I just finished up a video by Rogue Rocket regarding the rise of Deepfakes and it struck a chord with me because I've noticed the downward spiral of institutional trust that exists in the 20th century. I also fear that a corrupt government agency like the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) could use this new technology to aid in their false allegations they've lodged against whistleblowers. I wouldn't put it past them considering some of the tactics they've used in the past.
While attending BYU, I attended a BYU Democrats meeting where Stephen M. R. Covey presented on his new book at the time, The Speed of Trust. Stephen M. R. Covey is the son of famed author, Stephen R. Covey (best known for The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People). While I have not personally read The Speed of Trust, Covey's message that night really resonated with me. He spoke about how the world operates on trust and the rate at which tasks are accomplished relies heavily on trust. The greater amount of trust that exists in society, the greater amount of productivity, economic success, and social wellbeing that will follow suit. The more I thought about it, the more I noticed this phenomena everywhere.
Why do we need to waste hours in line at the airport?
Because of a lack of trust as to whether someone will bring a weapon on the plane.
Why do we have to waste hours at the DMV/MVA?
Because of a lack of trust that we can drive. Because of a lack of trust that we own the car.
Why do we have passports?
Because of a lack of trust that foreigners entering our country might be a threat.
As soon as we lose trust, we slow down and become far less efficient.
Unfortunately, the United States (and maybe even the world at large) are in a state of declining institutional trust. It's the reason why so many different presidential hopefuls are currently highlighting restoring institutional trust as one of their major goals as president. One candidate I've been following extremely closely has been Andrew Yang, who is aiming to put in preventative measures to fight corruption such as eliminating corporate welfare and providing a universal basic income. I know a universal basic income would be one of the best ways to fight corruption, because then people wouldn't be as tied to their jobs. People would be free to speak out against the corruption, that my colleagues were unfortunately too fearful to do themselves in this current day and age.
Trust, or Lack Thereof, in DoDEA
I originally started this post with no intentions to go into detail about my experiences in DoDEA. However, it was almost impossible to avoid the elephant in the room as my greatest lost in trust in institutions came with my wrongful termination and then subsequent abandonment in Belgium by DoDEA. I realized that DoDEA was not what it was originally made out to be and that DoDEA is among one of the most corrupt organizations within our government.
You have backdoor deals made by their corrupt director, Tom Brady, who has shielded the likes of pedophiles, serial sexual harassers, physical abusers, and manipulators who head the different school districts and schools within DoDEA. Just like with the Catholic Church, if one acts up, they simply move them rather than properly disciplining them. Again, I want to emphasize this is not the case with every teacher and not even every principal in DoDEA. I had a wonderful experience with one principal, whose name I'll not mention as to keep her out of the fray. I've also had countless wonderful teacher colleagues and students who should hardly be included within the cesspool that goes by DoDEA.
Yet there are administrators such as Bernadette Schlueter who continually terminates employees based on falsified evidence that I feel it's my duty to continue to speak out. She threatened legal action against me because I allowed my students to video record themselves for a school assignment, yet you can take a look at photos posted daily on their school Facebook page.
I've hesitated to bring up her name in the past, but considering that she still has her job and the one thing that she prides more than anything is her image, its about time that I shed light on her abusive actions. She's made up false allegations of child molestation and sexual harassment to silence a couple of teachers at our school and she's terminated multiple teachers per year. I won't mention the names of her victims as they've already experienced enough trauma, many going to the hospital due to stress. However, I will mention the names of certain corrupt officials as they still have not been brought to justice.
When I ran into a couple of my students while grocery shopping over the weekend, my students asked me why I quit. When I told them I didn't quit, one of them said, "What?! She told us that you quit! All the girls in the class were crying."
Her underling Karen Jerome is much better at staying out of the public eye. Whereas Bernadette Schlueter is a socialite, aiming to always stand out and seem more important than she actually is. For example, there is this bullshit article about Bernadette Schlueter supposedly being one of the most influential Filipina's. However, once you do a little more research, you realize she was given the award by her own family. And in fact her degree comes from her own family's university. She also only has a job with DoDEA because her husband Richard Schlueter helped her land the job.
It's easier to dig up dirt on Tom Brady, because of that time he fired 1,926 Teachers (every single teacher in the district) on the same day. Although it can still be difficult because the fact that he shares the name of football star Tom Brady, and they both come from New England. However, on the other two it's significantly harder to find any evidence of wrongdoing. In fact, while searching for Karen Jerome will lead to hardly any results other than maybe this Facebook post of her "facilitating" a lesson on kindness.
Ironically, you will notice the date on the post is the same date that the below letter was given to me indicating that I did not have protections from the US government and they have the right to continue withdrawing money from my account indefinitely should there be an accounting error. Yet "accounting errors" happen all the time in DoDEA leading to annual threads about it in our DoDDS Teachers group. These teachers complain that even 5-10 years into retirement, they receive "debt letters" indicating they owe the government thousands of dollars because of "accounting errors." After seeing continual harassment from DoDEA, I'm starting to wonder how much is incompetence on their part and how much is simply just lies on the part of DoDEA.
I did end up bringing one principal into the mix that I was not personally involved with when I wrote a mass email to the staff whistleblowing about the abuses on SHAPE. I mentioned Mario Vanheuckelom, who was the principal of the middle school. While I did not have any personal bad interactions with Mario Vanheuckelom, I mentioned him because of his association with our assistant principal, Karen Jerome who is the one who began this mess in the first place.
From the stories I've heard from multiple veteran teachers at the school, Karen Jerome was an awful teacher who actually would have children run from her classroom. However, she got her position because of the heavy emphasis in education on data these days. Since Jerome collected enough data to win some Blue Ribbon award, she made SHAPE ES look good and thereby made Mario Vanheuckelom look good. It's unfortunate because awards like Blue Ribbon are absolutely meaningless if even incompetent administrators like Vanheuckelom and Jerome can earn one. In all honesty, the school deserves one, but because of the students, not the administrators. Of course these students are going to be outperforming plenty of other schools even with an over 50% ESL population. These are children of some of the brightest NATO officers from around the globe. So regardless of who is in charge, these kids would still be high performing.
Now while I never personally had problems with Mario Vanheuckelom, I've heard from many other teachers about his constant racism and sexism. I haven't personally witnessed these things but I can imagine they're true considering the time Mario Vanheuckelom was assaulted in 2004 while teaching in Murrieta Valley Unified School District in California by a parent who was trying to "defend her daughter against what she contendedwere[sic] bullying tactics." In the past, seeing an article like that might make me assume the mother is crazy. Now I realize, he probably was bullying her... I've also included a screenshot of the article in case they attempt to scrub the net, considering they've blocked access to my email, contacted base police, and used other tactics to hide evidence.
So who can we trust?
Superintendents? Obviously not...
When I emailed the superintendents Kenneth Worford and Wilford Wilhoit, I never received one single response from either superintendent. They obviously weren't busy though as I was informed by two other parents that they had scheduled meetings with Worford and Wilhoit. And when I got news, I had even headed to the school to meet them in person after they had ignored my multiple calls and emails. By this time I was already under house arrest from my principal, Bernadette Schlueter. When I got to the school it was locked by their secretary Linda Moreno, who sadly also cannot be trusted. Eventually Bernadette Schlueter allowed me into the building but said I could only wait for an hour. Of course, she knew he wouldn't show up until after that hour was finished, so after that she ordered me back on house arrest.
EEO, OSC, and IG Offices?
When I realized that the superintendents were not cooperating, I decided to go to EEO. I had actually heard about EEO from a district office employee who at the time I thought I could trust. I'll leave his name out of here, because I don't know his intentions. But he referred me to Donna Strickland who conveniently was sick when I had tried contacting her every day following the day I was told by the district employee office to contact her. I then started calling a couple different EEO offices and got news that one employee had quit and others did not respond. So as I began to lose more trust, I threw out a mass email to all the EEO employees, finally receiving an email from Ernest Ytuarte. I initially trusted him, until I Googled "Ytuarte EEO" and literally the second result was a court case where he had denied the claims of the teacher in defense of DoDEA.
Donna also happened to come into the office shortly thereafter and told me that I should contact HR. 42 minutes later and then I receive an email claiming I only have 2 days to respond regarding an EEO complaint. Then later on when I grew suspicious of her (and felt like maybe DoDEA was going to at least pay for my flight and shipment of belongings home) I decided to pretend like my problems were resolved so she'd leave me alone. I realized she was just passing information back and forth to HQ. Any evidence I gave her of wrongdoing on DoDEA's part went to HQ and DoDEA lawyers as well so they could strategize.
Things got even more suspicious when Donna Strickland claimed to have sent a letter to the address listed on my goodbye grievance. I never gave her a copy of my goodbye grievance and I had already stopped communicating with her as I had been suspicious of her.
The OSC official on my case also responded similarly.
And the IG took a couple weeks to get back to me, only to say that I needed to contact the DoDEA IG instead of the army one. It took them a couple weeks even after I did a writeup, and a long phone call explaining my situation, just for them to realize I went to the wrong department? It's also noticeably suspicious that they had contacted me right around the time a couple other offices had gotten back to me, despite having contacted them all at different times.
This is also a no go... As I mentioned before, EEO communicates frequently with HQ and HR acts basically as a team of lackeys for Tom Brady. I later on found out through an HQ informant that this kind of crap actually does happen. She let me know that half of HR doesn't know how to do their jobs properly because instead of receiving proper training, they are trained to be like KGB officers. They pick off teachers who says anything remotely mean about an administrator in the private DoDDS Teachers Facebook group and then report to those administrators so they can retaliate. This is how my principal was even able to know that I had posted a video from my class at Johns Hopkins on the page only 3 hours prior to school starting despite having blocked her on Facebook.
Also, speaking with HR only confirmed my suspicions. Leigh Johnson, who I was supposed to contact following my termination was conveniently out of office that week.
She was the only one I could supposedly dispute my case with, because when I tried contacting Michelle Ewii, she simply said that Leigh Johnson was the only one who could assist me. Well conveniently, Leigh Johnson was out of office until my official termination date, leaving it impossible to dispute my termination.
JAG - Legal Offices?
That was a joke too. I was told that I could not use JAG for any cases that regarded employment. Later on I was told once my IDs were confiscated that they could no longer assist me as I no longer had IDs. Not everyone who works for them is corrupt and I could see the empathy that some on their team had, but there are definitely some shady people in that building. So what exactly is the point of JAG then or are they only supposed to serve the military in their ability to cover up their own abuses? They can't assist me in legal matters where my employers is committing illegal actions? They can't assist me in defending myself against false allegations made by my principal? They can't assist me in helping me keep my job? They couldn't help me with preventing base officers from forcing me to remove my license plates? They couldn't even assisting me in making sure my rights to a flight home and shipping my belongings were honored? So that office was a joke...
Base Commander? Guess again...
When I approached the Base Commander for help, I was essentially lied to. He put on airs as if he was there to help, when in reality, he had already sent a request to remove me permanently from base. That's right, I've even had guest access revoked. When I went to pick up prescriptions at the clinic, I had to have a military police escort because they didn't trust me. Yet, I had to go back on base because they cut off my pay and my housing allowance. They never purchased a ticket for back home or arranged for movers. They removed the license plates from my car. And it's sad, because NATO and the US military is supposedly a force for good, but instead I saw all the lies and deceit that go on behind closed doors. While there are many respectable people working on SHAPE NATO, there are plenty who more closely resemble mobsters. How can we claim the moral high ground over countries like Russia when we're employing the exact same tactics they're using against our own people?
When you look at the following documents & emails, notice the dates. The dates of my email follow the letter denying me access to SHAPE, however I had not received the letter denying me access to SHAPE until April 13, 2019, which was the official date of my termination.
The two screenshots below are from a couple months afterwards when I decided to get clarification as to why I was removed from base. It still doesn't quite make sense considering Bernadette Schlueter has also made "verbal and digital threats" against both teaching staff and parents. Yet, those rules only apply when it's in reaction to threats from an administrator apparently and not if you're the first one to do it. How can I trust these people when they think they're above the law?
AdvancED Accreditation Team?
I figure, how can a school get accredited if you have the vice principal, Karen Jerome saying, "Yale is a good school... but... you still need to put your desks in 'collaborative arrangements'" as her response to why she was ignoring the academic research I provided her as a defense of my seating arrangements. I also wondered how they would accept a principal who told me that evidence didn't matter because "research can be used to prove anything." As a teacher, I was tasked with teaching my students how to make evidence-based arguments, so how could a school run by these two jokesters possibly receive accreditation? Well I found out after contacting them and never receiving a response that apparently there is a subdivision of AdvancED that is actually run by DoDEA. They accredit themselves! So of course it's going to be a joke of an accreditation process. In fact, our corrupt principal, Bernadette Schlueter, was an accreditation officer herself in the past. I'm sure she has her connections to cover up any misdeeds.
I don't know if the union has corrupt employees, but I'm sure with an organization as large as FEA, there are potentially bad actors. That being said, I don't know how much of FEA ignoring me was corruption and how much was more likely to be either laziness or an unwillingness to help a non-unionized employee. I wasn't unionized at the time because I couldn't afford it and ironically it's costing me thousands more dollars now since DoDEA abandoned me in Belgium.
My school representative fought on my behalf as much as she could, but there was only so much she could do. That being said, I'm grateful that she helped me through the process of completing all the necessary out-processing paperwork. However, higher up employees that I reached out to have done absolutely nothing. That being said, while they may not have fought on my behalf, I know that they are fighting a behemoth of an organization that's nearly impossible to take out themselves. Just read a handful of posts on FEA's Facebook page to realize just how crazy DoDEA is acting at the moment.
I figure that if I can't trust people within the system, I have to seek outside help. I approached people like the ACLU and while they offered support, it was for the most part lackluster. I reached out to a few different publications like the NYTimes and the Washington Post and they never responded back. They're too busy covering important news such as that time Trump said "covfefe" or hamburger emojis. With hard hitting news like that, who has time to report on systemic corruption within a federally run school system like DoDEA that has led to mass hospitalization of teachers, theft of belongings, repeated sexual harassment of teachers by administrators, false allegations against whistleblowers, and the overall decay of a once top-tier school system? Throughout this whole process, my trust in various institutions continued to diminish. Did none of these people really care or were they actually trying to cover up people themselves?
There was one YouTube channel called The Juice Media that I reached out to that was actually responsive. They sounded positive, but of course, they're going to cover events that are on a much broader scale. Also, they focus primarily on corruption within the Australian government. However, with enough interest, I'm sure we could get DoDEA eventually featured as well. You can check out The Juice Media's YouTube channel for their "Honest Government" parody ad series.
Yeah right... You expect elected officials to actually work on your behalf?
I contacted Jamie Raskin's office a while back and they told me to put together a report. I didn't hear back until months later, but I was amazed that Jamie Raskin's office even bothered to speak with Tom Brady, but Tom Brady responded with the same bullshit response abstaining from any responsibility for his failure in leadership.
I also contacted David Trone and Ben Cardin through this form developed by FEA to report about DoDEA's illegal actions against educators. I got a generic response via email from David Trone about how he's fighting for education. And I never received a response from Ben Cardin.
HELP! ...Anyone? ...Please?
I don't want to remove all hope, because there are definitely people out there who you can trust. If you take a look at my GoFundMe, I had raised $1,315 from 48 unique donors, many of whom were teachers. I've even had former administrators by my side passing along key information to help me in my process as I battled my administrators at SHAPE ES. The parents and students of my class also stuck by me. These are a few of the messages from former students using their parents' Facebook accounts to contact me.
I have had people offer to allow me to stay in their house. I have received presents. I've been taken out to dinner by multiple teachers. I've had a covert (in order for those still at the school to avoid retaliation) farewell party put together by some teachers and parents from the school. And, I've had amazing support from my wife. I'm so grateful to all the family and friends who have reached out to me providing me with both monetary and emotional support during my moments of desperation.
Other DoDEA Educators
There are also people who have won their court case or who are still currently fighting against DoDEA! Faye Hobson has been fighting since 2005 when she was wrongfully terminated for whistleblowing. She has now petitioned the court twice, once in 2018 and once in 2019 and has yet to receive justice. Her contact information was included as public record. You can reach out to her or try searching for many of the other disaffected educators out there who have been wronged by a corrupt system.
There is another DoDEA educator who started a class action suit (that's still active) against DoDEA for whistleblowing after their failure to comply with regulations regarding the Rehabilitation Act.
Another DoDEA educator wrote a book about her experiences in a book entitled, The Diary of an American Teacher. It recounts the countless times she was harassed from sexual harassment all the way to literal poisoning when she was required (as a form of retaliation) to teach in a room leaking chemical fumes on multiple occasions. At the time it caused her students to vomit profusely and at one point she actually vomited blood. She also has a podcast documenting DoDEA's abuses and has a YouTube channel where she interviews other educators who have had similar bad experiences. Here's just one of the interviews on the channel.
Besides the more public figures, there are probably DoDEA educators at your own school who have had similar experiences. After I started sharing my story, I received a flood of messages from DoDEA teachers across the globe in countries such as Korea, Japan, Turkey, Belgium, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. I've heard there are over a hundred EEO or OSC cases currently opened against DoDEA. Public records for complaints against DoDEA in 2014 show that over 100 people had filed complaints, yet they found discrimination in only one single case for that year.
There is other public information out there too such as the exorbitant amounts of money DoDEA pays for-profit education companies to provide us with their piss poor trainings such as how DoDEA paid Catapult Learning 17.5 million dollars for their trainings where the majority of educators learned absolutely nothing new. Yet every training consisted of us reading the standards (that we have known for years) and then them telling us that we didn't actually have time to work with the actual teaching materials. Or that time that Tom Brady decided instead of using money to transfer teachers, he spent thousands of dollars hiring outside consultants to see if teachers even liked transfers, rather than just asking them himself. He wouldn't know what teachers want anyways, since he somehow became a superintendent without ever teaching a day in his life.
Stars and Stripes
I also reached out to the Stars and Stripes newspaper. Now according to a few teachers, they've told me they've contacted the Stars and Stripes in the past and all they did was waste their time. The Stars and Stripes is after all a government run newspaper, more specifically, run by the Department of Defense.
While I wasn't sure at first if I could trust them, I started to develop trust in one employee named Brian Ferguson.
In fact, I developed enough trust to share all kinds of documents and information with him. Certain teachers and parents trying to make contact with the media also shared their stories. But after months of emailing him, it looks like they're unwilling to run the story.
Now, I'd like to believe Brian Ferguson, but who knows these days. Compared to the responses I received from official DoDEA employees, his speech sounds less scripted than the likes of someone who just received a call from HQ or DoDEA lawyers and instructions on how to carefully craft a response to me. The Stars and Stripes has also run incriminating articles in the past such as the time they published an article on the previous director, Shirley Miles. Yet, it's impossible to tell.
I am still wanting to believe that he is trustworthy (so I'd strongly advise against any form of harassment), but the fact that months have passed and no action has been taken means that I need to take action into my own hands. Tom Brady is still director, Karen Jerome is still assistant principal, and now Bernadette Schlueter works at Feltwell ES in the United Kingdom. If the courts and the media won't be ethical or responsible in their dealing with a corrupt institution, then I will have to take matters into my own hands. Since all else has failed, I will have to continue to self-publish until my words leave the DoDEA bubble. And I hope that through my publications and the work of other dedicated teachers, parents, and students, we can encourage potentially honest people like Brian Ferguson to go the last mile for us. Then finally we might serve justice to the corrupt leaders tearing DoDEA apart.
Well, this battle is far from over... While it may be more difficult for me personally to fight DoDEA in court, I want to be of assistance to any future teachers, parents, or students abused by this system. Let this blog post serve as your guide. There is plenty of documentation and I would always be happy to provide more documents or contacts for those seeking to legal action against DoDEA. DoDEA, along with some of their most corrupt (e.g. Tom Brady, Ernest Ytuarte, Bernadette Schlueter, and Karen Jerome) will have their time of reckoning. Now may not be that time, but the bubble is about to burst with how long they've silenced educators. I don't know how many NDA's exist after settlement cases, but I'm going to keep being the voice for the voiceless. And I hope you reading this can also lend your voice to our cause!
Please share this article with any friends or family unaware of these abuses. Also, please share this article with any teacher or parent currently involved in a lawsuit against DoDEA that might benefit from these statements. I have more evidence and I'm willing to testify on your behalf. Also, I have left the emails visible of people I have mentioned in this post. DO NOT HARASS THEM! While, I have left the emails visible on this post, my intentions are not to DOX them and lead to people continually harassing them. My true purpose in leaving the emails there is so you can still contact those individuals to share your story. Please contact Brian Ferguson of the Stars and Stripes. Please contact Lamine Hendrix of OSC. Please contact Jamie Raskin's office or your own congressman. However, again, the contact information is to be used solely for sharing your story and shedding light on the DoDEA dirt that they keep sweeping under the rug. This is why I have chosen to only include official work addresses and contact information.
And finally... Thanks!
To all of my friends and family members that stuck through all of this with me, offering me words of advice, financial support, emotional support, a place to sleep, food to eat, and everything else, a million times thank you!
To all the honest and dedicated educators out there, thank you for continuing to work hard and fight for your students.
To all the parents fighting a corrupt school system, thank you for fighting on the behalf of your children to make sure they receive the best education they can get.
And to all the students out there, continue to fight for a high quality education. Don't be afraid to question authority, when you know what they've done is unethical or immoral. Unfortunately, this world is not perfect and there are people who we think we can trust, and it turns out they've lied and manipulated to us. But don't give up hope! While there are many who will backstab you, lie to you, and seek to bring you down. There are just as many who will be there on your side. And while it may not be evident while you're going through these trials, when you come out strong on the other side, you can look back and see just how many people stood beside you while you thought your life was over. Stay strong in this fight! I hope we can eventually restore institutional trust in the near future, because we'll only move as fast as The Speed of Trust.