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District Employee Files Sunshine Law Complaint Against School Board

A St. Joseph School District employee has filed a complaint with the Missouri Attorney General's Office alleging violations of state laws.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) A St. Joseph School District employee has filed a complaint with the Missouri Attorney General's Office alleging violations of a state law.

The district's director of human resources, Doug Flowers, filed the complaint that claims emails documenting a hostile work environment towards former superintendent Melody Smith were not released after a request.

The complaint singles out board member Chris Danford. She denies the charges.

"I believe when all the facts come out, it will be shown that I have the school district's best interests at heart," Danford said.

Danford thinks it's ironic Flowers would allege a Sunshine Law violation.

"When I decided to run for the school board two years ago, my platform was to be both on transparency and what was best for kids," Danford said.

The complaint and accompanying allegations come days after Danford expressed concerns over the approval of stipends for district employees and administrators. Superintendent, Dr. Fred Czerwonka has since said the district is considering eliminating the stipends.

Meanwhile, the school district feels like it's been put in the middle of the mess.

"We're in effect, bystanders, I suppose you would say," District spokesman Steve Huff said. "I can tell you it's obviously a very difficult, awkward situation. In many ways, it's heartbreaking for all concerned."

Danford says she, too, is upset by the situation.

"I spent my career here; 26 years working in the school district and I love the school district and love the community. My three kids went to the public schools and graduated from the public schools."

The Attorney General's office confirmed receipt of Flowers' complaint. A spokesperson said it could take a few weeks to review the case due to a high volume of Sunshine Law complaints. She says the office receives about 1,200 complaints each year.

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