Dayton Public Schools now searching for a superintendent

The ad should read something like this: Failing urban school district, with horrendous staff turnover, seeks superhero superintendent with magical powers to come in and turn said district around. Must be willing to work with a divided school board that frequently breaks the law, and stabs their own favorite son in the back less than a year after hiring him. District is facing multiple challenges from charter schools including a new one funded by a local billionaire. The current buildings, that are mostly less than 20 years old, all seem to be having problems due to cheap construction and expensive construction managers. Declining enrollment is causing some to be redundant but un-closeable. Busing is a fail, and the 120 buses bought all at once by a school board member are all beginning to age out- at the SAME TIME. Three seats on the board are up for re-election and 2 are critical to retaining the power of the current board president.

Most companies would just put a job listing on Linkedin, ZipRecruiter and Indeed (total cost about a grand)- and sort through the applicants. But, School boards go running to “Professional Recruiters” to run these things. That’s how the last time out, they only had 5 applicants and the woman they hired was a train wreck just waiting for a background check. The current superintendent was one of two of the trainwrecks prime hires – one left the district and filed a discrimination lawsuit and the other, well, she got to be the current Superintendent- again without any kind of background check or performance evaluation for her past positions.

So, why are we going to spend a small fortune to repeat this exercise, when the best candidate then, is now your handpicked business manager (David Lawrence)? And, if it’s not him, why spend money on hiring a search firm- you should have a free do-over search from the last firm that gave you the trainwreck superintendent. These things should come with some “Satisfaction guarantee” right?

They are also searching for an auditor- again. The last one they had lasted about a year, before they started worrying that he could make them look bad- so out he went.

None of this really matters anyway, as long as you have a board that continues to break the law faster than a teen pops zits. The latest was last weekends surprise announcement of a retreat- in CINCINNATI! We’ve been down this road before about meetings outside of the district constitute a violation of the Ohio Sunshine laws- I spelled it out clearly back in July of 2019:

Their latest brilliant move is to hold a “retreat” outside of the district. How far outside? Dave and Busters in northern Cincinnati. This is illegal.

Note, the new Ohio Attorney General is incompetently posting the handbook now as a Microsoft Word Document- which can harbor viruses, isn’t universally readable, etc. instead of a PDF like predecessors. Here’s the link to the Yellow Book.

The Ohio Open Meetings Act
Chapter Eight: Duties of a Public Body, Section A, 1, Page 104 “A public body must conduct its meetings in a venue that is open to the public. Although the Open Meetings Act does not specifically address where a public body must hold meetings, (emphasis added) some authority suggests that a public body must hold meetings in a public meeting place that is within the geographical jurisdiction of the public body. Clearly, a meeting is not “open” when the public body has locked the doors to the meeting facility.”

In case the board didn’t know it- the board retreat scheduled this Saturday will constitute a violation. I have 2 years to file for an injunction after the fact.

Source: School board hell bent on violating sunshine laws again- just to show they can at will | Esrati

I had a discussion with a high-placed administrator in the district about the legality of this meeting- to which their response was basically “any one in the city can make it to this meeting if they wanted to, or at least 99% of them could” clearly showing that they have zero respect for the public they serve. Not everyone wants to spend 2 hours driving, two days in a row, to go watch the board meet in secret. Even the board watchdog, former board member, Mario Gallin was looking for a ride. Nope, this is just another reason to make it easier to start removing school board members in Ohio.

I’m not quite sure why, how, or who’s idea it was to meet at MSA Architecture in Cincinnati, or how much this little respite from the law cost them, because, well, no one saw this coming. Was it voted on in a public meeting (for that matter was the deal to hire the search firm), was it discussed publicly? The notice of this meeting was never posted on the DPS website- nor was their an agenda for the “retreat.”

One of the “Lolli innovations” was changing the rules on how much can be spent without board approval. Under $25,000 and she can do as she pleases- and under $50K- no bid required. Do this in installments, and the Superintendent could spend quite a bit of money without any oversight. Apparently, the board gets a handout itemizing the shopping receipts but, it’s not being shared with the public. Nor has there been any public discussion about this retreat and it’s price tag- or the superintendent search. It’s time to change the process so at least the public can scrutinize where their tax dollars are going.

You, my fair reader, may not be interested in applying to be the next superintendent, but, if you are interested in running for one of the three seats on the board, I’ll be happy to help you. It’s my prediction that all three seats will not have incumbents running this fall.

Reach out to me if you are interested in jumping into the frying pan.

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