There is an old saying that when someone shows you who they are, you should believe them. Dysart Governing Board members Christine Pritchard, Dawn Densmore and Chrystal Chaffin have shown exactly who they are. They are three puppets who are being led by vindictive, prejudiced members of this community known as Liberty Choice.
Just recently, a founding member of the anti-Dysart, anti-public education group, Liberty Choice, El Mirage renter Marc Demers, wrote a satirical Op-Ed for this paper about Dr. Quinn Kellis [“Here’s the other side of Kellis’ removal story,” June 8].
His letter can only be characterized as a ludacris attempt to justify the mysterious Dr. Kellis forced resignation. As is typical of Mr. Demers, he tries so hard to sound like he knows what he’s talking about by using a lot of $5 words that he doesn’t quite grasp and tries to present skewed “facts” while forgetting that are public records to disprove him that his pieces really are comedy. Bad comedy, but comedy all the same. Let me help straighten out some of his misinformation.
It is public record that in May 2020, the vote was 2-1-1 to postpone Dr. Kellis’ performance review. Ms. Pritchard being the abstention. In June, the vote was 5-0 to approve his evaluation with all satisfactory marks and an 11% bonus. This was a unanimous decision meaning Dawn Densmore and Christine Pritchard both approved Dr. Kellis his exemplary performance. That same school year Dr. Kellis was named Superintendent of the Year.
This begs the question: Why would the board give an unfavorable review to a superintendent that just six months earlier received exemplary marks and an 11% raise?
The thing is, there is no justification to the forced resignation of Dr. Kellis. Dr. Kellis had a 92% approval rating in the community and a 96% approval rating from his employees. The district has received countless recognitions and awards under his leadership. Our students have had higher academic success, achieved more accolades for arts and sports than ever before under his leadership.
But in January 2021, that all came to a crashing halt. Ms. Pritchard put forth a motion to change the governance structure of the board as she, Ms. Densmore and the newly elected Ms. Chaffin didn’t want a democratic process anymore. They wanted complete power. This change in governance structure completely prevents the superintendent from doing his job which is managing the day-to-day operations of the district.
Since the change in the governance structure, teacher morale has been at an all-time low with great teachers and staff leaving the district, class sizes grew to nearly unmanageable levels causing innumerable behavior issues. The board voted 3-2 (Pritchard, Chaffin, and Densmore) to reduce the hours for social workers who could assist with those behavior issues in addition to reducing the bullying issues plaguing several of our schools.
The board, led by Pritchard, Chaffin and Densmore, also increased the cost of health care benefits thereby negating any cost-of-living raise teachers and staff were to receive, raises that taxpayers requested. In some cases, the increase was so significant that there are employees who would have had to owe the district money back to work here.
Academic gains have been lost since this 3-2 stranglehold on decision-making. There has been a revolving door of substitute teachers who are not certified teachers as well as the lack of retention of our experienced teachers. This means brand new teachers with no experience trying to support students with no support themselves. Meanwhile, our property taxes are still being allocated toward the Dysart override’s promise of retaining teachers and keeping class sizes low.
Ms. Densmore, Ms. Pritchard and Ms. Chaffin have a sworn duty to uphold the terms of the override as promised to the taxpayers when we voted yes to support the Dysart override. That means you, me, us.
The continued misuse of the community’s property tax dollars are complete malfeasance. And who is the benefactor pulling the strings that helped Pritchard and Chaffin get elected and is supporting Densmore’s re-election? The other founder of Liberty Choice, El Mirage Councilman Michael Hutchinson.
Demers and Councilman Hutchinson have made no secret of their prejudice toward Dr. Kellis. They attempt to misdirect people that their motivations are based in trying to help the community. Councilman Hutchinson is the primary donor to Liberty Choice’s anti-Dysart, anti-public education campaigns. He has spent thousands of personal funds to undermine our public schools. He was the sole donor to Mr. Demers’ failed governing board campaign.
Both he and Mr. Demers have been very vocal in vehemently opposing any efforts the district attempted to support school safety, school overcrowding, retaining teachers and lowering class sizes. They have appeared at governing board meetings repeatedly and are on the record publicly scolding the governing board for overspending and not caring about the community
They would post childish, slanderous memes about Dr. Kellis and other members of the community. Prior to his recent op-ed, Mr. Demers shared his feelings on the El Mirage Politics Facebook page about Dr. Kellis and other members of the community by comparing the Church of Latter-Day Saints to being a cult.
Dr. Kellis is a member of the LDS community. Mr. Demers said, “I don’t know what goes on in the darkness of their very secret ‘behind closed doors’ ritualistic, Masonic temples” and followed up with “they are a cult ure steeped in secrecy ‘behind closed doors’ rituals.”
He named Dr. Kellis, Ms. Jennifer Tanner, Dr. Spencer Bailey and Mr. Jay Leonard as part of that “cult” and that they needed to be stopped. He even called Jay Leonard “another ranking member of the Mormon cult” in his online rant. The irony that he wasn’t brave enough to post such bigotry in his Op-Ed is not surprising. Most racists do try to hide their real feelings unless among other like-minded people.
This same Liberty Choice leader has made vile, slanderous statements about Dysart’s “overspending” yet in the same breath is ironically, in favor of a frivolous $312,000 expenditure in the forced resignation of Dr. Kellis as well as the $500,000+ unnecessary expenditure of a nationwide search for a new superintendent.
It’s painfully obvious that the motivations of Mr. Demers and Councilman Hutchinson had absolutely nothing to do with “saving” taxpayers as they previously exclaimed. It’s been about their religious prejudice all along. This alone proves how disingenuous Mr. Demers and Councilman Hutchinson have been to their followers all along. This has never been about money. This has been a personal vendetta laced in discrimination and bigotry that has become so common place among their kind.
It’s not hard to connect the dots and to see who is really pulling the strings on the Dysart Governing Board. No matter what sort of smoke-and-mirrors Mr. Demers and Councilman Hutchinson use to try to misdirect this community, it really only boils down to one thing — all you have to do is follow the money.
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