th, I made a visit to the State Land office with Mr. Migliorino and Dr. Finch to get us back on the radar discussing what it looks like for land acquisition for new school developments because of TSMC. We’ve identified a need, and we’re trying to reignite that fire and conversation with them so that we can be in front of the planners and not behind the planners so that we don’t end up with schools on mountainsides and we have usable land. So that was it was a really productive meeting, and we’ve managed to schedule reoccurring meetings on a regular basis that now Mr. Migliorino and Dr. Finch will take care of. 

“On April 5th, I met with a representative, Mr. Gress, down at the state house to talk about his HB2800, which is the teacher raise that he’s trying to get across the table. I wanted to understand sourcing, funding, how he continued, how he plans on taking care of that in perpetuity so that we don’t get ourselves out there in a position where we can no longer afford that raise after a certain period of time. He had a lot of good answers and we had we had a really good discussion about different things that we can look at to try to get more money in our teachers’ pockets and everybody across the board, not just teachers. Because we need to value our bus drivers. We need to value our cafeteria workers and our Administration. So we need to find a way to get that done. And we have people at the legislature that are willing to help us navigate that, so we need to build those relationships.

“Again, the shoe Drive that Stephanie mentioned, ten boxes with over 25 pairs of shoes and them each to the 10 Title One schools that we had, K through 6. And just so everybody knows, the Arizona Rattlers for those of you that don’t know what that is, it’s our Arena Football team here in the state of Arizona. They have picked up that shoe drive for the Deer Valley School District, going to maintain it, starting at the beginning of their season culminating with their season finale game, August 8th. They’re going to be collecting shoes at every home game, and every away game when they host the games live at certain restaurants throughout the valley. So they’ll be actively collecting gently used and new shoes for us, and they’re trying to plan a really big finale for that season finale game. So let’s show them some love and support like they’re showing us. 

“Let’s see. Just a follow-up because I know a lot of community members have reached out to me with a couple of lockdowns that we’ve had recently. A request has been made of the Administration to provide a written policy that we can provide for the public so that everybody understands what you should be able to expect from us when something happens at the school. What timelines look like, what communications might look like. It’s really hard to keep ​​in front of the 2,000 students, and all have modern technology in their hands when the lockdown happens, and it gets a lot of bad information out there quickly and causes a lot of stress for the parents. So we’ll do the best that we can as a school district to make sure that we can try to alleviate some of those concerns for you to assure you that we’ve got it under control and what we need from you to try to get the situation handled. So when they get that to us, we’ll make sure that the public is aware and has the information.  

“And I think that’s about all.” 

Fisher: “I hope everybody had a lovely Easter for those of you who celebrate Easter. Best day of the year.

“I did ask about the text messaging, somewhat off of what Mr. Carver said as well. And I do appreciate your response, Dr. Zehrbach, in the Friday update. However, it didn’t really answer the question. So the question is, when did we stop text messaging? Because when my kids were in school and something like that would occur, I received a text message, and I understand that we direct them to the website, but there’s still somebody on the website that’s putting all that information there. A group text to those parents and that campus. If you’ve never been in a situation where you don’t know the status of your child and your child’s texting information to you – we had some seriously panicked parents – and I’ve been in that situation, but I was fortunate that I did get a text message. It said we are in this situation, the kids are safe, we’ll let you know updates. Simple. Doesn’t have to be long, but I would like to know when we stopped doing the text messaging, versus just directing people to look at the website.  

“I think the biggest concern has been that parents at surrounding schools know before the parents who are getting all the text messages from their kiddos, and so that they’re panicked because they’re worried about their kids, and their kids are panicked. The ones that write, they get a response, but there’s a lot of kids that maybe, or parents that didn’t write in, and I think they also would like to know what’s happening. 

“I would like to address parents out there – if you have concerns… the Friday update, I don’t email because I just don’t really want to hear the response that will be negative and inappropriate, but it comes in the Friday update anyways. So for you parents, who want to bring forward concerns, ask your students to video whatever it is that’s happening and ask them to email it directly, or you email it directly to all board members. And, so that it can’t be a ‘this is a lie’ or ‘it’s being made up.'” I don’t know why anybody would have time to lie or make something up, especially when they work 15 hours a day. But I don’t want your requests for support to be, to fall on deaf ears. So I’m asking that you parents or community members that have those concerns, like I said, have your kids videotape and have them send it in so that it can be validated. 

“We also have had an individual two years in a row who has asked about awards for performing arts. I know we have our art show, but we do have our sports. The sports kids, they get a lot of honors and that’s great because they work really hard. But our performing arts students do as well. And I do think that it would be great if we did have an awards ceremony for them. I believe that takes us having a performing arts teacher, maybe step up like a coach, like the coaches do, to encourage that to come forward, assist in putting it together. But I do think we should actually consider it because it’s not; they work really hard. You know, one of my son’s favorite times in the district were the plays and whatnot, and then the special needs prom. So, the ones he got to go to, he really loved and he really enjoyed. So I do think it would be great if we could honor those performing arts students because it not only honors them, but the kids that really enjoy what they do. 

“And then the last thing is I am concerned with student safety. That we have had multiple, like I said, employees that have been allowed to resign in lieu of termination and for actual crimes. So I think we do need to address that.”

Finch: “No comment.

“I’ll move on to things that happened in the district. In fact, I was going to put in the Friday update, this coming Friday update, because I asked our district Performing Arts person, Fine Arts person, do we have a ceremony? And I will include that in the Friday update coming up. But we already do bus all of the kids, middle school, junior high, high school, to a location where they are adjudicated and given district awards based on their performance. And it’s a different approach than what you would call like the sports banquet things. So, I’ll give you more details about that ceremony that we already do. It’s actually quite impressive. They perform in front of students and in front of district judges and are given district awards, currently, so we already do something like that. But I’ll give you more details on that one when I learn a little bit more about it. 

“Just from a Global perspective, legislation right now is wandering through the machine, and obviously with a split government… what’s going to happen and what I predicted would happen is happening. I’m on a, sit on ASA, which is a Superintendents’ executive legislative group, and with the FRG as well, that’s another group that works with legislators and the governor’s office. The short version is that the budget will be late. And so, as board members, and in my role as superintendent, we will be making guesses, educated guesses, on where we’re heading financially from the state. I just learned today that Arizona has now moved to 51st in the nation for per-pupil spending. I thought we moved up to 48, but we’re now 51st. If there was a 52, Arizona would have it. So we need obviously, support from the legislature – can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip. 

“And the good news is, Deer Valley continues to perform on the dollars that we get in our… and we are less than our peers, Mr. Migliorino continues to remind us, and still outperforms our peers. So that means good people, good teamwork, good plans, and sticking to the plan. So obviously, thanks to the team who continue to perform well and continue to be here for the right reasons, and that’s for kids. 

“Just a reminder, too; I think I mentioned it last time, GCU is working with us on City Serve – That’s trying to develop clothing closets, or supplies I guess, for each of our schools. We’ll start with one, try to open one for next year, and then develop a footprint, and maybe with the shoe project that you guys are working on, we’ll fit in there nicely. 

“The district art show for elementary is this coming weekend; we’ll be back in the innovation center. This will be the little people version – Friday from 3:30 to 6:00 PM and then Saturday from 10:30 to 7:00, Friday 3:30 to 6:00, Saturday 10:30 to 7:00 and you’re welcome to come check out the elementary students’ district art show. They do, obviously, there are feeder programs for our high schools that you saw the district ceremony or award show last weekend. It was really great. 

“At the same time, the job fair was going on. So, thanks to all the people that showed up for that. We did very well. Lots of interest from administrators to teachers to bus drivers, we had a little bit of everything. 

“The word is spreading that Forbes has recognized us as a ‘best midsize employer’ in the nation for two years in a row. And so that is, we are, we shared with the board during our executive session too, that we are getting principals that are now interested in coming from other districts. And you saw that tonight for our principal nomination. 

“Last but not least, I did it, the 500th classroom visit this last week and went over to Las Brisas to the preschool kids. Handed out cookies, read Clifford the Big Red Dog book, and had a fun time. 

“So that’s the latest. Thank you.” 

RELATED ARTICLES
- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Recent Comments