David Lawrence vs Libby Lolli

Readers of this blog know that I supported David Lawrence for DPS superintendent, before the Rhonda Corr debacle and before the Libby Lolli chaos. Lawrence was a DPS grad, an athletic standout, a military veteran, with an entire career in the service of the Dayton community at various levels of increasing responsibility in the system culminating as “Chief of Innovation” at DPS.

The board, under the criminal leadership of Adil Baguirov and the incompetent cast of cronies, “went in another direction” and didn’t even pick Lawrence as a finalist. There were three- Dan Schoer who is not the Superintendent of Springboro and doing incredible things, Dr. Roberson who bailed out of the district under Lolli to be replaced by another queen of chaos. And Corr, who put Lawrence in a corner and gave him a buyout. Lawrence can’t thank her enough in retrospect. He’s been working on his PhD in Educational leadership and last year took the help at Northmoor Elementary, a mile and a half from his home. The school has a solid report card and is looking at the largest incoming class of 2nd graders ever.

Here is the most pertinent fact to consider about David Lawrence in charge: 0 teacher turnover, and 2 new hires for next year.

As to Lolli, I predict that DPS won’t be able to put enough teachers in classrooms next fall to open all buildings. That they had to close WOW (Residence Park Elementary) one day this year because of teachers not showing up, is indicative of the health and morale of the district.

Here I have to pull some quotes from former DPS board member Mario’s facebook posts:

The reason behind the music teacher shuffling has now been communicated to the teachers.

Before I go more into that, I don’t want this message to get lost.

The District botched a huge opportunity to make these teachers feel like they are at the top of their game, a credit to their profession and worth their weight in gold. Instead, they have a number of employees who are angry, saddened, and some actively looking around for something else.

This, more than anything is what frustrates and angers me. This is not a one-off. This is a style of management that emanates from the top down through the administrative ranks. I am perplexed. Who believes that being dismissive and demeaning of any staff person will lead to better results? If that really is an underlying principle, come out of the office and take a look around. Doesn’t seem to be working so far….

I want to quote a parent from another page. “I was looking around my school today seeing the faces of those teachers who will be in a different school year and I realized they are the teachers that get the most hugs, high-fives, and biggest smiles.” She goes on to say that she is confident that they will do well in their new assignments. While they will be missed, she is happy that they will be able to make a positive impact on more children.

The whole post was beautiful, and I hope those teachers will hold onto those words as they move forward.

Shame on the District for not doing the same.

Another:

The Superintendent was hired less than three months into the new board members service. I am referring specifically to the new board members because the remaining 3 have been marginalized from the outset.

She was hired without a formal search. So, how did the board determine she was the right person? Was it based on their extensive knowledge of educational reform initiatives and best practices? Or possibly was the decision based on their years of managerial experience which enabled them to identify the appropriate management style to move the district forward? Perhaps they drew on their copious years of involvement in Dayton and identification of community needs. Community input? (By community input I mean also from families of children in the district, not just the business and political powers that be.) No? Hmmm.

I don’t doubt that the Superintendent has qualifications. But it is not enough to say “trust me”.

I strongly advise the Board to start placing a solid emphasis on communication. There is no one out here who does not want this District and our children to succeed. It would be helpful if all parties in charge would recognize that.

Another:

The Superintendent makes it seem that there are exciting things going on in Dayton that will draw the best and brightest. Here is the reality in the trenches – I get a private message from a teacher who is hesitant to join the Facebook conversation “in case it would come back to bite me…” His incendiary comments? “One of the best ways to build quality schools is to have a quality principal, teachers, support staff, etc, that are in the same building year after year.”

Another:

President Harris, Members of the Board of Education.

You may or may not be aware of the turmoil that has become the everyday, all day experience of many of the DPS staff.

People are waiting for the next shoe to fall. HR personnel come into school mid-day to let teachers know they are being “displaced,” removed from their current position and told to look around to find another placement. These are in addition to the teachers at the previously announced reconstituted and merged schools.

My biggest fear at this point, aside from truly exceptional teachers and administrators actively looking to move to a more stable environment, is the fact that we have struggled for years to fully staff our schools. Where does the Superintendent believe she will find the talent she is looking for, in the numbers she is looking for? Has any thought been given to the notion that morale is in the tank and that anyone worth their salt will take a hard pass at coming to DPS?

I think I speak for many in the DPS community when I say we demand to know the purpose of these changes. We demand to know the plan for moving forward. As our elected representatives, we demand that you begin to act as our representatives, not just promoters of the current administration.

There is a feeling among some that displacements are retaliation for questioning the dictates from Ludlow Street. Music teachers with advanced certification being told they must use 15-year-old textbooks and if their students do not have a book in their hand, they are not learning “music”. Middle school teachers being forced to place their students in a computer based “phonics” intervention program, which is monitored downtown for “compliance.” Have you met a middle school student lately? How engaged and willing to learn do you think they are when they are compelled to pronounce nonsense words to prove they know “ph” sounds like “f”?

There has been a suggestion that these displacements are to staff some of the worst schools with veteran experienced teachers. Theoretically, I am supportive of putting the best teachers in schools with the most need, but they should be wooed, not compelled.

There have been districts which have been turned around by Superintendents who come in with the servant leader style of administration. (Miami School District in Florida). Most recently, in Dayton, under the leadership of Dr. Mack. You are not going to get the results you want for our children if the staff feel they are serfs and not partners in this endeavor.

Why am I relying on Mario for content? Because I could no longer stomach going to these meetings to watch the incompetence of Harris, the arrogance of Al-Hamdani, the sycophant Rhynard and the crony, Wick continue to pay attention to the sociopath Lolli. Walker and Taylor have never had anything credible to add and McManus is as worthwhile as tits on a bull without any support from another board member.

While the FBI is busy investigating the “culture of corruption” in the rest of Dayton government, one of the largest institutions with the biggest budgets is getting off easy, despite 2 of the 4 indicted people getting their political start in the DPS cesspool, Joey Williams and Clayton Luckie.

There is no doubt that the whole hiring of Corr and then Lolli is suspect, as if it was part of a plan to push the district into state takeover so Mayor Nan could get her hands on even more budgets and contracts to steer to her friends and family (I fully expect her and Dayton City Manager Shelly Dickstein to be hauled in wearing shackles in the next round of indictments for contract tampering, pay-to-play etc), but the State halted her plans when they discontinued state takeovers of failing districts.

If I was the FBI I’d be looking closely at any major contracts awarded under Baguirov or land deals- ie the bus deal where he was showing off spreadsheets on acquisition math, to the Caresource deal which we highlighted in “Dirty Deals Done Dirt Cheap.” When they backed away from a levy, only to support Issue 9, warning bells should have gone off- and looking at the donors to issue 9, you’ll see the list of people who were promised contract opportunities in exchange for support.

David Lawerence is exactly what DPS needs, but after the utter chaos under Lolli, he’d have to be insane to consider a return. Dr. Hill, the savior of Belmont, is already shamelessly looking for any position to get out of Dodge as are probably anyone else remotely qualified to do their jobs in DPS.

It’s probably too late to reverse the damage done by this board and their hired hands, but, unless the parents and staff come out in mass to the next board meeting to ask for change, it’s doomed. The meeting is Tuesday, May 28th at 5:30 PM which doesn’t conform to their regular schedule.

If there’s a time to speak up, this is it.

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