For the past 2 years, the beleaguered CCSD has been embroiled in sex scandals, cover ups, and questions about misuse of its in-house CARELINE (the CCSD has now switched to the State run SAFE – 2 – TELL). Superintendent Harry Bull conveniently enjoyed an early “retirement” around the time that serial rapist, Brian Vasquez, was arrested and sentenced to life in prison. The scandal involving “EBSCO Porn” in kid’s digital homework tools has gone viral around the nation after it was first discovered in CCSD middle schools.
As this school district, rocked by scandal, attempts to heal and regain community trust, would not it be prudent to engage new leadership?
Instead, however, Harry Bull was replaced by his second in charge, Scott Siegfried, who is on pubic record, using School Board meeting time, to actually defend the porn in the school databases (on the grounds that as long it was just online, and not in a hard copy book, such content was permissible). Scott Siegfried was also in charge of the in-house Careline which was later shut down amid questions about its usefulness. At the time, the CCSD was the only district in the state of Colorado that had chosen to “internally evaluate” its own safety tips in lieu of using the Attorney General’s Safe 2 Tell used by other Colorado schools.
And this guy is now the Superintendent. We did open records to see who else might have been under consideration for the position that Bull suddenly vacated, and there was nobody else. The fix was in.
And, the truth is, we may never know what was buried in the now defunct CareLine; were there tips about Vasquez’s 5 year rape spree? Overland Principal’s son, Lundie? Hundreds of student on student assaults that went unreported?
Members of our group had past, personal experience with the CCSD Careline – raising serious concerns that were ignored. The black-hole that is the Careline legacy is nothing to be proud of.
Scott Siegfried should have been held accountable, as apparently was his predecessor, for his inactions that imperiled students across the district, but instead he was promoted.
And, as for the illustrious CCSD Board, now that President, Dave Willman (or “Willy” as he was known on the private social media accounts that he shared with students) has been forced to resign in disgrace, he has been replaced with long time board member, Karen Fisher.
Karen Fisher has been on the board way too long. It is appalling that she should be rewarded with a promotion after her disgraceful conduct during the “EBSCO Porn” scandal, actually defending porn as something that might have “educational value” for CCSD students.
Members of our organization spoke to Ms. Fisher 3 years ago, before the district had made the decision to cancel its EBSCO subscriptions amid scandal. The following is a 2016 documentation of a phone call with Karen Fisher during which her incompetence and really, her complete lack of any common sense at all, is glaringly evident.
Documentation of conversation with School Board Member, Karen Fisher, on October 20, 2016 by member of CCSD Conversations Group:
We called School Board Member, Ms. Karen Fisher, and had a 3 way conversation with her on speaker. We reviewed the problem with the numerous links to sexual material and pornography embedded into our Cherry Creek library websites and student accounts. We also reviewed our findings that teachers are actually directing children to these tiles and resource links, as part of assigned work which is not optional. There is no parental disclosure. We told her we now have screenshots of actual assignments for 9th graders requiring them to access some of the databases that contain links to pornography.
Ms. Fisher appeared very silent and even to lack interest. She told us point blank at the beginning of the phone call that there really wasn’t anything she would be able to do. We challenged this statement on the grounds that she is an elected official who is supposed to oversee our school and have authority in this capacity. However, she did not see things this way and argued that it was her understanding that the matter was already being taken care of by school administrators.
We corrected Ms. Fisher and again tried to explain that the reason we were calling her was to advise that the school was, in fact, not cooperating with the removal of the sexual material. In fact, as we explained to her, we had been told by Associate Superintendent Scott Siegfried that he had made the decision to leave all of the sexual material on every High School website and student account across the District.
We explained to her that he had acknowledged the problem with the sexual and pornographic content, issued a brief apology, and removed it from our middle school websites – but made the decision to leave it on all of the High School websites. He further explained that he was planning to establish a review committee which would make decisions about whether to remove the sexual material from High School websites at some future, unspecified date. Ms. Fisher then corrected us, telling us that it had been her understanding that the review committee was only going to be reviewing new material, not old material. She then indicated that it was thus clear that Cherry Creek had reached its conclusion – it had decided to leave the existing sexual material on all High School websites. She indicated that she was happy with this decision.
We challenged Ms. Fisher again. We asked her point blank whether, in her opinion, she thought that pornography was appropriate for a High School website. She said she didn’t know. When we pressed her for an answer, she continued to take the position that she didn’t know whether there was any educational value to pornography and that she was very comfortable deferring to the experts in this regard, being the Cherry Creek educators, who had already reached their considered decision on the matter. We were dumbfounded and continued to press Ms. Fisher but she insisted that she was not an expert in education and therefore had no opinion regarding the use of pornography as an educational tool. We specifically asked Ms. Fisher if she could tell us the educational value that she found in such things as the “pocket pussy”, the “strap on dildo”, anal sex videos, and other pornographic material. She communicated her deference to the expertise of the educators in such matters, and communicated that the matter appeared to be closed since those educators had now reached their decision.
We tried to explain to Ms. Fisher that, in the meantime, we had newly discovered additional sexual and pornographic material linking out of our school websites, and that we felt we were being ignored by Scott Siegfried, who was not willing to shut them down – even from the Middle School websites. We had thought that, at the least, our District was going to protect the Middle Schools, if not the High Schools. But we were unsuccessful in engaging Ms. Fisher’s interest.
In fact, through the course of the conversation, Ms. Fisher actually expressed to us some skepticism regarding our findings of obscene and pornographic material. She told us that she hadn’t had any other parent complaints. She also told us that she has children of her own, and none of them have reported the finding of any obscene material from school websites. She felt sure that if there was indeed pornography then her children would have told her about it. At this time, we asked Ms. Fisher whether, in fact, she had actually received any of the letters we had copied to the School Board and in which we had enclosed screenshots of the links. She wasn’t sure. However, when we pressed, she did tell us that she was at her computer and had located one in her inbox. She did explain to us that the School Board Members don’t always get their correspondence from parents because their inbox was overwhelmed and so things got missed. Of course, this also raises the question of whether there might have been other parent complaints buried in the School Board’s inbox.
It was very apparent from speaking with Ms. Fisher that she had not spent much or, possibly, any time actually reading our letters or reviewing the screenshots which we had worked so hard to prepare. She simply didn’t seem to care and didn’t seem to feel responsible in any way. We reminded Ms. Fisher that the School’s Library Policy actually names the School Board Members as having the ultimate responsibility for decisions regarding media. However, she didn’t seem to be aware of this policy and wasn’t impressed by hearing of it. She repeatedly indicated that it was her understanding that School Administrators, and not the Board, were responsible for, and solely qualified to determine, the media content of school websites, library catalogs and student accounts.
We also shared our concern with Ms. Fisher that Dr. Siegfried had refused to reveal the name/s of those administrators and Cherry Creek employees who were responsible for the apparently deliberate placement of links to obscene material on our school’s websites. In fact, we told her that he actually stated “I will never tell you that” when we pressed him, as parents and taxpayers, to identify and hold this person/s accountable. Ms. Fisher did not appear to be at all worried about this and assured us that there were regulations or laws in place that would surely preclude revealing matters related to personnel to the public. She offered further empty assurances that if they had found any wrong doing on the part of an employee, they would have been dealt with accordingly. She didn’t seem to know anything much about it or appear interested in pursuing it.
Eventually, it seemed to us that we were simply taking up Ms. Fisher’s time. Towards the end of the conversation, we expressed our disappointment and pressed her to at least speak to the Superintendent, Dr. Bull. She agreed that she would do this. We told her that we wanted to have a meeting with the members of the School Board but she told us that she didn’t think such a meeting could take place because it was outside normal policy. She reminded us that we could always have our 3 minutes to address the Board during their meetings. We then asked if they would provide av equipment at the Board meeting to show visuals, and whether we could have longer than 3 minutes. She didn’t know and said she would ask Dr. Bull for his permission. She also reminded us that she didn’t think it was viable to have parents ask for special meetings with the School Board because there would be too many people who wanted to talk to them and would set a bad precedent. When we tried to convince her of the gravity of this particular concern, as it related to the distribution of pornographic links to thousands of children District-wide, she simply didn’t respond.
Finally, we asked Ms. Fisher whether she would get back to us with a report of Dr. Bull’s comments, but she said she thought that one of the office assistants would probably get back to us eventually.
… It just doesn’t say anything good about the direction of the CCSD when its leaders are afraid to look outside for fresh direction. It is the incestuous, inbred culture of the CCSD that has led to scandal after scandal, placing thousands of children in harms way. Promotion of the same people who perpetuated the problems to begin with only shows that the CCSD is afraid of outside scrutiny.
What else might they be hiding?