Poor hiring decisions hurt public’s view of education

‘Call the Tune’ by Mike Anthony

By Mike Anthony

Mehlville School District officials and Board of Education members are scratching their heads over how former Fox School District Superintendent Dianne Critchlow recently served as a quality-assurance inspector to oversee state testing at Oakville Elementary School.

Critchlow, who retired from Fox last fall, is the subject of a laundry list of allegations concerning her spending habits as superintendent — not to mention that she and her husband are among the defendants in a lawsuit that alleges they posted defamatory statements online about residents who criticized Fox. Critchlow’s husband, Jamie, who served as a district administrator, was fired last year by the Fox Board of Education.

Fox officials also requested a state audit, which is underway by State Auditor Nicole Galloway.

Given that, a logical question is how does Dianne Critchlow set foot in a Mehlville school — or any public school?

She was hired by the Pearson Group, an independent contractor, which was hired by the Missouri Office of Administration/Division of Purchasing on behalf of the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, or DESE.

Apparently, the Pearson Group has never heard of Google, as a simple search would have yielded numerous hits that don’t exactly shine the best light on Critchlow. At the very least, such a search would have raised a red flag. And what of DESE’s responsibility? Shouldn’t it be incumbent upon a state agency to know the employees an independent contractor is hiring on its behalf?

But DESE’s track record for hiring its own employees isn’t exactly stellar.

As readers might recall, DESE hired former Mehlville Superintendent Tim Ricker as an area supervisor in March 2012 — just months after he resigned as superintendent of the Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District 113A in Lemont, Ill.

It’s no secret that we believe history will judge Ricker to be one of the worst — if not the worst — superintendent in the history of the Mehlville School District.

Ironically, we believe many residents of the Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District would share that sentiment about his tenure there.

As we’ve noted before, some wonder why public education suffers from a serious perception problem.

Quite frankly, it’s bone-headed decisions like these that foster that perception.