For the last 6 months the new Superintendent, Rhonda Corr, has been trying to excommunicate David Lawrence from Dayton Public Schools. The former Chief of School Innovation, was demoted several times to try to get him to quit. She couldn’t use the Reduction In Force (RIF) ruse that she used to clean out some of downtown last fall, because she assigned his duties to no less than 3 other people.
She brought in Dr. Elisabeth Lolli and Dr. Markay Winston at similar or higher pay, and also assigned some of his work to Dr. Bucheim. You can review some of this mess in the really long post: The calamity named Rhonda Corr. Corr could have assigned David Lawrence to be the principal at the troubled Meadowdale too, but instead, hired in a guy from Texas. Lawrence was signed to a contract through June of 2018, and it was either work with him or buy him out. That’s how contracts work.
Lawrence started to use some of his accumulated 20 years worth of sick leave while his attorney and the board negotiated an agreement for his separation. Here is a copy of the very easy to read separation contract: DPS-LAWRENCE Agreement 2-17
Three short legalese paragraphs set the stage, and then the first clause:
1. Upon his execution of this Agreement, Employee shall cause to be delivered to the Superintendent his irrevocable letter of resignation from all employment positions held with the Dayton City School District. Said resignation shall take effect on February 21, 2017.
Employee’s letter of resignation shall be accepted by the Board, without public comment, at its next regular meeting following Employee’s execution of this Agreement.
But, when this item comes to the board, you don’t have to watch very long for Dr. Adil Baguirov to start commenting- thereby violating the contract, and voiding it. First with his discussion of waiving the 48 hour rule to vote (as specified- “its next regular meeting”) thinking this isn’t an emergency. The reason they had to waive the 48 hour rule is because they can’t seem to prepare for meetings and actually post their agenda more than 48 hours in advance for issue C & G.
Baguirov is right, there has been plenty of time to discuss and post and not need the waiver. I pipe in “This is incompetence”- out of order.
Then Dr. Walker asks to move to executive session, and then Baguirov says we shouldn’t get rid of Lawrence on fiscal competency grounds, and then says to give a very qualified administrator over $200,000 to see him go as essentially unearned income.
Then he speaks on behalf of Board Member Taylor- who would agree with him, but she’s not here. Lacey says talking about what other members think is wrong.
Then Rountree jumps in that this has been discussed plenty in executive session, and no one knows why Taylor isn’t there. And calls for the up or down vote.
Ron Lee then has to agree with Rountree that this should be voted on. And that earlier decisions weren’t right (like hiring Corr over Lawrence?).
Then they are to vote to waive the 48 hour rule, Baguirov and Lacey vote no, the rest vote yes, 4 yes, 2 no.
Then there is confusion because Walker can’t tell what to do next. Where I pipe in “The buyout because of the personality conflict” again out of order. You hear a sigh from someone.
Then Corr asks to do D, E, F- skipping the actual vote on the issue that they just waived the 48 hour rule on. #FAIL. Of course, no one in the audience can follow the agenda, because the “Board Docs” application isn’t mobile friendly, it’s barely laptop friendly.
Then Lacey agrees for D, E, F and Hazel asks you have to vote on the first one, and Lacey says you don’t and we have an argument about order- because, well, confusion is always the best way.
Then McManus talks about transportation directors- he hasn’t said anything other than yes to waive the 48 hour rule on C&G.
Then Baguirov and Lacey want to withdraw their motions and confuse it more.
Now Lacey wants to separate the motion and gets in a fight with Rountree calling it a game, and he gets belligerent and wants to deal with something different. And then back to Mr. Lawrence and E & F.
Again mentioning Lawrence. Walker mentions Lawrence. We’re now 13 min and 31 seconds in- and voting on everything but Lawrence. Rountree abstains. 5-1.
Then Corr tries to come back to number D 1, and then G, a settlement agreement. Rountree moves, McManus seconds. Walker asks for further discussion- and Baguirov says he is staunchly opposed to this, due to the RIF on fiscal grounds. He can’t allow to pay over $200,000 to someone who isn’t going to be working here. There is work that Mr. Lawrence is qualified to do. He doesn’t understand why the board would allow this. He calls it a “massive payment.” And says he’s been against it in executive.
Rountree then says “treat people in the way you want to be treated” including buyouts and goes on about contracts. Lee continues about the issue and puts it back on Baguirov for this beginning under his watch.
It doesn’t matter what any of them think, the contract had to be voted on, simple yes/no and move on, without discussion. This discussion all violates the contract. Corr didn’t step in and stop discussion. Neither did board lawyer Jyllian Bradshaw.
In a corporate setting, these intentional missteps would be cause for termination. F&I insurance may cover the cost of the failings, but the board members would still be asked to step down. Unfortunately, school board members in Ohio can’t be removed by ballot initiative. Can they be removed for exposing the district to additional lawsuits?
At this point, the correct thing to do is to accept the resignation of all who discussed the issue violating the contract, Walker, Baguirov, Lacey, Rountree and Lee. Only McManus has abided by the terms. Taylor wasn’t present to get herself in trouble.
Corr and Bradshaw were responsible for managing this process. Both failed.
Let’s begin with 5 new school board members, a new attorney, and then let the new board decide if they should keep Corr, or terminate her for cause because of her inability to not only manage David Lawrence, but failure to control the process at the meeting bringing the district additional legal battles.
The obvious choice to replace Corr as superintendent? David Lawrence.