Flagler County School Board: Resignations NOW!

It’s time for a State Appointed Special Prosecutor.

Nothing is worse than to send your child to school and have them preyed upon by a teacher who uses them for a sexual party.

The only thing that could be worse is a school district that quashes the inconvenient truth and winds up having history repeat itself a few years later. That’s what happened at Flagler County Schools and we demand accountability; we want resignations!

There were three school board members that presided over the first major molestation case  that were still on the board for the second molestation case and still present members. This is very significant because this second case will likely result in a massive multimillion dollar settlement due to pure negligence by the school board for a failure to take affirmative action to prevent this kind of thing from happening again.

Somehow these “virtual school board members for life” just didn’t get around to establishing any policies that would prevent a second molestation event. They didn’t establish any protections for the child; didn’t undertake any investigation into other instances or risks; didn’t improve background checks; didn’t provide significant new zero tolerance polices or anything else. They did essentially nothing and if not for that negligence and laxness, the district wouldn’t be facing the prospect of a massive civil suit which they will surely lose.

The first molester case disclosed was Antonio Izquierdo in 2008. Antonio Izquierdo remains in prison for preying on a 16 year old male high school student.

The second case  going to trial unless a plea deal is struck is that of James Wolfe. That incident involved a 16 year old girl and the incident occurred in 2011 and he was arrested in 2013.

In both cases the children remained silent for two years until they turned 18 years of age and had graduated.  They were clearly afraid to come forward.  That’s how much they trusted this school district! That’s both cases.  Imagine them carrying that internal burden for two years; imagine the loss of innocence, the stigma. It shocks the senses.

Aside from the three school board members Andrew Dance, Colleen Conklin, and Susan Dickenson, that had a fiduciary duty to prevent a second molestation episode from occurring, the School Board Attorney Kristy Gavin was protecting the School Board, not the student who was molested. She was advising the School Board on how to distance themselves from the fallout. As one would expect, the School Board took the position that there was no negligence on part of the school board or its members. The matter was hushed. This is why we need a special prosecutor at the state level.

Gavin had subsequently been hired as “in house counsel for the School Baord.” over all other high quality local attorneys. Of course that job was never publicly advertised as it should have been. It was an inside job and Gavin was the only applicant and only person interviewed. That’s the kind of School Board we have in Flagler County; running as close as possible to the ethical edge at all times.

Maybe she got hired on the strength of her work over the Izquierdo case. After all, that case got the best silent treatment School Board money could buy. That case literally vanished off the radar screen. The average citizen in Palm Coast knows nothing about it. The press couldn’t bring up the issue at a school board meeting without getting stonewalled. Sweep those sexual predator cases under the rug and whatever you do, don’t disclose it to home buyers that have children. Ms. Gavin of course is smart; she sends her kids to out of town private schools.

The School Board meanwhile was still advertising what great schools we have. There were no disclaimers or asterisks to suggest that the school had sexual conduct problems with its teachers. But it had plenty of those problems though not all leading to molestation of children. However one incident involved child pornography which is particularly disturbing. But with your own in-house counsel, the School Board members can now button this stuff up and go on with business as usual; put on a big politician smile and forget the products of their gross negligence.

This blackout on the James Wolfe molester case is astonishing. The School Board of Flagler County acts as if it has never happened.  I guess we can thank Gavin for having “experience” now with handling molester cases and tucking them away in the quite zone. To the school board members she must be worth her weight in gold. Only the community suffers with these blackouts.

Gavin has been representing the School Board since 2006.  Conklin has been on the School Board since 2000.  She has no job outside of this school board position and has continued to go to college at the taxpayer’s expense.

Dickenson has also been on the School Board since 2000 along with Conklin and also presently apparently has no other outside employment. They both get healthcare and pension benefits from the school district.

Andy Dance is a bit of an enigma.  I am not sure what his credentials are other than his mother Nancy Dance was a member of the School Board for many years.  He’s apparently a landscaping consultant.  I guess sitting on the School Board is a family business of some kind though nepotism is hardly a credential. Though Dance came late to the board in 2008, he was still obligated to put safeguards in place to prevent a second molestation case which occurred on his watch.

Why will this be a monumentally costly civil suit and bankrupt the School District?

What we have here is a situation where essentially no affirmative action was taken by these four employees of the School District to protect the citizens or the children from a second sexual molestation and statutory rape of a child attending school. They protected themselves and their own personal interests but failed the most important test of a School District employee, to hold sacred the public trust and protect and educate the children.

The fact that these employees linger on after a second molestation without a single resignation means they view this as business as usual and continue to miss the whole point that they were expected to put measures in place and prevent a subsequent sexual attack on a District child by a teacher. It is incomprehensible that there is no culpability here.

In a large Civil Suit, which will happen, plaintiff’s attorney will look at the prior case, look at the people in charge and the lack of safeguards put in place.  This may qualify as gross negligence earning treble damages or pierce the corporate shell and go after the personal assets of these School Board members.

We don’t want Ms. Gavin settling this matter behind closed doors and simply writing a large check to plaintiff’s attorney in the dark of night. This is taxpayer money not her money; this is a public school. We need a Special Prosecutor on this case, not some inside deal. Taxpayers are not responsible for the gross negligence of this School Board or the sexual predator cloud that hangs over Flagler County Schools.

This is true scandal and it requires accountability and resignations. We think the four individuals that had direct responsibility to prevent a second molestation case but failed should resign immediately.

We think the attorney who though hired by the School Board, may not perceive her professional duty to the safety of the children of this district and may think she only represents the School Board and its members by quashing inquiries and promoting the notion that nothing in the world is wrong with the School District. These children were wronged. Hiding behind a Florida Statute that presumes no negligent hiring by an employer misses the whole point of how an employer remedies ongoing sexual molester problems in a public school that invites parents to send their children.

There was no statement in School District Advertisements that disclosed any of the sexual or quasi-sexual misconduct of teachers. Instead parents were lied to that the schools were safe. That’s a false presumption.

Nothing is wrong?

James Wolfe: Palm Coast high school Teacher captured in a Flagler County Sheriff’s sting operation, admitted having sexual relations with a 16 year old. The incident occurred two years ago and Wolfe was arrested in August 2013.  He is presently out on bond. If convicted he could go to prison for 15 years.

Antonio Izquierdo:  Palm Coast High School Teacher was convicted of having sexual contact with a 16 year old male student. The incident occurred in January of 2008 and the former teacher was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Amberlee Evonne Meeker, an elementary school teacher and Palm Coast resident was arrested in January of 2012 on for solicitation of a minor by computer and disseminating obscene material to a minor under 16.  She was extradited to North Carolina. She worked in a South Daytona Elementary school until resigning. Though not an employee of Flagler County, was arrested in Palm Coast on an indictment from North Carolina. Apparently she had an interest in working for Flagler County School District and was on a waiting list!

Daniel Joseph Biles,  a teacher’s aide in the Flagler County School District, was arrested and charged with ten counts of possession of child pornography.  April 2012.

Steve Knob, a 25 year veteran Teacher and Band Director was using his school computer to surf porn.  He got caught after the computer crashed and had to be fixed.  November 2011. The trouble with this story is that although the infraction was victimless, the school district attempted to cover it up.

At first Knob left his job under the guise of “family health problems” which was a  false cover story.  He received a quiet reprimand by the District but his record was disguised so he could seek other employment at another school district if he wished. In other words, the fix was in to not fully disclose this information to another school district or private school employer. While this may have been pure foolishness by Knob and deeply regretted by him,  this is a material issue that any future employer would want to know.  It reflects poorly on Knob’s judgment but it demonstrates the blatant dishonestly of the School Board to hide the information from another unsuspecting school district.

I would love to hear School Board Attorney Gavin’s response on this form of school board employer caveat emptor.  She was advising the Board. In other words… Flagler sends there problems out to other schools with a clean slate without any disclosure whatsoever. The school district would accumulate virtually unlimited liability covering up these employment records. Truly pathetic. What kind of ethics is this?

While Knob is the least offensive of the misconduct so far reported at the Flagler School District, the School Board should resign because they attempted a coverup. This is in violation of the Sunshine Laws and is a scourge to the parents who send their children to these schools and other schools in the region. This is an example where the best interests of the students were disregarded in favor of protecting a teacher from an irresponsible act and covering it up. That is simple garden variety dishonesty by public officials; and they all knew about it and were good with hushing it up. But the truth surfaced and the back peddling began.

I believe Mr. Knob to be  lacking in judgement. But the School Board conduct in this case was to cover it up and that is a breach of the public trust. It is an intentional lie. There must be some accountability. We don’t want School Boards reaching for a coverup when something is embarrassing to them. We don’t want spin;  we want the facts. We don’t need a bureaucracy protecting itself, especially one that has a history suggesting that it needs very serious oversight, or one that has its own hand picked attorney / employee.

Whatever policy was installed to prevent another incident, it didn’t work and the same Board members from 2008, had a duty of oversight which clearly failed.  Maybe they had short memories.  Teacher Child sexual molestation is not something many would forget especially the children who are scarred for life! Imagine the anger of the parents!

Some Board members think their tenure is a permanent lifetime position, some think it is a family chair, some think it is a kind of quasi employment arrangement with a pension plan and educational benefits and lots of free time.  Results speak for themselves.

The ship has gone down again, and the School Board bears responsibility because in the end, this blunder, this lack of oversight will cost the taxpayers a bundle if Wolfe is convicted. It could cost millions to the taxpayers. Penn State settled the Sandusky case for $59.7 million.  We don’t want Ms. Gavin negotiating a settlement for the Taxpayers on behalf of her School Board client.  She does not represent the Taxpayers.  She represents the School Board.  She has been advising them since 2006 and now she is a District employee. That might be misconstrued as a conflict of interest.  We want this out in the opened in the hands of a Special Prosecutor.

If Wolfe had any red flags or other students come forward, then those “long sitting” School Board Members will have to atone for what went wrong. They can’t just sit there and watch egregious episodes like this occur on their watch and laugh all the way to the bank and point fingers at school administrators. It was their duty to protect the children and they failed in that duty. They failed miserably. They collected a paycheck and did nothing to protect the children.

The buck stops at the School Board. It will be their mismanagement, their useless lack of oversight that brings this raining down on the taxpayers again because Plaintiff’s attorney is going to look to the past. These Board members can’t just sit there and blame everyone else.  They have been there for years, some for more than a decade.  They need to resign. This matter is serious  and more serious because it happened in 2008 and now again. Where were the safeguards?

Policies will be examined and they will be put under a microscope to see how they were implemented. Teacher training will be an issue and Board action will be examined including attempts at covering it up. In fact Board action will be examined in all cases. Any violations of procedure could result in in personal liability for the Board members themselves.  It is not enough for the Board to act shocked and to point fingers at administrators, the Board sets policies and somehow, we are back in a situation where a student has suffered what appears to be sexual abuse as a minor. Heads must roll this time and those heads should be the School Board members themselves not some administrative scapegoats.

Weep for the children, not these politicians on the School Board. Their gross negligence is going to cost you plenty.  This is too awful, too egregious to continue without real accountability.  The School Board hired these teacher predators and did the basic minimum one would do at a place of business like a tire shop.

There needs to be a special prosecutor appointed by the Governor and a full investigation.  School Board members and Ms. Gavin; we demand your resignations NOW.

One more consideration: John Fisher needs to resign!

There is still a shroud of darkness over John Fisher’s non-emergency phone calls to former Sheriff Flemming in regard to Fisher’s wife, Jamesine Fisher’s hit and run killing of 76 year old Francois Pecqueur.

Fisher did not report the hit and run until 11 HOURS AFTER the incident! Eleven Hours! Mrs. Pecqueur was walking her dog and died from her injuries. John Fisher, School Board Member, made six phone calls to his friend Sheriff Flemming before any arrest was made.  SIX PHONE CALLS!

Mrs. Fisher eventually plead guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and will spend a minimum of 21 months in state prison. Not much of a sentence for a hit and run homicide but I guess John Fisher’s six phone calls placed eleven hours after the incident while Mrs. Pequeur’s life ebbed away from internal injuries was a useful tactic for Mrs. Fisher.

You might recall that Gov Scott removed the case from Flagler County because Sheriff Flemming was a witness and was also up for reelection.  What a politically stinking mess.

It is unimaginable that Fisher has not resigned from the School Board on the basis of the clear conflict of interest and the suspicious 6 phone calls he made to his pal Sheriff Fleming while 76 year old Francoise Pecqueur’s life ebbed away. 11 hours had gone by before the Fisher reported the incident.  It is about appearances.  Sort of has the ring of Teddy Kennedy in Chappaquiddick; in Teddy’s case enough time to sober up. Of course we will never know what happened during the 11 hour laps of time in the Fisher case other than Mrs. Pecqueur’s life slipping away to eternity.

A wrongful death suit was settled against Fisher for $1.25 million. In Florida these are difficult actions to collect on a judgment. I guess in retrospect that Fisher’s six phone calls turned into a pretty cleaver strategy. Life is cheap in Palm Coast when the fingers of the politicians get to work.

WE DEMAND RESIGNATIONS!

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