Why there is no hope for Dayton Public Schools

There were two Dayton Day-Old News reporters sitting in on the Tuesday night business meeting of the Dayton Board of Education. I was there with camera rolling. There was Mario Gallin, the best candidate in the last election that the citizens chose not to pick. And there was the school board, minus the Treasurer who is on vacation, and Sheila Taylor, who apparently is dealing with some family issues.

Had Sheila been there, I would have called it Snow White (Lolli) and the Seven Mental Midgets. But, alas, we can’t call Lolli Snow white- we can just call them the Seven Mental Midgets.

At the warm up meeting they held last week, Lolli wasn’t there. John McManus asked about the $475K expenditure for some kind of silver bullet training program from the University of Virginia. They turned to Lynsa Davie, the new Chief of Schools Special Projects, who is making $117,040 for answers. I posted about this last week, using Mario’s summary from Facebook.

It was obvious that there would be questions coming at the business meeting. Davie had a week to prepare. Before we get to what happened a week later, let’s talk about presentations and DPS.

I’ve watched their own people go up and present the failings of the district to the board and public. I’ve seen incompetent presenters, meeting after meeting who use their slides much like a teleprompter- reading the content from the screen. I’ve seen every format known to man- with no brand consistency, no brand voice. I’ve seen videos that didn’t run. I’ve seen #PresentationFail so many times, I’ve almost gotten used to it in the DPS board room. I’ve even made a presentation to the Tech Steering committee about Pecha Kucha– and how the rigor of using a format of 20 slides, 20 seconds each- can put constraints on that force people to make the best of their presentations.

And, in my business (advertising), deals are won and lost with presentations. I recently spent almost 80 hours preparing a presentation for a prospective client, pulling together research, videos, facts, stats and visuals to sell them on our skills and value to their organization. The presentation ran 2 hours. I rehearsed, I wrote and rewrote parts, and the night before, I’d tested the whole thing with a dry run in real time. Presenting in business is serious business. Just having a typo on your slides can blow your credibility. In advertising we call it the pitch, and there are people who specialize in it. There are books written about how to do it.

For DPS, “Dr Davie” (Rev Dr Harris called her Dr- so she must be one) didn’t even try. Like clockwork, Jocelyn Rhynard called for the item to be voted on separately. McManus who was doing the treasurers job as pro tem, was busy taking notes. Lolli called Davie to the podium. This mess begins about 46 minutes into the DPS Facebook stream video. I’ve not had time to upload mine yet. DPS hasn’t uploaded to Youtube yet. She began her presentation with a colorful slide with 4 points:

University of Virginia

UVA Partnership

  1. Leadership Development
  2. Support and Accountability
  3. Talent Management
  4. Instructional Infrastructure

Purpose: to grow leaders to impact underperforming schools through professional experiences.

University of Virginia UVA Partnership Leadership Development Support and Accountability Talent Management Instructional Infrastructure Purpose: to grow leaders to impact underperforming schools through professional experiences.

Nice template.

Ok, first slide, it’s a template. Why the people from UVA weren’t here to pitch their process bewildered me, they’re the ones who will be collecting close to a half a million dollars. You’d think they have a canned presentation for this.

Let me also point out that all four of those things are things most districts expect their superintendent and staff to handle. That’s why you pay them the big bucks.

Slide 2 comes up.  Davie doesn’t present like a professional. She’s reading the slides.”Transforming Practices” all about the entire planning year.
Let’s be clear, if you need a year to plan how to teach, it’s called your student teaching year, and you’re an intern. A bootcamp for central office leaders is what we get for the first years installment. Really- we’re paying these “experienced professionals” to go to bootcamp? That’s where you send the rookies.

Oops- failed title. Your perfect slide title

And this one is titled “your perfect slide title”

Planning year, Summer Programs. Yet- year 1 is only 6 days and year 2 is only 3 days. Wow.

I’m laughing. Others are gasping. The board and superintendent- paying attention and eating every word.

The next one is the coup d’grace

#Presentationfail by Lynsa Davie to the Dayton Bored of Education and your presentation

It doesn’t have any real information it’s all template. No content. Davie says “I can’t see, how that look, it’s kinda small for me” and continues.

No one stops her and says, “do you have the right slides?” Or, maybe you should come back when you’re better prepared. Nope, they let her meander on, and we never really get to the stage 3 or four- because the next slide is also titled “your perfect title slide” and incomplete.

Presentation Fail

A photo you never want to be in.

In my business, you’d be fired. You’ve just failed. Your career is done.

At DPS, we go to Q&A- and then vote. 5 yes, McManus abstains, and Lolli gets to pay others to do what she’s supposed to do- for only 5 schools, for the next three years.
The two DDn reporters talked about the money, but they failed to mention Davie made the district look like amateurs. So it’s left to me.

Can someone tell me WTF Lolli is getting paid to do?

Because this is unacceptable. She hired this fool for $117,040 and she can’t check her presentation first?

And how these fools on the board- are trusted with your children’s education?

And here’s the kicker. All this stupid woman had to do, was go to the UVA website- and download their “brochure” which is really a 16 page powerpoint- give or take- and use that for slides. But, she’s incompetent.

thumbnail of UVA_School_Turnaround_Program_Brochure

PDF from Darden School. Click to download and view

We voted four new people onto this school board. We should demand our money back.

Court clerks are jerks in Montgomery County

We have too many clerk of courts in Montgomery County. We have too many courts too.

In the entire state of Wisconsin and Florida, there is one universal courts website. All cases, criminal, civil, probate, are managed in one place. They have one login per attorney, one set of forms, one set of fees, one set of processes- making it easy-peasy for attorneys to do their job. This also makes it easier for news organizations, background checkers, and for people who are trying to keep track of legal precedents and case law (like LexisNexis and Westlaw).

It’s also a hell of a lot more cost effective. We’ve been digging into the costs of the court websites in Montgomery County- and have gotten graceful help from some communities when we’ve filed public records requests, others have played dumb.

You can see the costs of each municipal court website on Reconstructing Dayton, our 501(c)(4) that is set up to research and then inform voters how their tax dollars and time are being wasted by unnecessary duplication and complication of and by government in Montgomery County.

You’ll see that Kettering and Miamisburg use the vendor case management system, Civica CMI from the firm of the same name in Englewood.

Vandalia Municipal Court uses a case management system from Henschen & Associates, Inc. in Bowling Green Ohio.

Oakwood, Dayton, Montgomery County Municipal, and Dayton Municipal have all been non-responsive. We’ll be filing complaints about their failure to respond to public records requests soon.

The insane thing is that none of these systems allow for online filing, or online case management and research. I just got a scan of the snail mail judgement that was mailed to my attorney in a case where a local harlot stole money from a Service Disabled Veteran that I had power of attorney for. That means anyone doing a background check, won’t find it, at least until we get the judgement recorded in Montgomery County Common pleas court. The fact that it can’t be accessed online other than a list of actions is criminal.

Screen shot of the Montgomery County Ohio lame court efiling website portal

It’s 2018 and this is the best they can do?

The County Clerks site is a home grown mess with its multiple domains. “ProNet” is one part and it’s efiling another, managed by Tybera out of Orem Utah, but it at least allows for online filing for civil and criminal cases, but not for probate or juvenile cases.

It’s time for a unified system in Ohio, but, we can start with working on it here. Franklin County has a single site– including their single countywide municipal court – which may be part of the reason Columbus is growing, and we’re losing congressional representation (among other things).

Which leads us to the people who “run” these courts. Mark Owens has been the Dayton Clerk of Courts since 1991. In that time, he has seen the rise of the internet, but still hasn’t made the effort to provide an efficient web filing system. Maybe, because it helps create work for the 45 patronage jobs he presides over. Mark is the godfather of the local Montgomery County Democratic Party too. He needs more people, because, well, they have to print out and mail all these documents- something that’s been done away with in the County Common Pleas court.

And, now, we’re asked to vote for his Chief Deputy Clerk, Russ Joseph, who was appointed by Mark and the Central Committee to take over the County Clerk job when Greg Brush “retired” to go work in Cincinnati for their Clerk of Courts. It helps to be an appointed incumbent running for office, even if you’ve spent 10 years not moving the Dayton Clerks office into the twentieth century. He was appointed Nov 20, 2017, he has to be on the ballot this November – and is facing Republican businessman Mike Foley, to run for the remaining 2 years of the current term.

Russ previously served with the Dayton Municipal Clerk of Court from 2004 to 2017, first as the Administrative Assistant for three years and then as Chief Deputy Clerk for 10 years. As Chief Deputy Clerk, he oversaw the office’s $3.6 million annual budget and 45 employees. This included the Clerk’s four divisions as well as administrative staff including the Chief Information Officer, Accountant and Director of Operations.

In 2008 Russ was named the Deputy Clerk of the Year by the Ohio Association of Municipal & County Court Clerks. Russ currently serves as a Trustee for the Southwestern Ohio Municipal Court Clerks Association where he’s been a member since 2004. He’s also a member of the National Association for Court Management and the Ohio Association of Municipal & County Court Clerks.

…He is also a Certified Court Manager, having completed a multi-year program through the National Center for State Courts Institute for Court Management and the Judicial College of the Ohio Supreme Court.

Source: About

All that experience, and not a massive move to consolidate and simplify the clerks sites throughout the county. His site makes no promises of implementing change, just, vote for me, I’m great, and btw- here’s a list of my fundraisers and that I raised a bunch of money.

This is incompetence.

As a builder of websites, I can tell you that it would be very easy to have one integrated county wide site, even with different front ends for each municipality. We do this all the time with open source content management systems. Unfortunately, politicians with a degree in “Sociology & Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a concentration in Environmental Science” missed anything about running a business or computer science.

We’re working on a campaign to bring this issue to the forefront, not just in Montgomery County, but statewide. If you are an attorney, a bill collector, an investigative reporter or anyone else that has to interface with this horrific mishmash of bad websites and inept clerks, and would like to support forcing the simplification and consolidation of online clerks sites in Ohio, please consider making a donation to Reconstructing Dayton. Because we are a 501(c)(4) your donation can remain entirely anonymous.

It’s time to get clerks that aren’t jerks in office and doing their job effectively.

Judge Skelton ignores the premise of the Open Meetings Act- dismisses case

Today Judge Richard Skelton dismissed the case Esrati vs DPS and Dayton City Commission on imaginary legal precedent.

“However, as indicated in the Court’s decision denying the motion for a preliminary injunction, there is no evidence that any deliberations occurred during the bus tour or any discussion of the prospective closing of school buildings.”

There is no provision in ORC 121.22 to qualify meetings based on if deliberations took place.  Common sense also says, you can’t prove what did or did not happen in a meeting if you can’t enter the room.

The video of the actual actions of the task force was in evidence, but never reviewed. The problem with the OMA is that our legislators in Columbus who wrote it, and then kept adding to it, would flunk the third grade reading guarantee. It’s a bunch of convoluted language with references to penalties that never get handed out- mostly because they really don’t want the public to use it to guarantee open honest government.

thumbnail of Decision 32388458

Skelton’s decision. Click to download PDF

I’m not going to recount the whole argument- but, I originally filed to stop the bus tour, because that was pressing. I should have filed a simple OMA case- for all the violations- the attempts to throw me out, the actual keeping me out, the banning of audio and video recording equipment. Those are all punishable violations.

I will appeal the case, and hopefully, smarter judges will understand that laws that are only enforceable by lawyers – to protect the general public from bad behavior of people in power, aren’t really protecting anyone.

It’s too bad Skelton never watched the video evidence that the School board lawyer denied the existence of. Because if he had watched it- a 3rd grader would have seen that there was a violation.

Here’s his decision for summary judgement for the defense.

He should be ashamed.

A confederacy of dunces – Meet your Dayton Public Schools leadership

The Review session last night lasted less than 45 minutes. It included long pregnant pauses while the board took time to review the documents- for the FIRST time. Stuff they should have seen 48 hours in advance.

Apparently, I missed that they’ve decided to hire Fahlgren Mortine – an ad agency out of Beavercreek (and part of a much bigger network based in Columbus) to advise them on “Strategic Planning and Development” – whatever that is.

The new “Chief of Schools Special Projects” made her debut- she’s the woman with her back to the camera. Can’t say she sounded remotely like an agent of change. You want to hear that- go listen to the new Trotwood Superintendent- who can spell out his entire plan- without having to hire consultants for $475K

One other question comes to mind- is how much would it cost to transport all the high school students in Dayton- and might that make a bigger impact on graduation rates and educational outcomes? Is it less than the $475K plus the $360K we’re spending for the next three years on this contract plus the new “chief”?

I’m going to swipe the rest of the analysis from Mario Gallin who attends all the meetings and was a school board member. Dayton voters screwed up when they didn’t put her back on this board. Harris, Al-Hamdani, Wick-Gagnet and Rhynard are absolutely clueless judging by their lack of questions. Walker is brain dead. McManus is too nice- and Taylor- a no show.

From Mario:

“The board review had its moments (see previous post), but beyond that it was business as usual. So many items and they were done in under 30 minutes.

Among the things they did not inquire about –

Who is this new Belmont principal, what makes him the guy, and how are we going to introduce him to the school and neighboring community, all of whom have a keen interest in what goes on there.

Ms. Spurlock gave a detailed analysis of recent hires for the district, include 9 SROs to be added to the current SRO roster. Mohamed Al-Hamdani did ask if some of the new SRO positions would be assigned to Belmont (answer – we don’t know). However, the opening for a new principal at Meadowdale High School wasn’t mentioned and no board member asked. In their defense they need a large piece of paper with diagrams to keep track of all the changes and shuffling around of personnel.

There are two positions listed for Challenger Flight Specialist. One member of the DPS Concerned Parents Facebook page who was connected to the Challenger Center in the past questioned Jocelyn Spencer Rhynard directly about their credentials. She did not ask at the review session, but again, in her defense, she may have asked outside the meeting. Hopefully she will respond back to that person. Once more, a great opportunity to talk about what an asset the Challenger Center is to not only to DPS students but to students throughout the Miami Valley, not taken.

Supplemental contracts. Top level administrators are getting supplemental contracts for the month of June. Academic Coordinator CTE – $3725, Academic Coordinator Fine Arts and Phys Ed – $3333, Executive Director Athletics – $4450. Most interesting was Chief of Schools- Secondary. She was awarded a supplemental contract last month for $2600 for the period 6/11-6/30 and is back on the agenda this month for an additional $2600 for the period 6/25-6/30.

Not even a raised eyebrow.

Messrs. Jackson are on the agenda to become Directors of Transportation along with Ms. Ludd. A perfect time to discuss how Transportation has weathered the sudden death of a dynamic Director last December. Also, I come to think of it, why they are replacing 1 director of transportation with 3. And—nothing.

Moving on to Contracts. Last month the board approved the sponsorship contract with the Dayton Business Technology High School and this month they are approving the sponsorship contract with the Dayton Business Technology High School. Again, curious? No.

Catapult Learning West contract for $1.57 million dollars for nonpublic schools. No cost to DPS General Fund, but since the Board has to approve it, what will Catapult provide? In addition, they did the DPS summer school program. How did that turn out and is that a recommendation for this contract?

They are on track to approve Fahlgren Mortine  to serve as the facilitator for strategic planning and development. The Board needs a plan to fully make informed decisions about staffing, buildings and programs. But I looked at their website and am confused as to how this fits. Apparently, they are an ad agency. Another opportunity to inform the community about their plans missed.

You all are going to have to go to Contracts, number 6 yourselves. I’m running out of incredulity.

South Community for $900,000. There was a contract for $250,000 in the review agenda on June 12 but appears to not have made the Board meeting agenda on June 19. Still don’t know what they are going to do for this amount. And possibly neither does the Board.

On the plus side, congrats on supporting the Neighborhood School Centers.

An additional shout out to Denise Gum, Board Assistant. She has begun to annotate changes to Board Docs so the general public can see what changes are made to agenda items. She also uses Board Docs to publish Policy Committee agendas and discussion items under Library, Policy Committee. Check it out.

I also appreciate that DPS Facebooks and broadcasts the review sessions and board meetings. It is not easy to put yourself out there for criticism every time, but they have not flinched. It would be nice if they expanded to committee meetings as well.”
And her earlier post: “So today, during the board review of next week’ voting items, John McManus asked for information on a contract for Partners for Leaders in Education (a group out of University of Virginia) in the amount of $475,000 over 3 years. Conveniently, the new Chief of Schools – Special Projects was on hand to explain.

This is a turn-around program for failing schools. It is a 3-year contract with an option for an additional year. The goal is to develop principal and teacher leaders, with the result that academics will shoot through the roof (sarcasm added). She has used this in Cincinnati and thinks it is the bees’ knees (my words, not hers).

The Board announced the five schools that will be involved in this endeavor, which are coincidentally the 5 (previously unnamed) schools referred to in the job description for her position.

Fairview, EJ Brown, Belmont HS, Louise Troy, Ruskin.

I am infuriated on behalf of the staff, students and families which make up Ruskin PreK-6 school. I am beside myself because I have spent the last 10 years of my life working with some of the most successful, yes, successful, teachers, administrators, community partners, after school staff, and don’t forget students – people who have taken the Ruskin mission to heart and have made it work in many ways, but also and importantly, in ways that outsiders judge education – test scores. Room for improvement -of course – but Ruskin has consistently been in the top 5 for test scores overall in the district, student attendance, and discipline issues (actually lack thereof).

Rather than say, “We have a new principal and an exciting opportunity to improve on what already is going well”, we are now out there before God and everyone as being among the worst of the worst.

The administration and board talk frequently about sharing “the good news” of the district but they have just put one of the successes of DPS in the dumpster.

Makes me want to cuss out loud.”

Thank you Mario. We should all be cussing out loud.

July 10 and Dayton Public Schools

thumbnail of Human Resources 7-10-18 (3)

The HR report should just be called “Ch-ch-changes” and makes for fascinating reading. Click to download PDF

July 10 is the magic date to re-sign your contract with Dayton Public Schools. Sign it, and then resign after that, and the board tries to vote properly to sanction you for breaking the contract. Since Rev Harris has been elected, they rarely get the vote right.

However, it means this is when we see the churn. Typically about 20% of their employees bolt every year, which is high. Compare that to top performing schools like the one David Lawrence is taking over in Northmont- where no one leaves, you start to see a pattern.

Since the 48 hour rule precludes them from having a complete list before the “review session” tomorrow- but we still get a few glimpses on what’s happening.

Belmont gets a new Principal from Texas- probably thanks to Dr. Donetrus Hill, one of the few smart guys still left in the district. Welcome Dr. Toron Wooldridge, who seems to have a gap in employment since 2016 on his Linkedin. Quick notable fact, he was signed as a 6-0, 232-pound Inside Linebacker from Houston, TX to Texas A&M. He’s come a long way from  being a “Redshirt freshman … who sat out the regular season because of academic problems” to Ed.D. The gap in employment, may have been due to the loss of family members due to a distracted driver. Wooldridge made a push in Texas to adopt no-text while driving laws.

Change 2 is that Nelson Stone, formerly principal of the boys school, has now been assigned to Ponitz. This after he was first supposed to go to Meadowdale. Ray Caruthers went to be the Trotwood Madison HS principal.

Change 3- is that Norris Cole’s uncle is the new Dunbar Basketball coach. I don’t know if Lyle Cole can fill Pete Pullen’s shoes, but he sure can fill a whole teams worth of Chuck Taylors without much work. Amazing that Taylor still hasn’t been brought up on charges for perjury or to pay the district back the copious amounts of cash it wasted because he lied. Not sure if Cole is a teacher, which only seems to be important if your name is Powell and you’re part of a winning football program.

Change 4- the district let Jim Cole, the man who rebuilt the Dunbar Women’s Basketball team and was coach of the year last year- go. No replacement yet, and Cole was snagged by Fairborn. Watch the Lady Skyhawks take off.

In the good news department, Dr. Bob Buchheim got the message loud and clear after his second demotion in less than a year and left town.

The Office of Exceptional Children seems to be getting cleaned out after Dr. Roberson left with two more resignations.

There are a bunch of new supplemental pays for already well paid administrators- including District AD Shawna Welch- and Erin Dooley- but, we can’t tell if these are in addition to, or replacements for. Lolli likes handing out money to people at the top, and to lawyers.

There are also some new “Dean of Students” positions- which could just be a new way of putting people into assistant principal positions without having an actual principals license. Some superintendents have done this in the past- others wouldn’t.

And as a last insult to injury- when the last school board claimed it was broke in November of 2016 they fired Marijane Recob who had been running the Challenger Center at Kiser since it began. Now, they’ve hired 2 people for $40K each, to do what she did solo for about the same money. I’m guessing Marijane would have continued doing that job for $20K if it had been offered to her because she loved it that much.

We’ll see by the business meeting how many others decide to ditch the good ship Lolli-pop.