Battle of the bad school boards

The Esrati.com PollWhen I first ran for City Commission, Abner Orick was the director of the Board of Elections. He asked me “why don’t you run for school board first to get your name out?” I didn’t have kids in school, I didn’t understand politics in Dayton yet, and I didn’t realize that school boards are one of the most dysfunctional positions in the state of Ohio. It’s almost written into law to make sure you end up with a keystone kops krew- with no easy, specified way to remove a board, and allowing them to pick their own members when someone leaves. The fiasco with Adil Baguirov’s residency last year proved that there are no checks and balances on even the most basic rule- residency.

The pay is minimal- capped at $5000 a year (the cap had to come because Dayton routinely ran up huge board compensation with their over abundance of meetings).  The actual role of the board is convoluted- they are supposed to set policy and direction for the Superintendent- who is supposed to run the district. Most of the time- it’s the other way around.

All that aside, we have two school district boards and one college board of trustees that can’t seem to do anything right in the Dayton area- so, let’s have a little poll, and decide who should get the crown of incompetence for the first quarter of 2018.

Trotwood Madison Board of Education

Last week, the Trotwood School Board voted 4-1 to fire a teacher, Khalilah Forté, for cause. Forté organized a student college tour, outside of school, with private dollars. This, along with her taking a student into her home, against her principals warning, were the stated reasons. There is more to this story, including that the one school board member who didn’t vote to fire her, Norman J. Scearce III, was the past president of the group that sponsored the tour. All the kids who went on the tour, did so with parental approval. The student in question, had her parents leave the area- and she needed some place to stay until she graduated. 

I remember examples of this happening when I was in HS. In my day, the teacher would be praised for going above and beyond in looking out for the welfare of her students. Her personnel record was spotless in her 3 years at TM.

The district is ranked worst in the state, and just hired a new Superintendent. Students are unhappy with this decision to fire a teacher that went above and beyond for them and are threatening a walkout during testing week.

Dayton Public Schools Board of Education

In just the first quarter of the year, this BOE has redefined FUBAR, starting even before the 4 new members took office, with their an attempt at convening of a school closing task force closed to the public. Already working with an interim superintendent with a whopping total of 1 year experience in the district, they then hired her at a premium amount, for three years, without even opening the position to internal candidates. The bench clearing brawl that broke out at the end of a Thurgood/Dunbar basketball game ended up getting Thurgood tossed out of the tournament and Thurgood being put back in. They decided to waste a ton of money- and piss off the Ohio High School Athletic Association (the sports Mafia of the state) by taking them to court- even though the district was already under sanctions for the Dunbar/Belmont thrown football game attempt the year before. They won the suit, but Dunbar only won one game before getting knocked out. They lost in an appeal on the improper termination notification of former Treasurer Craig Jones. They lost a first round in a Sunshine laws case brought by me, pro se, against them for their task forces private bus tour of buildings to close.

The bus drivers union came to within two days of a strike- pushing some testing back a week. The demoting of the Belmont Principal 6 weeks before the end of the school year did nothing to stop the systemic problems of a school that’s over-enrolled and understaffed. There have been multiple calls for police intervention at the school since the change over to management by committee. The district also subverted  their own purchasing rules by sliding a contract for a PR survey by a Cleveland firm to the Montgomery County Educational Services Center. The district PR machine seems totally broken, with the non-renewal of Dr. Venita Kelly who was hired to manage the PR a year ago, along with a contract to the most expensive bidder on an RFQ last year. When the assignments for principals was made public last week- it came via Esrati.com- with the Superintendent only releasing an email to staff after the changes were public. And lastly, despite enrollment drops being a primary concern, procedures for enrolling students are still a mess- with some parents spending an entire day in the “enrollment center.”

Wright State Board of Trustees

It’s been a while since esrati.com covered much of the ongoing fiasco at my alma mater. Therefore, I’m not limiting the screwups to just the last quarter.

This board is about to put the university into fiscal ruin, and just two weeks ago, declared that $10M needs to be cut in 10 weeks. This didn’t happen overnight. It’s been a long steady progression into the abyss. While Dr. David Hopkins got to retire with a pension and with his dignity and immediately move to South Carolina so that he can’t be hauled back into court to pay for his sins, the board continues to oversee what can only be described as a train wreck.

The malfunctions all began when board members used WSU’s ability to bring over students that amounted to unlimited H1-B visas, so they could have cheap labor for their IT firms. Trustee Nina Joshi president and CEO of UES Inc. resigned after getting her hands caught in the cookie jar. Trustee Michael Bridges of Peerless Technologies managed to vote for WSU to hire his son for a $125K a year IT job, without the job even being posted. Either of these infractions would normally result in prosecution, but both got barely a hand slap. Bridges stayed on the board, his kids job offer revoked. Current board chairman, Douglas Fecher, the CEO of Wright Patt Credit union should have some explaining to do about how WSU bought his former HQ while he sat on the board.

The failure of WSU to execute and bring the Presidential debate to campus should have been an early indication of managerial malfeasance and an organization run amok, however it was just the easy target. Harder is the operation of a bunch of shell companies which have been spending money like they can print it, with no legitimate oversight- since they aren’t quite WSU, or anything else. The Wright State Applied Research Corporation and Double Bowler Enterprises both fall into the netherworld of quasi-governmental slush funds. That a bunch of former politicians, lobbyists and “economic development” types are tied in should set off alarm bells. The hiring of Jim “Lefty” Leftwich, who tried to represent both WSU and the State of Ohio on the same deal was just one indication that no adults are captaining the ship.

Labor relations at the university are at an all time low, with staff being told that it’s up to them to control costs, mostly by not spending money required to actually do their jobs. When the Trustee’s brought in an interim President to do the dirty work of slashing and burning bloat- they chose to not listen to Dr. Curtis McCray- and instead cut Swimming- but boosted athletics budget by a million for basketball. Now, with ten weeks left they are wondering where the money went.

The hiring of the new president drew a limited field thanks to the dire straights of the school. The eventual pick is an introvert, who has yet to figure out that her salary alone is part of the problem. If there is one place where pay for performance is indicated, it’s for “turnaround” leaders- and so far, she’s barely been able to point out where the cuts need to be made. First hint: paying former congressman Steve Austria $150K a year probably doesn’t win you any favors with the state.

Your three choices

We’ll quickly see which organization should win the prize for incompetence in the first quarter with this poll. Feel free to also leave any other pertinent issues that I managed to overlook in this post as comments. This poll is in no means scientific (we’d need to hire a consultant from Cleveland to do one of those…). I just thought it was time for something new.

 

Which Board Should Be Fired First?

Trotwood Madison School Board
Dayton Public Schools Board of Education
Wright State University Board of Trustees

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4 Comments on "Battle of the bad school boards"

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JTidakowski
JTidakowski

This comment is regarding the Trotwood School Board. Although I’m absolutely no fan of some of the board members as they are only there to fulfil personal and political agendas outside the school district, there are a couple of things to note:

1) This teacher is friends with the journalist who wrote the original article, she is real good friends with the board member that voted “no”, she’s real good friends with a member who voted “yes” (which should tell you something about the reasons for non-renewal).

2) The non-renewal had nothing to do with her taking the students on the college trip. That’s just what her and her media friends are focusing because it brings the most emotion out of the readers.

3) The real reasons for non-renewal are related to incidents both inside and out of the classroom and violate SEVERAL articles of the teacher code of conduct in Ohio. Most of them fall under “Professional Relationship with Students” but some are more serious.

In her situation, conduct unbecoming is clear…yet her and her friends in positions of power continue to look for loopholes, point fingers, embellish the truth, and deceive the community by avoiding the true reasons for non-renewal.

Because of all this, in the end, the only things that many fear will remain are division, important relationships destroyed, reputations falsely tattered, and a district in further disarray as they go into a new school year with a likely state takeover.

All of this, over one teacher and the hearsay of a biased news article…

Sandra

David,
As an avid reader, this is the FIRST time that you have seriously disappointed me. Your information about the Trotwood BOE is HIGHLY incorrect. I think you need to reread your sources (local news) as you clearly aren’t basing this information on a credible source. Firstly, the teacher in question was non-renewal due to MULTIPLE issues that had absolutely nothing to do with that trip. Honestly, she’s lucky she’s not in jail and the non-renewal may even be past due. Secondly, this is only her SECOND year with the district and her second year teaching as she just received her license (all public information look at ODE). Thirdly, you could have received more credible information (sad but true) via Fortes Facebook where her connections with community members (Scearce, Milk Perkins who first broke the story on WHIO, Mary McDonald, Shirley Murdock her cousin that she had speak on her behalf at the BOE meeting, etc.) are ridiculously clear and where she openly talks about her various write ups. Forte knew enough people to attempt to make a fuss and scare the district into keeping her but that failed miserably. Hell the woman made her mom speak on her behalf at the BOE because she had no one else. She is a liability and the school can not afford to keep her especially when facing state takeover. The students (majority of them) are very happy that she is gone and have been ready for a real teacher. Lastly (I’m pretty sure I can find more but I’ll stop here), the students never planned a walkout and definitely not during testing especially considering testing ENDED the week prior to the BOE meeting. Very few students have stood up in support of Forte. With all of this being said, I am disappointed in this report and strongly hope you find credible sources and correct your errors in the future.

David Johns
David Johns

David isn’t really into vetting stories, it’s just sensationalized nonsense. Don’t be surprised with innacurasies or flat out falsehoods, it’s the same with his DPS rants. Just be thankful he’s not showing up at your school board meetings, and suing your district to infate his ego.

Your responses took insight and thought to create, neither of which Mr Esrati affords to his posts. He is, quite literally, the InfoWars of Dayton Ohio.

Dayton Ohio
Dayton Ohio

Actually, Michael Bridges’ son, David Bridges, is still employed by Wright State: https://people.wright.edu/david.bridges

According to the Dayton Business Journal’s most recent WSU salary database, David Bridges made $127,447 in 2016. Wish my dad could have gotten me such a high-paying job without a real search!

And, yes, the Ohio Ethics Commission should also take a look into Double Bowler’s (funded by Wright State?) acquisition of the former Wright-Patt Credit Union headquarters on Colonel Glenn Hwy. Seems like an odd coincidence that Doug Fecher, President/CEO of Wright-Patt Credit Union, would later become chair of the Wright State University Board of Trustees shortly after unloading (worthless) office space on the university at top dollar. Oh, I mean, Double Bowler Properties “bought” the property from WPCU, and I’m sure Fecher didn’t get any kind of bonus for that one. Ha! Sure doesn’t appear very ethical.

Wouldn’t be the first time that the Ohio Ethics Commission needed to take a closer look at the WSU Board of Trustees: https://www.daytondailynews.com/news/crime–law/wright-state-trustee-reprimanded-over-son-hiring/hc0zGHnOqnQonCQIodq6VO/

Oh, Wright State! No wonder the unethical BOT can’t hire an appropriate top administrator to lead the university out of its troubles. They’re all tone deaf and don’t have the slightest idea about what it means to be a public servant in the state of Ohio.