Evaluation and endorsements of the Dayton School Board candidates

full disclosure and entanglements: I’ve been friends with Karen and Jim Gagnet for years, I’ve done work for them both since they opened the 2nd iteration of  Coco’s on Wayne Ave. I’ve printed materials for Jo’el Jones, Jocelyn Rhynard, Mario Gallin has lunched with my mother, her husband, TRRuddick is one of the most frequent commentors on my blog directly or via Facebook. All that said, I know, or have interacted with all of them over the years.

In my last year of going to school board meetings to speak, cover, review, reform, I’ve seen one absolutely steady presence, Mario Gallin. She’s ALWAYS there, in the back, with her Microsoft Slate, taking notes, paying attention. I’ve seen Jocelyn there a lot, Jo’el comes often, but isn’t always there the whole time. Of course Joe Lacey is there- with his hoodie. At one point we joked about starting a twitter account for his hoodie.

I have a reputation for being honest to a fault. The reason this has taken so long to write- is because I wanted to make sure I made the right choices, and for the right reasons. I’m going to explain what I’ve seen, and what I think we need more than anything to move the district forward.

The Dayton Board of Education meetings are out of control, they run 4 hours, and THEN can go into executive session. They are totally ineffective at advancing intelligent thought or direction for a district in constant turmoil. A large part of it is because we have 7 people on the board who think they have to share their thoughts on every subject. Unless what they say is either a policy question, guidance or direction for future policy or objective setting, and it requires an answer, or action to be performed, board members should be seen but not heard. First and foremost, grandstanding political types need not apply to my board of the near future.

Secondly, what is grossly missing is respect for the public, the employees, the leadership. Board members are paid a max of $5K a year, the person they hire- the supposed educational professional is paid $200K a year plus benefits. This is the person who should be running the district and the meeting, giving clear and actionable information and progress reports. These meetings need to flip. The Superintendent needs to run the meeting agenda- with the board approving or disapproving the agenda items (which are created by the Superintendent). Yes, the Board can sit up on their platform, but the Superintendent needs to be elsewhere- look at the city commission meetings for seating arrangements. If the board is voting on the superintendents recommendations- let the superintendent actually ask for the vote- so they understand who they are saying no to. This kumbaya stuff has to go.

Third, although all three should tender their resignations on Jan 2, 2018, or whenever the new members are sworn in, since the DEA has voted no confidence in the board and they’ve lead the district to the brink of destruction, there will be 3 remaining members, Dr. Robert Walker, Sheila Taylor and John McManus. I have to evaluate how the new candidates will interact with the old ones- to counteract a huge cat fight. Sheila Taylor is absolutely unpredictable, intellectually challenged and holds grudges and can be combative. Walker is a weak man, who let others bully him into believing that internal candidates were unacceptable for internal promotion, he believes he speaks from some sort of both moral and community authority, but, his input/guidance or even exhibited understanding of what is going on- is nonexistent. John McManus, is a new comer to Dayton, he didn’t have connections or name recognition and spent almost $40K to beat Nancy Nearny by 400 votes. He bought his printing from me, I helped advise him on how to run, and I consider him a friend. He’s by far both the most political member of the board, and also the board gossip- as in he’s always talking to other board members- outside of the meetings. This is actually a problem, and needs to stop. The Ohio Sunshine Laws actually prohibit polling of board members- and some could say McManus is walking on questionable ground. He’s also dangerously polite, lacking a real spine. When he takes a strong stand, he weakens it by curtsy. Of the three remaining board members, he’s the only one who deserves to finish their term, even though he has been involved in many of the bad decisions. When he asks questions, it generally demonstrates a solid understanding of what is going on.

Fourth- we need board members willing and able to demand accountability, across multiple skill sets, and issues. The district is a half a billion dollar operation- it’s not just teaching, it’s building maintenance, allocation of resources, HR, transportation, a food service operation, fiscal and legal compliance, janitorial, purchasing, athletics, marketing, IT, etc. To oversee this requires more than just “I’m a parent” or “I’ve been involved in the community” – corporate boards are usually populated by seasoned professionals who’ve had some success in life, leaders of people, experienced business thinkers, as well as people who understand that what they say, should have gravitas, and be words of wisdom. Shooting from the hip might work in Westerns, but, we actually need people who can actually identify the correct targets and aim and pull a trigger for maximum effectiveness in the middle of a fire-fight. (sorry my military background is sneaking in).

All this said, this is a political decision, and we have been presented with a group running as “The Slate” backed by Nan Whaley, picked from central casting with a black preacher, an Asian bureaucrat, a middle eastern refugee turned success story and a wizened white woman who overcame her hardscrabble upbringing to run successful businesses. They hired a “professional” political consultant, got a ton of endorsements, raised a bunch of money and expect the public to accept the package lock, stock and barrel. This has precedent, although on a much grander scale, when the business community put their money behind the “Kids First” slate of four powerful women, who would in turn get a levy passed that would bring $850M in new construction work to rebuild the schools. The new buildings did NOTHING to improve academic performance, and the internal culture of entitlement and mediocrity was allowed to continue to fester, which got us to where we are today; second worst district in the state.

Which brings me to my last qualifier: at this point, there is only one action that will be acceptable to turn this district around, and that’s to immediately install competent leadership that is willing to work with the board to clean house.

I am choosing candidates based on their stomach to do the following:

Fire Rhonda Corr for cause. Fire Hiwot Abraha for cause.

Hire, ranked in order of preference a new superintendent and possibly two, of the following three people to begin turning the district around:

David White, former DPS principal now in Trotwood Madison to run the district, or at least manage the operational side. He’s a wizard at bringing organizational controls to flailing operations.

Rusty Clifford- former Superintendent of West Carrollton schools. An advocate of year round schooling, a seasoned superintendent that knows the landscape and resources of the region, he can help Dr. Lolli manage the academic and instructional revamp of the district and work on rebuilding trust of the teachers and their union in focusing on excellence in classroom instruction.

The third choice, is a little more controversial, but would also be a seasoned hand that could quickly jump in, at least until we have time to find a long term solution, would be Jim Schoenlein former Kettering Superintendent. We need someone who knows how to run a district and a board, with a focus on academic excellence, with a diverse district. Again, teamed with Dr. Lolli, we’d have a clean start.

If a candidate has expressed an unwillingness to make this change, and is willing to continue with the Rhonda Corr rookie at the helm, experiment, they are unacceptable candidates.

All this being said, I have to look at what a functioning board would look like- and who would bring what skills to the table and how do we do it. You get to vote for up to four candidates, and remember, since there are 8 running, any vote for someone you don’t really feel is worthy- you are possibly pushing them ahead of someone you really want to win, so, voting for just 1, 2 or 3 candidates can be more powerful by not cancelling your vote out.

I am going to start with two candidates I feel are a totally unacceptable. If you think that either of these candidates is worthy of your vote, you probably shouldn’t read the rest of my endorsements.

Joe Lacey MUST NOT BE REELECTED AT ANY COST. He’s been a disruptive force on the board for his entire tenure. Not that disruption isn’t needed, it’s just that he’s been totally ineffective at swaying people to his side, or building alliances, and when he has built a coalition, it’s often been with wrong side. He actually brags about being the only no vote- when in fact, if he had any value at all, he’d have gotten others to go along with him, or found and helped others run and win. He’s been a problem for way too long and needs to go away permanently. Rewatch him trashing a parent in front of her child- and realize this man has zero respect for anyone and also know that’s he’s emotionally damaged and goes into histrionics if he thinks someone someone doesn’t like him because of his personality (way too often).

The Reverend William (Bill) Harris is part of the slate. His whole pitch has been “I’m working in Hilltop, and I think truancy is what we need to focus on.” For those that don’t know Hilltop, it’s a crappy public housing project on what should have been one of the prime pieces of land in Dayton. It’s been marked by violence, drug deals in the open, and crime. It’s been that way, it continues to be that way and it hasn’t changed thanks to the good reverend. Blaming truancy for our woes and making it his number one priority is demonstrated ignorance of the challenges facing DPS. Dr. Roberson made his entire pitch for the Superintendent position built around truancy and I dismissed him then too. Harris has said “I won’t be anyone’s puppet” as part of the slate- yet, that’s comically what he is. I don’t think he brings any of the critical thinking skills we need to this board, nor do I think he has the intellectual horsepower to move the district forward at a critical time. He’s Ron Lee 2. Pass, please.

The best choices for the board

DEA president David Romick’s face turns into a lemon when the idea of Ann Marie “Mario” Gallin returning to the board is broached. He says “She was terrible” the last time she was on the board- which was a while ago. In the time since, she kept attending board meetings and has worked at Ruskin- throwing herself into our own social experiment with wrap around services. She understands the actual problems in the classroom, the community and the interface. She’s well read, she talks about the dysfunctional nature of the board and the current agenda, and she brings the ability to actually question academic rigor in practices that are proposed. She’s a decent human being, and she’s not politically motivated. She’s not a big dollar candidate- which should also tell you she’s only interested in serving the kids best interests. She would be a calming, steadying, experienced hand on the board. You can’t go wrong voting for Mario.

Paul Bradley is the youngest candidate and part of the slate. He’s still wide eyed and optimistic. And while he’s not been to meetings, he knows what functioning government is supposed to do after working for Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown for 6 years. His understanding of how federal programs work, how to interface with the community, his easy going, restrained personality makes him an excellent choice for the board. There are zero downsides to electing Paul. He’ll be awesome.

Karen Wick-Gagnet. I’ve known Karen and worked with her for a long time. Personally, I tried to talk her out of running, knowing that her dislike of confrontation and controversy would make this job a spirit killer for her. Not voting for Karen would be better for her well being, but bad for our district. She’s an amazing business woman, who’s been through boom and bust with her husband Jim. I’ve said before that if you want to see economic development in Dayton done on a budget- Jim is the best developer hands down. A big part of his success, has been his partnership with Karen. She’s the one who keeps things on point and running smoothly. She’s not a grandstander. She’s thoughtful, and talks about practicing mindfulness. I’ve watched her, and their businesses grow. I’ve watched her work for years- and if you know anything about restaurants- staffing is always tough, since you deal with people who tend to gravitate to the dramatic, with issues of alcoholism, drug use and drama- yet, she’s always been able to keep a steady work force, and attract some of the best talent in her restaurant. We’re lucky to be able to vote for someone who is doing it for the right reasons.

The next three are a vote at your own risk, although after a lot of thought, my choice is clearly the first, if you feel you have to cast a fourth vote.

Jocelyn Rhynard is a serious force to contend with. She talked about the dysfunction of the board meetings- which is the prime problem. She raised more money as an individual than anyone else. She sought and got endorsements. She surrounded herself with good people, and listened to them. I believe her heart is in the right place. So, what’s the reservation? She’s not my style of candidate. She holds things close, won’t take strong stands, hasn’t clearly said that she believe Corr to be a fundamental problem (although I know she thinks it), she attends board meetings and started a parents group. But, her emphasis on being a parent as qualification makes me ill. It has since the days when Dick Zimmer used to say he had 9 kids and 19 grandkids- as if the ability to fornicate was a skill critical to being elected (and I guess if you want to fcuk the public- it is). She also hedged when I asked her for the email from Marsha Bonhart- so I could verify it was sent to all, and the same. It was public record- and she held back. I worry about her not fully understanding that she’s there to represent us, in an open transparent manner. I worry about her doing a McManus and not being forceful enough at the right time. Yes, she came out the day after I posted about the Bonhart scandal- which to me, reeked of grandstanding. I don’t want that. But, she’s the best choice.

Jo’el Jones has been involved in “Neighborhoods over Politics” as has Shenise Turner Sloss. It’s an organization that had noble beginnings and potential, but got caught up in internal squabbles early on. Jo’el is a human wrecking ball- loud, demanding attention, and opinionated. She will grandstand. She’ll get in fights- on the campaign trail, her and Reverend Harris have not gotten along. She’s a disorganized hot mess most of the time. She’s known she’s been on the ballot since August- yet, is just now throwing herself into it at full force. Yes, she may be the voice of the community, or be tied in. She may have worked in the past for DPS, but, there may be a reason she’s not there now. I feel she’ll be a distraction and a carnival barker if elected. Another Hazel Rountree, and I don’t say that kindly- as I’ve found her to be the most ineffective board member ever. But, then again, if you want someone to get in a catfight with Rhonda Corr and sell tickets- Jo’el is your candidate.

Mohamed Al-Hamdani is a total wild card. I wanted to sit down and ask him real questions, hardball, and see what he says away from an audience, but he’s too busy being best man in Paul Bradley’s wedding this weekend. He’s definitely the lynch pin to “The Slate” and like another refugee, Dr. Adil Baguirov, moved into Dayton just in time to file. This guy has political aspiration signs coming out of every side of him- in neon, with strobe lights. This board run is his first step to his long future political career. And, he’s arrogant, by the truckload. Early on, I asked a question about the hiring of Burges and Burges and how much it cost- and why they didn’t buy local talent- and he tried to sidestep it and said they hadn’t paid them a dime. I don’t need to be lied to ever, and especially before you have been elected.

Mohamed thinks he knows it all. He has a smugness that rubs people the wrong way. He thinks he has all the answers. He probably reminds people of me in some ways- but, with the establishment nod. His campaign rhetoric has been full of bullshit about all the teachers that taught him- and his story of coming to America- all nice and fine, but missing any substance. He may indeed have all the answers, but, I’ve not heard them, and his testiness will bring back some of the rancor to the board that we can’t afford. He has a law degree- which would and might be handy, but, so does McManus- and it hasn’t kept us out of trouble. One of the biggest mistakes Americans make at the polls is thinking that being a lawyer makes you a good lawmaker- and that’s actually the opposite. Good lawmakers and only the best lawyers, understand that their profession is actually the art of compromise. Too many think it’s to win at all costs. Mohamed is a total wildcard. He may be smart, he may have a good story, he may even understand the issues, but I’d put Mario and Jocelyn ahead of him for my slate. He’s also been the one to say that if “The slate” is elected, they won’t disagree with each other as much in public- lending me to believe he’s planning on operating behind a curtain.

Congratulations. You just read over 3000 carefully chosen words about the 8 candidates for the Dayton Board of Education. The number of hours of research, candidates nights, talking to each candidate in person, going to board meetings, knowing the existing board members and the district- were all drawn into this piece. I’m sure there are lots of people who will say I’m wrong. That Candidate X is better suited than Candidate Y. I’m sure people will say “how could you be impartial, you’ve done business with them” etc. I don’t claim impartiality, I just share my thoughts and how I came to the conclusions I did.

In the best of all possible worlds, the board of tomorrow is John McManus, Mario Gallin, Paul Bradley, Karen Wick-Gagnet and Joselyn Rhynard- five people who can guide the district forward – and ignore the other two- Sheila Taylor and Robert Walker. If either of them are smart and resign- and the board can pick another candidate or two- they should open up to the public, and see who steps forward as well as consider adding Mohamed, although I think there are others who may be better suited. And although i think my best role would be to run the district marketing- with the should have been winning bid I submitted a year ago, I would also consider serving if asked. I’ve told this to David Romick, and I would have to have the DEA’s approval. Of course, I’ve made my vision for the district known- via my video, “There Ain’t no F in Dayton” and this blog- which many teachers have said has been instrumental in helping them get their message out about the incompetence of the central office.

My goal and dream- is for the Dayton Board Of Education to not need investigational oversight and constant course correction. My dream is to have a district that is performing at least at a “C” level on all measurements, because, I don’t believe every district can be above average, and for an urban district straight C’s would be an A.

Ponitz Career Tech has a “bad day”

UPDATE

After I finished this article and published it- I thought, I didn’t do a very good job- because it’s long, and it was missing a one paragraph summary of the actual incident for sharing. I changed the ending and added the short summary the next morning.

A competently run school district would be embarrassed by this article. Principals, administrators, and school board members would be resigning, voluntarily, because what happened on Thursday Oct. 12, 2017 isn’t what happens in any school building run by professionals.

Here’s the short summary, the way you’d sum it up in a normal newspaper:

A teacher was injured on Thursday, Oct 12, at Ponitz Career tech, when students went wild after a pep rally. No students were disciplined or suspended, other than 5 football players who weren’t allowed to play in that weekends game. Two instructors, including the one who was injured, were placed on indefinite paid leave while the district investigates itself. The Ponitz principal  was out of the building that day on training. 41 students in the culinary arts program are now without qualified instructors, and haven’t had a teacher in 7 days. One other instructor was placed on indefinite paid leave a week after the incident. No administrators have been held responsible and the board wasn’t informed of the altercation or issues, until 3 hours after a board member was copied in a public records request on Monday, Oct 23rd. by David Esrati, who published a long post and video of the incident on Esrati.com at 11pm that day.

That’s standard AP style, which leaves a reader with no true understanding of the depth of the problems in this district under the unprofessional leadership of this board and their chosen rookie superintendent Rhonda Corr.

If there are indeed any professionals in this district, or at the State level, or in public office at a higher pay grade, they’d be crawling over this incident with a microscope and making sure that not only do things change, but, that some of the people working in this district, never work in public education again.

Policies, procedures, and people- are only as good as an organization expects them to be, and if there ever was a case of low expectations bringing losing results, it’s all there in this story. Yet, there are still a few good people, doing the best they can, working hard to make a difference. Without effective and qualified leadership, they are doomed to fail, they just don’t know it yet.

For those who don’t know what Ponitz Career Tech is, it’s Dayton’s second brightest star, after St. Ivers, the school of the arts that has auditions to hand pick and select their student body. I’m not calling it St. Ivers instead of Stivers as a mark of disrespect, it’s just the reality. If every public school could pick and choose their student body, they’d perform a lot better. Stivers is also the cradle of Principals- almost every good principal in the district, got their start as an assistant under Master Principal Erin Dooley. It’s the training ground for our best internal candidates.

Ponitz replaced Patterson Career Center downtown, with a slightly different curriculum. Gone are professions like auto-repair and machining, and in are IT and visual communications. Teachers generally feel that Ponitz gets the nice kids, who didn’t make it into Stivers.

Five years ago or so, at the last minute, Dayton’s highest paid principal, David White gave practically no notice, and left the district for more money at Trotwood. In a scramble to find an experienced replacement, the district brought in Ray Caruthers from Columbus, where he still lives. Part preacher, part teacher, Caruthers runs a tight ship by most accounts, yet, seems to be absent frequently, often at “training” or other things that keep him in Columbus. He was at CTE training with Dr. Lolli on the day in question. This is not the norm for DPS principals, who mostly are kept in their buildings from dawn to dusk and expected to be in on weekends. Caruthers has two assistant principals and has a third, unofficial principal, which irritates other principals in the district. It’s said, that Wyetta Hayden, the “Chief of School Improvement” has a soft spot for him. They are part of what I call the DPS God Squad, which also includes Associate Superintendent, Student Services Dr. Sheila Burton.

On the day in question, once again Caruthers was out of the building. I’ve requested an accounting of his leaves of absences and reasons for being out of the building as part of this investigation. There was to be a pep rally for the Homecoming football game, and then the football players were supposed to have a team meal at 3pm with their coach in the “cafe.” The coach of the Ponitz team is a local legend, Jim Place. Place took over a program that no one wanted, because, well, he feels strongly that he can still make a difference. He runs a program based on personal responsibility and respect. He donates the stipend he gets for coaching into a fund to help build the program. At 70 years old, he doesn’t have to be there. He does it for the love of working with kids who need his help the most. One of the conditions of taking the job, was that he wouldn’t be displacing a younger coach- there were no takers.

This year was already getting off to a rough start. Three players had died in a car wreck. Seventeen players were forced to go to different schools as aftermath of the Mark Baker scandal and the Ohio High School Athletic Association being vindictive. He still felt optimistic about his teams chances, despite Belmont dominating the city league this year, and with Dunbar and Thurgood which are always predicted to do well.

The Rally had ended and according to multiple sources, the normal process of announcing the clearing of the building wasn’t followed. What happened instead, was several senior football players decided to “play fight”/haze some freshmen. Note- “play fighting” is clearly against the rules and is a “level 3” offense, punishable by suspension. Apparently, not all the students got the memo about “play fighting” and when the theatrics started, some of them jumped in and “real fighting” started happening.

This was in the area of the building near the culinary arts program, run by DPS graduate/success story, Chef Anthony Head, who has been trying to elevate the program to that of a chef school- not, training kids to flip chicken at KFC. This year, he hired an assistant, a young lady (who will be known as Chef 2) from the south suburbs, who has a resume of working in event planning, culinary, business development, and is a single mother. Their plan: expose these kids to the best of not only the local culinary circuit- but to take the kids for a 10 day trip to London, Paris, Rome and Florence, and points between. They and their students had been working extra hard to raise money to pay the trips costs, about $4,500 per kid, by the time June rolls in. Their plans for the football game and the homecoming dance were to sell student produced products to raise about $3000.

Chef Head and Coach Place were in the cafe next door, when the “fighting” began. Chef 2, heard the screaming, laughing and banging from her classroom, and turned to the student next to her asking what was going on. His response was “this is just what happens, kids act crazy after the pep rallies.” Next, a student steps in and asks Chef 2 to come out into the hall. Another teacher, Lonie Meyer is somewhere in the vicinity. Students had turned to her to ask her to intervene- and suggested that her personal safety was more important- and it was “just play fighting.” Meyer, didn’t do anything. Chef 2, took a look, as three boys were fighting, surrounded by others, and started to scream stop- then made a decision to step in and pull one of the kids off another. The ballet that followed isn’t important, other than to say, one of the kids decided to sucker punch the kid she’d pulled back- and then he decided to run down the hall- with Chef 2 unsnarled in his backpack- dragging her about 20 feet down the hall and causing her injury.

We’ve obtained a student shot video – which shows Chef 2 being dragged. It also shows a building seriously out of control.

Here comes the question? Was dragging a teacher down the hall “assault” or an “accident?”  Only in DPS would this question be an issue. Anywhere else, if a student doesn’t follow a teachers verbal instruction to stop, be it fighting, running, or anything else, they’re in enough trouble. At DPS, we’re going to quibble over “intention.” Only because we don’t know what a safe school environment is.

Her elbow has a massive bruise, she’s sprained her thumb- on her cutting hand, her foot has rug burn- and her stilleto heel had the paint peeled off. Note, I don’t care if you are superman, if you can’t tell you’re dragging a 5’7″ person twenty feet down the hall who is screaming- while you’re running, you deserve to be suspended and probably charged with a crime.

You’re wondering why was a chef in stilettos in the building? That day, her and Chef Head had been out on training- and weren’t even supposed to be in the building, they’d had a sub to cover their lesson plans, they only came back because of the fundraiser. Dedication- something surely not to be recognized or rewarded for in Rhonda Corr’s house of horrors.

Chef Head finds out that Chef 2 has been hurt, he goes to the office to find out what’s being done. This comes down to a he-said/she-said, but. a competent investigator should be able to piece this all together. My sources say that the two assistant principals, Debra Corbin and Julie Nighswander are watching the video- and laughing. Head asks what they plan to do, others filter in, including Meyer, who was an eyewitness. Words are exchanged between Head and Meyer- who, and I can’t make this up, starts to pull her shirt off, as if to fight, which, considering she was afraid to intervene when the students were fighting- makes for a really questionable storyline.

One may ask, where were the building Safety Resource Officers during all this? Supposedly, outside supervising the dismissal, but both came back in to deal with things- after the students involved had all scattered. They too, wanted to watch the tape. In an instant replay world, nothing seems to count without video evidence. All requests for DPS security video by this reporter get denied, citing privacy issues. Students have been threatened with suspension for sharing any video they shot with their own phones. If this administration wants to target citizen journalists for shedding light on the criminal conditions in their schools, be it known in advance, I, along with every lawyer I know in town, will come out in defense of the students.

In the span of 15 minutes, many people have been woven into the story- DEA building Rep Nan Wingrove, has made her way into the culinary classroom- she advises Chef 2 to start writing her statement. She’s in the process of doing that, when she’s called back to the office.

Ten weeks into her new profession, and being called to the office. Not exactly the kind of experience a young optimist out to change the world for some inner city kids wants. But, hey, let’s be real, DPS in its constant churn of teachers and administrators through the fraudulent shell organization that they call a school district, doesn’t really have an onboarding system. She’d been to a total of three days of prep- before being thrust into “Stand and Deliver” high. Only this time, the principal isn’t there, just two assistants.

Debra Corbin started as an assistant principal at Stivers 11 years ago. She’s the only one of her “class” of Dooley, that is still an assistant, not moving up. Others from her era, David Lawrence, Lisa Keene, all have had their own buildings for years. It’s not that hard to move up in DPS since so many move on. Corbin also has a connection to Lonie Meyer- she’s the god mother of Meyer’s kid.

The other assistant, was promoted after former Assistant Principal Nelson Stone was tapped to take over Dayton Boys Prep – because Master Principal Horace Lovelace decided he’d had enough. Julie Nighswander couldn’t seem to get the story straight, depending on information from Meyer. She had heard a girl got dragged down the hall- when she confronted Chef 2 about the incident, not realizing Chef 2 was the victim.

When they got back into the office, somehow miraculously, Latoya Harper is there from the central office, H.R. Ms Harper’s appearance is extra special, because Chef 2 had been putting calls into her since school started, over some issues of her classification. Harper, on the other hand, who has fancy letterhead where her name is bigger than the line “DAYTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS” in the logo, is all business- and is there to make sure Chef Head and Chef 2 are not going to be in the building on Friday. Both are put on admin leave with pay. This brings up the question on how many staff are currently on paid admin leave in the district (that public records request was filed today).

The only problem is the culinary program, with 41 kids, doesn’t have any other qualified instructors to step in and take their places. As part of their training and qualifications, the students must complete 200 hours in both their junior and senior years to graduate and to keep the program legit. 7 days have passed, and nothing has been done. I have video from kids showing the empty classroom- complaining that they’ve been without a teacher. I don’t want any of them to get in trouble, so I’m not posting it- but, I have it, for any investigators from outside the district.

The district has assigned their head of security, Jamie Bullens to complete an investigation. This in itself is of questionable value, since Bullen’s own employees are part of the incident. Finding fault with them, would reflect poorly on him. An unbiased and actionable report by him is unattainable. Neither of the two laid off employees have been interviewed yet, despite assurances by Harper that Chef 2 would have been contacted last Monday.

Ponitz assistant principals kick the can down the road after the incidentPrincipal Caruthers hasn’t reached out to his teachers. In fact, the only thing that’s been communicated within the school is an email from “Debra & Julie” on Oct 13 at 9:47 am from Debra Corbin:

Teachers,

A number have asked about the presence of students involved in the incident after the pep rally yesterday. We are still processing through the information and identifying students. Disciplinary consequences will be issued at the conclusion of the investigation.

Thank you,

Debra & Julie.

Again, this is not policy. The punishment for fighting, is immediate suspension. Even “Play fighting” is against the rules. The only immediate discipline, is to the chef who tried to stop the fight and got hurt, and to her supervisor who questioned their inaction.

Wait, I take that back. Coach Jim Place, reviewed the video, and then had his four assistant coaches review it, and they came up with lists of who threw punches. Five players were not allowed to play the following night, with one being suspended for 2 games. Another, who was said to be involved by others, scored a touchdown that Friday night. Once again, DPS Athletics where rules are flexible.

Since I was first made aware of this last week, I’ve spent over a dozen hours interviewing people from the school, administrators and even former DPS personnel who are familiar with process and procedure. All concur, this is an epic fail on many counts.

I sent a public records request at 12:51 PM today. I copied district counsel Jyllian Bradshaw, DEA leader David Romick and for good measure a board member, just to make sure it wasn’t hushed under a rug. By 3:30 Corr had responded via Cherise Kidd with a message that everything was being investigated, and that a public records request from a local blogger was mostly ungrounded or privileged info. This was the first the board had been informed of this incident.

Here’s the request:

I am requesting all documentation and investigation of an incident at Ponitz Career Tech that took place on Oct. 12 2017.
I would like to see the statements that were given by all staff and students ASAP- and investigation reports when completed.
I understand you still believe that surveillance video in the building somehow is exempt from public records, which I still believe to be an incorrect position, and would ask for it as well.

I’d like a list of all students suspended from this incident.
Since a teacher was injured due to the actions of a student- I’d like to know which school the student was transferred to??

I’d also like to know what training and onboarding processes the district provided Chef 2 who is currently suspended.
I’d also like proof that Chef 2 has been paid in a timely manner by the district.

Please also include all documentation pertaining to reasons Mr. Caruthers was not in the building on that day-
and, reasons for him not being in the building on other days since his hiring. It has come to my attention that he is frequently not in the building for various reasons.

Lastly, I’d like to know who has been hired in the interim, to teach the students in the culinary arts program, since you’ve suspended both instructors, and how the students will meet their hourly training goals this year in light of your actions.
I expect this to be answered by EOB today- since these students shouldn’t be penalized for the districts incompetence.

Of course, no response to my request was forthcoming.

The real test will be if there will be qualified instructors in the culinary arts program tomorrow. The other question is how long will this board wait, to call a special meeting to evaluate the Superintendent’s fitness to lead this district. That this wasn’t brought to the boards attention before “a local blogger” made a request is proof that this superintendent has nothing but disrespect for the board. Also, that someone is covering for the failures in leadership at Ponitz.

If there is a lesson to be learned, DPS isn’t doing itself any favors promoting principals to be HR chiefs. Human resources is a totally different career field than being a principal, with federal and state laws, a plethora of non-educational rules and regulations as well as training programs. Sure, there are education specific licensure and training issues, but, the fact that we’ve failed to properly train and mentor new teachers is clearly demonstrated by this incident.

Competent leadership, would have replaced the people who were in charge when the school turned into a zoo. This kind of behavior in a public school is unacceptable at any time. This is the type of situation where the board should be kept up to date and in the loop. The fact that they were kept in the dark, is just one more indication that the district needs new leadership.

Debra Corbin, dismissed the events of the day to Chef 2 saying “you’ll have days like this.”

Only in DPS under Rhonda Corr and this board, would anyone think this is remotely acceptable in a school.

 

 

 

 

 

The Elephant in the Dayton Public School Board meeting last night

I didn’t speak at public comment.

Neither did DEA chief David Romick.

Why speak to a board that doesn’t listen, doesn’t respond, and brought on the chaos and confusion that has ruled their last year- the reign of Rookie Superintendent Rhonda Corr?

The union voted almost unanimously to send a message – no confidence in the school board, no confidence in Rhonda Corr. There was no discussion of this. Just a lot of glad handing themselves and passing out participation trophies to each other for having a first day where kids got picked up and delivered by buses that ran on time. Seriously- every other district in the country can do this, only the worst district in the state can’t get this right.

So what should have happened?

After the vote to accept the contract, the issue of the no confidence vote should have been brought up.

The board should have responded with a public vote of confidence or no confidence in the superintendent- so the public can know where they stand.

Although this can be done in executive session, this is a litmus test vote to let the people they represent know how they feel about the performance of the superintendent. It’s a hard decision- but a necessary one. Sticking your heads in the sand is not an option. A no confidence vote is a serious issue considering the entire DEA is half the districts workforce- and without them- there is no district.

Another scenario- John McManus, the only functional member of the board, should have said immediately after the ratification of the DEA contract, “while we are patting ourselves on the back for settling this contract at the last possible minute, may I remind the board that there are 10 other bargaining units, and none of those are settled. Our Superintendent, although claiming to be a master negotiator, cost us over $150K to Huffmaster for nothing. We let this happen. I am hearby promising to tender my conditional resignation to the new board members when they take office in the spirit of healing and recognition of the failures of this board in the past year to guide this organization in a way that would have earned the respect of the professionals we employ.

I would also ask the other two board members, Dr. Walker and Ms. Taylor to join me in this move.

To the four existing board members who have earned this vote of no confidence, I ask that you pledge to resign the day after the election results are finalized and make way for the new board immediately so this process of healing can proceed at the fastest possible pace.

As to the no-confidence vote in the Superintendent, I voice my own opinion of her performance and ask that each of you do that now. It’s time to clarify to those we represent what we think of her performance in light of this move by the DEA. If there aren’t four votes of confidence in her favor, I ask that we work to negotiate her separation from this district to be effective immediately, and Dr. Lolli be asked to serve as interim superintendent until the new board is in place.”

Of course, since McManus is the quintessential southern gentleman, we can’t expect him to go out on a limb and do the right thing.

As to the other 6, they have no clue what the right thing is.

I will be organizing a candidates forum soon for the 7 challengers. I don’t think there is any reason to give Mr. Lacey an opportunity to speak at this forum, since it’s been quite obvious that he’s had plenty of time to speak- including last night, and didn’t. The voters want change, and there is no reason to even consider his re-election.

If you disagree with not allowing him to participate- please rewatch this video:

 

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.