Dayton public schools suffer from incompetent PR

Yesterday, I had lunch with Dayton Board of Education member Adil Baguirov, Ph.D.. The first thing I preambled the conversation with is “Jill Moberly is incompetent.”
Full disclosure- this is damning to me and my business, although my firm hasn’t done work for Ms. Moberly for several years, we did at one time. She is their “Public Information Officer” and should have been fired or replaced long ago. She used to proudly state that she’s outlasted 11 superintendents. She needs to go either before or with our current superintendent, who has had 3 years to solve these easily solvable PR issues- that damn our school system to laughing stock and fodder for humiliation.

And, yes, I’m calling for the non-renewal of Superintendent Ward’s contract, despite liking her immensely. With less than 2 years to go before the district gets taken over by the state, change isn’t happening fast enough, or with the force needed. Frankly, she’s paid $200K which isn’t enough, but, when faced with losing her best high school principals to other districts over $10K a year- it’s time to take a pay cut and tie her future with her leadership team.

Poor concept for Dayton Public Schools billboard- "We don't teach" should never be on a school billboard

“We don’t teach” – ’nuff said

The first recent clue is the billboard campaign I just saw- “We don’t teach, we transform” – uh, no. Most people would stop after the first three words and say “yup.” This is just another failed campaign in a long line of failed PR. At least the building blocks aren’t in the logo on this ad. Those never should have been part of the logo.

But- the faux pas in today’s paper- with quotes from my friend David Lawrence, instead of the Superintendent or the PIO- were so badly positioned as to cause me to cringe. First the story in the paper- which focuses attention on the brawls- and the dangers of attending Dayton Public School high school basketball games:

Dayton schools could ban spectators at games

Dayton Public Schools issued what officials termed a pre-emptive measure Monday, announcing that any altercation on the court, in the stands or at the dismissal of a boys high school basketball game would result in the next City League boys contests to be played without spectators. Only players, coaches and officials would be present at affected games.

“Because community support is important to our teams, we are taking some bold steps to send a message to those who would attend our games for reasons other than supporting our players,” David Lawrence, chief of school innovation, said in a statement.

DPS said more school administrators and security personnel will be present at all games, and Dayton police officers will be assigned to oversee dismissal following all games.

The boys basketball season started Nov. 27. Toward the end of last season, boys City League games were rescheduled for Sunday afternoons, beginning Feb. 1, following several disturbances at the conclusion of Friday night boys games. Freshmen boys games that were scheduled for 5 p.m. on Fridays and all remaining girls games were not affected.

On Jan. 16, an officer told a dispatcher an estimated “100 kids” were involved in a fight at the Ponitz Career Technology Center on West Washington Street after a boys game against visiting Thurgood Marshall. No athletes or coaches were involved, and no one was arrested.

Ponitz defeated Thurgood 56-48 that night. Earlier in the season Ponitz defeated host Thurgood for the first time in program history.

City League boys games began this past Friday without incidents. There are two 8 p.m. (varsity) games scheduled for Friday: Belmont at Dunbar and Thurgood at Meadowdale. Stivers’ next City League boys game is Dec. 18 against visiting Thurgood and Ponitz’s next City League boys game is Jan. 5 against visiting Dunbar. All City League boys schedules include freshmen, reserve and varsity games.

DPS is in the process of informing parents, students and community members about the consequences should a disruption occur at any game.

Unlike previous years, there are no double- or tripleheader City League boys regular-season games scheduled for the University of Dayton or Fairmont’s Trent Arena. There were no reports of after-game incidents that involved City League football teams at Welcome Stadium this past football season.

“We appreciate our fans who come out to cheer for our student athletes and look forward to a great season of high school basketball,” said Lawrence.

Source: Dayton schools could ban spectators at games

I talked to David Lawrence earlier today- my opening comment to him was “We will rule with an iron first” said in a bad actors foreign accent.

He told me they had worked on this for six months – and I said that it’s too bad that they didn’t have competent PR advice.

How this should have been framed.

Lawrence played basketball and ran track at Dunbar- positioning him with a unique voice of authority in handling this matter. Using the words “preemptive measure” is the first mistake- since it implants the idea that these fights are a foregone conclusion. An opportunity for a teaching moment lost.

Here is the statement and plan a competently advised spokesperson would have given:

My name is David Lawrence, I’m the chief of innovation for the Dayton Public Schools, but before that, I was a Dayton Public Schools athlete and graduate. My track records are still are on the wall at Welcome Stadium, and I played basketball at Dunbar. I am proud to have played with other Dayton leaders like Dayton City Commissioner Joey Williams, proving once again, that athletics are an essential part of building tomorrows leaders.

I take great pride in our young athletes, who are some of the best in the state. Their coaches are also some of the best in the State. And, we believe in athletics as a key component in character building, teaching sportsmanship, and representing the values of pride, respect and excellence that have been a mainstay of our programs since before I was a high school athlete.

Last year, some people came to our athletic events and seemed to think that fighting was a part of our program. It’s not. If you want to see fights, may I suggest you buy tickets to the Dayton Demolition Hockey games, or go to a boxing match or MMA event. There will be no fighting at, or after Dayton Public Schools athletic events this year. The following warning will be posted, and given at every sporting event. If any fights do break out, the protocol will be as follows: the game will be declared a forfeit for both teams. It is up to our athletes, the coaches and the school administration to make it clear that we don’t tolerate fighting in, after or surrounding any sporting event. The battle is in the arena- on the hardwood floor, between those who have earned the right to represent their schools.

If an event is besmirched by the conduct of those attending a game, fans of those schools, for the remainder of the season, all of their games, no one under 18 will be allowed to attend without an adult chaperon. To enter the event, ID’s will be scanned, and those adults will be held criminally liable for the actions of those under their care. There will be no second chances. If another fight breaks out surrounding a game with one of these teams, the remaining games of the season will only be open to players, coaches and the families of team members. I would hope this makes it crystal clear to all participants. If for any reason there is another fight- a single punch thrown, the season for that team is over.

We are also announcing a new pricing policy: all tickets are $10, but with a free ticket for adults when accompanying a student.  Revenue will go into a fund for the entire season, to be split evenly among schools at the end of the season. Any team that has an event forfeited, will not be eligible for collecting any ticket revenue for the season. This is a change in event pricing, to encourage more adults to chaperon their kids. We’re proud of our athletic programs and want to see our community take an interest in their kids. New season pass pricing is available to alumni and adult fans who don’t have kids to chaperon, with a one time $50 ticket available that gets you into all DPS ticket sporting events.

We look forward to increased attendance and the best basketball of the season. I hope to see you there.

Dayton Public Schools, and the people of the city of Dayton deserve better. It does make a difference on how you say things.

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