DPS: No agenda- No meeting? 48 hour rule?

Before I’d even gotten home from getting thrown out of the Saturday “Board Retreat” which wasn’t, there was a notice in my email about yet another “Special Meeting” this Tuesday at 5:30 pm. Email time stamp: 6/24/17, 2:02 PM from Cherisse Kidd.

In accordance with Section 3313.16 of the Ohio Revised Code and File: BD of the Handbook of Policies, Rules & Regulations of the Board, I hereby call for a special meeting of the Board of Education of the Dayton City School District, Montgomery County, Ohio, to be held on Tuesday, June 27, 2017 at 5:30 p.m. in room 6S-116 of the Administration Building, located at 115 S. Ludlow St., Dayton, OH 45402.

Immediately after convening, the board is expected to go into executive session to discuss matters of personnel. In addition, the board may choose to vote on recommendations from the superintendent and/or treasurer.

The media is being advised of this meeting in compliance with the Ohio Sunshine Law.

Respectfully,

Robert Walker, D.Min.

President

Dayton Board of Education

Screenshot at 7:25 am on Monday July 26 2017 of DPS board docs

Screenshot at 7:25 am on Monday July 26 2017 of DPS board docs

While it all sounds legit, for the meeting to be legit, the agenda should be published at least 48 hours before the meeting so the public can review it, contact board members, file comments (something that isn’t done), etc. That means last night, Sunday, at 5:30 was the cutoff.

This morning. No agenda at 7:25.

If they need this many meetings, if they can’t post agendas, if they can’t do what they were supposed to do in their June Retreat (evaluate the Superintendent), if they can’t vote because “they missed too many meetings” or if they “can’t vote” because they are trying to hide things that should have been done in a business meeting at the “retreat” 4 days later- the simple answer is- they shouldn’t be trusted to be our school board.

The board policy has a “48 hour rule” for a reason. That this board and superintendent can’t even have a 2 day planning horizon is criminal.

It’s time for them all to be thrown out.

From page 118 of their own policy manual:

AGENDA PREPARATION AND DISSEMINATION
The Superintendent, working with the Board President, coordinates the agenda for all Board meetings. Items of business may be suggested by a Board member, staff member or citizen of the District. The agenda may allow suitable time for remarks by the public who wish to speak briefly before the Board.
The agenda, together with supporting materials, are distributed to Board members sufficiently in advance of meetings to permit them to give items of business advance consideration.
The agenda is made available to the press, staff representatives and others upon request.
Dissemination of Resolutions and Recommendations
All proposed resolutions and recommendations for Board consideration and action are submitted in writing to each Board member not less than 48 hours before the Board meeting.
In an emergency or extreme urgency, this requirement may be waived at any meeting by majority action of a quorum of the Board.
[Adoption date: August 5, 2009]

Remove 5 members of Dayton Public School Board of Education? Yes please.

If you’ve been paying attention to the many meetings of the Dayton Public Schools Board of Education, you know that it’s turned into an absolute shit show since they picked Rhonda Corr as Superintendent. Just recently, they gave her a three year extension to her unorthodox one-year initial contract, after less than 7 months on the job- 7 months of turmoil and strife.

Not that the board needed Corr to create this mess, they do well on their own.

However recently, they’ve taken their incompetence to the level of criminal gross neglect- as showcased by their ignoring the first clause of the buyout contract with David Lawrence that they were supposed to vote on without comment.

The week prior, they voted early to award a contract that was published as $112,500, waiving the 48 hour rule only to have an hour conversation about a contract with the Ohlmann Group, that they obviously hadn’t read, or understood. The real amount of that contract, only revealed through a public records request that took too long, and was delivered on a ream of paper instead of the requested digital documents, $345,410 per year- with two additional one year options, making the contract worth a potential $1,036,230.

Considering that there were only 3 bidders, the second place bidder was at $321,100, and that the RFQ had stated that the cap was $300,000, one wonders why the only bidder under the cap wasn’t awarded the contract, especially, since it was the only true minority qualified business. (That bid was submitted by my firm, The Next Wave).

An old adage comes to mind, it’s called the rule of “P’s” – “Prior planning prevents piss poor performance.” Which fully sums up the actions of this board and leadership. How hard is it to publish an agenda? How hard is it for board members to take the time to either read what they are voting on- or, ask and get competent explanations from staff on what and why they are being asked to vote on.

The 48 hour rule exists for a reason- to allow both the board and the public to review actions of a public body before a meeting. It is only supposed to be waived when there isn’t time to properly notify everyone- something that shouldn’t be that difficult- posting an agenda 48 hours in advance of a public meeting.

From their own manual:

Emergency Meeting
Emergency meetings are called when a matter of urgent necessity must be decided and there is not enough time to allow for the 48-hour notice to members, or the 24-hour notice to the media. An example of a reason to hold an emergency meeting would be if a boiler were to suddenly break down in a school building and need replacing. The board could then call an emergency meeting to authorize payment.

Which brings us to their frequent use of the 48 hour rule- and the boards inability to actually review and know what they are voting for. The discussion about the buyout that wasn’t supposed to be discussed. The confusion about accepting a million dollar contract that they had obviously never seen.

These actions are clearly grounds for removal from office.

  • A board member is guilty of misconduct in office if he or she has willfully and flagrantly exercised authority or power not authorized by law, refused or willfully neglected to enforce the law or to perform any official duty imposed upon him or her by law, or is guilty of gross neglect of duty, gross immorality, drunkenness, misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance.
  • The petitioner must file a specific accusation of misconduct in office in Common Pleas Court.
  • The petition must contain valid signatures from people who live in the school district equal to 15 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the most recent election.
  • After the signatures are submitted to the court, a trial must be held within 30 days.
  • If the case isn’t dismissed by a judge, hearings proceed. A judge hears the case though the board member may ask for a jury trial.

Source: Can a school-board member be removed from office?

To take them to court, we’d need to collect signatures of 4,574 voters in the Dayton Public Schools district to move this forward. The only question is can one petition cover all 5 board members who willfully and flagrantly neglected their duty to comply with the contract terms they’d hashed out over months in executive session, or if this is just clear violation of the public trust and they can be prosecuted? Or, do we have to get circulate 5 individual petitions to do this? People who want to help get signatures should message me. Anyone planning to run in the fall, could start collecting the removal signatures while they collect their signatures to get on the ballot.

Both Superintendent Rhonda Corr and the staff lawyer, Jyllian Bradshaw, should be able to be terminated for cause by a competent board, for allowing the discussion to occur on the Lawrence buyout contract, and for voting for a million dollar marketing contract, without having it either presented or properly explained to the board. The board treasurer, Hiwot Abraha, was in charge of the marketing RFQ, and should also be held responsible for them voting a week early, without proper review.

Replace the five board members, Robert Walker, Ron Lee, Hazel Rountree, Joe Lacey and Adil Baguirov with competent members, who then remove Corr, Bradshaw and Abraha with cause, and replace them with competent people, and maybe, Dayton Public Schools will have a chance.