Rogue Castaways:Hostile Takeover
Episode 3 – “Unchained” Transcript
Well, we HAD several items we needed to cover in this episode of Hostile Takeover to bring everyone back up to speed on what’s happening at Mason Classical Academy…..
However , recent national events have put the spotlight back on race relations in the United States….and I would be remiss if I didn’t take a second to recognize those that are suffering over something much bigger than the option of good schools we have to choose from here in Collier County.
Because that’s the reality of this struggle folks. We may disagree what constitutes a good school and a bad school, but choosing between MCA and one of the other schools in Collier County does not have the life or death implications it has in other parts of this country.
And While millions of people in this country are sympathetic to those hurting over the circumstances that led to the death of George Floyd, this is nothing new to those that have suffered through discrimination for their entire lives.
The George Floyd story is not new and unfortunately, this same story has repeated itself time and time again throughout the history of the United States.
We as a country have forgotten what it’s like to be a ‘we’ and unfortunately, it takes the senseless death of an innocent black man to bring that struggle back to the forefront.
Now we are at risk of letting this injustice slip to the backburner again, if real and meaningful change isn’t pursued.
You might ask me, what has the story about Mason Classical Academy got to do with race relations and the death of George Floyd? Your podcast is about MCA isn’t it?
Well…. yes it is….but an email that was sent out by Kelly Mason Lichter yesterday to all the parents of MCA students is a perfect example of why efforts at real change in this country have failed in the past.
To put the email sent by Kelly Lichter into context, you need to read the email sent out by Kamela Patton, the superintendent of the Collier County Public Schools on June 4th.
Ms. Patton’s email addressed the death of George Floyd and shared her opinion that we all need to communicate better with each other to make sure that those who might be marginalized due to their race or ethnicity can be heard and treated equally.
Kelly Lichter’s response in her email….. was to complain that, “MCA has not been heard.” She goes on to point out that she has a report detailing all the false accusations of the alleged wrongdoing leveled at the leadership of MCA and how the parents and children of MCA have been ‘terrorized’ by Collier County Public Schools.
Yes she actually used the word “terrorized”.
I’ve watched the video of the police officer with his knee on the neck of George Floyd…..THAT is someone that was terrorized. Not Kelly Lichter.
Kelly refers to Ms. Patton’s email and likens her problems at MCA to those that suffer racial and prejudicial discrimination, showing how little some people understand the impact of being disregarded as a human being because of your race, creed, or color.
The email in and of itself is a racist act….even though it is unlikely that the author would ever recognize it as such.
Her single mindedness and pure hatred towards people have blinded her to recognizing what she has done by writing this email. This is the true nature of racism. The failure to even understand what you are doing by putting your egotistic desires above all else, even another person’s humanity.
I’m going to cut this episode short today, in the hopes that you take the time you would have spent listening to this podcast to pull your children and loved one’s aside this weekend and teach them about racism and respect for one another.
Have a great weekend….and thanks for listening.
Good afternoon and thanks for listening to the RogueCastaways:Hostile Takeover. I wanted to get this Bonus Episode out there this week, so that everyone that could not listen to the CCPS Board meeting last week was updated on exactly what happened. I know that Nick & Kelly Lichter have been posting their usual spin about what happened at the Board Meeting but I wanted everyone to know the facts, not their contrived fantasies.
But, before we get started, I wanted to remind you to go over to roguecastaways.com and click the subscribe button, if you haven’t done so already. That will allow you to receive the latest updates from us in your email, as we release them AND as our subscriber numbers increase, our webpage will show up in more relevant searches, spreading the word about the criminals that have hijacked Mason Classical Academy.
And don’t forget about our upcoming episode about the charter school consulting company that Nick, Kelly, David Hull, and Gina Smith started and what they did to the school that signed up with them in the Osceola School District.
We’re really excited to get that episode out to you, because it is a perfect example of the kind of fraud that has been perpetrated by these criminals for almost six years.
But now….on with the show
We’re going to start this episode by pointing out that CCPS is continuing to conduct their board meetings virtually in response to the covid-19 pandemic that has paralyzed much of the world. They usually hold their meetings in the Dr Martin Luther King Jr Administration Building here in Naples, however they do televise their meetings on the local Education Channel and via a streaming platform linked in their website. These meetings were televised prior to the pandemic, so the availability to watch or listen to these meetings without attending has existed for some time.
Something that was different for this meeting, though, was that the Board announced that due to the virtual nature of the meeting and there being no in person attendees, in accordance with the modifications enacted by Governor Desantis, CCPS would only allow public comments to be read during the meeting on items that were up for action or vote, but not for information only items.
Of course, this led to Nick & Kelly throwing their typical hissy fit about not being able to exercise their right to rant and lie ad nauseum. I do understand that the 2-3 speakers that MCA has during their virtual board meetings is considerably easier to manage than it would be for potentially hundreds of comments that could be presented at the CCPS meeting, but I also understand that NORMAL citizens may also have a problem with not being able to express their thoughts on every subject during the meeting as well.
But, I also want to point out the incredible hypocrisy of Kelly Lichter complaining about her first amendment rights being violated, when we’ve got dozens of examples of Kelly Lichter and David Hull going to extreme lengths to suppress the public’s first amendment rights, when anyone disagrees with their position. I am sure at this point that everyone has recognized the crippling narcissism and the unadulterated hate that exists in this woman.
I’ve been told by someone outside this fight, that everytime they speak with Kelly Lichter, it doesn’t matter what subject matter they are discussing, she immediately starts ranting about how horrible Erika Donalds is and how unfair it is that everyone focuses on her when Erika is a bigger criminal.
While Erika and Kelly may have been allies at some point, it is apparent that they’ve since had a falling out and given the fact that Erika has been successful at building a charter management company and Kelly has failed, I’m sure there is quite a bit of sour grapes that goes along with that……add to the mix the fact that Kelly Lichter, David Hull, and Gena Smith are ‘tainted’ in the eyes of the education community, and unlikely to ever work in education again after this incredible debacle and you can see how it is likely that Kelly is foaming at the mouth over Erika’s success.
That pretty much answers the question as to why a ‘volunteer’ would be going to such lengths. As more and more documentation has poured in from multiple sources, we’re starting to get an understanding about ‘where the bodies are buried’ and likely why this group has held on so tightly for so long. The MCA tax returns, independent annual audits, and the audit of the mediation agreement compliance, or lack thereof, have a lot to do with that……But thats a story for another day…..
We’ll skip over all the other formalities of the CCPS meeting and get straight to the MCA Information Session that everyone has been talking about. Jon Fishbane, the in-house attorney for the Collier County Public Schools presented to the Board first, listing several events and items of note as it pertains to MCA.
He pointed out that he had just received a letter from Kelly Lichter this week.
Kelly called Mr. Fishbane a liar for stating that Gina Smith had a provision in her contract that provided her the same lump sum payment for the remainder of her contract, like the other employees that allegedly attempted to steal almost $900,000 from the school. Mr. Fishbane produced a copy of the contract signed by Gina Smith in November 2019 showing that she appears to be a willing participant in the Golden Parachute Scandal. He also produced a document by Pam Vickaryous indicating that Mrs. Lichter instructed her to insert the lump sum terminology in the contracts of employees of MCA that have been sympathetic to Kelly Lichter’s ‘cause’.
A sticking point from the mediation in July of last year had been the continuation of David Hull’s employment as principal due to his unethical and illegal actions as it relates to parents, students and teachers at MCA. MCA brushed off this issue in mediation because Hull had resigned as principal. However, it has been pointed out that David Hull has been acting as the defacto principal since school resumed this year. MCA disputed this, but as Mr. Fishbane pointed out, David Hull’s Executive Director contract, was ‘similar’ to school principal’s contract.
Mr. Fishbane read the description of the Principal position in Pam Vickaryous’ contract and then read the description of the Executive Director position in David Hull’s contract. The language is identical.
They also touched on the firing of Richard Moore, the school compliance officer, who was terminated for doing his job as and notifying the MCA Board of the conflict with MCA contracting with Captivated Health, the insurance company that David Bolduc worked for as an insurance agent.
CCPS talked about being notified of a ‘toxic mold’ issue at the school that has existed for some time and apparently has remained un-addressed with the building owner. However, instead of just contacting the building owner and discussing the situation, MCA has engaged another attorney to approach the building owner about the issue.
Once Mr. Fishbane had addressed the more recent issues, he invited Jim Fox, outside counsel for the district, to discuss his progress in making sure MCA had complied with the agreement to operate within the law.
Mr. Fox stated that his firm sent three letters to MCA to address the many issues and violations before determining that the relationship with MCA was ‘untenable’.
Mr. Fox listed the multiple types of violations that have occurred that include but are not limited to violating State Law, the Constitution of the State of Florida, and the Constitution of the United States.
He pointed out that MCA has accused his firm of basing all of their conclusions on information obtained through a third party website. He denied using this website as an absolute reference and stated that his firm reviewed every meeting agenda and every set of meeting minutes to determine the violations of the sunshine laws.
Mr. Fox pointed out that using Emergency Meetings for every-day items, as MCA has done, is not acceptable. He stated that he can only think of two times in his years of experience working with government agencies that there was a need for emergency meetings: hurricanes and covid-19. MCA had responded to Mr. Fox that they only used the Emergency Meetings 35% of the time.
Mr. Fox pointed out that MCA’s attorney inappropriately referred to a case in an Alabama Supreme Court over a trust & estates matter as guidance to support their position here in Florida.
Additionally, they referred to a sunshine law case here in Florida that was previously cited by Mr. Fox’s firm. MCA’s attorney stated that the case supported MCA’s position for ‘substantial compliance’ in conducting a shade meeting, when in fact the MCA attorney had completely missed that the trial court AND the appeals court had determined that ‘substantial compliance’ was NOT acceptable, especially given how easy it was for agencies to comply with the requirements of the law.
Mr Fox wrapped up his presentation by stating that he didn’t know how to proceed with this group, as their actions have defied logic.
The Board thanked Mr. Fox asked Mr. Fishbane what actions he thought he would be recommending going forward. Mr. Fishbane stated that he thought that the school should re-open for the new school year, but that there was not much choice left but to detail the continuing issues and place MCA into a probationary status. The Board thanked Mr. Fishbane and quickly wrapped up the meeting shortly thereafter.
So, what does this all mean? Where is CCPS going with this probation and how will MCA leadership react? I think we are starting to see the direction that CCPS is taking with this group.
I believe they will give the MCA Leadership team one more chance to start complying with their own policies and the law. But at this point, I don’t think there is any possibility that MCA would comply with the law, even if they were capable of doing so. If we’ve learned anything, we’ve learned that this leadership group has reached a point in the operation of this school that it is too big for them to handle. They are not good at details and their response to failing is to blame others.
I truly believe that they have been trying to force the district to close the school. Why?
Well, if they are incapable of operating correctly and they know they are in over their heads, it’s better for them personally to allow the school to close and blame CCPS and all the other hundreds of co-conspirators, rather than own up to their own deficiencies. Try and salvage their own reputation….right?
But, I think there is another motive that is stronger than pride. MONEY. I think we’ve already seen a few of the attempts to ‘cash-out’ by board members and employees, but I think there is a large sum of money sitting out there that somebody thinks they will be able to put in their pocket and walk away, if CCPS closes the school.
That story….next time on RogueCastaways:Hostile Takeover…..
Welcome back to the Hostile Takeover podcast. Today, we’ll be talking about one of the many illegal strategies that the Board of Mason Classical Academy has used to help retain control of this school.
But first, I want to remind all of our listeners that there is a Collier County Public School Board Virtual Meeting this afternoon, June 9th.
This meeting may be very important to the future of MCA, as it is expected that the Board will discuss the information presented by the school district’s counsel, Jon Fishbane that includes the most recent violations and possibly detail a roadmap to the next action the Board may need to take, in order to deal with the school’s endless list of crimes.
If you’ve listened to any of our previous episodes, you know that the information we have shared with you regarding this school’s actions is quite shocking.
But, we haven’t even scratched the surface yet on all their shady and illegal activities.
In today’s episode, we’ll talk a little bit about the sunshine laws and why they were enacted. Then we’ll discuss the Phantom Lawsuit that MCA illegally kept from the public and why this is such a big deal.
But first, I want to thank everyone again for listening to this podcast. We’ve been growing our audience exponentially every week and we’re starting to pull in listeners from throughout the country. If you haven’t subscribed to our updates yet, go on over to roguecastaways.com and hit the subscribe button. Now…..The Phantom Lawsuit.
The State of Florida, like every other state in the Union, has laws that require public agencies and organizations, including schools, to operate in the “sunshine”. What does this mean? In general, the law requires that any organization subject to the sunshine laws must operate openly and not restrict its citizens from being able to view the organizations documents and activities.
This law harkens back to when the crafters of the U. S. Constitution were lobbying for ratification by publishing the “The Federalist Papers”. In Federalist No. 49, James Madison, argued that, “…the people are the only legitimate foundation of power, and it is from them that the constitutional charter … is derived.’
The sunshine laws are meant to protect the people from the government acting outside the view of the people.
THIS is a big issue for Mason Classical Academy because so much of what they have done, they have done in secret and to keep the public from knowing what actions they were taking at any given time. David Hull confirmed this strategy to me in a phone call back in 2017. He had actively concealed information about an incident in which a teacher had taped a student’s mouth in order to keep them quiet. He justified hiding the information by saying that the school was constantly under attack and they had to do everything they could to keep the public from hearing about these issues because they were being treated unfairly by so many.
I eventually followed up with an email to him telling him that if he had released a statement about the action they took immediately after they found out about the incident that it would have actually made the school look good in the eyes of the media because they were quick and decisive in deciding to end this teacher’s employment. Hull’s response? He plagiarized my email word-for-word and released the statement to the public that day.
It’s this kind of unethical behavior that has put MCA in the spotlight more than anything else.
Back to the sunshine laws….
Under these laws, a school Board may not meet outside a board meeting that has been announced to the public, so that the public may attend and listen to the activities of the organization. The Board members may not have any discussions outside a publicly announced board meeting, as they would be considered violating the sunshine laws. The discussion rules apply to face-to-face meetings, phone calls, chat rooms, emails and any other communication method that you can think of.
A common trick that MCA has employed to try and avoid violating the sunshine laws has been to have David Hull act as the messenger. He would approach members before board meetings and instruct them how to vote, he would provide them direction on what they would say.
He recruited one Board member by coming to their house and asking that person to join the board.
The person asked whether it was him or his wife that they wanted to join….Hull said it didn’t matter because that person would always vote the same as Kelly Licther, without deviation, period, end of story.
There is an exception to the meeting in public rule though. In the case of discussion of strategy or a decision on how to proceed on a lawsuit, as either a plaintiff or a defendant, the Board may meet privately with the board attorney and discuss the lawsuit details related to that lawsuit ONLY.
The process of conducting this meeting ‘in the shade’ was laid out in an Advisory Opinion from the Senior Assistant Attorney General for Florida in 2014. Gerry Hammond, the Senior Asst AG wrote that the organization’s attorney must advise the Board at a public meeting that he or she wishes to receive advice regarding the litigation.
The board members and attorney may then leave and meet in private, with a court reporter recording the entire session.
The organization must give appropriate public notice of the time and date of the session and the names of everyone in attendance.
The transcript shall be made part of the public record upon conclusion of the litigation.
So…..Why are we talking about this now?
In November of 2016, a former teacher at Mason Classical Academy, Iliana San Martin, filed a lawsuit against the school for Breach of Agreement for ‘failing to pay’ Ms. San Martin for salary amounts she said she was due when she left her employment at MCA….and for defamation when MCA employees or agents defamed Ms. San Martin with prospective employers.
The actual details of the lawsuit are not that relevant as it was how the lawsuit was handled that was the problem. What is relevant is that no decision or action or strategy or anything about the lawsuit was ever discussed at a Mason Classical Academy Board Meeting.
Initially, Ms. San Martin’s attorney sent a demand letter to the school for the back pay and for MCA to respond to her other complaints.
The school’s general counsel at the time, Shawn Arnold, was emailed the demand letter by Susan Turner and communicated with David Hull, Kelly Lichter, Susan Turner, and Chuck Marshall regarding the complaint, but not once did they ever discuss the demand letter or the eventual lawsuit in the ‘sunshine’ at an MCA Board Meeting. There is NO RECORD WHATSOEVER regarding this action in an MCA Agenda or in the MCA Minutes.
We will upload the emails this week and you will find that Mr. Arnold presents the strategy of responding to the demands and asks for specific documentation from David Hull, but they never discuss voting at a meeting regarding the school’s respons. In fact, he provides the suggested response to David Hull for approval, to which Mr. Hull responds, “Looks fantastic to me. Thank you!”
When Ms. San Martin eventually files a lawsuit, David Hull once again takes point on proceeding with document production.
Who voted David Hull the MCA representative to manage the activities associated with this lawsuit? There’s no record and no vote of the Board ever taking that action.
Yet, Kelly Mason Lichter is copied on all of these emails and asks questions throughout the process.
Kelly Lichter provided a signed affidavit about the nature of the school to include in a Motion to Dismiss by Mr. Arnold. But, when was she voted the representative to sign this affidavit?
It is not without some degree of irony that the affidavit actually states that, ‘The Governing Board of Mason Classical Academy, although a not for profit company, is governed by the same code of ethics as the Collier County School District and Florida’s Public Records Act and is required by Florida Law and the School’s Charter Contract to abide by both because Mason Classical Academy is a public school.’
Looking through public records on how the suit proceeded, there is a record of MCA receiving a settlement offer from Ms. San Martin. However, there was no Board meeting, in the sunshine, nor any announcement of any Board meeting in the shade to discuss her offer.
There’s also a record of MCA making their own settlement offer to Ms. San Martin. Once again, no public meeting to make an offer or notification of a shade meeting to discuss the offer that MCA was going to make.
There’s a motion by Shawn Arnold during the case requesting an extension of time stating that he was meeting with the ‘client’ in February 2017 regarding the case, but there is never any agenda or meeting minutes regarding the meeting. The ‘client’ he refers to is the school which is represented by the MCA Board, but there’s no record of a Board Meeting in which Shawn Arnold discusses the suit in the sunshine or the shade.
Is this Arnold’s fault or is this MCA’s fault? Well of course, MCA is going to blame their attorney, as that is a typical strategy when they are caught red handed. They know that no attorney, current or prior, will call them out for lying about what they did or did not tell their client. According to the MCA Board, the attorneys are the only reason mistakes are ever made.
But, the minutes of a Board Meeting on March 24, 2017 give you an indication of why they likely hid this lawsuit from the public. One item under “Board Comments” reads, “Mrs. Lichter discussed the school’s ongoing challenges with negative bias of the media…”
This lawsuit was happening at the same time that MCA was attempting to renew their charter, which was set to expire in June 2017, so it would make sense that they would cover up this lawsuit in order to prevent further embarrassment especially if they thought it would impact their chances at renewal of the charter.
This seems theory seems to be further corroborated by the statement released by the MCA Board in 2019 when they referred to their troubles in renewing the charter, “The district tried to non-renew our charter in 2017 after a fake news story appeared in the paper about low interest loan offers being refused – which never happened.”
We do know now that the ‘fake news’ claim was a lie, as there were offers for very low interest rate loans to the school. The main stipulation of those loans being that Kelly Mason Lichter had to resign from the Board in order for the school to receive the funds.
Mrs. Lichter has not failed to mention these offers time and again when she wants to defame the former board member that secured the loans. She likes to call them illegal loans with the goal of illegally removing her from the board. However, there was nothing illegal about the offers or the loans.
But, Kelly couldn’t allow herself to be removed from the Board, as it would be much more difficult for her to sell other school districts on her charter school consulting company if she was no longer associated with MCA. She had to keep this ‘job’. She had to keep ‘control’. She couldn’t allow others to take the school away from her.
As she has stated multiple times….it’s ‘her’ school.
If you want a school of your own….go start one. She’s gone as far as to email multiple parents a link to the state website with information on starting a charter school. This is Kelly’s school….it doesn’t belong to anyone but her and her convicted felon husband Nick.
The point of all of this is that Kelly Lichter and the other members of the Board, which she has securely under control, have made every effort to conceal their actions, as they have been unable to operate this school in the sunshine. Granted, it’s not an easy prospect to operate a school and stay ‘perfect’ in following the laws and regulations that apply to public schools, but there comes a point when you recognize that they are incapable of operating within the law.
That’s when things become really difficult for the school district and the state. On the surface, the school had performed beyond what is required. There are many students and parents that couldn’t be more happy with how this school has progressed.
But, you cannot only focus on the good without looking at the not so good….and the downright criminal. This leadership group…led by Kelly Lichter & David Hull, have also hurt many parents and students.
I’ve continuously heard parents make the statement, “Well, this is a school of choice. If you don’t like it, go elsewhere.” My response, “NO”. School choice does not mean that the school gets to operate with impunity. This is a taxpayer funded public school and there are rules that must be followed. If these people cannot operate within the rules, then they should resign and let other qualified parents come in and do the job.
And no…I’m saying that this school should be turned over to another charter school operator or anything like that. As I’ve said from the beginning, there are parents whose children attend this school that are more than capable of doing a better job than the group currently in charge.
But I am speaking to those that have written me and asked me to leave this leadership group alone. Have you asked Kelly and the Board to resign for the good of the school? If so, what was their response? I know their response….Kelly made it public….she said she wouldn’t allow this school to go on without her in charge and I fully expect that she will do everything she can to scuttle this school before letting anyone else take over.
Well….that’s it for today. If you havent gone over to roguecastaways.com yet and subscribed to our updates…please take a second and do that.
Next week – We’ll explore the secret charter school management company that Kelly, Nick, David Hull, and Gina Smith started and we’ll explore what happened to the one school they convinced they could help. And what that Board had to do to save the school from these people.
Next week on RogueCastaways:Hostile Takeover