Dayton Public Schools takeover by the State can’t happen soon enough

Steve Jobs was purported to say “A” people hire “A” people. “B” people hire “C” people.

Dayton Public Schools is an example of what happens when “F” people hire.

Seriously. It doesn’t get any stupider than this:

Dayton Public Schools hopes a two-year, $537,000 advertising campaign will boost the district’s enrollment and attendance numbers, Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said Tuesday.

Lolli told school board members the campaign by the Ohlmann Group will include everything from billboards and RTA bus ads to radio spots and direct mail. The budget plan estimates $250,000 in spending this school year and $287,000 next year.

“We want the word to get out to everyone that Dayton Public Schools are changing for the better, and we want them to understand the changes that are happening,” Lolli said. “Our parents need to have their students in school every day. Students need to know that school matters, and we want everyone to be there.”

The hundreds of proposed radio ads, totaling $107,000 are the largest expense in the $250,000 campaign for this school year, with billboards ($32,000) and direct mail ($27,000) next highest.

Source: Dayton schools plan $500K ad blitz on attendance, enrollment

You don’t buy a media plan, before you have the campaign. And, what do people in Centerville, Piqua, Kettering, etc. care about DPS? Why would you spend money on radio? Oh, that’s because Ohlmann loves to spend money on media. And, I’m sure ads in the Dayton Daily news are well read by parents of DPS kids too- or is paying off Cox Ohio to leave them alone the idea.

And, btw- the amount of money for the actual execution of this brilliant campaign- a measly $5K. What a deal.

Dr. Lolli knows nothing about advertising- or what she’s buying and this board is too stupid to know any better.

Because, well, “F” people hire “F” people.

And speaking of “F”- Lolli keeps saying “we’re only an “F” district on paper.” Uh, you have a PhD and you don’t understand a scoring rubric?

And why are you an “F” district?

How about the fact that your IEP system is down, you’re pointing fingers- and kids aren’t getting services. That’s a violation of Federal and State laws.

For those of you who don’t know what IEP is- it’s an Individualized Education Program, a written document that’s developed for each public school child who is eligible for special education. The IEP is created through a team effort and reviewed at least once a year. It’s also what gets the district a ton of extra money. There is this thing called accountability in Federal money- and right now, Dr. Lolli and this board are one step outside of a prison cell if they don’t get their system back online. DPS has at least a third of it’s kids on IEPs.

Now- some other things you don’t do unless you’re a flaming flying idiot. Remove staff from one of your top performing and most sought-after schools, and cause the principal to lose it. No, you can’t take kids on IEPs who are operating at functional levels of a 3 year old- and put them in third grade without disrupting EVERYTHING.

Or, walking into another school, and removing two teachers from the building, but fail to notify them in writing, as required by the contract, of what they did wrong. This causes lawsuits. It also kills morale. Of course, when one of them tried to make an EEOC complaint the day before getting hauled out of class, it starts looking worse. Especially when she was told there was no one to take her grievance. Remember what sank Rhonda Corr? It was Dr. Winston’s EEOC complaint, which started an investigation.

The Dayton Education Association President, David Romick, has decided he now works for Dr. Lolli, and not the union. He’s refused to push to get these teachers back in the classroom, or for clarification on why they were removed in the first place. Word is, Romick is looking to get a cushy $100K plus job in HQ working with the enemy.

Tuesday is the last duty day for Board attorney, Jyllian Bradshaw, even though they can’t have possibly fully evaluated their RFP for legal services. But, don’t worry, they are giving their law cleark a .49 cent an hour raise to manage things- like the ridiculous amounts of money they are wasting with Subashi and Wildermuth to lose the suit I filed against them for violations of the Open Meetings Act.

But, the prize of the “F” district – is having the board president send an email to the staff who came to the Sep 18 board meeting to discuss the screwed up state of the English as a Second Language program since Dr. Lolli put her nose into it. BTW- that was the very last meeting I will attend, until the State takes this mess over, or these idiots out in handcuffs. I’ll be there for that.

Let’s be clear- the teachers don’t work for the board. They work for the superintendent. If Bill Harris has a problem- the correct chain of command is through her. But, he’s an idiot.

On Tue, Oct 9, 2018 at 9:26 AM William Harris <[email protected]> wrote:

To Teresa Troyer and The Members of the ELS Team:

Yesterday, I received an email from the ELS team. After reading the email, I was shocked and appalled at the same time. First, It appears that this team has disregard for the structure and rank of employees at DPS. While, the team may have some questions about information, it is highly inappropriate to attack Ms. Mack, who serves as your Supervisor concerning a presentation made at the Board meeting on September 18. If you have concerns and or questions, you should ask her for a meeting to clarify matters. While many of you have worked in this department for some time, that does not give you the right to usurp the authority of Ms. Mack or Superintendent Lolli. You are well aware that the District is addressing the concerns of students and parents in your department. There are some challenges that exist and Dr. Lolli and Ms. Mack are addressing these issues. Obviously for some of you, solutions are too slow. However, it is inappropriate as well as unprofessional to leap over rank to address this Board, when the chain of command is in place. I would suggest that you decide to be a part of the solution and not add to the problem.
Also, I believe that is is also appalling to continue to come to board meetings to address the board regarding your department. For teachers too address the board is unprofessional and sends the wrong signal to the community. The ELS Team Members are a vital part of the overall DPS team, you are supposed to be a “cheerleader for the District.
Your work is valued and we would hope that you would join us in making DPS rise, not fall.
You have my permission to forward this email to the ELS Team.
Best Wishes,
Dr. Harris
Next thing- Sheila Taylor weighs in, also not her job:
From: SHEILA TAYLOR <[email protected]>
Date: Tue, Oct 9, 2018 at 10:35 AM
Subject: Re: Response to the ELS Team Members
To: William Harris <[email protected]>
Cc: Carolyn Mack <[email protected]>, Elizabeth Lolli <[email protected]>, JOCELYN RHYNARD <[email protected]>, JOHN MCMANUS <[email protected]>, Karen Wick <[email protected]>, Mohamed AlHamdani <[email protected]>, ROBERT WALKER <[email protected]>, TERESA TROYER <[email protected]>
As a Board Member I am available to hear any questions or concerns pertaining to DPS.  President Harris is not speaking for me.  Board Member,  Sheila Taylor  623-7466
Yeah, that’s right Sheila, Harris isn’t speaking for you- because, legally, he has no voice, unless 3 of the others agree with him, and have voted on it in an open meeting. If Harris is having illegal secret meetings with three other board members, we’ve got yet another OMA violation.
And then, more BS.
On Fri, Oct 12, 2018 at 7:13 AM Teresa Troyer <[email protected]> wrote:

Please see from Ms. Taylor and Mr. Harris below.

Ms. Rhynard responded just to me, not to all, that she appreciates the work we do for the community.  Ms. Wick-Gagnet responded to me and forwarded the letter to Ms. Mack/ Dr. Lolli saying that she is confident in the team to address our concerns.
I thought you should all be able to see the responses.
Thanks,

Uh, Ms. Rhynard isn’t allowed to speak to you either. She should be talking to her direct employee- Dr. Lolli, no one else. Same goes for Ms. Wick-Gagnet.

This is why this board needs intervention now by the state. Not, next September when the next “F” comes out on the report card.

The mysteries of school board meeting mojo

After I swore off attending Dayton Public School board meetings, I went to both the Wright State Board of Trustees committee day meetings, and to the Trotwood Madison Board of Ed retreat. The more I know about these political bodies, the more I scratch my head.

Apparently, my legal video recording of the WSU board of trustees has them scheming new ways to put me in my place. I got a call from WSU PR manager Seth Baugess on Tuesday to let me know about new language that would appear in releases announcing board meetings. They will now have specified spaces for cameras. They will not provide a feed to their microphones, because they are afraid of loose talk on an open mic, and that they acknowledge my right to be there and video, however, they’d like prior warning of me being there (which they can’t require).

UPDATE

2 Oct 2018: “All members of the public are welcome and encouraged to attend public meetings of the Wright State University Board of Trustees.

In an effort to maintain unobstructed ingress and egress for meeting participants and guests, prevent disruptions to meetings or barriers to public views, and preserve the ability of university personnel to staff the meetings, Wright State reserves the right to designate workspaces for members of the media and their equipment as well as seating areas for other guests.

Guests who intend to record public meetings of the Wright State University Board of Trustees are advised to check with public relations contacts or their designees on site to locate designated workspaces.

It’s fascinating, because the Aug 18, 2018 video of a 3 hour WSU board retreat, which is unlisted, already has over 475 views. I’ve only shared the link with one WSU faculty person.

When I asked Baugess why they didn’t record and post all the meetings, he said because they didn’t want to. They do one meeting a year- the budget meeting and that’s it. Hint, you might have more support via transparency.

If there is one good thing that came out of my video recording of DPS, they expanded their broadcasts to include their “review sessions” which previously weren’t recorded. Not that anything important is achieved at these meetings, that would actually require board members who had a clue.

Which brings me to the 4 hour and 38 minute meeting of the Trotwood board last Thursday night. Yes, over four and a half hours.  What I found fascinating about this meeting is that the Superintendent wasn’t there, nor were any of his staff in his place. It was the board and the treasurer. I have NEVER seen DPS leave the superintendent seat open. When I asked, the board president said he didn’t have to be there, “this is our meeting.”

Which leads me to what exactly are the job divisions between a Superintendent, the educational professional who is highly paid and qualified to run a school district, and an elected board of lay persons who serve as the superintendents board of directors. From the OSBA:

Board members make decisions on a wide range of issues, such as hiring and evaluating a superintendent and treasurer; setting district policy; planning student services; goal-setting and long-range planning; adopting curriculum; establishing budgets; engaging parents; being good fiscal stewards; acting in the best interest of the school district and within the scope of their legal authority; and creating community relations programs. A board member should be a skilled decision-maker; however, decisions are only made by the board as a whole at a public meeting.

Another important part of the board’s work is its public relations role. School board members help build public support and understanding of public education, and lead the public in demanding quality education. The school board serves as a link between schools and the public.

What a school board member doesn’t do
The role and function of board members often are misinterpreted by the public, and in some cases, by board members themselves. The board is a policymaking body and members are the chief advisers to the superintendent on community attitudes. Board members do not manage the day-to-day operations of a school district; they see to it that the system is managed well by professionals.

Board members are not education professionals. They do not evaluate staff, other than the superintendent and treasurer, nor do they become involved in employment interviews, other than those of the superintendent, business manager and treasurer. Board members may be consulted during the hiring process for other positions, such as assistant superintendent.

Source: Understanding Your School Board | Ohio School Boards Association

The first hour of the Trotwood meeting was a presentation by the treasurer. And while I understand that this information doens’t require the superintendent, I would think that it is relevant to his job performance. At one point, the game changing discussion of Open Enrollment comes up. He wasn’t there to discuss the implications- although I can tell you that for DPS sports- you’d see a giant sucking sound as our star athletes enroll in Trotwood in record numbers after the coaching debacles under the current administration. Stated capacity right now is 300, but, I could see enough students wanting to leave DPS after next years report cards show Trotwood with marked improvement and DPS with State Takeover. Enough that Trotwood could actually expand it’s district and take over parts of Dayton- like Thurgood Marshall, WOW, Meadowdale/Valerie and grow.

The next part of the meeting was the main reason I was there. My firm, The Next Wave, was one of 8 bidders who had submitted RFP responses to TMS- and were invited to present. The agenda had each firm presenting for 15 minutes. I was to be last. The only other agency principal that was there at the start of the meeting was Theresa Steele of the Hathaway Group. She stayed up until just before my presentation before leaving. B-63 also stayed for a few other presentations, all the rest came and went.

The agenda: btw I added links to all the firms sites:

BOARD RETREAT
Trotwood-Madison Board of Education Offices 3594 North Snyder Road Trotwood, Ohio 45426 4:00 p.m.
1. OPENING
A. Call to Order and Pledge of Allegiance
B. Roll Call – Board of Education Members
C. Adopt the Agenda
2. TREASURER’S UPDATE
A. Treasurer Update – J. Allen
3. PRESENTATION – MARKETING
A. C-3 Group
B. B63 Line/AFA Associates
C. Catapult Creative
D. The Marketing Formula
E. Wilderness Agency
F. The Hathaway Group
G. Approach Marketing
H. The Next Wave
4. DISCUSSION ITEMS
A. Consent Agenda
B. Executive Session Options
C. October Retreat Information
5. ADJOURNMENT
A. Adjourn

This is where things get odd. The board was somehow directly involved in a contracting process, without any of the staff that would actually work with the agency. If they are just reviewing what the recommendations of staff were, to grant approval, where they already knew the rankings of an evaluation team, this makes sense. However, the questions didn’t seem connected to a rubric to me. If the board is weighing in on preferences, you have to look at two parts of the OSBA instructions:

They do not evaluate staff, other than the superintendent and treasurer, nor do they become involved in employment interviews, other than those of the superintendent, business manager and treasurer.

But on the other hand:

Another important part of the board’s work is its public relations role. School board members help build public support and understanding of public education, and lead the public in demanding quality education. The school board serves as a link between schools and the public.

And this is where I really wonder about this whole system of electing people to manage professional organizations. I’m used to presenting to firms with marketing professionals with deep understanding of what an ad agency does, who know why and how they plan on working with us. That is not the case here.

The people who we would be working with weren’t even in the room. Hadn’t met with us. And, forwarded all 8 proposals to them for consideration. This is HIGHLY irregular. Usually, after the proposals, only a few are selected for interview. And, this is the clincher, I’ve never, EVER, had the opportunity to watch my competition present- or film. Typically, these presentations are considered “proprietary” information and strategy, and are managed in executive session, or via a sub-committee. It was enlightening to me. I’ll withhold commentary, but, as someone who has judged for the American Advertising Federation National Student Advertising Competition, I can say that most of the pitches weren’t even remotely structured like pitches.

And what was shocking to me, was that only B-63 and Hathaway stayed to watch any others. Of course, when I made the video public yesterday, there were exactly 8 views by today- which means my 7 competitors and one of my subscribers… (total assumption).

Yet, the need for marketing and PR pros is insanely obvious if you watch the remainder of the meeting after my presentation. The free form discussion wandered in some very dangerous areas. While discussing a failed effort to get staff to answer a professionally run independent survey they revealed that only 38 of 440 employees had responded, and then discussed the culture of fear that might be preventing completion. That kind of public sharing isn’t ideal. Neither is the admission by one board member that there used to be a “Hit List” of teachers to be gotten rid of. This opens all kinds of legal liability for the district.

Other discussion of how a consent agenda works, showed a lack of competence by staff or the board, at being properly briefed about it. DPS just moved to consent agendas recently, and while they still allow for a removal of any item, it’s basically a way to avoid so many role call votes for various items. You can read more here: OSBA on Parliamentary Procedure and Voting Makes a Difference.

I applaud Board President Denise Moore for championing that the board need to work on continuous education and improvement. However, as she is a 12 year board member one has to wonder what she was doing for the 11 years before she figured this out, and hired Tyrone Olverson to straighten out a district that had made its way to the basement.

The district didn’t say when they’d notify the agencies of a decision.

A few of the agencies had made an effort to attend a board meeting or retreat before. For at least three of them, their big “reveal” at the end of the pitch was that they had a red “608 to Great” rubber wrist band on.

Yet, my firm, had the forethought to buy the URLS www.thetrotwoodturnaround.com and www.608togreat.com and point them to a holding page that some staff person liked so much that they used it for the background screen for the whole district convocation at the beginning of the school year.

If you watch my presentation, actions speak louder than words. Best of luck to Trotwood in picking a partner. If you want to watch the sample video I included in my presentation directly, it’s here:

And of course, no other ad agency has a platform to reach the community the way Esrati.com does, for better or worse. Over a thousand unique readers a day can’t be totally wrong.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

The Open Meetings Acts for dummies at Wright State (and elsewhere)

The new wright state logo not done by YorkBranding or Push Inc showing Wright State leadership under Dr. David Hopkins

If there are two primary jobs of a university board of trustees, it is to hire and evaluate the President of a University and to keep track of the money. It would seem the WSU board of trustees can’t figure out where the money went and who to blame or praise. Maybe it’s because this feckless bunch lead by Doug Fecher of WPCU don’t know what their job is, and no one at the State level seems to care.

When the university went from cash rich to the poor house, no one got blamed. The President didn’t get fired, the numbers guy, Mark M. Polatajko, Ph.D., CPA ended up at Kent State, and the money has never been accounted for.

So, when the board has a committee meeting, ostensibly to review and create the evaluation for the president, in private- they have to do it a certain way.

From a regular meeting, a majority of the board has to make a motion to go into executive session to specifically discuss personnel issues. No exceptions. A subcommittee can only meet in public.

Here’s the law:

(G) Except as provided in divisions (G)(8) and (J) of this section, the members of a public body may hold an executive session only after a majority of a quorum of the public body determines, by a roll call vote, to hold an executive session and only at a regular or special meeting for the sole purpose of the consideration of any of the following matters:

(1) To consider the appointment, employment, dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion, or compensation of a public employee or official, or the investigation of charges or complaints against a public employee, official, licensee, or regulated individual, unless the public employee, official, licensee, or regulated individual requests a public hearing. Except as otherwise provided by law, no public body shall hold an executive session for the discipline of an elected official for conduct related to the performance of the elected official’s official duties or for the elected official’s removal from office. If a public body holds an executive session pursuant to division (G)(1) of this section, the motion and vote to hold that executive session shall state which one or more of the approved purposes listed in division (G)(1) of this section are the purposes for which the executive session is to be held, but need not include the name of any person to be considered at the meeting….

(4) Preparing for, conducting, or reviewing negotiations or bargaining sessions with public employees concerning their compensation or other terms and conditions of their employment;

Source: Lawriter – ORC – 121.22 Public meetings – exceptions.

The problem is, if the meeting wasn’t announced, and wasn’t specified to follow one of these two directives- the meeting is illegal.

… a release issued Wednesday from the university stated “Schrader would not accept” either for her work in the past year. Clarifying the issue later, WSU board chairman Doug Fecher, who said he helped write and review the release, said, “There was no vote taken and it wasn’t meant to imply that” the president turned down a bonus offer….

The executive committee of the the WSU board, which included Fecher, former board chairman Michael Bridges, Anuj Goyal and Grace Ramos, met behind closed doors with Schrader on Monday to discuss an evaluation of her first-year performance.

Schrader was not offered a merit raise or bonus because of the university’s financial troubles, Fecher said.

In June 2017, trustees slashed more than $30 million from Wright State’s fiscal year 2018 budget and another $10-million decline in revenue is expected over the coming year. Just last week, the university announced it would begin issuing layoff notices to around 26 employees.

“There was no change in compensation offered and she agreed there should be no (additional) compensation offered,” Fecher said.

Cox Media Group has requested public records about the evaluation and was told by the university there were no written documents from the meeting. Trustee Bruce Langos also said that he was not aware of a formally documented evaluation.

Fecher said the evaluation was more of a conversation. Fecher said he contacted trustees separately before the Monday meeting to get their opinion of Schrader’s performance and ideas for what she could improve upon.

Langos said he was “shocked” when he saw the release sent by the school that stated Schrader did not accept a raise or bonus, because he said it made it sound like the board offered her one.

Although the university may not be in a financial position to offer Schrader a raise, Langos said it’s something the entire board should have discussed and voted on publicly.

“I don’t think any laws were broken but I don’t think the rules or the bylaws (of the board) were followed because the bylaws require that things like this require (a vote). And we didn’t take a vote,” Langos said.

The executive committee cannot take action in executive sessions, meaning any action such as a vote for or against a raise for Schrader would need to be taken in a public session.

The Ohio Open Meetings Act states that members of a public body are required to “discuss and deliberate on official business only in open meetings.” How Wright State’s board handled Schrader’s evaluation falls into a “gray area” of the law, said Dan Tierney, spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

“Our advice is always consult your legal counsel in such a gray area and then decide whether they would be comfortable defending that or not,” Tierney said.

Source: WSU president not given raise due to budget – Dayton Daily News

Fecher isn’t allowed to have private conversations with three others in private to discuss university business, and he is not allowed to round robin request information. Him contacting other board members to discuss their opinion is a violation of the OMA. Pure and simple.

The proper procedure is to create a subcommittee, that works on the evaluation, a written document, that is then reviewed by the entire board in a properly called executive session, and a final document is released to the personnel file of the President. If an “executive session” discussion is to be held in private with the president, it must be stated what the issue is in advance, from an open session.

Unbelievably, I’m forced to cite the Dayton School Board lawyers site for info on case law of actual evaluations- which may be an interpretation that evaluations may have to be done in public:

The most striking part of the court’s decision, however, is its conclusion that performance evaluations do not fit within this executive session exception.  The court said, “construing the OMA liberally in favor of open meetings and construing the executive-session exceptions narrowly, the trial court correctly found no exception for employee ‘evaluation.’”  The court agreed with this interpretation.  This ruling appears to be based upon the fact that the word “evaluation” is not specifically listed in R.C. § 121.22(G)(1).  The court continued:  In any event, we do not necessarily disagree with the [  ] statement that the OMA permits discussion of an employee’s ‘job performance’ in executive session.  Prior to entering into executive session, however the public bod must specify the context in which ‘job performance’ will be considered by identifying one of the statutory purposes set forth in R.C. 121.22(G).

Notably, the court offered no opinion or explanation on how performance evaluations of administrators and executives by a governing board do not fit within the continued “employment” of employees under Section (G)(1).  Is it their opinion that the “employment” exception to open meetings is only for the initial hiring?  We do not know.  The court offered no explanation on how and when a governing board should discuss routine evaluations of employees (especially direct reports, such as the Executive Director), which often do not relate to a specific “dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion, or compensation” decision.

The court’s ruling may now require governmental entities that conduct routine evaluations of Directors, Superintendents, Treasurers, City Managers, etc. to either find one of these specific pegs of (G)(1) on which to hang personnel evaluations or, otherwise, hold the discussion in public.  Unlike Ms. Maddox, it is likely that most public administrators do not want their performance evaluations to be aired in a public session.[1]  And, the promise of a public discourse on one’s job performance by one’s own employer could make the difficult job of finding qualified people to fill these high-level positions all that more difficult.

Source: Public Records Decision: Consideration of Performance Evaluations | Subashi & Wildermuth

Part of the reason University Presidents are paid the big bucks is that they agree to take public criticism, hold responsibility and lead by example. There is really no legitimate reason to conduct annual reviews in private, or to be embarrassed by the discussion- it’s the future of the university- a public institution.

The Open Meetings Act is the only law I know of that comes with a 250 page public handbook to explain the importance of conducting the public’s business in public.

One of the quotes in the beginning of the handbook should make it pretty clear:

 “The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when rulers may be concealed from them… {T}o cover with the veil of secrecy the common routines of business, is an abomination in the eyes of every intelligent man.” Patrick Henry

~see State of Ohio Sunshine Laws Manual

Every elected public official is required in the State of Ohio to take a three hour course in the Open Meetings Act/Sunshine Laws. I’m not sure if University Trustee’s are, but, this latest screw up suggests that they should be.

And, btw, ostensibly the penalty for violating the OMA is removal from office, although it’s never happened in the State of Ohio. Removing this board for a violation of the OMA would be a good start.

As to the whole faux pas of Schrader announcing that she declined a bonus that was never offered, and that Fecher helped write the press release, says there is way more wrong than right at Wright State.

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

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

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

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

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

thumbnail of Decision 32388458

Skelton’s decision. Click to download PDF

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

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

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

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

He should be ashamed.