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Superintendent filed false reports for years

Gifford Grade School head gets to keep his job, parents furious

GIFFORD, Ill. (WCIA) -- Despite turning in false reports to the state for years, Gifford Grade School's superintendent will get to keep his job.

The state requires districts to file documentation certifying schools practiced drills to train for active shooter situations, but Gifford's school board says that hasn't been done in years. Superintendent Rod Grimsley was signing off on those reports anyway.

We got copies of the three years worth of reports he forged. He wrote down the names of people he says attended safety meetings, but those meetings never happened. Grimsley filed the reports to the state and the regional Board of Education, certifying the school performed active shooter drills and held school safety meetings.

The police chief says those never happened. So does parent Alyson Suits, even though Grimsley reported she was attending those meetings.

"I did not give permission for my name to be used," Suits told the school board, "I did not make any changes to safety protocol."

Several dozen parents demanding for Grimsley to be fired went home angry Monday night.

"I would be lying to you if I told you I wasn't extremely disappointed in how this turned out," parent Dustin Ehler told the board.

A few weeks back, Gifford Assistant Fire Chief Brodie Crozier started looking into those reports. Word traveled fast.

"You're failures," parent Bruce Cline shouted at the board, "every one of you ought to resign."

"I don't know if it got to the point where maybe you got complacent, or lackadaisical, in not following through with the paperwork," said Ehler, "but one thing we all did learn, in 2013, is that Gifford is not hidden from any natural disasters or tragedies." 

"Earlier this month, there was a bomb threat in Oakwood, a town that's about the same size as Gifford," said Suits, "this morning, there was a shooting at a high school in Paducah, Kentucky. Two are dead."

"What's the deal?" says parent Autumn Wake, "and why? Why falsify the documents when it's not necessary?"

Wake also used to work for the school.

"As a former employee, I worked here from December 2011 to May of 2016, and I only did active shooter training once. The whole time I was here."

After meeting in closed session for almost two hours, the school board returned to face the parents. Their decision: Grimsley needs to hold the required meetings and drills as soon as possible, and apologize to everyone involved. It wasn't the conclusion these parents were hoping for.

"Things need to come to light," says Wake, "and people just need to start investigating, doing the right thing, because this is for the safety of the students who go to school here every day."

Parents were especially concerned about this because of the recent school shooting in Mattoon.

We still don't know why Grimsley filed false reports in the first place. He wouldn't do an interview or  comment.

The school board read a statement to parents tonight. In part it reads:

Mr. Grimsley has taken full responsibility for his actions and has cooperated with the board in its investigation. The board appreciates Mr. Grimsley's years of service to the district. Upon completion of the steps described (above), the board will consider this matter closed. 

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