Round 2: Esrati vs DPS and Dayton City Commission

Judge Skelton asked for both sides to file a memo arguing if ORC 121.22 trumped Rule 65, even though he made it clear that he believed it did to start the court arguments.

And he asked us to use a pen, not a shovel.

To me, the pen is the tool that changes history. Shovels are what you use to muck a stall. Lawyers love to shovel. I love to write.

So, my filing is 9 pages plus attachments. I strayed outside the lines of strictly interpreting the issue of ORC 121.22 vs Rule 65, by explaining all the actions of the task force amounting to repeated  and willful violations of the law. Since the defense tried to claim that a TRO as required by Rule 65 was moot, since they had already violated ORC 121.22, and that he believed that sticking to the law in the future would some how fix things- clearly had to be addressed (total bullshit, needing a bulldozer instead of a mere shovel).

Needless to say, the research was enlightening.

404 error of the county Clerk of courts site

The Montgomery County Clerk of Courts site doesn’t like my filing.

Unfortunately, the Courts website (the one with the 35 page instructions on use) gives a 404 error when trying to upload the the large document that the school task force was given during their illegal tour. I had to abbreviate it just to upload to the site. Acting in full transparency mode, I’m posting it here, now. I’m sure, this will give the advantage to the defense, who will now, re-write their memo, turning it in at the last minute- and wasting considerable tax payer dollars doing so.

That is the crux of the problem with ORC 121.22- the burden and risk, is all upon the plaintiff- who risks getting billed for court costs and attorneys fees if their motion is found to be frivolous. Public officials who break the law, on the other hand, suffer zero personal risk, having tax funded defense at their disposal.

It also turns out that removal from office has been a false threat, enforced almost never. Our “Sunshine Laws” are in practice, just blowing sunshine up our collective butt.

Or at least they have been in the past.

The actions of these elected officials and employees of the district have been so wrong, so wanton in their disregard for the law, that maybe, just maybe, this will be a case that makes a difference. Or not.

At this point, the judge will consider both filings, and then offer a conference call on how to proceed.

My call is that he issue the injunction, which allows me to begin the process of contacting the Open Government Unit to begin proceedings to remove Jeff Mims, Robert Walker, William Harris and Mohamed Al-Hamdani from office.

He should also order the task force disbanded, and all members ruled ineligible to discuss the issue of school closings because they participated in an illegal secret meeting. This means, Acting Superintendent Lolli, Associate Superintendent Burton and Treasurer Abraha would all have to sit this one out.

Mims would have to be replaced by election, the three school board members would be replaced by those chosen by current remaining members, John McManus, Sheila Taylor, Jocelyn Rhynard and Karen Wick Gagnet, from members of the community that ask to sit on the board.

The only thing left to decide in court, is how many times they broke the law, and how many times the $500 fine should be counted.

Here are the documents for you to read, which are also available on the County Clerk of Courts site.

thumbnail of Rule 65 or ORC 121 – v3

The Esrati filing on which law to use

thumbnail of A-1 Citizen Advocacy Center Explaination of Sunshine Laws SM

A guide on the sunshine laws in Ohio that is clearer than the AG’s version

thumbnail of A2 Violating government-access laws rarely results in punishment for the offenders | Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Document From Media and the law explaining that Sunshine Laws are weak.

thumbnail of A-3 Re Public records request- tour docs

Public Records Request from David Esrati to the School Board for the documents used on the tour

thumbnail of A-4 Task Force Docs – Tour Day 2-6-18abreiviated

The abbreviated version of the task force document handed out on the bus

UPDATE

9pm Monday, 12 Feb 18 The city uploaded their response after 4pm. They had until midnight. It’s odd in that it focuses on the judges ability to shut down the task force, which wasn’t what he asked for, and some case law trying to grasp at straws that Rule 65 applies, without any specificity to the case.

UPDATE

9:15 am Tuesday, 13 Feb 18. The School Board attorney also filed a brief- more to the issue of Rule 65 and also arguing that the judge can’t disband a task force. Really? How can a task force that violates the sunshine law- by meeting in private, possibly contribute to any discussion the board will have about the issue of closing schools, and, how can any employee of the district, that helped coordinate these secret illegal meetings not put the board at risk of having any decision they make to close schools, instantly overturned? They can’t. And, the total page count of both their briefs equals mine. Yet, they miss the point of the special protections the sunshine laws are supposed to provide.

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The more competent response filed by the private attorney for the district. Still wrong.

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The city filed for the school board. It’s short, and harmless

David vs Goliath: round 1, or what do you call four lawyers installing a light bulb?

The Ohio Sunshine Laws are laws that mean well, but are designed with so many gotcha factors that people have to feel really pissed before they jump through the hoops. Like the first one: Get a lawyer. Pay the lawyer. Then filing fee ($330.50), then show up in court. Watch the government agencies who broke the law, show up in court, unprepared, with 4 lawyers to tell the judge you are wrong, and this whole thing is just David being an idiot (while their meters are running full tilt.).

Then we have to argue about what laws apply, even though Judge Richard Skelton made that very clear right off the bat. His reading of my brief and the law in question, ORC 121.22 said to him that Rule 65- the procedural rule used for asking for a Temporary Restraining Order, said that since the Sunshine Law had remedies (what he’s supposed to do to punish the lawbreaker) there was no need to bring in Rule 65, which is a federal law. In other words, the specific rules of the State law apply because the the general rule (rule 65) is controlled by the specific one. Did I lose you? I hope not.

I was wondering why even with their expert on the Sunshine Laws they weren’t ready to discuss the merits of that part of my filing?

This wasn’t an actual trial, so I wasn’t allowed to introduce evidence. All I could do was to turn to my filing to ask for relief.

Skelton stated a few things that made a lot of sense to me (but apparently, Brian Wildermuth, attorney for the District, wants to pick a fight with a judge known for being feisty): one, that laws are generally in place to “do the right thing.” Two- that while unable to guide me, he’s working toward transparency, and understands that this law in particular is written in mostly plain terms- in order to make sure the people keep their elected officials in line.

Wildermuth tried to say that I’d been allowed to attend and video meetings and that they’d comply in the future, and that this one “bus trip” is over, and therefore there was no need for my case. Totally denying the fact that I was shut out of the bus trip- and that what happened in their closed rolling yellow conference room was a meeting held in secret, as was the tour of Valerie Elementary. They also claimed that they cut short the trip, after hearing from the judge that this may be a violation.

If you watched the videos from facebook live- or my edited video of the event, you’ll know that yours and mine idea of cutting off a bus tour would mean, stop doing what you are doing and return home. A go to jail, go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200 moment if there ever was one. The bus continued on from Valerie, to Meadowdale Elementary and Meadowdale HS and then to Wogamen middle school and then back to DPS.

Let’s also be clear, that the government bodies could send 4 lawyers on your tax dime to deal with my complaint, yet, none were prepared to answer the case.

Let’s also be clear, that the judge suggested to the lawyers yesterday to hold off on the tour, and that Dayton City Officials were told NOT to enter- hence my conversation with Jeff Mims outside Valerie on camera about my mom. Let’s also be clear, that Mohamed Al-Hamdani, the mastermind behind this task force, actually had the bus pull over between DPS HQ and Valerie so he could get off the bus. Some of the people knew better, but did it anyway.

My arguments were basic: That by participating in a single secret meeting, the committee has poisoned any decision that the schools may make on closing any buildings. School Board Members William Harris, Robert Walker and Mohamed Al-Hamdani would and should have to recuse themselves. Dr. Lolli, Burton, Treasurer Abraha, also have now poisoned themselves. Any closure could be challenged in court by the community saying deliberations were held in private- thereby, just like inadmissible criminal evidence, forcing whatever decision they make to be illegal.

The fact that Lolli keeps saying she has a right to do these things in public is an embarrassment. It’s really just time to do with her, what the board did with the woman who hired her- part ways. But, without the payoff. She can serve as a principal, or something until the end of the year, while we hire someone who can abide by the sunshine laws and not require a bunch of people picked illegally to advise them on what to do.

The sad thing about all this, is the lawyers want to continue with their charade of denial. This will be costly for the district. I look forward to depositions, and a trial, because, much like the Dr. Markay Winston EEOC investigation which ended up bringing the end to Rhonda Corr, I think I know the right questions to ask people under oath that will show that this district leadership, has acting illegally (I was chastised for calling it criminal, because there is a difference to lawyers- while the rest of us think that when you break the law, you are a criminal, they don’t think that way.)

Watch the video, read the briefs, examine how many times in the tour video that they said NO, YOU can’t come in. I believe everyone of those, times the number of people who should have known better equals $500 ea instance… but, we’ll see.

And remember while you’re on Youtube to subscribe to my channel. I need 1000 subscribers to monetize it. Thank you.

For the record, what do you call four lawyers installing a light bulb? More billable hours, and no one that actually knows how to turn on a light.

 

Esrati files suit to stop school task force from touring in private

Today at 3:06 pm David Esrati filed pro se with the Montgomery County Common Pleas Clerk of Courts a civil action to ask the courts to prevent the Dayton School Closure task force from touring school buildings without public oversight.

The case was initially assigned to Judge Dennis Langer, who had to recuse himself, since his wife, Ellen Belcher, formerly of the Dayton Daily News now does contract work for Learn to Earn and Dr. Tom Lasley who are named in the suit.

The case was sent to Judge Richard Skelton, who took the time to review the pro se filing, but admonished Esrati for not including a Rule 65 Temporary Restraining Order so that he could rule immediately on the case without a jury trial for the good of the public interest.

Esrati then wrote an addendum, to file first thing tomorrow morning, and served the documents to all parties via email.

A few observations, the instructions for how to efile with the Montgomery Clerk of Courts office run 35 pages and the system still takes manual oversight. My new account, won’t even be active for 24 hours, which forced me to go to the clerks office to file in person. So much for the brilliance of our former Clerk of Court Greg Brush. No ecommerce portal should require 35 pages of instruction or a delay. If this court system was online in a bigger jurisdiction, that kind of ineptitude would make the courts inoperable.

The fact that service isn’t possible via electronic means is also embarrassing. Why the courts are supporting FedEx and the US Post office to serve lawsuits that have to be filed electronically, is kind of another way to slow the system and add costs. Considering most filings name lawyers who already are registered with the State, this is a colossal waste of time and money.

Also, the cost of filing was $330.50, for a case which the law only allows for a collection of a $500 penalty per instance. This makes the likelihood of common citizens filing rare. Of course, attorney fees are offered as part of the restitution, guaranteeing that the courts help lawyers keep their jobs, while the laws get overlooked because of artificial hurdles built by the system.

Here are the filings, the first is the injunction, the second is the addition of the Temporary Restraining Order. Hopefully, I can efile in the morning and won’t be charged more money.

The task force is supposed to tour the buildings tomorrow. If the board was smart, they would order the Superintendent to pause the tours until this case has been decided.

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The suit that was filed to stop the task force from touring in private- and to examine it’s legal standing.

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The TRO that will be filed tomorrow to get immediate action.

New board folds, buys out Corr. Superintendent search may be on.

In less than 15 minutes, the DPS board went into executive session- came out, and parted ways “by mutual agreement” with former Superintendent Rhonda Corr.

The payoff is the remainder of a years pay and bennys- around $200K $115K. Not a good way for this board to start out- less than 30 days into their tenure, but, probably a lot cheaper than the legal bills a court case would run up. The lawyer who dug up all the dirt when investigating the Dr. Markay Winston EEOC complaint, Beverly A. Meyer, probably has made a small fortune already in legal fees in this long drawn out process. She was there tonight as the board announced their decision.

I’ll have a public records request in for the money spent on legal fees thanks to all this.

Board members John McManus, Sheila Taylor, and Robert Walker are all breathing easier. No lawsuit means no depositions. We may never know what happened in the all too frequent executive sessions that allowed this mad woman to run the district- excuse me, ruin the district, and still get a glowing review.

Corr is crazy enough to believe she’s still employable in education. We’ll see how much of her settlement is left after the insurance company is done collecting the money they paid her when her 2nd wife died- before she’d been divorced from the first one.

After the board adjourned, Board President William Harris spoke to the media, with tender Marsha Bonhart at his side. He handled the questions well, but did slip that the board will see what kind of applicants they get for the next Superintendent- meaning Dr. Lolli is still interim, and the board is thinking of seeing what they can get.

Here is the text of the official release:

AGREED PRESS RELEASE
The Dayton Board of Education and Rhonda Corr have mutually decided to part ways. Corr has resigned her position as Superintendent of Dayton Public Schools to pursue other opportunities in the field of education. The Board accepted Corr’s resignation at its special meeting held on January 30, 2018.

The Board and Ms. Corr have executed a separation agreement that provides for the continuation of Corr’s base salary, insurance benefits, and State Teacher Retirement System contributions through the end of her current contract year. The parties decided to forego the final two years on Corr’ s contract as both she and the Board felt it was in the best interests of the District.

Ms. Corr successfully tackled numerous issues confronting the District and continued academic gains during her time as Superintendent. Dayton Public Schools’ students and families are of the utmost Importance to both Corr and the Board, and both parties believe that moving forward is in the best Interest of all involved. The Board looks forward to capitalizing on the improvements it has realized in recent years and ensuring that the students of Dayton Public Schools continue to receive quality educational opportunities.

Unlike the last buyout of a high level employee, this time the board didn’t violate the agreement in the process- at least, in appearance, since I don’t have the actual agreement. Esrati.com will be requesting it as well.

The next question is when will strong leadership show up in this district to set a course and deliver results?

So far, we’ve not seen it.

thumbnail of Separation Agreement – R. Corr – Partial Exec – 1.26.18

The separation agreement from the District- Harris hadn’t signed it yet.

UPDATE

31 Jan, 2018- I got the separation agreement. It is through the end of the school year- not the calendar year.

The board gave Corr a get out of jail free card, which may or may not stand up in criminal court, with clause 6B:

For valuable consideration received, the sufficiency of which is hereby acknowledged, Dayton forever releases and discharges Corr from any and all claims and/or causes of action, known or unknown, which Dayton may have or could claim to have against Corr up to and including the effective date of this Agreement.

The agreement was signed on the 19th of January, and Corr’s right to revoke it is over.

 

Dayton Public Schools still out of control under the carpetbagger interim Superintendent

Rome Burns- a metaphor for DPS under this board and Dr. Lolli. From Mr. Ripley on Deviant art

There is a reason the DPS superintendent usually lives in the District. The operation runs on an 18 hour a day schedule, from opening the transportation department to the closing of the gym after a basketball game. There is the possibility that the current interim superintendent is first reading about the following events here, because she wasn’t at the Dunbar game on Friday night, which is where she should have been after the Dunbar/Thurgood game a few weeks ago. Instead, she was probably at home in Middletown prepping for her board retreat on Saturday morning.

Today, I was going to write a nice story about an amazing event hosted by two DPS employees and their students last night. Instead, I’m going to explain why this school board needs to pull their collective asses out of the fire by fixing past wrongs. This district can’t survive the current level of incompetence.

So far, the first actions of the new board have been to allow a semi-secret task force to take over their responsibility for running the district. There was no official vote taken to empower this task force or to appoint the three board members to it- or to give the superintendent, treasurer etc authority to work on it.

Closing buildings next year for efficiency is not job number 1. It’s not even job number 2 or 3 or 4. But, they wouldn’t know that. If they actually knew anything about the district- or had a superintendent that did, they would clearly know that job number 1 right now- is student safety, to include orderly buildings where education can take place. Number 2 is instilling confidence back in the community that DPS can actually teach. Not just “Drill and kill” on the computers to a goal of improving test scores- but to teach. Make kids interested in learning and going to school and achieving.

That isn’t happening.

I didn’t write about it when there was a stands clearing brawl on January 10th at Dunbar High School when Thurgood came to play basketball. I have video. Facebook has video. It was a mess. Board members didn’t know, didn’t demand action, and haven’t investigated it even after being told. #FAIL

I was chastised on Facebook for not writing about the group hug the two varsity teams had before their game after the brawl (there was the JV game first- and that’s when the brawl happened). If you want to read good news puff stories- you can either watch the 20 minute videos Marsha Bonhart is making for the district- and being well paid, or read the occasional article in the Dayton Day-Old news.

Friday night, DPS reached a new low. After a Dunbar player committed 2 turnovers in 20 seconds according to multiple reports- the rookie coach, Chuck Taylor pulled him out. The players mother decided to come down and tell the coach what she thought. Taylor called the woman a bitch. The player got up and punched Chuckie in the face twice.

This, folks, is not how you run a basketball program.

If former coach Pete Pullen had pulled a player for committing two turnovers, the parent wouldn’t have dared to question his actions. The last board, approved the non-renewal of Pete Pullen and the hiring of Chuck. By the way- the candidate pool for the job- was just Chuck or Pete- because no one else would apply – because Pete Pullen is a coaching legend with a long list of championships- Chuck is a Bailiff for a local judge who sucks at the political teat of the Democratic party and hands out $10,000 bails on homeless people.

Still, choosing between Pete and Chuck should have been a no-brainer, except that’s the problem- the District AD is a no-brained former pro-basketball player who can’t figure out a players eligibility and brought shame to this district at the center of the thrown game between Dunbar and Belmont in 2016. He was also given a two-year contract by the former Superintendent (still not fired) and the former board- despite the investigation into the thrown game being incomplete at the time.

As the board has an emergency meeting on Tuesday to go into executive session, we could hope the following transpires:

  • Rhonda Corr is terminated.
  • District AD Mark Baker is terminated.
  • Chuck Taylor is terminated and Pete Pullen returned to coach the remainder of the Dunbar season.
  • The board opens a search for a new superintendent.

The task force is disbanded and DPS board announces that they are closing Valerie elementary, selling off HQ and the building across the street, closing Longfellow at Jackson Center, and beginning a planning process to institute a consistent alignment of schools (grades served), bell times, and transportation options for the coming school year that is focused on reducing transportation costs, improving building utilization and aligning resources properly. They also announce a downsizing of administrative staff, including the firing of their expensive PR department that still doesn’t know how to update a website in a timely manner without help (the upcoming meeting isn’t listed on the meeting schedule). Yet, one has to wonder when at the Board Retreat yesterday, the agenda included documents that still listed responsibilities that were assigned to Corr, Winston and even Jill Moberley.

There has still been no investigation and punishment for anyone other than the two teachers who actively tried to stop the riot at Ponitz (the story broke on this blog). No students were held accountable, no building administrators punished, and no questions asked on why the district was willing to let another incredible asset leave the district (Football coach Jim Place resigned).

Competent leadership from the board and superintendent wouldn’t be distracted by building use efficiency while the buildings are on fire.

It’s time for a shakeup.

And, last but not least, thanks to YouTube changing their monetization rules, I need to get the youtube channel up to 1000 subscribers to be able to help support the costs of producing video for this blog. Please go to www.youtube.com/c/electesrati and subscribe. It doesn’t cost anything. We had 100 subscribers on Thursday, we’re up to almost double that in two days, but if you want me to keep going to task force meetings and shutting them down, we need 1000 subscribers asap. Thank you.