DPS PR machine is still not doing its job

First rule of public relations: be honest.

Second rule of public relations: be proactive. Be in front of the storm, not in the middle of it, or after it passes.

Third rule of public relations: be trustworthy, which is an extension of the first two rules.

Despite hiring 2 PR professionals for $180K a year, in addition to an “ad agency” for $345K a year, Dayton Public Schools continue to soil themselves through inept public relations. It may have absolutely nothing to do with any of the people who are hired to do PR, because this school board and superintendent are totally tone deaf and sabotage their own positions of authority at will and often.

Here is some backstory of how the move from the 2.0 to 1.0 gpa for athletics began, long before the Dunbar vs Belmont eligibility fiasco last year. (btw- I went to the rematch on Thursday and watched Belmont annihilate Dunbar 42-0). The story comes from “the man who would be superintendent” if it wasn’t for a board that doesn’t like strong black males with better community ties than they have. David Lawrence, the former Chief of Innovation for Dayton Public Schools, before he was bought out for big money to go away by this incompetent school board, told me he proposed this lowering of standards plan to former superintendent Lori Ward over 3 years ago. Note, he was a DPS athlete who went on to play D-1 sports. He still holds track records at Welcome Stadium.

His reasoning made sense. First, there are other districts, albeit ones that aren’t failing in all academic categories, that use this standard. Not that Oakwood or Centerville has to apply it to as many students, but they will allow kids to participate. But here is the kicker, he put the blame squarely on the teachers in this district, who sometimes would only give a midterm and a final, with no quizzes, tests, or other evaluation items like class participation, attendance, homework, etc. This meant some kids were being discriminated against- because some teachers don’t really try to work with the dumb jocks and take great pleasure in ambushing them.

Dang.

Didn’t see that one coming at all. But when you have a district with a horrible graduation rate, failing at all levels of academic success, this story seems more legit than the one coming out of the PR machine days after a seemingly secret meeting pops this change on us like a magician pulling an elephant out of a hat. We expect a rabbit, not an elephant.

First issue is why was this done, without proper public knowledge in advance, at an unscheduled meeting? That’s a guaranteed sign of “we’re being sneaky” instead of “we’re being strategic.” Proper PR handling would have made sure this issue was out in public long before and well explained and discussed before hand- as well as having proper answers for the board members who voted against or abstained. That way, it doesn’t feed the fires of the public who sees this as yet another lowering of standards.

I still posit that part of this policy is driven by fall out from sanctions imposed on the district after the Dunbar fiasco. The board had to lower standards in a hurry because most high schools wouldn’t have had enough players to play this year after athletes from DECA and other charter schools could no longer play for the program of their choice. In other words, the district was reacting instead of being proactive. Yet, none of that is in the explanation being circulated on Facebook by new media relations head Marsha Bonhart:

Lots of discussion about Dayton Public Schools and the sports policy – and a lot of confusion. As director of public relations and media at DPS, please allow me to help everyone understand the bar is NOT being lowered – it’s being raised. Student athletes who carry a GPA between 1.0 and 1.99 will have to raise their grades each quarter AND pass five classes to remain eligible to play any sport. They must be involved in an hourly, Monday – Thursday academic improvement program that includes tutoring. They have to remain in the program for a year until their GPA raises at least to 2.0. If they do not show quarterly improvement and do not pass the classes, they will not participate in any sports. If their grades slip the next year, they are back in the program for the entire year, again.
The deal is, improve your grades, pass five classes or you don’t play. This is for grades 7-12, girls and boys. Questions? 542-3023 (937)

Note, this is on her personal account, not on an official district channel. The post on the site, which most people can’t navigate, is here, posted Aug 26th (the decision was made and announced Aug 22):

FAQ for New Athletic Eligibility Policy

DPS to encourage athletes to perform better in the classroom

To Our Parents and Community,

There has been lots of discussion about Dayton Public Schools and the new sports policy – and a lot of confusion.

As director of public relations and media at DPS, please allow me to help everyone understand the bar is NOT being lowered – it’s being raised. Student athletes who carry a GPA between 1.0 and 1.99 will have to raise their grades each quarter AND pass five classes to remain eligible to play any sport. They must be involved in an hourly, Monday – Thursday academic improvement program that includes tutoring. They have to remain in the program for a year until their GPA raises at least to 2.0.

If they do not show quarterly improvement and do not pass the classes, they will not participate in any sports. If their grades slip the next year, they are back in the program for the entire year, again.

The deal is, improve your grades, pass five classes or you don’t play. This is for grades 7-12, girls and boys. Questions? (937) 542-3023

Marsha Bonhart Neilson

Director of Public Relations & Media, Dayton Public Schools

Source: News | FAQ for New Athletic Eligibility Policy

Maybe the big news is that Marsha has a new last name?

Or that she tries to legitimize the lowering of standards as “he bar is NOT being lowered – it’s being raised”- which is straight out of a 1980’s style PR textbook, where you try to reframe the truth. This is a complete and utter #FAIL, days after the fact. If this is the best spin DPS can put on this dead on arrival PR nightmare, Marsha and her new boss should be next on the chopping block. See the three rules at the beginning of this post.

My main questions still remain: why is this study table policy limited to athletes? The district is in academic emergency, shouldn’t all students getting less than “C’s” be getting mandatory help? And, besides the discriminatory nature of this plan, last I heard, we didn’t have money to pay teachers more, so who is paying for these professionals to help guide our dumb jocks up to a 2.0? The district is claiming volunteers? Is that really the answer?

As with most cases DPS, we have to look at the root problems: poverty and low expectations. If you believe in expectancy theory, this lowering of GPA requirements reinforces a problem that the district is already fighting to overcome. The timing of this announcement should have been made before school started as well- which means, once again, we’ve started a school year out with controversy- much like last years RIF. This kind of leadership is only reinforcing perceptions of a district in turmoil. Competent leadership would know better- but we don’t have competent leadership.

No PR machine on the face of the earth can fix stupid. At this point, only voters can. Yet, even though he was the lone vote against this change, Joe Lacey still shouldn’t be on this board, he’s part of the problem that made this fiasco happen when he hired Rhonda Corr, which is the real reason this district has been mired in controversy for the last year.

 

DPS needs to fire the captain before the ship sinks

Every minute that Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) reign supreme under Rhonda Corr, the talent makes plans to leave. The board, unwilling to admit their massive failure of hiring Corr, of keeping Baker (while turning Darren Powell into the only fall guy), of the insane Reduction in Force mid-year, the questionable real estate deals negotiated by Adil Baguirov (and maybe Corr?), the botched buyout of David Lawrence (probably their only option for a superintendent), then the failure to investigate allegations that Baguirov didn’t even live in the district, then allowing him to somehow negotiate a bus deal, without action by purchasing (an insane violation of board policy) followed by the resignation and pending investigation into the short lived tenure of Rhonda’s hand picked Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Markay Winston….

and now- the envelope please…. Leaving the Dayton Public Schools

  • Dwon Bush is leaving the district to be an Elementary School Principal in Huber Heights- if her name sounds familiar, it’s because they tried to RIF her, and had a student make a compelling plea to keep her.
  • Vanisa Turney-Crews, an assistant principal at Kiser is leaving to be the Director of Curriculum and Instruction in Huber Heights.
  • Taylor Porter, who was Corr’s initial pick to be the principal at Meadowdale when the fan hit the shan, is going to Westerville to be an assistant principal.
  • Monica Utley, the principal of Fairview- gone.
  • Valerie Herdman, a future principal- gone.
  • Sam Eckhardt a superstar high school math teacher at Thurgood- leaving for Xenia. Math teachers are hard to come by.
  • Ralph Davis – is leaving, one of the key players in the Males of Color program.
  • And, because they haven’t had their new contracts boarded in their new assignments-  there are at least 2 more principals leaving Dayton and 1 more administrator.

The resignation deadline is July 10. There will be plenty more. And while next week there are going to be 2 meetings to negotiate a contract, Corr is the reason that talks got shelved until August.

As long as she’s on top, people are gonna go.

Best case scenario: The board investigates Baguirov, he resigns, Lee and Rountree step down early as they both clearly are tiring of the fight, 3 people who’ve successfully turned in petitions get picked randomly for filling in until the election.

The new board invalidates the Baker contract- fires Corr for cause, fires Hiwot Abraha who can’t get her work done on time, or run purchasing legally, brings back Darran Powell as Head Football Coach (we don’t have time for this sideshow) and gets down on their knees to ask Lawrence to step in as interim.

If they ask nice enough, he may even come in and count part of his buyout as pay until next June.

If they don’t stop the resignations, and get a tentative contract in place before July 7, 2017- or at least have a man with a plan, their may not be enough people to put on a show next year. My guess, is instead, we’ll see that Baguirov has successfully completed his mission- to turn the district into such a clusterduck that the State can come in and turn the whole district into a charter and hand it over to the alternate “school board” Learn to Earn Dayton, and make sure the right people get paid off.

The longer lists of resignations are coming. If you are planning to resign, feel free to contact me to be added to the list. Tell me where you’re going and why if you’d like the public to know what the Reign of Corr hath brought. [email protected]

Update: 1 hour after publishing- have unconfirmed reports of another star principal leaving, and one who is considered a grand dame- may be fed up and turning in her resignation as well if Corr isn’t removed ASAP.

 

https://esrati.com/who-is-dwon-bush-and-why-dps-board-should-be-fired-before-her/13261

https://esrati.com/who-is-dwon-bush-and-why-dps-board-should-be-fired-before-her/13261

When 400 teachers pack the room

You knew the school board was ready, all of them dressed in their Sunday best- Joe Lacey even left his hoodie at home and combed his hair.

The teachers were ready too. When I say 400, it’s not an exact count, but it was the most I’d seen. They were wearing red, and they weren’t happy.

DEA members pack DPS board meeting Negotiations on a contract have been going south, and for too long. The disrespect of the October surprise putsch, the buy out of David Lawrence, the buying of a $400,000 time clock system, the hiring of the highest bidder to do bad “marketing and advertising” for the district, the massive bus purchase- all while claiming broke- and paying the superintendent that’s turned this district upside down more than the board was paying the stable and confident former Superintendent, Lori Ward, are all sticking points. Oh, that and Dayton teachers are expected to do more for less than any other district in the County- with a few exceptions- like Jefferson Township- which shouldn’t even have it’s own district.

After the teachers leader David Romick got done with his address, they all marched out to have a street corner rally, complete with podium. The news media followed.

The only people who left before Mr. Romick was done talking was the three representatives from the Ohlmann Group after they made an apologetic and pathetic presentation of what they’d done so far for at least $40K of wasted money (more on this in a future post). They don’t sit through school board meetings- or provide PR advice to the district, hell- they don’t even bother to shoot their own photos for their ads, they use stock photography. Gee, maybe that’s why my firm lost, we had a 2x Pulitzer prize winner for photojournalism on our team to shoot for our proposed work.

When it came to the speakers, a young, 2nd year teacher who appears to be hitting it out of the ballpark for the district went up and made a plea for her job security. She’s teaching at Westwoood- you know, the neighborhood the Dayton Daily nominated as the most dangerous ‘hood in the city. Every year, she has had to fight to keep her position. You have to listen- this is who you want teaching your kids. Her name is Joshita Reza, and one day, if we’re lucky, she’ll be superintendent of DPS.

Dr. Hazel Rountree, the Board VP is going to look into why Ms. Reza is having problems worthy of a visit to the podium. But, later, circles back, and appears to not have understood anything that Ms. Reza said. It all comes back down to respect, and this board and superintendent don’t respect anyone.

And, if you have the lowest pay, the worst academic performance in the region- people go where the work is easier and the pay is better. It’s not rocket surgery.

I spoke, once again asking for their resignations, and why no one has done anything to investigate Dr. Baguirov’s questionable residency eligibility to even be on the board. It’s a moot point really now, as he already got them to buy the buses for $10M and help his friends in the trucking business. That was voted on after the very long executive session (where those who stuck around were treated to hearing yelling coming from the secret lair).

Before the speakers were invited to the podium, Dr. Walker asked John McManus to read the rules. This isn’t the norm. One of the rules is that you aren’t supposed to single out a single board member, but speak to them as a whole. Well, although I singled out Dr. B- I asked them all to resign, since they haven’t done anything to verify his eligibility. At least nothing close to what they’ve done to check on the eligibility of a high school football player.

My speech:

I’m go glad to hear that “Great things are happening at Dayton Public Schools”

That you put that up on billboards should be grounds to have you removed- for breaking truth in advertising laws.

Because, unless you are deaf, dumb and blind, you are missing the point of why 300 teachers keep coming down here and questioning your leadership.

But- I can tell you there is a way to make that true. Resign. All seven of you.

You see, allowing an ineligible board member to do deals with your proxy is grounds for removal from office. From the real estate deals that smelled fishy- to the hiring of the most expensive bidder to do the “Great things are happening” campaign- to the bus deal- you’ve been asleep at the wheel. Following prompts from a board member who doesn’t even live in the district- and hasn’t since 2015.

I’d like to see the rent receipts for his half million dollar house in the Vandalia Butler school district- tell us who does live in the mansion.

Because sure as bees make honey- Dr., if he really is a Dr., Adil Baguirov is in a bit of a pinch. He’s registered to vote in a Ten Thousand dollar house on Maryland Ave- where he supposedly lives with his business partner- Islom Shakhbandarov.

He failed to disclose many of his business dealings on his ethics statements. He failed to disclose his maze of shell companies.

What we have here is our own version of Henry Hill- here to sell you 76 trombones. A carpet bagger- who is possibly lining his own pockets with inside deals with CareSource- Miami Valley Hospital, the University of Dayton, and even Learn To Earn.

Never mind the bus deal.

Since you won’t do anything about any of this- I’ve taken the next steps to have Dr. Baguirov removed by a judge. The next step is to remove the rest of you by collecting 4500 signatures.  I think the people in this room will gladly help me get them in record time.

It’s time to stop embarrassing the city of Dayton. It’s time we had a superintendent and treasurer that actually lead our organization forward. It’s time to end the insider deals- and stop the loss of staff attrition – which has approached 20% annually.

Please, do us a favor- abdicate now- and save yourself the embarrassment- we’ve already got 13 people running for office to replace 4 of you. Do you need further evidence that the community doesn’t approve of your choice in superintendent or how you are running the district?

Because once we remove all of you- then we can legitimately claim  “Great things are happening at Dayton Public Schools.”

Of course no response. Dr. Baguirov’s business partner and housemate for voting, Islom Shakhbandarov was sitting right next to the podium and filmed me as I spoke. As soon as the board broke for their executive session, Shakhbandarov ran to McManus asking why he didn’t cut me off for talking about his partner- McManus said “I just read the rules, it’s up to the board president to enforce them.”

The board ostensibly went into executive to talk about the bus deal and the contract extension for 2 years to District Athletic Director Mark Baker. Several speakers spoke about the whole eligibility/thrown game attempt disaster. There are definitely 2 camps on this.

I say fire the coaches, the athletic directors, the principals, the superintendent and move forward. Nobody was there to make sure this young man was eligible, or that his eligibility was being managed properly. The video speaks for itself- the kids didn’t want to “throw the game” and showed their disgust for this cockamamie scheme.  Only thing I’m sure of is, this wouldn’t have happened if Superintendent Chaos Corr hadn’t run David Lawrence out of the district. Lawrence was previously over Baker- and, attended most of the sporting events- and knows how to calculate eligibility.

When the board came out of executive session, Dr. Hazel Rountree was missing. She’d walked off the job. Should be grounds for termination. When the going gets rough, or Hazel doesn’t get her way- she just gets going. This proves that she’s not worthy of her seat.

Joe Lacey was the only one who voted not to retain Baker. He’s a little late to the whole discussion at this point and doing nothing more than grandstanding. Of course, he dosn’t bother to hold himself responsible for putting Corr in charge of this circus. Watch the video of Corr and Lacey while he has his rant around the three minute mark.

Baker got his contract- with a 5-1 vote, with Hazel absent without leave. On his way out, Coach Powell said to me “We’re done” – knowing that they were going to be the only ones to take a hit for this gross failure to do the right thing.

Speaking of doing the right thing, the board still won’t address the eligibility of Dr. Baguirov at all. Thus, all failing their legal responsibility to follow their own rules.

The head of security who was tasked to spend all the time in the world interviewing everyone involved in the Dunbar/Belmont fiasco, hasn’t had any time to investigate Dr. B. Imagine that.

I’ve requested all the interview transcripts through a public records request for publication later.

When black people in Dayton screw up, leave no stone unturned. When it’s a slick talking, nattily dressed, carpetbagger who can’t make up his mind if we’re broke or flush- no investigation warranted.

As they always say the best defense in America is being rich.

More to come.

 

The DPS investigation

It’s been three business days since I published the post that clearly identifies a serious problem with the residency requirement for school board member Dr. Adil Baguirov. You’d think the local news would pick the story up, or that the prosecutors office or the board of elections would have a statement? Nope. You’d think other school board members would be calling for an investigation- nada.

However, when the Dunbar coaches played an ineligible player against Belmont, knowing that he had played the week before at Taft as ineligible, there has been no stone left uncovered. Fingers pointed everywhere- and now the Ohio High School Athletic Association has weighed in as well- with probation and a fine. Wow.

I requested both the report from the Director Safety & Security, Jamie Bullens, a former Dayton cop with plenty of experience, and the OHSAA report and read them.

thumbnail of OHSAA Ruling – 4.7.17

OSHAA Report

thumbnail of Investigative Summary – Dunbar Eligibility

DPS internal report

Reading them, all I can say is add another ring to the three ring circus, with the coaches, athletic directors, principals all looking like clowns on parade.

How do you have a star quarterback failing to maintain his C average in the first place? There are no excuses for this- once again, Dayton Public Schools fails a student- all the rest really doesn’t matter.

Not a single one of these people did what was right for the students, and this goes all the way to the Superintendent.

The reason I bring her in, is because previously, David Lawrence was the guy who was over the rookie athletic director- and was known for his attention to the details of eligibility. Once Corr had demoted him, she forgot to appoint someone else to keep tabs on athletics- mostly, because she’s too busy at the same time with the self-created budget crisis and RIF that turned the entire district upside down for the entire month of November.

Here is the DPS Organizational chart- having LaMark Baker reporting directly to Rhonda Corr- the chart was supplied to me on Feb 3, 2017.

thumbnail of DPS org chart Feb 3 2017

Dayton Public Schools Org Chart 3 Feb 2017

For the people who worry about the $10K fine- really? Considering Corr and the board had no problem spending 20+x that to buy out Lawrence’s contract- as well as to pay off Lori Ward, as well as for unnecessary time clocks ($400K) or to hire the most expensive ad agency to do sub-par work, or buy buses from people who do business with Dr. Baguirov….

If Dayton really cared about the students, we’d end this circus by having a judge recall the entire board, fire the superintendent and treasurer for gross incompetence, and ask the state to install a professional team to supervise the schools and pick a new superintendent.

The best choice to run the district is Dr. Elisabeth Lolli, who seems both competent and has integrity.

In the meantime, we’ll wait to see if anyone has the gumption or brains to ask Baguirov to step down.

Short memories. Dayton Public Schools

Summer of 2016, Dayton Public Schools thought they needed a tax levy.

Then came Mayor Whaley- who needed a tax levy even more. For some reason, the board rolled over and played dead.

They’d changed Superintendents, bringing in the rookie Rhonda Corr to replace Superintendent Lori Ward- who they had to spend big bucks to get her to go away. September 14, 2016, they find out, Ward had pulled a rabbit out of a hat- getting the district an A in Annual Yearly Progress- the first A they’d had on a State report card in decades. This averted state takeover. It also gave Corr and crew breathing room.

But, since Corr didn’t like some of Ward’s people- she had a housecleaning- ostensibly a Reduction in Force, to get rid of opposition, and so she could justify bringing in her own team of highly paid assistants. The board, under leadership of Dr. Adil Baguirov, claimed the district was short about $4.5 million- although no one could provide real numbers. On the chopping block along with the opposition, were about 30 para-professionals (teachers aides) who were widely credited with helping get the A in AYP.

Along came Nan’s issue 9. A quarter percent increase in the city income tax. The board actually BACKED it- despite it creating a whole other quasi-public school board for pre-school only. These “Learn to Earn” folks even got to pay themselves big money- instead of the $5k a year the board members make. And, btw- get $4.5 million a year- without any stipulations on where it goes- charters, private schools, churches, as long as they are doing pre-school. There is a bit of a conflict of interest here, but, we’ll save that for another post that’s coming.

That levy, btw- was financed with big money- although we still don’t know the full extent, since the “Neigborhoods for Dayton’s Future” PAC  that solicited the $1873 average donation still hasn’t filed their post campaign finance report.

Then the board has to finish doing Rhonda’s dirty work, buying out David Lawrence, who was Chief of School Innovation- and partially responsible for the A in AYP. They blew that buyout, but had the money to throw around.

And all of a sudden, after not buying any new full size buses since 2010, they are about to buy 30 and take 10 more on a grant. It’s an overdue $2.1 million buy. But, Dr. Adil Baguirov, who happens to be the only one who also buys trucks from the same dealers for his trucking company- all of a sudden jumps in with all the facts and figures and the district is ready to commit to long term financing of 110 buses.

The teachers union isn’t too happy. The paraprofessionals know they are toast. The deal Adil is talking about seems to have a 10 year service and maintenance contract attached- meaning the districts mechanics are probably going to lose their jobs too.

And, all of you voters are just along for the ride.

Watch the video- and don’t get fooled again.