Different day, same circus. Dayton Public Schools tries Monday for a shit-show

Empty chambers for a special DPS board meeting

When you have a meeting on a Monday- nobody comes to watch your circus.

Dayton Public Schools Board of Education meets on Tuesdays at five, except when they meet on Mondays at five. They meet to conduct business on the second Tuesday of the Month- except when they have a special meeting on a Monday at the end of the month. They discuss the public business at hand, in public, except when they don’t…. oops, did they really say that tonight? Why, yes, they did.

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PDF of the tax abatement agreement they voted for- without knowing how it was going to work. Click to download

Ostensibly, the reason for the special meeting was that they had to approve some hiring before school started, stuff that couldn’t wait. What Dr. Lolli also stuck on the last minute agenda seemed to take board member Sheila Taylor by surprise. Board member McManus was as angry as a southern gentleman can get, telling Lolli that “he’s going to tell you one time, if I ever have something as important as this appear on an agenda without at least a phone call…” before he caved and voted yet.  The issue- a “renewal” of an agreement to cede authority on tax giveaways on commercial projects to the city. However, it wasn’t a renewal, or, maybe it was, or maybe the language had changed. After questions from Board members and a brief presentation by board attorney Jyllian Bradshaw, they still didn’t know what they were really voting for. 40 minutes of must see TV.

Note to all: if it’s not in writing in the agreement, it’s not in the agreement.

Taylor began with the fact that they really shouldn’t vote for a ten year agreement, since it exceeded their terms. Also, her folks in her ‘hood pay their taxes, and why shouldn’t the rich folk buying up condo’s downtown like hotcakes. And, what about a levy?

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The old agreement. Why this had to be done in a special session? To hide. Click to read PDF

Harris was a condescending jerk to her, telling her she should have asked her questions before the meeting. Something that Al-Hamdani and Wick-Gagnet obviously had already done and told him how to vote (which they have to do every time a vote comes on the people who quit after the deadline- he started wrong again tonight). Taylor tried to correct him that they were supposed to do the public’s business in public- but, that seemed to fall on deaf ears. I chimed in, that they should also be voting on stuff like this when the public can speak. It’s as far as I felt like screwing with them, although you will hear me applaud Taylor for showing some integrity acknowledging the Sunshine laws.

I’ll try to have my video up tomorrow- since DPS is now taking forever, if ever, to load video to YouTube. Hint: the whole world can’t access Facebook, but most in free countries can get to YouTube.

There was also a vote to renew the option with the Ohlmann Group for help in marketing the district. They haven’t used them since June of 2017- and if you need a refresher, they weren’t very happy with them. Taylor took over from former board marketing genius Adil Baguirov, now suggesting customized mailings. Hint folks- the time to do enrollment campaigns for this coming year- was back in February, not 2 weeks before school starts.

Taylor forgot she didn’t like Ohlmann- and voted yes, only McManus voted no.

Why this couldn’t wait till a normal business meeting? Because Lolli was afraid I was going to point out the way this mess happened, or their dissatisfaction, or because she wanted to stick it to me? Or, for the stated reason- because Marsha Bonhart is retiring in Oct- and they won’t have anyone left to help with their marketing. Especially after their “Digital media specialist” of the last 10 months resigned too. Of course, having an actual marketing plan wasn’t even brought up.

And lastly, Lolli shared that the upcoming test scores for DPS aren’t going to be good, thanks to the “challenging year” they had last year. We can look forward to using these scores as a baseline. Let’s see, my guess is we just moved from 607 to 608, with Trotwood making real gains to rise out of the dreaded bottom spot Dayton used to own.

Several board members tried to sugarcoat her turd of a warning with “thank you for your honesty.”

However, if they were honest, they wouldn’t be in this kind of shape with their communications – and would have had a better way to deliver the bad news. If there was ever a need for competent PR help, this was it- and Ohlmann was no where to be found. Of course, the only ad agency that goes to meetings, was the one with the low bid- and brings you videos like the one above.

Good luck Dr. Lolli, you’re gonna need it.

 

 

First steps to return DPS to stability

On Tuesday, Nov 21, 2017, the Dayton Board of Education will install Rev. William Harris on the board to the seat vacated by Dr. Adil Baguirov who finally had to resign because he didn’t live in the district.

Unfortunately, Joe Lacey, Ron Lee and Dr. Hazel Rountree didn’t tender their early resignations to allow Mohamed Al-Hamdani, Jocelyn Rhynard and Karen Wick-Gagnet to also take their seats early. Considering the board has a no confidence vote from the Dayton Education Association, the sooner the new board (which the DEA endorsed) takes office, the sooner the healing process can begin.

It’s also time to change some things about the way the meetings are run. First and foremost is to explain to the Superintendent that an agenda, in order to be effective, needs to be posted to the public site by Thursday at 5pm before a Tuesday meeting. Any changes, additions, “emergencies” better come with a damn good reason- as in, the person requesting the changes will stand in front of the board and explain why they couldn’t turn in their issue on time. They will have a disciplinary note added to their personnel file for each time this happens. The documentation must be complete- posted as a time stamped, ADA compliant single PDF. We can cancel Board Docs which isn’t ADA compliant. Isn’t mobile friendly, and isn’t searchable- at least the way it’s being used now.

If this isn’t acceptable, a different system can be put in place for posting of agendas.

Another issue is the number of meetings. There will never be a vote at anything but a business meeting, ever again. If there will be a vote, there has to be opportunity for public review- and comment.

All the “committee” meetings- will cease, until actual agendas are created, published- and reported back to a public business meeting. There will be no more hiding of business in committee, or discussion of public business without a video record. All committees must make reports with actual metrics- goals and progress reports. Committees that can’t do this- will cease to exist.

Each meeting will begin with an actual report by the Superintendent or designee, on progress on identified key performance indicators. Suggested initial metrics:

  • Student attendance, broken down by school, grade, race.
  • Staff attendance, broken down by union, building, classification.
  • Computer usage, performance metrics from academic improvement software applications.
  • Suspensions, Expulsions, Discipline, broken down by age, building, race.
  • Transportation ratings
  • Enrollment figures
  • Student performance/behind, on-track/advanced

Next will be follow up on outstanding issues as brought up during board meetings. Each issue must be designated open, on-hold, closed. Any time a board member speaks, it must either be asking for a clarification on presented items, or to open an issue for resolution on an agreed to time table. There will be no tolerance for speeches from the board. If it’s not on the agenda, it will either be added during “New business” or it will be attached to a current agenda item. Any board member who violates this rule more than 3 times in a meeting will be asked to leave the meeting.

When a board member brings an issue up for clarification, they must be able to get at least two other board members to agree that this requires further investigation. If they can’t get two other votes, the issue will be considered a violation.

The board will no longer refer to anyone else on the board with the title of Dr. unless they have a PhD- since this is an academic organization and not a church. Divinity degrees mislead the public as to qualifications. Also, it is unnecessary to address each other with “Board member” “Vice President” or “Board President” – this is a waste of time and an unnecessary formality. Mr. Ms. Mrs. or Dr. are fine and appropriate. The board may return to formal titles when they actually have a district operating above a “C” in all State Standards, if they feel it is a title worth bestowing. Below average school districts shouldn’t reward mediocrity with formal respect until they’ve earned it.

Other than actual, mandatory business required to keep the district operating, this current board should not be allowed to dispose of any property, enter into long term or large contracts or extend any contacts of staff until the new board takes their seats. At that point, a full review should be started on issues and actions of the board dating back to when they were made aware that Dr. Baguirov didn’t live in the district- and their actions or inaction on following their own policy. Any board members who remain who failed to act, should be held criminally liable for failure to comply with board policy. This also applies to legal counsel, and others who should have investigated this issue.

Head of security, Jamie Bullens retirement is a starting point for an investigation. He should be properly deposed by an independent investigator as to what actions he was asked to do, by whom, and what was done.

An external investigation should also be conducted into the sale of the Patterson Co-Op site to CareSource, the purchase of the buses with their 10 year warranty on 7 year life expectancy vehicles and Dr. Baguirov’s illegal involvement in the contracting process, a review of both Superintendent Rhonda Corr’s and Athletic Director Mark Baker’s contracts. If Dr. Baguirov was a key factor- and he didn’t live in the district, both these contracts should be nullified. An investigation into the award of the marketing contract to the highest bidder- and then the change of direction to hire internally- also needs review. This change of direction shows a lack of competency by either the Superintendent or Purchasing or both. Within a 6 month period, the district did a complete U-turn, after not meeting their stated goals with either solution.

Last but not least, considering the DEA no confidence vote in the board and superintendent, the current remaining board members should all tender their resignations to the new board for consideration. It should be obvious, that their performance created the turmoil that caused an 8 way race and the loss by the only incumbent who ran. It’s time to bring stability back to the district.

The days of packed 4 hour meetings has to stop now. RESIGN, and let this district heal from your trespasses of trust, respect and dignity and move forward.

The most important Key Performance indicator will be seeing turnover of staff drop below 8% from the current 20%. We can’t run schools and a teacher/staff training facility at the same time.

For that to happen, we need clear, focused leadership. It will be up to the new board to see if Ms. Corr can actually run a district instead of a circus. If she can’t, I have two words for you: David White.

 

Incomplete Investigations at Dayton Public Schools

In the continuing saga of the eligibility of a Dunbar football player, the Dayton Daily news, decided to write their fifth story beating the dead horse, but never conclusively telling anyone who killed it.

This site posted both the internal investigation and the Ohio High School Athletic Association findings, as well as the organizational chart ten days ago. Board member, Joe Lacey claimed he’d never heard that the athletic director had directed the Dunbar coaches to throw the game at half-time so that Belmont and Dunbar could both go to the playoffs. How he’d not heard was incomprehensible, since the board had a lengthy argument both in public and in executive session over the fitness of the coaches- who had continued on as basketball coaches.

Re-reading the report by Director of School Security Jamie Bullens, it does seem to focus almost entirely on the eligibility of the player- and not address the game throwing attempt. How this can be excluded is a mystery- as it would go to the credibility of any of the people involved. When I read about the thrown plays- I assumed Dunbar just made some bad plays- but, then the Dayton Daily decided to pull down the footage from WDPS-TV and re-edit it with a whole bunch of cuts and commentary, as if it’s new news this week.

Here is the un-cut version with the questions that should be asked at the end:

Dunbar went on to win. The people of Dayton lost. The fact that a star athlete wasn’t eligible shows how badly we fail our kids. Word has it that since the seventh grade, he’s never made it through an entire season eligible to play. That’s the true failure here.

And, while this video has the citizens of Dayton upset, this is all just smoke and mirrors. The real eligibility question is if Dr. Adil Baguirov is eligible to be on the School Board- as I posted on April 5th, 15 whole days ago.

No news outlet has touched the story. The school board is pretending they don’t know about the information presented – even though I clearly notified them, and questioned the legality of their last meeting if he was allowed to participate.

But, what it comes down to is this: is this the kind of school district we can be proud of? Is this a district that instills faith in leadership? Would you want to send your kids to a district where a coach tells the team to throw the game? And, then, the coach, the athletic director, the district athletic director and the superintendent- all basically get a slap on the wrist?

The video is disgusting. How this wasn’t presented as part of the evidence to the school board in considering the future employment of the people involved is criminal.

The actions of this school board are criminal- in the public discussion of the severance contract for David Lawrence (who btw was previously in charge of eligibility for athletics- before he was sent to the doghouse by Rhonda Corr), the conflict of interest of Dr. Baguirov in negotiating the bus buy outside of district channels, and questions about the disposal of real estate by the district.

Because of these many violations of the public trust, it’s time to begin the process of having a judge intervene and remove all seven members of this school board. It’s not been done very often, making precedent hard to follow, and it requires over 4,500 signatures of registered voters to make it happen. The teachers union, who is currently in stalled negotiations with the district, has had enough of the circus run by this board- and has pledged to have its members circulate the petitions.

We hope to have the petition language ready for the delayed board meeting next Wednesday, the 26th of April at 5:30 pm. The teachers are inviting all to come to show their support for the union and to support them in asking for regime change at the board of ed.

And while the throwing of a football game isn’t a reason to rally, the fact that this district has been on the verge of State takeover for years- and the leadership team who brought it out from under the gun- were dismissed by this board- to be replaced by disruption, disrespect, and now disgrace, it’s time to end the charade.

Let’s have a judge evaluate the practices of this board and decide if they are fit to serve.

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List of candidates who have pulled petitions to run for office in Montgomery County Ohio as of April 18, 2017

If you need any indication of the level of disgust- Baguirov, Lacey, Lee and Rountree last ran four years ago unopposed.

As of today April 25, the Board of Elections lists 13 15 people who’ve pulled petitions for the four seats, and the petitions aren’t due until August 9th 2017. Here are the names, addresses and pull dates:
Bold is incumbents.

Mohamed H. Al-Hamandi 26 Hawthorn St. Dayton 45402 4/17/2017
Shondale Atkins-Dorise 817 Mount Clair Ave. Dayton 45417  11/23/2016
Paul F. Bradley 227 Green St. Dayton 45402  4/17/2017
Donald Domineck Jr. 1035 Superior Ave. Dayton 45402  4/4/2017
Ann Marie Gallin 40 Gebhart St. Dayton 45410  3/2/2017
William E. Harris, Jr. 1125 Cornell Dr. Dayton 45406  4/17/2017
Donna M. Hill 540 Heather Dr. Unit 3 Dayton 45405  4/25/2017
Claudia Hunter 4621 Prescott Ave. Dayton 45406  6/29/2016
Joe Lacey 207 E. Sixth St. Dayton 45402  4/21/2017
Tommy J. McGuffey, Jr. 1625 Tuttle Ave. Apt B Dayton 45403  1/11/2017
Thomas M. Nealeigh 1326 Ruskin Rd. Dayton 45406  12/6/2016
Jocelyn S. Rhynard 107 McDaniel St. Dayton 45405  2/9/2017
Dion Sampson 224 N. Williams St. Dayton 45402  2/22/2017
Jo’el Y. Thomas-Jones 33 W. Babbitt St. Dayton 454052/24/2017
Karen L. Wick 222 Warren St. Dayton 45402  4/17/2017

It’s safe to guess that the four petitions pulled on Monday are being run as a slate. Al-Hamandi just moved to Dayton, Bradley, Harris and Wick would be the group to watch. (full disclosure- I do work for Wick’s business Coco’s and have worked with her and the seedling foundation for years).

Ann Marie “Mario” Gallin, has been on the board previously. Of the 15, I know 10. Do I expect all to file, no. Do I expect all who file to get certified on the ballot- no. Do you have to pull the petitions publicly to file (could there be dark horses?) No.

Be sure to watch this race as it may turn into yet another “Kids First” type money burner.

However, if the board is removed, any and all may apply to be appointed to the board until the election, which should make it all very interesting.

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.

 

Dayton Public Schools. Unsafe leadership, unsafe buses

Last night the Dayton Board of Education had a “review session.” Yes, it was a Thursday night meeting, instead of a Tuesday. Yes, it forced Board Member John McManus to have to call off work. Dr. Robert Walker and Ron Lee weren’t there. They held it in the room outside the board room- at the big square table. It was at least ten minutes in before Board Member Sheila Taylor who has repeatedly told them she is hearing impaired, had to ask for microphones. The board wasn’t taping the session, but I was.

Good thing I did, because yet again, we had a train wreck.

Or, more accurately a bus wreck.

And, yet again, no one in the DPS purchasing department under Treasurer Hiwot Abraha was fired.
The last time DPS purchased full sized buses was 2010. That means our newest buses are 7 years old. According to the expert from the Ohio Board of Education, Robert Harmon, buses in Ohio last 12.5 years- and our average fleet age is 13.5. Buses usually are retired at 150,000 miles- and Dayton has 40 over 200,000 miles. Every time the state comes to inspect, DPS loses  7-10 buses at a moments notice because the buses are deemed unsafe.

Dayton has a fleet of approximately 180 buses, and should have been replacing about 30 buses each year for the last 7 years to keep the inventory in rotation. But they didn’t.

You can blame the last school board, you can blame the last administration, you can blame anyone you want, but the reality is, without operable buses, kids don’t get to school. If they don’t get to school, well, that’s how the district gets straight F’s.

Parents are frustrated. Kids are losing. The district under Rookie Superintendent is a rudderless ship. This is the leader that gave me a first marketing assignment of how to improve attendance back in July. First clue: get the kids to and from school.

If you need evidence of failure- read this email I received today from the grandmother of a student who worked in my office under YouthWorks about 4 years ago:

No Bus, No Solution!
Hi, I am (youth works student’s) grandmother an I have sent emails, called both the Superintendent of DPS and to the head of transportation about not having a bus for my grandson to come home on because at times I do not have the money for bus fare or we have no ride to pick him up! 3 times this week no afternoon bus and went through this in Oct.2016 for 2wks. I have to keep him home due to this at times since no one can let me know that yes there will be a bus this afternoon! Since (grandson) is mildly Autistic this stresses him out and I don’t like that because of DPST they are not doing their job and say the same thing over and over! I have got to the point of thinking of pulling him out of school and do homeschooling because of the busing problem. Also there was no morning bus twice the week before and we have to be outside at 5:45am for the morning bus and had stood out side for 45minutes waiting in 6 degree temperature or even colder! Even email John McManus too  last night when I saw him on the news. I don’t want to hear about what may be done in the future they need to do something now! Is there anyone who can get in touch with? I just don’t know what to do! Thank you,

Coincidence? There are no such things.

The proposal on the table was to out right buy 30 buses for 2.5 million or so. The transportation experts both said you need at least 60 this year and the same amount each of the following year. They also pointed out that buses are currently around $85K each and next year they are projected to cost $100K. So every bus you buy now, saves you $15k- or to put in a marketers terms, buy 6 and the seventh this year is free. Put another way, the costs of maintaining current buses is also getting cost prohibitive as well, never mind you are failing the kids.

But, here is where it got weird: while the transportation guys knew we needed 60 instead of thirty, no one from purchasing had a justification for the 30 number- or why we were buying the buses outright for cash. There was no decision matrix, no chosen vendor, no information about warranty, vendor, or long term strategy.

Purchasing was deaf, dumb, mute and uniformed.

Then came Dr. Adil Baguirov to the rescue. We should finance 100 buses this year, it will cost us the same this year as buying 30 outright.

Wait? Where did he get these numbers? How did he know?

And why didn’t anyone else know?

Deja vu all over again, this sounds like the CareSource deal, which only the guy who has a private business in the health care sector seemed to know all the details. And the Patterson Kennedy land offer, where again, he was the only board member who knew there had been a $900K offer on the land- that had been rejected without being presented to the Superintendent and the full board.

No, not Dr. Baguirov, the guy who claims his main business is trucking and logistics? Yup. That guy.

The only board member who buys commercial vehicles for his business knows the whole set of options better than the people we pay to manage our district transportation system and guide purchasing.

By the end of the meeting, while Treasurer Abraha can’t figure out if we are leasing or financing the 100 bus fleet- she caves to say “acquiring” – the board wants a proposal on Board docs asap so we don’t have to waive the 48 hour rule to commit to spending 8.5M on buses next Tuesday.

That’s right- we only needed 30 buses at 5:30 but by 8, it was 100 and we’re going to have yet another meeting on Monday afternoon of the finance committee to knock this deal down in a hurry.

5:05 pm today from Cherise Kidd via email:

Special Meeting – Finance Committee March 20
In accordance with Section 3313.16 of the Ohio Revised Code and File: BD of the Handbook of Policies, Rules & Regulations of the Board, I hereby call for a special meeting of the Finance Committee of the Board of Education of the Dayton City School District, Montgomery County, Ohio, to be held on Monday, March 20, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. in the 5th Floor Conference Room located at the Administration Building, 115 S. Ludlow St., Dayton, OH 45402.
The purpose of this meeting is to discuss potential financing options for the purchase of buses.
The media is being advised of this meeting in compliance with the Ohio Sunshine Law.

Respectfully,
Robert Walker, D.Min.
President
Dayton Board of Education

Not that the board can whip up the money and just run down to Joe’s School Bus lot and pick out 100 bright shiny buses anyway- the wait time according to the experts is 6-8 months from order to delivery, but we have to do this deal in a hurry. Sort of like the contract with the Ohlmann Group that the board wasn’t allowed to see, voted a week early on, and then wondered why nothing had been done three weeks later, and oh yeah, btw, the deal wasn’t for $112,500 a year like on Board Docs, but for $345 a year, with a one year contract and 2 one year extensions (more on this to come).

This is just one more example of the incompetence of a criminally negligent school district at managing the health, welfare and safety of our schools. ?Buying buses is just part of the solution, we’re still failing at routing, staffing, and demonstrating competent leadership.

A real superintendent would have fired someone for even suggesting that a 30 bus purchase was a viable option, here, we didn’t.

It’s time to remove this school board, superintendent, treasurer and legal counsel for gross incompetence. The only way to do this is to collect over 4500 signatures and present the failings of this board to make reasonable and competent decisions.

This one, has put children in danger.

That’s not what schools are supposed to do.