CAT Tracks for February 8, 2012
FOIA REQUEST...JAMES GIBSON CASE

It's time to let the sun shine in, let the spotlight shine on Cairo School District Number One and its war of persecution against Jame Gibson.

Yes, I know, I know...

...I have found several occasions over the past 6+ years to rant and rave, fuss and cuss about the District's treatment of James Gibson and the money being spent that could have otherwise gone to education.

Think I even entitled one post "Drip, Drip, Drip" to indicate the constant drain said battle was having on District resources.

On a couple of occasions, I even (foolishly) took heart...that the end was near.

For example:

Reality slapped me back to my senses in 2007 when the District paid James the difference between a teacher's aid salary and a teacher's salary but refused to put him back to work.

Reality slapped me back to my senses in 2010 when the District appealed the decision of the judge.

I fired off a nasty letter to the "power (abuser)s that be"...that I would wait along with them for the decision of the IELRB (since they had already spent the money filing the appeal.) However, I warned them that after the IELRB ruled against them (WHICH THEY DID!) that if they decided to take the case to the Illinois Court of of Appeals that I was going to make it my life's mission to expose them...to spread the word near and far as to how much money they had spent to keep one person from working (who has since returned to work, has received excellent evaluations from his immediate supervisors, and been honored by his students not once but TWICE as "Teacher of the Quarter"...picture on the front page of The Cairo Citizen!

Well, as mentioned above, the decision came down...the IELRB turned down the District's appeal. The deadline then passed for the District to appeal the case to the Illinois Court of Appeals. I took a deep breath, heaved a heavy sigh, the war was finally over.

Oh, but effing no!

The District's law firm assigned to persecuting James Gibson (Robbins et al, aka 'Robbers All') dreamed another scheme to keep the meter running. In the course of firing James Gibson and depriving him of any means of earning a living wage, the District placed tremendous emotional and physical stress upon him. The District through its hired guns is now saying that it should not have to give James back pay and benefits...that he was physically unable to teach. No work (even though they refuse to let you work)...no pay!

That is appalling b*llsh*t, piled as high and deep as inhumanly possible!!! (I have forgotten my Dante's Inferno and the various circles of Hell, but there have got to be special reservations for certain CSD officials and their unholy legions of lawyers!!!)

These folks seem to forget that THEY - CAIRO SCHOOL DISTRICT NUMBER ONE - HIRED James Gibson off of the disability list! They COULD have done this the year before or the year before or the year before. Those Sweet Ol' Bosses!!!

As James Gibson has proven - over the past year and a half - HE CAN WORK when allowed to, when not harassed.

The Cairo School District Board of Education and Financial Oversight Panel should be ashamed of their treatment of a fellow human being whose only crime is that he gave up another job offer to stay in Cairo, Illinois back in May 2005 (when he was assured that he had been hired as a teacher.) The lawyers representing Cairo School District Number One should be disbarred for aiding and abetting these evil deeds, most likely being the authors of this latest dirty trick.


And, yes, I did it again!

I went on and on and on. I truly try to put this issue on the back burner, and am successful for a few months. Then something ignites the fire once again...


The occasion this time...

The acronym used in the title to this post...FOIA. It stands for "Freedom of Information Act"...lawyers pronounce it FOY-YA.

There is both a federal and state version. The purpose of both is to allow individual citizens (and investigative media) to break down the walls of secrecy that governmental bodies (including school districts) like to hide behind.

In short, YOU have the right to make a "FOIA Request" for any document that a District produces or receives. The District can argue confidentiality and can ""edit" documents for same (as you will see in the examples below.) But...under most circumstances, they've got to give 'em up!

To shine the light on CSD #1 and break down their walls of secrecy, I decided to make my long-delayed request for District expenditures related to the "James Gibson Case". Some examples of the drip, drip, dripping away of District financial resources have appeared in previous editions of CAT Tracks...a few pages out of the monthly "bill statements" (along with my thousand word diatribes.)

My most recent endeavor is to acquire proof of all those drips, total them up, and see just how big a puddle of blood we now have.


I tested the FOIA waters in December of 2011...asking for the "official form" required by the District for such requests. (As President of CAT, I had run into this problem many years ago when I had simply written a letter to request some documents. I was informed that I would have to come to the District Office and fill out a District Freedom of Information Act request form. As a former history teacher, I try to learn from past mistakes so as not to repeat them.)

Well, it seems that Cairo School District Number One must not have been the only government agency to make it difficult on folks trying to see behind the curtain. In response to my "official form request", I was sent a copy of some legal guideline (surprisingly not drafted at the expense of Robbins et al)stating that public bodies could not require a standard form.

Therefore, when 2012 dawned, I sent my FOIA request:

The District asked for a delay due to the onerous task involved. (I was nice and accepted the delay...with the qualification that I did not expect any further delays.) To my surprise, I received a package of documents on January 9, 2012 (within the time line specified by the Act.)

(CAT Tracks Editor's Note: I must apologize for the quality of the document above. I tried several times, but my scanner simply would not scan a portion of the missive.)

Anyway...

The documents were a bargain: $15.90. (A certain number of pages were free and then it was 15 cents for each page beyond...106 in my case.)

Ya wanna see what you get when you request financial documents from CSD #1 (at least in the "James Gibson Case"?)

I'll give you two examples...the first and last in my stack:

October 25, 2005

December 9, 2011


I made the mistake today of doing things the old-fashioned (dinoCAT) way...pen and paper. After coming up with five pages single-spaced, well, totaling the sums was daunting.

Therefore, I have decided to copy said information into an Excel spreadsheet (Ooooh, modern CAT!) and use the automatic sum feature...a true marvel. Plus, I can play around some more with the numbers and make them suitable for viewing by interested parties...even if I have to wave the papers under their noses.

But, stay tuned for all of that...that's down the road a short ways! Gotta get all my ducks in a row first!


On a final note...

My review raised a couple of questions:

In short, when it comes to District expenditures to screw James Gibson...

...I want it all, Santa!!!


POSTSCRIPT:

How 'bout a teaser...

I have entered the first page of my hand-scrawled accounting into an Excel spreadsheet and hit the magical AutoSum button...$30,585.77 (from October 25, 2005 through August 14, 2006.)

If that don't impress you much...

How 'bout November 2009 when Robbins et al billed the District $30,800.79 (for part of the IELRB hearing held in Carbondale?)