Mohamed Al-Hamdani; the prince of pious

Before this school board was elected, I warned the citizens of Dayton that William Harris was a mistake:

Harris has said “I won’t be anyone’s puppet” as part of the slate- yet, that’s comically what he is. I don’t think he brings any of the critical thinking skills we need to this board, nor do I think he has the intellectual horsepower to move the district forward at a critical time. He’s Ron Lee 2. Pass, please.

Source: Evaluation and endorsements of the Dayton School Board candidates – Esrati

I also said it was time for Joe Lacey to go. Luckily, the voters agreed, and Joe wasn’t re-elected. Unbelievably, Harris makes me forlorn for Lacey.

On my non-recommended list, was the political climber Mohamed Al-Hamdani:

This guy has political aspiration signs coming out of every side of him- in neon, with strobe lights. This board run is his first step to his long future political career. And, he’s arrogant, by the truckload. Early on, I asked a question about the hiring of Burges and Burges and how much it cost- and why they didn’t buy local talent- and he tried to sidestep it and said they hadn’t paid them a dime. I don’t need to be lied to ever, and especially before you have been elected.

Mohamed thinks he knows it all. He has a smugness that rubs people the wrong way. He thinks he has all the answers. He probably reminds people of me in some ways- but, with the establishment nod. His campaign rhetoric has been full of bullshit about all the teachers that taught him- and his story of coming to America- all nice and fine, but missing any substance. He may indeed have all the answers, but, I’ve not heard them, and his testiness will bring back some of the rancor to the board that we can’t afford. He has a law degree- which would and might be handy, but, so does McManus- and it hasn’t kept us out of trouble. One of the biggest mistakes Americans make at the polls is thinking that being a lawyer makes you a good lawmaker- and that’s actually the opposite. Good lawmakers and only the best lawyers, understand that their profession is actually the art of compromise. Too many think it’s to win at all costs. Mohamed is a total wildcard. He may be smart, he may have a good story, he may even understand the issues, but I’d put Mario and Jocelyn ahead of him for my slate. He’s also been the one to say that if “The slate” is elected, they won’t disagree with each other as much in public- lending me to believe he’s planning on operating behind a curtain.

Source: Evaluation and endorsements of the Dayton School Board candidates – Esrati

So far, my predictions have been totally proven correct. Al-Hamdani, started with trying to have secret illegal meetings of the School Closing Task force before he was even sworn in- leading to my lawsuit against the district over the Open Meetings Act.

But, last month, when I decided to push my speech over the 3 minute limit- after Harris had let a whole bunch of people speak for well over 5 and as long as 10 minutes in the June Meeting- I mentioned that maybe, Harris practiced discrimination- since he doesn’t interrupt African American speakers- and referenced Sheila Taylor’s  nomination of him for board president as a rookie- because he was “African American.” You can watch my video: A racist on the Dayton Public Schools Board of Education 2017.

Al-Hamdani, Wick-Gagnet, Jocelyn Rhynard, John McManus, Robert Walker and William Harris were all sitting there- and didn’t say a thing then- but, when I bring it up, Al-Hamdani, the pious one, wants to make me out as a racist for reminding them how Harris got to the center seat.

“So I want to apologize to you on behalf of this community, to insinuate that your only qualification was your color, um was interesting to hear, um there’s people, as a community, we’re better than that sir, so I’m sorry that we had to hear that today, but that’s the world we live in today” ~ Mohamed Al-Hamdani

When I tried to go up with my camera to question Al-Hamdani after the meeting- the security forces played bouncer. You can watch the entire meeting here.

Word has gotten back to me, that someone is telling people that I said the “N” word. Nothing farther from the truth.
What you need to watch is how smug Al-Hamdani is as he plays this out. Note also- if you watch the DPS video feed of this meeting- you’ll never hear my outburst.
It’s sad that this is the best we can do for a school board. They all need to be removed. All of them, suffer from amnesia apparently, totally forgetting how they followed Sheila Taylor’s racist rationale for picking Harris as board president.

Nothing Trumps the Learning" sign at Belmont High School in Dayton Ohio, where a large proportion of the students are immigrants

Apparently, we’re now evoking the Trump brand at Belmont HS in Dayton.

And, while we’re at it. As part of his campaign trail story, Al-Hamdani liked to talk of his path to success as a poor immigrant child coming to America, not speaking English- and how he owes all his success to his DPS teachers and their acceptance of him.

A source has sent me a photo of new signs in Belmont High School “Nothing trumps the learning”- the DPS school where most of the immigrants are, a sign that has many of the international parents terrified. This is, after all, the country where children are now separated from their parents in deportation camps, thanks to President Trump.

A final note: Al-Hamdani, right after getting elected to the school board, was handed a high-paying patronage job in the Montgomery County Clerk of Courts office by his Democratic Party buddy Russ Joseph, who was just appointed to be the clerk when Greg Brush left town.

The Trotwood Turnaround

Trotwood Madison School mission statement

Trotwood’s mission statement. Not that I love mission statements on the walls.

I left a school board meeting last night and didn’t feel dirty.

That’s the total opposite of every visit I make to the cesspool that doubles as the Dayton Board of Education.

Trotwood schools are currently 608 out of 608 districts in the state. Dead last. Bottom of the barrel, but going to a school board meeting run by competent, intelligent, caring, well adjusted folks is a joy.

Yesterday was a work session. The board president opened the meeting and immediately spelled out what kind of meeting it was, how many meetings they have, the purpose of the meeting and thanked the audience for being there. There was a constant flow of information, with the goal of transparency and purpose. They are committed to “608 to great” but I’m pretty sure that by mid-September they will be well above 608 which will now be owned exclusively by the folks on Ludlow- who deserve it.

The primary purpose of the meeting was to onboard new staff. Much like the supposed purpose of DPS’s Monday Maelstrom meeting where the board engaged in additional board business that could only be viewed as an end-run around public scrutiny.

New acting Superintendent Tyrone Olverson had a 16 page booklet printed with brief bios of every new hire. They were invited on stage to be welcomed by him and the board. Their academic backgrounds were highlighted. It was a celebration of hiring. Sort of like when your sports team gets first pick in the draft and gets LeBron James. Compared to Dayton, where hiring seems more like a revolving door function.

I’ve been in Trotwood’s High School before, but never in the auditorium. It’s not yet the ideal place to have a board meeting, but there is hope with a few adjustments to lighting, seating arrangement and better tech. But, I’ve been in every DPS high school, and the only one that compares is Stivers- a building that wasn’t built or the reconstruction managed by DPS folks.  Trotwood felt like a school. DPS buildings, for the most part, feel like they were designed as baby prisons, which makes total sense as they are a first stop on the school to prison pipeline.

At the end of the meeting, the board made some announcements. The first one was from Rev  Scearce– addressing the new staff, it was a clear indication that this district is on a mission, when he announced that “in Trotwood, you’ll never have to reach into your own pocket to buy anything for our kids, if you need something, ask, and it will be secured.”

It’s easy to see why so many quality former DPS staff are now happily working in Trotwood.

The board president came over to talk to me, thanking me (and my video camera) for being there. She was ebullient and epitome of professionalism. We discussed the meeting and she shared that all board members have to read 12 books a year. I asked her if she was familiar with the Dolly Parton Imagination Learning Library program and she immediately understood the value proposition and the problem it addressed, and wanted me to send a link and handed me her professional district card.

The board acknowledged the public officials in the audience- including County Commissioner Dan Foley, County Auditor Karl Keith and the vice Mayor of Trotwood. I can’t remember seeing that many public officials at a DPS shitshow unless they were invited.

The other intriguing issue was the discussion of the upcoming board retreat. Without getting into issues of the Open Meetings Act, they were overjoyed at the assistance being rendered to them by the chief of the Montgomery County Educational Service Center former Centerville Superintendent Frank DiPalma. He’s made many visits to work with them, and has secured a national caliber facilitator, Dr. Ventura Rodriguez, to help them work through issues for next to nothing. They’ve also had several visits from the head of the State board of education to help guide and mentor them through their planning to move Trotwood from 608 to Great as we will bear witness to the “Trotwood Turnaround.”

I can’t remember when the Dayton Board of Education has listened to anyone, other than paid consultants who take the money and run as just another run through the chaos generator that is DPS. Speaking of which, there has been an outpouring of frustration with yet another one of Dr. Lolli’s overpriced hires- who apparently has decided to ignore the work of her competent predecessor and has told everyone that she’s starting her operation from scratch. More will be coming as I gather the rest of the stories.

If you saw the Dayton Day-old news article yesterday, where Lolli apparently learned to count to three, realizing that DPS is in year 2 of the watch and that at the end of next year the district will be primed for takeover, you’ll realize that the State takeover can’t come soon enough. This quote was classic DPS PR #FAIL:

“We need to focus on anything that we can change immediately that will affect the results…. We were going to start doing analysis when the (official) scores were released, but now we’ve actually started that (Wednesday).”

Source: Dayton schools could face state takeover in year – Dayton Daily News

What have you been focusing on Dr. Lolli?

If you want some pointers, I’d get on the bus to Trotwood, and take the whole board and all your high priced central office people, up the road to see how a functioning school system addresses the exact same issues of poverty, funding and failures of previous administrations to create a professional learning community, because, well, Trotwood gets it- and you, well, you got started 2 days ago…

 

Different day, same circus. Dayton Public Schools tries Monday for a shit-show

Empty chambers for a special DPS board meeting

When you have a meeting on a Monday- nobody comes to watch your circus.

Dayton Public Schools Board of Education meets on Tuesdays at five, except when they meet on Mondays at five. They meet to conduct business on the second Tuesday of the Month- except when they have a special meeting on a Monday at the end of the month. They discuss the public business at hand, in public, except when they don’t…. oops, did they really say that tonight? Why, yes, they did.

thumbnail of Tax Abatement Agreement CRA

PDF of the tax abatement agreement they voted for- without knowing how it was going to work. Click to download

Ostensibly, the reason for the special meeting was that they had to approve some hiring before school started, stuff that couldn’t wait. What Dr. Lolli also stuck on the last minute agenda seemed to take board member Sheila Taylor by surprise. Board member McManus was as angry as a southern gentleman can get, telling Lolli that “he’s going to tell you one time, if I ever have something as important as this appear on an agenda without at least a phone call…” before he caved and voted yet.  The issue- a “renewal” of an agreement to cede authority on tax giveaways on commercial projects to the city. However, it wasn’t a renewal, or, maybe it was, or maybe the language had changed. After questions from Board members and a brief presentation by board attorney Jyllian Bradshaw, they still didn’t know what they were really voting for. 40 minutes of must see TV.

Note to all: if it’s not in writing in the agreement, it’s not in the agreement.

Taylor began with the fact that they really shouldn’t vote for a ten year agreement, since it exceeded their terms. Also, her folks in her ‘hood pay their taxes, and why shouldn’t the rich folk buying up condo’s downtown like hotcakes. And, what about a levy?

thumbnail of Tax Abatement – City of Dayton – 2005

The old agreement. Why this had to be done in a special session? To hide. Click to read PDF

Harris was a condescending jerk to her, telling her she should have asked her questions before the meeting. Something that Al-Hamdani and Wick-Gagnet obviously had already done and told him how to vote (which they have to do every time a vote comes on the people who quit after the deadline- he started wrong again tonight). Taylor tried to correct him that they were supposed to do the public’s business in public- but, that seemed to fall on deaf ears. I chimed in, that they should also be voting on stuff like this when the public can speak. It’s as far as I felt like screwing with them, although you will hear me applaud Taylor for showing some integrity acknowledging the Sunshine laws.

I’ll try to have my video up tomorrow- since DPS is now taking forever, if ever, to load video to YouTube. Hint: the whole world can’t access Facebook, but most in free countries can get to YouTube.

There was also a vote to renew the option with the Ohlmann Group for help in marketing the district. They haven’t used them since June of 2017- and if you need a refresher, they weren’t very happy with them. Taylor took over from former board marketing genius Adil Baguirov, now suggesting customized mailings. Hint folks- the time to do enrollment campaigns for this coming year- was back in February, not 2 weeks before school starts.

Taylor forgot she didn’t like Ohlmann- and voted yes, only McManus voted no.

Why this couldn’t wait till a normal business meeting? Because Lolli was afraid I was going to point out the way this mess happened, or their dissatisfaction, or because she wanted to stick it to me? Or, for the stated reason- because Marsha Bonhart is retiring in Oct- and they won’t have anyone left to help with their marketing. Especially after their “Digital media specialist” of the last 10 months resigned too. Of course, having an actual marketing plan wasn’t even brought up.

And lastly, Lolli shared that the upcoming test scores for DPS aren’t going to be good, thanks to the “challenging year” they had last year. We can look forward to using these scores as a baseline. Let’s see, my guess is we just moved from 607 to 608, with Trotwood making real gains to rise out of the dreaded bottom spot Dayton used to own.

Several board members tried to sugarcoat her turd of a warning with “thank you for your honesty.”

However, if they were honest, they wouldn’t be in this kind of shape with their communications – and would have had a better way to deliver the bad news. If there was ever a need for competent PR help, this was it- and Ohlmann was no where to be found. Of course, the only ad agency that goes to meetings, was the one with the low bid- and brings you videos like the one above.

Good luck Dr. Lolli, you’re gonna need it.

 

 

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.

My Youtube coverage of the presentation- starts here:

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.

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.

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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.