Fire Dr. Lolli yesterday

Dayton Public Schools were 607 when Dr. Elizabeth Lolli was handed the reins by a school board that had just fired their last trainwreck (Rhonda Corr). She looked like the best one available to them. Hint, you were 607 because the people you had in charge were all trainwrecks. Lolli was hired by the one you fired- Hello?

When you are 607, the first thing you think you’d do is immediately lay out a plan for change. Need to see how it’s done? Look at the posts on this blog about the new Trotwood superintendent, Tyrone Olverson. He had applied to be DPS superintendent when they hired Corr, but didn’t even get an interview. When Corr was fired, no consideration was given to bringing David Lawrence in for an interview- even though he was still on the payroll and was passed over for Corr.

Of the three finalists in the Corr pick, Roberson has left the district to be replaced by a white woman who sent out requests to all principals to fill out a blank spreadsheet on all their students on IEP. In Dayton, that’s well over 25%- and, a database already exists. Currently, the district doesn’t even have software to manage IEPs nor do they have a solution in place. Nobody seems to be in charge of IT since they RIF’d their last IT director back in November 2017 when the district lied and said they were broke.

Dan Schroer, went on to be the new Superintendent in Springboro. A district that had been in turmoil thanks to a dysfunctional board. Less than 2 years later, the district passes a levy on its first try (a first) and they get an A from the state. One of only 28 districts to do it.

Back to no plan Lolli. Since she’s been in charge, she’s spent money like a house on fire, giving teachers retroactive raises, hiring high-priced administrators, and spending money on consultants without explaining the value proposition. The board, sits there mute. No demands for projections on how this will payback- or bring students back. Just like Wright State, Dayton Public Schools is suffering enrollment declines the likes of which we’ve never seen. To further screw with things, Lolli runs an illegal school closing task force which only decides to close 1 building (Valerie) and move HQ across the street (waiting to hand the old HQ over to Sinclair for some sweetheart deal that’s been not-so-secretly pre-arranged).

Lolli has never completed a single contract as a Superintendent in her life. This has meant, she never had to renew a contract, or face public scrutiny. She won’t complete this 3 year sweetheart deal either- since she’s capable of retiring at any time, and incapable of passing a levy (which this district will need in 1 year or 2 thanks to her wild spending).

When the District got the F on September 13th, her immediate response was to blame a software company, which she plans on suing, even though it won’t change the score. She has proclaimed in public:

“The first thing that I will assure you here, as a City of Learners in Dayton, Ohio, is that Dayton Public Schools is only an F on paper,” she said. “We are not an F school district.”

Source: DPS seeking plan to avoid state takeover – Dayton Daily News

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck- it’s a duck. You don’t need a PhD to tell that Dayton Public School is an F district, it’s in black and white. Read the scores. You fail.

Dayton Public Schools State Report Card 2018Denial is not a turnaround strategy. Maybe, Lolli needs to stop thinking she’s another Republican who found themselves in a position of power accidentally, her Republican hero- Donald Trump. He’d call this “fake news” and get away with it. Lolli isn’t Trump- even though she behaves like him, without the help of Twitter.

Having a plan is something the board should have been working on since day 1. You were 607, you were facing “State Takeover” or on the cusp for the last 5 years, this is no surprise, yet:

School board members have long talked about a need for an updated, official plan laying out a direction for the district.

“Our hope is that we have a strategic plan that is measurable, that is attainable for the district focusing on what is most important – and that is academic achievement, graduation and preparing our kids for life after Dayton Public Schools,” said Board President William Harris…

In an interview, Lolli laid out specific areas that will likely be discussed: academics and instruction, finance, culture, safety and security, and technology.

“We will set some short-term and long-term ideas out there,” she said.

Source: DPS seeking plan to avoid state takeover – Dayton Daily News

Lolli has been superintendent for 9 months- and is just now putting out “some short term and long-term ideas out there”- excuse me, what have you been doing since you were put in charge?

Dr. Harris, Div., not PhD, or Ed, Or Md. Let's use truth in advertising.

Dr. Harris, Div., not PhD, or Ed, Or Md. Let’s use truth in advertising.

Harris is total fail. He still likes to call himself “Dr.” in a professional setting, even though he’s a Reverend, not a PhD or MD. And of course, he was put in charge by this board because he’s black. A move made by a dumb racist on the school board, Sheila Taylor, and followed by the rest of the idiots- including Mohamed Al-Hamdani, Jocelyn Rhynard, Karen Wick-Gagnet and Rev Walker. McManus, who should have been president, always being one to be a peacemaker went along with it hoping to bring some semblance of leadership from the VP chair. He’s failed.

Since Lolli has taken over, she’s had no problems spending money on consultants, including $1800 to local PR Firm Fahlgren Mortine. One has to wonder why, since the district already has a three year million dollar plus purchase order sitting open with The Ohlmann Group. Never mind that the board has publicly lambasted Ohlmann and wondered what they bought.

I brought the Ohlmann group contract up in my last speech to the DPS board on Tuesday.

Reportedly, Harris asked if it was really true I’d not be back, gleefully. You’re on your own dude. Enjoy the highway to hell.

Because, here is a perfect Libbie Lolli move, the reason she was hated in every other district where she served, after getting an hour-long dissertation on the why the district is now worst in the state, 608, her response, as if this was all new to her, was to announce that she was going to cut an instructional day for every DPS student and hold inservice training for staff. Because, well, you know, they don’t know what they are doing:

Each Dayton Public School will close for one previously unannounced day in October or November for mandatory staff training, as the district attempts to improve the quality of teaching in its schools.

A message Friday morning from Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli to school staff mentioned the threat of state takeover next fall if the district’s report card doesn’t improve.

“Great teaching, every day, is the only way we will be able to change the results. It is within our power and control to do that!” Lolli wrote. “Beginning in October, schools will be closed for one day in groups of 2 or 3, to focus on teaching strategies and expectations for DPS classrooms.”….

Lolli said she was not surprised by the state’s critical evaluation of DPS teaching. She said the district has been working to improve “instructional design,” but it’s not a simple or quick process, saying DPS is in the second year of a three-year rollout.

“We didn’t have an instructional framework when I arrived,” said Lolli, who is starting her third year in DPS. “We’re trying to get caught up. We don’t want to have our staff lack the quality instructional practices they need and want. They don’t want to be behind their peers in other schools. But you have to have high-quality professional development and time to implement it if you’re really going to make a difference.”…

Her letter to teachers called them “the hope of the district and the students,” calling for everyone to pull together and change DPS’ report card grade from an “F” to a “C.”

“I think we can make some impact with this,” Lolli said later Friday. “Will it solve the problems tomorrow? No. But we’re on our way.”

Source: Teachers face mandatory training – Dayton Daily News

Insulting your employees, with the support of the School Board is not a good way to go from F to C.

Any school board with an IQ of over 10, would ask where has a day of training ever lifted performance? And, if this was the case, why didn’t your training before school even start cover this material? You already knew the preliminary district data was going to bring bad news.

When I got to the point in my speech where I said I just couldn’t bring myself to go to the board review session because I couldn’t take being around idiots- there is a very faint noise from the audience on the video. It was board member Karen Wick-Gagnet’s husband exclaiming “What the fuck” as he sat behind a group of DPS ESL teachers who were there trying to get guidance for doing their jobs.

Yes, what the fuck.

Taking kids out of school so you can school your staff, because you have no plan, after three years on the job. It’s time Libbie Lolli be shown the door, along with the entire top level staff. Clean house. Oh, wait! That’s what the State takeover will do in exactly 1 year.

The question is, why do Dayton School Students have to suffer this clown show another day?

If you need to see what a school board that actually cares about student achievement looks like, watch one of my videos from Trotwood. As different as night and day.

and for comparison:

 

 

 

Why DPS will fail and Trotwood did not

The first and only call I ever got from the principal at Horace Mann was to request me to come to the school over an urgent matter concerning an 11 year old. She wouldn’t tell me what the problem was over the phone. I dropped everything, as did the 11 year olds mother and we arrived at the school within 20 minutes. Apparently, our daughter had done the unmentionable- brought “Dick Tarts” to school.

What’s a “Dick Tart” you ask? It’s like a cross between a “Tic Tac” and a “Sweet Tart”- shaped like a males anatomy. It was fished out of the trash by a kid who thought they were funny- my girlfriend had gotten them as a gag at one of those “passion parties” where women invite their friends over to drink wine and maybe buy some fun clothes and toys for the bed room.

I sit in amazement as I’m read chapter and verse out of the DPS handbook, that my kid is going to be suspended for 10 days for bringing sexually oriented material to school. And, risk expulsion. There was no negotiating, no discussion, no teachable moment or intelligent thought about the insanity of this remedy for a harmless piece of candy.

That was the only call we got from the principal.

Fast forward to yesterday morning. I run up with my camera to Trotwood Madison High School to hear their new superintendent talk about what escaping state takeover means and whats next. There was no patting ourselves on the back, there was no blaming software for our troubles, not a single mention of poverty holding our students back. Just a man with a plan.

Starting with remarkable ideas like parent engagement specialists making at least 10 calls a day to parents- not to tell them what their kid did wrong, but what their kid did right. There was the move away from Principal as disciplinarian- to principal as a lead educator focused on student achievement, spending time in the classrooms. They had a dean of students to deal with discipline.

And, after the first two weeks of school and working out the kinks, attendance is up. Way up. Because, when you care about kids actually being in school- they actually show up. Someone actually gets the idea that if a kid isn’t at school, they can’t learn. Rocket surgery thinking here folks. But, wait there’s more!

We know some kids aren’t in school because they have to work in order to eat. No worries, not only will we transport our kids home after school if needed, but, if they stay for after school activities or tutoring, they’ll get a ride home too- and dinner if they want it. Trotwood won’t allow poverty to be an excuse to miss school, or sports, or chess club. They’re all in.

And while they only moved up from 608, worst in the state to 603- the goal is to see how good they can be, how high can they go. Every single person working in the district has their sights set on student achievement. The superintendent, Tyrone Olverson is buying a house in Trotwood. He’s all in too. But what you have to admire most is he shares the spotlight, he walks his people up and lets them tell the world that they’ve bought in too. That they know what the challenges are. And the crazy thing is- he’s doing it with a lot of people who used to work in Dayton, people like Lisa Minor, who was part of the reason Dayton got an A in Annual Yearly Progress a few years ago and couldn’t repeat during the turmoil years of Corr/Lolli.

Back to DPS. Superintendent Lolli, is blaming software for their sorry ass performance and threatening to sue the vendor- even though the scores wouldn’t change enough to get them back to 607 from their now bottom of the heap 608. There was no talk of 608 to Great- like the kids are now chanting in Trotwood, there was no plan for transporting high school students, or making sure they are fed, or of calling homes with good news. No plan. Just more drivel about aligning curriculum with tests and structuring her forces. You’ve got a used up wet noodle from Middletown leaning on her friends and family to remake June Cleavers vision of DPS. There has never been an inspiring speech from Libby Lolli because there is nothing inspiring about her. One look at her track record of “leading school districts” shows a woman who has never completed a contract term in her life. She’s spending money with consultants and hiring high priced administrators at a rate like Donald Trump tells lies, and not having to worry how to pay for it in 2 years because that’s when she’ll bow out and retire. She won’t ever have a student high-five her, or a teacher hug her. Who wants to hug the ice queen?

My prediction is that Trotwood is going to leverage its state champion sports teams, it’s new-found swagger and structured approaches to education and start to grow. In fact, I see the day in the not too distant future when Thurgood Marshall High School, Meadowdale High School and the new Valerie at Meadowdale, are all acquired/absorbed by Trotwood as DPS shrinks below 10K students as DPS is taken over by the State, and parents get sick of the “plan du jour” of DPS, the ridiculous 2.5% Dayton income tax and the lousy service.

Compare Trotwood Mayor Mary McDonald who is all smiles and positivity to Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley who flat out tells the entire nation (Frontline hit piece of September 11, 2018) that Dayton kids will never make as much money or have the kind of life she had thanks to her fathers union job. With Mayors like that, who needs to stay in Dayton?

While DPS says we can’t do pre-school 5 days a week, Trotwood says we can do pre-school and child care for you from 8-6 including 3 square meals a day. While Dayton is busy feeding the school-to-prison pipeline and switching winning coaches at Dunbar for losers, Trotwood is reveling in a new found confidence and feeding minds, bodies and souls.

Expectancy theory is a bona fide  management practice. You get the results you expect. Dayton still hasn’t a clue on how to transform itself, and I have a confession to make, last Tuesday, I stopped caring.

Not about the kids, who I wish and hope will manage to take advantage of the amazing teachers who put their heart and soul into trying to make a difference in the mad house. I care about them. I stopped caring about the “leadership” of DPS. I couldn’t find it in me to go to another board “review session” and spend time with stupid people. I’d had enough.

Over the last two years and a half years I went from having dreams of DPS turning around under the obvious choice for Superintendent, the home grown talent David Lawrence, to watching them pass him over for the train wreck of Rhonda Corr.

I did make a few friends out of that process. Dan Schroer a runner up, has become one of my favorite people to talk to over lunch. He’s now running the formerly raucous Springboro district like a Swiss watch, where he passed a levy on the first try- a first for Springboro. His district now has an A for a district grade, 1 of 28 in the state. When I called him to congratulate him, he spoke of how his staff is already planning visits to all the other 27 districts that got an A- to compare notes and learn how to improve. He didn’t take a bit of credit for the score himself, it was all about his team and their can-do attitude. And believe it or not, I made a friend in Rhonda Corr. Yes, even though I’ve called her some incredibly bad things on this site, I still like her as a person, and believe she was probably a great principal. She, as very few people could ever be, was just not built to take on working in a district that’s so dysfunctional. That eats its own, people like Darren Powell, Peggy Burks, David Lawrence, Pete Pullen, real people, who bled DPS right up till they had their throats slit by the very district that they loved.

With that being said, DPS has a retreat today. They should video it, but won’t. I won’t. I’m done. This coming Tuesday will be the last time I go to a meeting and record it. The last time I’ll speak. They’re on their own. Because, after 2.5 years of trying to lead a horse to water, I’ve realized they won’t drink anything but their own kool aide, and it’s the Reverend Jim Jones special blend.

My mind was made up before I went to video Olverson on Friday. But, what sealed the deal was Mrs Howard. Every time I’ve stepped foot in a Trotwood school public meeting she was there, sort of like our Mario Gallin. She made an effort to come over and thank me for what I do. She said it was important work, speaking truth to power. She bleeds Trotwood- but understands Dayton has to succeed if Trotwood is to survive. But, she wasn’t the only one. The president of the school board, the superintendent, at least half of his staff, all pretty much said the same thing as they made their way to me. The only people making their way toward me at DPS meeting is the security staff, John McManus, Jim Fowler and his team from Kiser, or Dr. Hill. The rest fear me, and the truth.

One last fact- Tyrone Olverson applied to DPS when they were looking to replace Lori Ward. They didn’t even give him an interview. Boy did we miss out.

 

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.

 

DPS superintendent search takes wrong turn

Last week, out of the pool of what Dr. Baguirov keeps calling a “highly qualified candidate pool” – the board had it narrowed to 3 candidates from six.

They were current Dayton Public Schools Chief of School Innovation, David Lawrence, relatively new hire- Gregory Roberson, Ed.D. Chief of Office for Exceptional Children and a curriculum chief from Beavercreek, who was picked to be superintendent elsewhere after applying for every job she could.

I chastised DPS BoE president Baguirov for fiddling while Rome burns. After the only outsider left, left, there was a quick scramble to enlarge the pool- and more candidates were considered, including some retreads like Debra Brathwaite who was the number two that was previously passed over when Dr. Mack left.

In fact, if you read the post about Brathwaite, you could be saying history is about to repeat.

Greg Roberson, candidate for Superintendent of Dayton Public Schools

Greg Roberson

For the three finalists tonight at the public forum- we have internal candidate Greg Roberson with less than a year in the district, and a very short career in education, starting in 2003 after a long career as an enlisted man in the Air Force.

Roberson is the newly hired head of the department of exceptional children. A job he got after the Trotwood public schools did a talent raid last year- hiring away 9 of our more talented people- including Tracy Mallory, who was at Horace Mann as principal before being promoted into this position. That’s also when we lost David White, who had turned Belmont around and was currently assigned to Ponitz. He was the highest paid principal in the district- making $15K a year more that Erin Dooley at Stivers- who hasn’t received a raise in years- despite having guided the districts only success story for years.

If you wonder why we’re constantly short of teachers, maybe the board can look back at their previous decisions, and come to a conclusion?

Rhonda Corr- finalist for Dayton Public Schools

Rhonda Corr

Rhonda Corr– coming out of Indianapolis, who hired her after there was a meltdown in Chicago, where Ms. Corr worked with former Chicago schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. An article on Cleveland.com talks about how Parma (a large suburb of Cleveland) rescinded their offer to Corr- referred to as “Corr-Saegert” – but couldn’t find out if the issues in Chicago had bearing- they define her leaving Chicago:

Corr-Saegert was laid off her job as the chief of 36 Chicago public schools in June, the day after Byrd-Bennett resigned. Byrd-Bennett, who headed Cleveland schools from 1998 to 2006, had been on leave since April amid a federal investigation into a controversial, no-bid $20.5 million contract with a principal training academy, where she once consulted.

Corr has been busy applying for superintendents jobs elsewhere- Salt Lake City, and the Washington Local superintendent position, where a great pool included 19 candidates according to the Toledo Blade. Maybe there is a reason she keeps getting passed over?

Dan Schroer candidate Dayton Public Schools

Dan Schroer

Last person added to the final three is Dan Schroer, who has also been busy applying for Superintendents positions, including Beavercreek. His background is mostly agrigultural and voc-ed, but has been the Superintendent of the Margaretta Local Schools, Erie County, Ohio up around Sandusky. He seems to have job hopped his way around the state for years.

The Board Of Education, seems to think that there is no reason to hire a Dayton Public Schools graduate, who is in one of their top leadership positions- whose job function is “Innovation”- who has dedicated his life to working in the Dayton Public Schools- and has letters of support from 28 principals. Leaving David Lawrence out of this public “audition” is clearly a strategy to show the city who the new sheriff is in town.

The votes last night were all close- but, the two women on the board seem threatened by a strong, no-nonsense leader that knows the district inside out- and Dr. Baguirov, who thinks he should be in charge, is flexing his muscles. Note- Baguirov and Rountree are both serving their first term of unchallenged election. Sheila Taylor, apparently thinks that no internal candidate would be a good choice- because, well- despite her slightly longer tenure on the board, she still is mostly a labor puppet, and Lawrences strong belief in using pay for performance doesn’t sit well with her.

How any superintendent from out of town is going to figure out how to turn around a district in 2 years, is a mystery to me. This is a large organization, one of the biggest in the county, with many moving parts, different regulations, funky constituencies and big challenges.

Unfortunately, we can’t recall the Board of Education. What we can do is show up in force and demand that the board reconsider their picks, after we hear from these three Dayton rookies- and ask that the board reconsider Lawrence as an option.

Just remember- “A” people hire “A” people, “B” people hire “C” people.