DPS: No agenda- No meeting? 48 hour rule?

Before I’d even gotten home from getting thrown out of the Saturday “Board Retreat” which wasn’t, there was a notice in my email about yet another “Special Meeting” this Tuesday at 5:30 pm. Email time stamp: 6/24/17, 2:02 PM from Cherisse Kidd.

In accordance with Section 3313.16 of the Ohio Revised Code and File: BD of the Handbook of Policies, Rules & Regulations of the Board, I hereby call for a special meeting of the Board of Education of the Dayton City School District, Montgomery County, Ohio, to be held on Tuesday, June 27, 2017 at 5:30 p.m. in room 6S-116 of the Administration Building, located at 115 S. Ludlow St., Dayton, OH 45402.

Immediately after convening, the board is expected to go into executive session to discuss matters of personnel. In addition, the board may choose to vote on recommendations from the superintendent and/or treasurer.

The media is being advised of this meeting in compliance with the Ohio Sunshine Law.

Respectfully,

Robert Walker, D.Min.

President

Dayton Board of Education

Screenshot at 7:25 am on Monday July 26 2017 of DPS board docs

Screenshot at 7:25 am on Monday July 26 2017 of DPS board docs

While it all sounds legit, for the meeting to be legit, the agenda should be published at least 48 hours before the meeting so the public can review it, contact board members, file comments (something that isn’t done), etc. That means last night, Sunday, at 5:30 was the cutoff.

This morning. No agenda at 7:25.

If they need this many meetings, if they can’t post agendas, if they can’t do what they were supposed to do in their June Retreat (evaluate the Superintendent), if they can’t vote because “they missed too many meetings” or if they “can’t vote” because they are trying to hide things that should have been done in a business meeting at the “retreat” 4 days later- the simple answer is- they shouldn’t be trusted to be our school board.

The board policy has a “48 hour rule” for a reason. That this board and superintendent can’t even have a 2 day planning horizon is criminal.

It’s time for them all to be thrown out.

From page 118 of their own policy manual:

AGENDA PREPARATION AND DISSEMINATION
The Superintendent, working with the Board President, coordinates the agenda for all Board meetings. Items of business may be suggested by a Board member, staff member or citizen of the District. The agenda may allow suitable time for remarks by the public who wish to speak briefly before the Board.
The agenda, together with supporting materials, are distributed to Board members sufficiently in advance of meetings to permit them to give items of business advance consideration.
The agenda is made available to the press, staff representatives and others upon request.
Dissemination of Resolutions and Recommendations
All proposed resolutions and recommendations for Board consideration and action are submitted in writing to each Board member not less than 48 hours before the Board meeting.
In an emergency or extreme urgency, this requirement may be waived at any meeting by majority action of a quorum of the Board.
[Adoption date: August 5, 2009]

DPS retreat is really an excuse to hide

“Mr Esrati, we’re going to ask you to leave” said Dr. Robert Walker, president of the Dayton Board of Education at their “Board Retreat” on Saturday, June 24, 2017.

At issue was the board taking what was presented as a critical time sensitive vote, on a report from the Treasurer, Hiwot Abraha, a mere 4 days after their regularly scheduled “business meeting” on Tuesday.

Did Abraha have no clue that this was critical on Tuesday, or was this purely an attempt to slide things through without the normal scrutiny and public comment allowed at the regular board business meeting? Me thinks the latter, which is why I spoke up, and invited my ejection.

From the agenda on Board Docs:

“May I have a motion to approve the following items:
C) Purchase Requisitions
D) Resolution: Official Certificate of Estimated Resources
E) Resolution: Original Appropriation Measure for Fiscal Yer (sic) 2018”

“Subject Resolution: Original Appropriation Measure for Fiscal Year 2018

Type Information

I recommend that the Board approve the following resolution for the Original Appropriation Measure for Fiscal Year 2017.

Rationale

Section 5705.38 of the Ohio Revised Code requires the adoption and/or amendment of an Annual Appropriation Measure.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of Education of the Dayton City School District the following sums be and hereby are set aside and appropriated as indicated in the 2017-18 Original Appropriations.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, pursuant to Section 5705.412 of the Ohio Revised Code, the the Board President, Superintendent, and Treasurer certify that the Dayton City School District has in effect for the fiscal year 2018 the authorization to levy taxes, which, when combined with the estimated revenue from all other sources available to the district at the time of certification, are sufficient to provide the operating revenues necessary to enable the district to maintain all personnel and programs for all the days set forth in its adopted school calendar for the current fiscal year.”

Lee and Baguirov were absent, and Sheila Taylor abstained from this vote (using good judgement) as Walker, Lacey, Rountree and McManus voted just like this wasn’t anything different than normal Standard Operating Procedure. According to the records on Board Docs, Taylor also abstained from the Superintendents recommendations.

Note, in the Board Policy Manual, page 34, this retreat actually had instructions:

EVALUATION OF SCHOOL BOARD OPERATIONAL PROCEDURES
The Board plans and carries through an annual appraisal of its functioning as a board. Evaluation is held in the month of June, or during a regularly scheduled Board retreat, with no other items on the agenda with all Board members present. This appraisal considers the broad realm of relationships and activities inherent in Board responsibilities.

thumbnail of Auction Resolution revised

PDF- click to enlarge or download

This wasn’t the only issue that they were going to vote on, nor was it the only thing the public should be informed of. An odd RESOLUTION TO AUCTION PROPERTY AND GOODS was included, without any specifics being given. This could be anything from extra desks to the real estate on Wyoming near MVH and UD, the site of the former Patterson Kennedy Elementary School, that this blog featured in my post and video “Dirty Deals Done Dirt Cheap”. Of course, I wasn’t still at the meeting when this was discussed, but how can a board vote to approve something as unspecific as this? And, why on a Saturday morning retreat, instead of the business meeting?

There is no other school board that meets as often, as long, or does more to disrespect the public than this one. The sheer number of meetings and length, force people who want to be involved or serve as checks and balances to go to ridiculous measures to track and follow. The Open Meetings laws of Ohio, known as the Sunshine Laws, unfortunately don’t even have a provision to stop this kind of obfuscation of the public business, but maybe they should.

While I stated they are breaking the law, it barely matters, because the Sunshine laws have the least amount of teeth for punishing misbehaving public bodies that could possibly written into law. Think of them more like a 20 year old cat with one tooth- not a tiger. However, one parent was so incensed by Saturdays actions that she’s ready to file a pro se action on Monday and is looking for affected citizens to join her in the suit. She’s had legal help in formulating the argument. Please message lorkamunoz@sbcglobal.net if you want to participate.

Also note, seven more teacher resignations since Tuesday. How much longer is this board going to whistle Dixie while a contract isn’t put in place? Some observers have said that this boards actions, from the firing of former Superintendent Lori Ward, Treasurer Craig Jones, the hiring of the outsider, rookie, Rhonda Corr, to the strife of the RIF, to the payoff of David Lawrence, to the failure to negotiate, is all part of a plan to decimate the district and force State takeover- giving the Republicans in the State House their petri dish for replacing regulated public schools with charters city wide- much like what happened in New Orleans after Katrina. It’s a Betsy DeVos wet dream come true.

In other business, why is Ron Lee, with being absent so many times that he couldn’t vote on the Dunbar Coaching choice, still allowed on the board? The State Law, is 90 days, however, in a normal school board, this could mean 2 meetings in a row, however since Dayton meets almost 2x a week, maybe there should be a tougher standard. Of course, this part of the law is what would be used to send Dr. Adil Baguirov off the board for non-residency, something this board refuses to do.

The Darran Powell Question
From the board policy document pg 120:

Reconsideration
No question decided by the Board will be raised again during the same school year except upon a motion to reconsider, made at the same or next Board meeting. Only a member who voted with the prevailing side may move to reconsider a motion that has been adopted. A majority vote of the entire membership is necessary to reconsider an action that has been taken.

Other than the new school year may technically start in July, by having this rushed meeting, and it not coming up, there can be no revote now on the hiring of Dunbar football coach Darran Powell, who was not hired last Tuesday. His petition for a revote now has 1547 signatures and 399 comments.

Final word: At least a few board members are beginning to see the sheer insanity of this “organization” that can’t get its business done according to schedule. Watch for future developments.

thumbnail of Superintendent’s Update fixed for display

The kind of information that should be given at every meeting.

Also note, much of the “Superintendents presentation” – which has information of the type that should be given at EVERY meeting, shows some troublesome stats- like declining graduation rates, poor 3rd grade reading scores, and horrible enrollment stats for the coming year, despite the best efforts of The Ohlmann Group with their premium priced contract.

Read it and weep.

The petitions begin- to change DPS

In about a day and a half, an online petition has gathered 1500 signatures asking the Dayton Public Schools Board of Education to reconsider the hiring of Dunbar football coach Darran Powell.

On June 20, 2017, The results (3-2) of the Dayton Board of Education’s vote on Line Item 91 were:YES-Walker, Roundtree, McManus Abstain-Lee (Citing Lack of Information) NO-Taylor, Lacey ABSENT-Baguirov

The Dunbar community would like for the Dayton Board of Education to consider re-voting on Line Item 91 (Darran Powell for Dunbar’s Head Football Coach); motioned on June 20, 2017.

1)The season is fast approaching (5 ½ weeks) and the program will not adapt to leadership change within a short amount of time.

2) Leadership change will cause a chaotic mass exodus of student-athletes from the Dayton Public School system.

3) This is a direct contrast of the desires of the Dunbar family and community.

4) Being that football is an all year endeavor, the non-paid duties of Darran Powell have failed to be considered.

Source: Petition Revote of Line Item 91

Yes, there are students signing the petition- not just voters, but, I’m going to guess that the 1500 signers, plus about 800 teachers, will be glad to circulate petitions to voters to ask a judge to remove this entire three ring circus, and let Dayton Public Schools get back to education instead of entertainment as the greatest ($h!t) show on earth.

Read some of the comments, I’m sure you’ll realize that when it comes to setting examples for young people, Coach Powell has done more than the Superintendent, or any of the members of this Board of Education.

Senior day care facility shuffle part 2

On April 2nd 2017 I wrote about the closing of one of the Senior day care facilities.

Friday was the last day for the Senior Resource Connection Adult day services facility in Kettering.

Source: Senior day care facility shuts down – Esrati

After surveying the landscape of options, I got mom into the Day Away program at St. Leonard in Centerville. Outstanding staff, facility, and for 2 days a week, my ability to focus 100% on work was restored.

I’d been meaning to write this week that the SRC facility had been taken over by Goodwill Easter Seals and reopened. I learned of this from an employee of SRC. I’d not been contacted by the facility, as a former “client”- nor had I seen anything in the media. But it seemed to me, that just like our tangled mess of local government duplicated services- that we’ve got the same problem in social services, health care, and non-profits.

Today, I got a letter in the mail from CHI Living Communities, the parent of the St. Leonard center. As of Sept 1, 2017, they too will close.

There is a meeting scheduled for families in July where they will explain options.

One thing I do know is that the need for these kinds of facilities is growing, not shrinking, and that if anything, we need more options not less.

Considering much of this is managed through our social services levy and the Area Agency on Aging, I think it would be great to get some kind of community analysis of needs and resources for caring for seniors who are still able to function in their own homes, but benefit from some social interaction as well as caregiver support.

McManus makes his case for change

At last nights Dayton Board of Education circus, there were two prepared speeches. One was on the agenda, and was supposed to go before citizen comments- from John McManus, and the other, came out of left field and was read by Joe Lacey.

Lacey was grandstanding, suggesting that the board that brought this rookie superintendent into the district to raise havoc, was soundly behind the teachers and valued them. This despite the breakdown of contract negotiations after Rhonda Corr kicked the professional negotiators out and tried to do it herself.

Talk is cheap. And Lacey is the only one running for re-election.

I’d not prepared a speech, because I was hoping to respond or build on what McManus would say. I knew something was coming, although I didn’t know what it would be. As usual, he’s too much of a southern gentleman to actually name names or point a finger directly, but, it was a well reasoned preamble to either firing Corr, or changing business as usual.

Here’s what hasn’t been said- since last years resignation deadline, 135 teachers have already resigned. Despite what HR Director Judy Spurlock said last week at the review session, this is a huge number, and it will grow by July 10, this years deadline. There isn’t a teacher or an administrator in the district that has faith in Rhonda Corr, with the possible exceptions of Dr. Sheila Burton who has turned into Rhonda’s lap dog, and LaMark Baker, who owes his career to her. Any other superintendent and board would have fired him, the Dunbar AD Pete Pullen, and the Dunbar Coach Darren Powell after the Dunbar fiasco game. As we saw yesterday, this derelict board decided to pin all the responsibility on Darren Powell, wrongly. He’s probably the least culpable of the above in this matter.

I asked McManus for the text of his speech, and thought it should be published. Between his speech, which Sheila Taylor actually stood and clapped for after, and the overruling of the superintendents recommendation to rehire Powell, we started to see visible questioning of Corr’s future at the helm.

My prediction is that she won’t last 3 months. The lawsuits will begin to expose her working style and lack of leadership, as well as other questionable practices. I’ll also be surprised if this board isn’t replaced wholesale before the end of July- as resignations mount and the floodgates open from depositions and legal filings against the board.

Here is the McManus speech as written-

John McManus, reading to DPS kids. This is the only board member who gets it.

John McManus, reading to DPS kids. This is the only board member who gets it.

Last week I had the pleasure of traveling to our nation’s capitol, something I enjoy doing from time to time to take in the history and the magic of the place. While there, I took the opportunity to visit a small national landmark, a quiet place that was intimately special and familiar to one of our nation’s founding fathers. As I walked the grounds and reflected on my own life, I found myself overcome with a profound sense of gratitude to the people of this community who have given me the incredible opportunity to serve in this elected system of government that has been left to us by many who came before us.

At that moment, I promised myself that I would spend my remaining time on this Board giving it every single thing I could to earn the tremendous honor that the people of Dayton have given me. I promised myself that I would no longer allow myself to be content when I should demand more. The people of this community deserve no less. Towards that effort, I would like to re-commit myself to my campaign promises to the people, and also make my own expectations known as we close one school year and hurdle towards the next.

I ran for this seat for three primary reasons. The first was due to the fact that I thought I could put my government experience to use in helping this District navigate its way out of a takeover by state government. It struck me as a fascinating challenge. Thanks to the incredible work of our amazing teachers, our staff, students, and parents, that threat is now gone for the foreseeable future.

The next reason I chose to run is because I wanted to put my experience in public sector human resources to work, hoping to improve the District’s once-dismal HR office. No government agency can expect to be well-performing if its HR office if failing. Under the strong leadership of Judy Spurlock, our human resources office is now miles ahead of where it once was, and I am so proud of her and her staff for transforming DPS HR into what I knew it could be.

The next reason that I chose to run was to take my passion for public sector administration to our community’s school district and help oversee a large scale government agency in the hopes of making it the most effective and efficient that it could be.

With the takeover threat gone for now and with the knowledge that our HR department is in the best health it has been in in a very long time, I am re-committing myself to my promise to deeply focus on administrative effectiveness and efficiency. This year has been a year of large-scale administrative changes downtown. We have a new superintendent, a new treasurer, new administrators in new positions, and long-term administrators in different positions than they once held. By now, I am confident that everyone sufficiently understands their role, and I am making a promise to my constituents to do everything that I can to help the administration effectively run this district.

I have worked in government my entire life. I’ve worked for the federal government, state government, and local government. I’ve worked in the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch. Having served in all three branches of government and at all three levels of government, I have seen what it takes to ensure that a government agency runs well.

There is one common denominator, and that is planning.

We have done some incredible things at Dayton Public this year. We’ve provided expanded learning and development to our teachers. We successfully ensured the roll out of the 1 to 1 technology program. We selected and utilized Achieve 3000 and Imagine Learning to support a differentiated and personalized support system. We implemented the gold standard of ongoing assessments, that being NWEA. We have brought career technical education programs to every single high school, and we launched the Dayton Innovative Virtual Academy. The State of Ohio has commended DPS on our groundbreaking TBT, BLT, and DLT model.  We’ve invested long-overdue resources in transportation, and we’ve invested in new text books and a course of study where one had not been introduced in 6 years. Everyone in this District, from the superintendent, staff, teachers, parents, and students have my most sincere appreciation for ensuring this progress.

While applauding this progress, it is absolutely fundamental that Dayton Public Schools begin to sufficiently engage in long term and short term planning, and communicate that plan both internally and externally in a consistent and robust way. Our staff expect it, and they deserve it.

In the coming year, I will make it a non-negotiable requirement that I be provided with weekly updates from the administration of what is being done throughout the District. A Board cannot effectively carry out its responsibility of oversight if it is not well informed. Moreover, I will require monthly status reports on progress made that is specific to our strategic plan. We have a strategic plan, but I cannot recall the last time that we as a group sat down, studied it, and asked what progress has been made in critical areas outlined on the plan. No government agency can even hope to be performing at an optimal level if it does not develop a plan, continuously reference its plan, and dedicate itself to implementing the provisions of its plan with discipline in its execution. The plan must have appropriate point persons, coupled with actual deadlines, and specific ways in which to measure progress.

My intent here is not to micromanage. My intent is to do my job as a supervisor in ensuring that my employees are adhering to their own strategic plan in a disciplined and effective way. The people of Dayton elected me, and all of us on this Board, to do exactly that.

The most effective bosses I had were the ones who expected consistent, thorough, and reliable progress reports from me on the plan that they and I set up together. I hope to do the same for those that answer to this Board, as it will help all of us stay relentlessly focused on a charted course aimed at student achievement. Remember: accountability is not punishment. Accountability is evidence of proper management.

Finally, I will specifically refer to two examples where insufficient planning led to dissolution of order and discipline. The first example is that of the proposed reduction of force of building employees in the middle of the academic year. Although I was opposed to the RIF, I can readily acknowledge that its primary reason for falling apart was the fundamentally insufficient planning of what would come after the RIF. In fact, we had failed to replace multiple positions in senior management at the transportation garage for months after the RIF, leaving our director of transportation doing his best to lead our entire operation on his own. Our students, families, educators, and staff deserve a reliable transportation system, and I cannot help but wonder if better succession planning would have helped avoid confusion and embarrassment related to busing this year. We cannot lead and make critical and strategic decisions when the planning is insufficient.

The next example is that of the process surrounding the acquisition of marketing services. At the beginning of the year, I made a video informing my constituents that one of my three top priorities this year would be the implementation of an effective marketing program at Dayton Public Schools. This responsibility is a sacred one for me, as I was asked to approve others to speak for me to my constituents who gave me the honor of sitting in this seat. It pained me to vote against the proposal, considering that marketing was one of my highest priorities. The RFP and RFQ process was ill-handled to the point that we had to start over. That kind of performance is unacceptable for a government agency with nearly 3,000 employees and an annual budget of hundreds of millions of dollars. By the end of the ordeal, I had little to no confidence in the process and little to no knowledge of the vendor’s actual plan of action to provide effective marketing for Dayton Public Schools. By now, we have spent a small fortune on marketing, and I can only hope that it has tangible and measurable results by the time enrollment numbers are provided to the Board.

I have said what I felt I needed to say. In the coming year, I expect more information, more coordination, and more planning. Updates to the Board are critical, as is relentless adherence to our strategic plan. Long term and short term planning must be at the heart of what we do, and that plan must be communicated externally and internally on a consistent and revolving basis.

I will remind you of my reference to all of the transformational changes that have occurred at Dayton Public Schools this year. To all of you who were responsible for its implementation, I am so thankful to you for a job well done there. In the year ahead, let our planning and communication be at the center of all we do, and you will see that the changes that have been made this year are only the beginning.

Thank you.

School board member, John McManus, Business meeting, 20 Jun 2017

It has been revealed that the DEA and the professional DPS negotiating team are scheduled to meet with the Federal mediator separately in early July. The goal is to put a contract in place to stop anymore teachers from leaving the district and to begin the slow process of rebuilding respect between the parties.

I don’t see any hope for this district with either the current Superintendent or board and believe both should be removed by a judge, who can evaluate a number of insanely bad decisions, disruptions and questionable practices. Considering there are 14 people with petitions out right now, very easily the top 7 could be sworn in as soon as the election is completed in November. It would be up to the judge to say which of these existing board members should be allowed to run again.

In the meantime, an interim superintendent or superintendent team, should work hard at teacher retention, solving the bus/driver problems, and rebuilding the trust of the staff that’s stayed and the parents that haven’t walked.

The public crucifixion of Dunbar Coach Darren Powell

The DPS board meeting was not streamed. And the end of my video will be the camera locked in, wide- because I was asked to leave by security.

Dr. Adil Baguirov was excused at the beginning because he was “traveling.” It’s probably the reason the tech steering committee meeting was cancelled today as well. Sadly, no staff is capable of running that meeting, because, well, there is no IT director for the district right now thanks to the Fall RIF.

This was a night for speeches. Board Member McManus was scheduled to speak before public comments- for a special presentation, but at the last minute, it was moved to after public comment. Yet, Joe Lacey got to make an unscheduled ramble about how important teachers are- because the house was once again packed with them- all wondering why contract negotiations were at a standstill.

Former DPS teacher “Mr. U”- Brian Urquhart got up and had the audience joining in – “it doesn’t buy the groceries, it doesn’t pay the bills” to address the lack of a contract.

I got up and apologized for interrupting the board meeting last week- because they couldn’t stay on topic, asking why teachers had lesson plans, and the board didn’t. I gave them an “F” and called for the board to get an independent parliamentarian to guide them- pointing out “new business” is for voting items- not for speeches, and that the superintendent is who they address- not staff. I questioned how 4 Stivers teachers are resigning- as well as her Chief Academic Officer- and how they can spend so much on legal fees- but still not have a negotiating team at the table.

One teacher in attendance wrote this on Facebook “Get out the BBQ sauce, because David Esrati just grilled the DPSBOE.”

But, the more interesting part was the McManus ramble of our refined Southern Gentleman- who had had enough of Board members working in the dark. He asked for a clear strategic plan, and regular updates on how we’re moving toward goals. It took a while, but it was clear by the end that he felt bamboozled by the Superintendent and the Treasurer on both the RIF and the Marketing Contract fiasco. It wasn’t fire and brimstone of one of our black ministers, but, for John McManus it was an epic earful. Considering at least 3 and probably 4 seats will be occupied by someone else come January, it was pretty clear that this superintendent better learn how to inform the board better or she may be gone.

Then came the HR vote. That four teachers were leaving Stivers was unheard of. It wasn’t mentioned. What did happen is Joe Lacey asked for line 91 to be voted separately. Since Board Doc’s is worthless on mobile- I had to ask Dayton Daily news reporter Jeremy Kelley to confirm what I thought line 91 was – and it was the supplemental contract to hire Darren Powell as coach of the Dunbar football team for next fall. The role was called, Ron Lee abstained, later blaming it on his many absences. McManus, Walker, Rountree voted yes, Lacey voted no and then Taylor voted no. Lacey chimed in “it takes 4 to hire” and just like that- Darren Powell was publicly crucified for a whole bunch of peoples failures- including district Athletic Director LaMark Baker, who according to the Ohio High School Athletic Association was the primary party in the Dunbar/Belmont fiasco. The same Mark Baker that got a rushed 2 year contract a few months ago- before the ink on the reports was dry.

That they hired Belmont Coach/AD Earl White back to both positions just previous once again points to the failures of the DPS HR Department. The jobs were all specifically posted to exclude that possibility, making the entire athletic contract awards process tainted. Is it any wonder the board just allocated a quarter of a million plus for outside legal counsel. They know they’re going to need it.

After the vote, I got in trouble. I asked, “So who is going to be the Dunbar football coach?” Legitimate question. No response had me asking again. Because, well, you can’t have a team without a coach, and practice is NOW. This is a question the Superintendent should have had an answer for. This is proof that this board doesn’t respect their Superintendent by hanging her out to dry on her choice for head coach.

Many believe this entire mess was the final straw for Dr. Markay Winston, and why she resigned.

Needless to say, no one answered. But Rountree made a speech, Lee made excuses, and, if Walker said anything, I don’t remember it- possibly because I was talking on Mr. U’s phone to coach Powell’s father- outside the room.

Lawsuits may come, another coach may be named, but, all that vote did was screw the kids at Dunbar out of a coach, and leave the program in the midst of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Exactly the wrong three words you want to hear when running anything, unless your goal is to run it into the ground.

Hopefully, I’ll have video up tomorrow.

DPS as the wheels fall off

Tonight at 5:30pm should be an epic board meeting. Never mind that the teachers union and the district aren’t talking, but, there are certainly things to talk about.

As we reported last Thursday. Dr. Markay Winston, the handpicked Chief Academic Officer’s resignation is on the agenda. How can a board have faith in a superintendent who can’t keep her own deputies on the job?

Also on the agenda- is some athletic supplemental contracts. Apparently the district just figured out that August is too late to hire your football coaches. But, wait, there’s Belmont Football Coach Earl White- and, and, he’s both getting to be the AD and the Head Football Coach. Wasn’t that specifically banned in the job postings? Wasn’t this one of the things the principals all said- “fat chance Rhonda, we have a hard enough time getting qualified people into those positions.” How can they hire based on postings that were wrong without inviting lawsuits?

And as if the Dunbar/Belmont fiasco didn’t happen, coach Darren Powell will get to continue with the Dunbar program. Net result of this fiasco for those involved- AD Pete Pullen stepped down, Baker gets a 2 year undeserved contract, and Winston, who was on top- resigns, although ostensibly, not over this mess.

The board is working on their evaluations of their hires- Corr, Treasurer Hiwot Abraha and internal auditor Randall Harper. Why they aren’t evaluating their legal counsel, executive secretary etc – I’m not sure.

Corr and Abraha deserve failing grades. Harper needs to find his voice. There are things that he should have stepped in and stopped multiple times, the most flagrant foul that he passed on was the involvement in the purchasing process by the ineligible board member Adil Baguirov with his bus buy. Board members don’t negotiate deals in districts that are run properly.

As to their legal counsel, there needs to be an evaluation of the districts legal strategies. The amount being spent on outside firms in addition to the internal position adds up quickly. The fact that the legal bills are mounting should figure partially into the performance review of Corr, who has become walking lawsuit bait. Additional lawsuits over the RIF are in the pipeline as are others about discrimination and adverse work environments.

Rumors are rampant that there are still teachers planning “resignation parties” before the July 10 deadline. The fact that there are teachers resigning from Stivers should set off alarm bells at the top. That’s the one building that’s got a positive work environment and is meeting expectations.

There may be some other surprises in store. We’ll have film running, and be there to watch the circus. If you care about DPS, you may want to be there too.

The Philando Castile verdict and you

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” 2nd Amendment

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. 4th Amendment

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”– Things stupid people say.

Officer Jeronimo Yanez was formerly a police officer in the Saint Paul Minnesota suburb of St. Anthony. Almost a year ago, he pulled over a car with a broken tail light, with three people in it. The driver, Philando Castile, a cafeteria worker, told the officer that he had a CCW license, and was reaching for his ID. Officer Yanez, shot and killed Mr. Castile, without seeing the weapon, because he “thought” Mr. Castile was reaching for his weapon. The passenger, Mr. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, became facebook famous for live streaming the event. Her daughter was in the back seat.

This video is still painful to watch.

Yesterday, Mr Yanez was acquitted on charges of second degree manslaughter and endangering safety by discharging a weapon.

If this verdict is allowed to stand, police around this country who chose their career “to serve and protect” should have some serious reconsidering to do. This verdict, could forever change every interaction between police officers and their communities. Never mind the case in nearby Cincinnati where a college cop, Ray Tensing is in the midst of his second trial on a similar traffic stop murder of Samuel DuBose, which was captured on the officers body cam.

When we have instances with well trained, supposedly trusted and respected professionals, killing innocent citizens, we are getting dangerously close to losing all freedoms that a civil society provides. The ones most Americans have always seemed to take for granted. As in we own this craptastic myth without having to pay for it- it’s ours by birthright. “It’s an inalienable right”– which almost sounds funny these days- in-alien-able – we don’t like aliens much here lately, especially those damn illegal ones.

If we are truly going to be “America the beautiful, home of the brave, land of the free” and all that goes with it, it’s time to do some serious reconsideration of what that means.

Not being murdered by a trusted officer of the state who pulled you over for a broken tail light sounds like a good place to start.

Owning a gun legally got Mr. Castile shot dead. That he may have smoked some pot is not enough to make him a menace to society (the whole pot legalization can of worms is another subject for another day, however, in Minnesota where this shooting took place, pot was legal for medical use at the time). This “defense” of the shooting is using reefer culture like rape culture- “she was dressed like a hoe, so I had to rape her.” Wrong.

There is a question on an internet dating site that is an instant dis-qualifier for me. “Do you believe your country would be more or less safe if every adult owned a gun?” If they answer more safe- I’m out of there. It doesn’t even stop there, another question asks “In a certain light, wouldn’t nuclear war be exciting?” and some fools say yes.

Which brings me back to the fundamental issue of our crazy interpretation of the 2nd amendment. It does not talk about guns- it talks about arms. A handgun, a long gun, a machine gun, a flamethrower, a tank, an artillery piece, an intercontinental ballistic missile, a nuclear bomb? All of those are arms, and accordingly, Americans should be allowed to own all of them- and do. That’s why we have a military. As to your individual right to own one, unless you are part of a well regulated militia, the answer, according to our founding fathers, is no.

If you need a reminder of what passed as arms back in the day- I think this commercial makes it clear.

They too, believed in the freedom from being shot randomly- they mentioned it- “being necessary to the security of a free State“- security comes from the safety that an organized form of government is to provide. One where random shootings aren’t a daily occurrence. Something that isn’t happening in America. Everyday, hundreds of people are shot, because somehow, “guns make us safe.”

Which weapon was banned for killing too many Americans?We banned jarts, a lethal “toy,” because a few kids died when someone had bad aim. For those of you too young to remember them, they were a version of bocce ball- or corn hole, that used a weighted dart as the thing you threw at your target, or accidentally at young children. It was advertised as “Outdoor fun for the family” – until someone dies.

Yet, even in the wake of a congressman getting shot while playing baseball– “Americas favorite past time”- we still believe we can’t regulate or control guns.

We can’t demand that gun owners actually are engaged in “a well regulated militia” as part of gun ownership. We can’t demand that guns be kept under armed guard, as they are in the military. We can’t demand that owners must proved not only proficiency, but mental competence (which is a slippery road) and for why? We need guns to defend ourselves is the answer. The question is, how’s that working out?

In America, you are more likely to get shot than in any other first world country. The cost to our country of gun ownership, when you figure out the medical costs, the crime costs, the legal costs, the deaths, is astronomical. It’s a tax we pay without getting a bill.

Talking about gun control is considered political suicide. If you don’t see the irony of naming a warship after Gabby Giffords, a congresswoman who was shot, and became an anti-gun crusader, you have bought our fantastic lie, hook line and sinker.

Guns don’t make anyone safe. Guns are made to efficiently kill people.

But, but, what about the hunters? Until the insane people in the Ohio statehouse legalized silencers, pretty much any hunter would tell you, you shouldn’t be considered a hunter if it takes more than one shot to bring something down, because, you don’t really get a second shot most of the time (even animals skedaddle when they hear a gun go off). Real hunters are fine with a double barrelled shotgun or bolt action rifle, it’s only when hunting people that you need a 20 round magazine.

The number of people hunting people in our country lately far exceeds those hunting bambi. Is this really what the founding fathers envisioned?

And don’t start with the talk about how some idiot in London killed people with trucks and knives. Just don’t. It puts you in the same basket as this basket case:

But, but, we have so many guns. We can’t take them away? We banned jarts didn’t we? We mandated seat belts in cars, airbags, we stopped selling cigarettes and booze to minors, we put a man on the moon. We can do anything we want to do. And, if you need proof it can be done, cue Australia, who decided after their first mass shooting to restrict gun ownership. We have people who believe the Newtown school shooting wasn’t real. At what point does crazy count as sane? Cue President Donald Trump.

We talk about the values innate in the principles of democracy. Yet, about half of us exercise the right not to vote. On our money, it says “In god we trust”- yet we claim a separation of church and state. None of this works when we stop believing it works. Our safety, our security, our money, our freedoms- all are based on a blind belief that our country and “free society” is built on laws and constructs that are fair and true.

Allowing Officer Yanez to walk free, should make us doubt everything we know as truths to be self-evident, aren’t.

 

Leaving DPS isn’t just for teachers: Dr. Winston resigns

While the administration is in denial about the number of teacher resignations, claiming they are lower than last year, this resignation has us wondering exactly how bad the fights at the top levels of the administration are.

When the board brought in the rookie superintendent, Ronda Corr, she promptly hired in two high level administrators of her own, both with superintendents licenses and credibility far exceeding her own.

I’ve been incredibly impressed at all times with Dr. Elizabeth Lolli, and have even suggested her as a replacement for Corr.

Dr. Markay Winston, former Dayton Public Schools Chief Academic Officer

Dr. Markay Winston, former Dayton Public Schools Chief Academic Officer

The other, Dr. Markay Winston, the “Chief Academic Officer” hasn’t been very vocal at board meetings. My first exposure to her was in the interviews of the botched marketing RFP process, where she didn’t ask my team anything.  Her one public presentation that I remember was her introduction of the virtual academy introduction, and it sure could have used some help from a marketing professional. She also managed to get embroiled in the Dunbar thrown game mess– and presented the new plan for athletics.

Winston was a follower of the educational reformer, Michael Fullan, who strongly believes in the power of principals. Maybe, that’s why her Confidential resignation letter today, was addressed to “Dear DPS Principals” – her resignation takes effect July 12, 2017, which is two days after the July 10 cutoff date for teacher resignations. Winston was generally well liked and respected by staff, with some mentioning that she was the only one who visited their buildings.

Where things seem to have headed south was when she was the top official on site when the Dunbar football fiasco happened. The old org chart would have had David Lawrence to blame, but since Rhonda Corr had already banished Lawrence to a corner by the mail room, there had to be someone on the short end of the stick- and since Corr protected athletic director LaMark Baker with a 2 year contract before all the facts were on the table, Winston ends up with a 2 year liability to carry. The principals asked Winston to go to bat for their AD/coaches- well aware that positions would be hard to fill, and Winston was unable to get Corr to budge on her edict that there would be no dual positions.

Some principals thought highly enough of Winston to take her out to lunch, urging her to stay about a month and a half ago, and they were assured she would if support in central office turned in her favor, but her general feelings were that power was consolidating around the more senior Lolli, and her role was being diminished. Throw in the failure of the Ohlmann Group to help with her virtual academy project, word travels fast in higher ed, and headhunters started reaching out to her. A few people also believe race to be an issue. In the fall RIF, an inordinate number of African American staff was shown the door, followed by David Lawrence.

It’s not hard to find a better offer than Dayton Public, everyone who works there knows that. Many are leaving.

The timing is right as well. Right now, the district can still brag about their one A in annual yearly progress (AYP) which was achieved pre- Corr/Lolli/Winston. Predictions by some are that scores will drop this year. One of the programs they bought and used heavily for K-2 was actually for intervention, not instruction. The entire forcing of the computer based learning was more of a thrusting instead of an introduction. DPS will be far in the rear-view mirror for Winston if scores go down, and if they go up- she looks better.

There is no doubt that Winston cared deeply about student achievement, in her eloquent resignation letter she made the following statements:

“you know that change is hard and it does not come overnight or simply from wishful thinking. True change comes from a clear theory of action, coherence in vision and direction, and clarity and consistency in executing the most essential levers for improving student outcomes.”

“Remember, if the teaching in your building is not good enough for your own child, then it is not good enough for the precious children of this district. Demand better from everyone in this organization, including yourself. As the true leaders of our schools, you have the moral imperative to make sure that the teaching in your classrooms is good enough for other people’s children (Lisa Delpit).

This district is facing a possible teachers strike in the fall. It can’t get students to the buildings. Staffing has been improving, but many senior teachers with years of experience are leaving the district now. New teachers have had to come to the School Board and beg not to get moved around like chess pieces in the hands of a baby. The confusion about financial stability has been in flux from the RIF in the fall to the massive bus purchase in the spring. The coaching/athletic director situation for next year has DPS parents in flux, wondering who is going to coach their kids (no other district leaves their coaching hires for fall sports to the fall). The upcoming school board race has more candidates than a horse race (15 and counting for 4 seats). The board seems to be in fantasy land, with Corr sitting at meetings like a dazed bystander to a driveby shooting as board members go off on tangents about things not even on the agenda (Tuesday, Board member Sheila Taylor ranted about the suitability of Miami University to do contracted research, when the whole issue was already off the table. I actually interrupted her after 20 minutes of mindless blather- and she called for my removal. No one was willing to back her up, because under their breath, they were thanking me for putting the meeting back on track).

Morale and confidence of many long term educators still in the district is shaken and at an all time low. How much longer will this board refuse to see the writing on the wall? Rhonda Corr wasn’t the answer to this districts problems, and now even, one of her hand-picked executive leaders has made a statement by abandoning the sinking ship.

The mysteries of DPS marketing

If you pay $25K a year for “Annual stratus hosting for DPS website and other technical services as required for District Office of Strategic Communication” as the Dayton Public Schools pay Oxiem LLC, you should call me. You qualify as “A sucker born every minute” (which it turns out wasn’t said by P. T. Barnum)- which fits with the general circus we have running the district.

It’s on the agenda for tonight’s “review session.”

As are a ton of resignations. Maybe if they didn’t spend so much on hosting, and a website that only one person can manage, they’d have money to pay teachers and bus drivers?

But, instead of hiring the low bidder for their marketing and communications needs, they went with the high bidder- and their mad spending on media. Billboards based on a lame premise, and a ton of web advertising (without ascertaining the reach of the web to DPS students and parents who live on the wrong side of the digital divide.) Instead of fixing the one bad site, they started building microsites. Lots of them. This is what people did back in 2005, not in 2017.

I’m not going to link to the microsites- or promote them. I wouldn’t want to increase the visitor count into double digits.

They’ve also released some web videos. The graphics have the sophistication of the current logo- in other words, child like. None of them have view counts anywhere near the ones we’ve done to expose their BS.

Here is an example of their mad video skills. It had 9 whole views- published on the 12th.

Note, the Ohlmann group subcontracts video production.

Here are the latest invoices for the DPS media campaign. What seems to be missing, is approval from the board to expend funds for these media buys. They authorized the contract with Ohlmann Group, but, the media budget that was part of the RFQ- never had a spending authorization by the board.

thumbnail of Ohlman Invoice M013738-DPS thumbnail of Ohlman Invoice 013418-0000DPS thumbnail of Ohlman Invoice 013499-507-DPS thumbnail of Ohlman Invoice 013734-0000-DPS thumbnail of DPS #13418C for April and May thumbnail of DPS #13499-507

And if this isn’t enough to make your head spin, they have now decided to hire someone to be their head of marketing communications, for somewhere close to 6 figures.

I applied and put David Lawrence down as a reference.

There were a bunch of applicants, including the one long rumored as Rhonda’s favorite (not me).

Somehow, in Dayton, we think that reporting the news at one time, somehow gives you the qualifications to manipulate it and to solve marketing problems. The joke always goes that some of us have a face for radio, and then there are people like me, who don’t even have the voice for it. Marketing isn’t taught in journalism school. There are two local former journalists: Bonhart and Fogle.

But, here’s the list- with quick linkedin searches- not guaranteed to be the right person.

  • Marsha Bonhart Director of Development at Dayton Contemporary Dance Company
  • Anne Brewer- nothing obvious on LinkedIn
  • Marilyn Burchett ESL Tutor and Substitute Teacher Licensed to teach K-12 Music, Spanish, Business and Marketing. Valid thru June 2020
  • David Esrati, moi- Owner of The Next Wave
  • Julie Finley- nothing obvious on LinkedIn
  • Guy Fogle profile not available? Former News guy- and congressional candidate
  • Ian Frank – possibly Principal at Reading Community School District
  • Ryan Gilding – Public Relations Specialist at Beavercreek City Schools
  • Tawn Graham – actual ad person: Account Director at Northlich
  • Martha Hasselbusch Education Management Professional
  • Roy Hatfield Operations Manager at Classic Country Radio
  • Candace Hundley Special Education Teacher at Dixie Middle School
  • Cornelia Jammer Nonprofit Organization Management Professional (from Texas and connected with new Meadowdale Principal Dr. Hill)
  • Venita Kelley President, LOUD Family Entertainment; Founder, Kelley Communications and Consulting
  • Susan Newman teacher at DPS (and challenger to DEA president David Romick)
  • Adrienne Robinson Marketing and Public Relations Professional (formerly with the City of Dayton)
  • Suzie Tyson – nothing obvious on Linkedin
  • Sherri Waggoner Business Admintstration
  • David Wedderburn unsure which one.

The first priority of this new hire should be to reevaluate the website contract, hosting, and solution. The second should be to actually write a creative brief, and then go through the RFP process again. Here’s the tip sheet on how to do it: Hiring An Agency: The R.F.P. Guide for Governmental Organizations

And if you want to transform the district, into someplace where people actually want to send their kids to school, here’s my video submitted with my application. No one paid me to do this.