Thousands of emails: Llewellyns blitz school officials with questions, complaints
Updated 4:41 pm, Saturday, August 3, 2013
The Llewellyns -- John and Dawn -- didn't just emerge in civic life in the midst of the recent controversy over "pilot" use of an Algebra 1 textbook in local classrooms.
John Llewellyn, a Republican candidate for the Board of Education in the fall, and his wife, Dawn, who filed a complaint with state education officials over the textbook's use, have been prolific in emails sent to school officials since at least 2007.
According to Deputy Superintendent of Schools Nancy Parks, the husband and wife have sent 4,168 emails as of July 16 to various school officials. The district first started archiving emails in mid-Janaury of 2007.
The Sturges Road couple's emails made available to the Fairfield Citizen range from requests for financial information to offers to conduct a study of the elementary math program to complaints about personnel at Riverfield Elementary School. Of the emails sent by the Llewellyns, just under 130 were sent to Central Office staff or school board members between January 2010 and July 2013.
John Llewellyn, as one of two GOP school board candidates on the November ballot, is guaranteed election to the board under minority representation rules.
Neither he nor his wife would comment for this story.
"As the union contracts make it impossible to terminate the less productive works, we should be rotating these non-productive staff members, such as Riverfield's principal, math resource teacher and IIT to other schools," Dawn Llewellyn wrote in a May 22, 2011, email to school board member Tim Kery. "It is called the `Lemon Dance' or `Turkey Trot.' Under different direction or mentoring, it might be possible to motivate these less successful teachers and administrators."
She said the town risks losing more motivated students to private schools, adding that her own daughter chose not to attend high school in Fairfield "as she did not feel she was challenged in several of her favorite subjects throughout middle school."
Dawn Llewellyn said that schools like Riverfield need to get rid of the "rotten apples" staff, and in another email, she said a deficit in instructional delivery at some elementary schools has forced them to seek outside programs.
"I fear, even know (sic) for my daughter's ability to perform at the high school level in Language Arts, since the middle school program has been watered down over the last few years," she wrote.
John Llewellyn, who currently has an FOI complaint pending against the school board, sent officials emails offering his help in analyzing the math program at the elementary schools and asking to take part in collective bargaining negotiations.
In Sept. 20, 2011, email to Superintendent David Title that mentions Riverfield had not met certain testing guidelines, John Llewellyn wrote, "Being that many of the areas that feed Riverfield had significant increases in property taxes this year relative other areas of town, it would be good to be able to explain the drop. The Riverfield district already has a declining reputation in the town; it is known as being weaker than many of the other elementary schools."
In February of this year, he made a request for financial information, which is the subject of the FOI complaint. It is not the first FOI complaint filed against the district by the Llewellyns, however. They filed a previous complaint regarding elementary math statistics, the goal of which John Llewellyn said was "to study the elementary math program and attempt to prove or disprove that one delivery method is having a more positive impact on students than another."
In this most recent request, John Llewellyn asked for:
"Any and all electronic accounting records that relate to cash receipts and disbursements, including all related accounting and/or booking detail for fiscal year 2011/2012 and year-to-date 2012/2013. Please include Fund Code, School Code, Department Code, Class Code, Program Code, Object Code, amount, check or wire transfer number, transaction description or memo field (as available), and any other accounting codes that are utilized to book entries to your general ledger. For the avoidance of doubt, I am requesting data that is at the level of greatest account detail, even if FPSS utilizes a different naming nomenclature for its accounts then the aforementioned. For the purposes of payroll related data, please do no include any personally identifiable information. This data should be in a raw electronic format, such as a database tables, Excel, cs or text.
Please provide a chart of accounts and descriptions related thereto (e.g. 43-Ffld Ward HS; 401-Instruction Supls/Matls; 6--Instructional Svcs; 56164-Text/Matls-Math Prog; etc). Please provide any field definition tables that will establish relationships between accounts and sub-accounts, as well as data tables and fields.
Please provide the latest detailed actual to budget report at the object level in an electronic format, such as Excel, csv, txt, or database format. If one of these formats is no available, please provide as a PDF.
Please provide me with a list of all reports that can be generated by your accounting and or booking system. This list should include both `standard' and `custom' reports.
In addition, please provide the latest open accounts payable report generated including vendor level detail ... If any documents MUST be provided in a PDF format, then those PDFs should be searchable ...As this request is for several simple data extracts, it is not meant to be time consuming or burdensome in its preparation."
The FOI complaint, filed June 3, 2013, states: "Basic accounting information was requested on February 6, 2012, from the Fairfield Public Schools and it has failed to provide a significant amount of this data.
The district provided limited and incomplete data on several occasions, but the nature of the information that was omitted has made a full and proper analysis of information provided not possible. The District has exhibited a pattern of delay and avoidance."
But Doreen T. Munsell, business director for the schools, told John Llewellyn that school officials believe they have "repeatedly complied" with his FOI requests. In a May 24 email Munsell wrote, "A considerable amount of data has been provided to you already. If information was not provided it is because you neglected to clarify your request or you have not paid the fee associated with the request. In addition, the information requested has changed over time."
On March 13, Munsell provided a USB flash drive in a PDF format to Llewellyn with balance account sheets, revenue, a chart of accounts, report forms, object code descriptors, school budget descriptors, detail object descriptors, summary object descriptors, location descriptors, program descriptors, department descriptors, funding source descriptors, sate of account with detail by summary. The school district's policy is to provide information in PDF form.
John Llewellyn was also told that expenditure reports that he requested comprise 3,373 pages that needed to be printed, reviewed for personal student information and redacted as necessary.
He was told it would cost $1,686 for those records, which would have to be prepaid, as well as additional fees equal to the hourly salary of board employees engaged in providing those reports and doing the necessary redactions.
He disputes that any fee can be charged per an email to Title: "... the comment related to board time required to redact information is not technically correct. Firstly, I was unaware that we compensated our board members. Secondly, the district is not entitled to seek reimbursement for the time required to redact documents under FOIA," he wrote.
According to Connecticut General Statutes, in determining the cost for copies, other than for a printout which exists at the time an agency responds to the request, the board can charge "An amount equal to the hourly salary attributed to all agency employees engaged in providing the prequested computer-stored public record, including their time performing the formatting or programming functions necessary to provide the copy as requested, but not including search or retrieval costs ..."
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