Dayton Public Board of Education hangs out the “you’re not welcome here” sign

This Saturday, from 9 to noon, you can go have coffee with the new Superintendent of the Dayton Public Schools at Ruskin School. If you have a neighborhood organization, she’d love to come out and talk to you and tell you all about her master plan for turning our district around.

Come to a board meeting, and try to talk to the board about your concerns: get a smackdown, not just from one board member, but at least three.

Be a guest from Columbus who is invited to the meeting to speak about your “coaching initiative” and be told: Welcome to our meeting, we’re going into executive session, we’ll be back in an hour” and get to sit on your thumbs for at least an hour and a half while they meet in a back room.

Be a concerned parent, para-professional, teacher, principal, concerned citizen? Don’t bother to come at all, we only listen to you once a month, and this ain’t that meeting. In fact, we’ll rap your knuckles, berate you, call you names and tell you six ways from Tuesday that we don’t really give a flying rats behind what you want to say to us, we know what we’re doing and you don’t.

Don’t believe me? Watch the entire video. Yes, I realize it’s two hours and forty minutes long, but, we work hard for you by having more meetings, longer meetings, and less citizen participation than any other school district in the county (according to a journalist who covers many of them). Oh, yes, we’re also the worst district in the state. (tip- watch it in the Chrome browser and install this extension so you can speed up the video without sounding like chipmunks.)

I’ve already written about how remarkable I thought it was that the citizens got together during executive session to make a list of their issues. What I failed to mention was that the new Superintendent wasn’t in the executive session with the board. The only time that normally happens is when the board is discussing her future with the district. Could it be that Corr is about to be shown the door? Or are they about to extend her 1 year contract for 3 years, even though her main contribution to the district this far has been F.U.D.

Ostensibly they were discussing the layoffs of the 20 people that were presented for termination. Never mind that they were ambushed with this list an hour before the meeting and would have to waive the 48 hour rule to act  on it. Never mind that it was a surprise to the board that there was an internal replacement for the director of the Challenger Center for a position that a few board members tried to delay termination of. In case you don’t know what the Challenger Center is, it’s one of the jewels of Dayton Public, one of 50 in the country (1 per state) and it was STEM education before anyone knew what STEM was. Watch Joe Lacey publicly demean MariJane Recob, its director, a long time district teacher who was widely loved, and ran the district Science fair for years, as a “museum director” and saying she wasn’t worth as much as a “certified teacher.” Not only are you firing her Joe, you’re being an uniformed @$$.

It would seem that no new organizational chart exists, and no consultation is going on between the superintendent, the HR Director and the building principals who the superintendent likes to call the CEO’s of their buildings.

As if morale wasn’t already at an all time low due to the way these firings and reductions in force are taking place, while the board is in the back room, the concerned stakeholders are sharing their stories- including veteran teachers who say that they told their kids who are now teachers to go work anywhere else but Dayton. The fear is real. The insecurity at all levels is causing more distraction and defections than it’s possibly helping. And, yes, while we may have way too many administrators in the district- as Dr. Baguirov spends considerable time explaining, we seem to have no time to hear the people that they represent.

What was even stranger, was that the Superintendent and some of her team were all moseying in and out of the room while the group therapy session was taking place. Instead of joining in and listening- they had other things to do. I’m pretty sure that had the board hired Dan Schroer (who was snapped up by Springboro) he would have been in the circle, taking notes.

As if that’s not evidence enough of a disconnect between administration and the community, last night, the district held it’s annual Lucia May Wiantt District speech contest. Usually, the superintendent and many of the top level administrators would be there. This year, none were.

Remember all the hub-bub about a month ago when the Principal of Meadowdale quit after sending out a scathing email critical of the administration? It would seem newsworthy to mention that the district had hired a replacement, don’t you think? That either I, Jeremy Kelley of the Dayton Daily news, or many of the employees of the district would take note of a new hire? Or that board members would know it happened? Hah.  Please welcome to Dayton Donetrus Hill, Ed. D. who was hired in at $95K a year according to a document that wasn’t on BoardDocs when I left to film the meeting. A quick bit of googling Dr. Hill and you find that he was at the center of “Mop Gate” and he resigned from his last high school job at Yates High in the aftermath. Note this is higher pay than all but 2 principals in the district.

Rhonda Corr likes to use “process” to justify her decisions. A purchase order for $500 for the Men of Color initiative was held up because it hadn’t been properly requested, yet, it seems almost every week they are waiving the 48 hour rule in order to carry out her orders. The contract for “comprehensive marketing services” that her organization put out to bid was rejected by the board when it was presented for approval 6 weeks after it was supposed to go into effect. The board president openly questioned her process in selecting the highest bidder and the scoring. (full disclosure, my firm, The Next Wave was one of 5 bidders).

The next board meeting where the public is allowed to speak, will be next Thursday, November 17th.

Expect overflow crowds and to see people with signs saying things like #rottentotheCorr and “I’m not fond a Rhonda” or “Show Corr the door.”

Don’t expect the board to listen.


If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed! If you wish to support this blog and independent journalism in Dayton, consider donating. All of the effort that goes into writing posts and creating videos comes directly out of my pocket, so any amount helps!