The rest of the Pete Pullen story…

How does DPS hire 2 people to run PR, pay them $180K a year, and the way the community finds out who’s the new head basketball coach at Dunbar- is on my blog?

Way to welcome new coach, Chuck Taylor to Dunbar.

The job was posted, Chuck applied, came prepared to the interview. He’d passed on other coaching positions- waiting for the right job, right time. He’s no stranger to the Dayton basketball community- having run his own AAU team for 20+ years. A Dunbar Roth grad, he lead Roth to a basketball state championship as a point guard, before Roth’s program moved to Dunbar when Roth closed. This was his chance to “come home” and lead.

The other part of the story that’s missing, is that Coach Pullen did a cardinal sin in a very petty district- he dared to apply for the Wayne High School coaching job, although he was never called for an interview. Just like the Trump administration, in the new DPS, where “Great things are happening”- it’s all but an unwritten rule that you sign a loyalty oath. Any deviation from devotion to the Corr machine- and you are out. Got questions? See the Tom Archdeacon story in Sunday’s Dayton Daily where the celebrated soccer coach at Belmont of last year, Julie Raiff, was replaced this year, because she dared to go to Northridge for more money as a Special Ed teacher. The district line for her- we want a coach who is in the building.

Which brings us back to Dunbar’s new coach- who has a full time job as Judge Gehres’ bailiff. He may be the new direction for Dunbar, as what Principal Crystal Phillips told her 63 year old coaching stead as she unceremoniously turned him out to pasture, but Taylor won’t be in the building either.

Coach Pullen had already retired from teaching the year before last, but still taught two PE courses last year. This year, he’d opted out, but is also currently recuperating from major surgery- and did his interviews in a wheelchair- which probably also didn’t help his case for keeping his job.

Phillips also said that Pullen didn’t have a good rapport with college coaches as a reason for not keeping him, yet the fact that there would be seven college coaches at his practices says volumes.

In PR, the secret is always getting ahead of the story. In this case, considering the smoldering smirch on the district of the Dunbar/Belmont football fiasco last year, the new PR fiasco of the announcement at an emergency meeting about the new academic eligibility standards, you’d think the PR wizards on staff would have made sure that this change wouldn’t be yet another target for tomato tossers- but, they failed.

In the end, Dunbar will do fine in basketball. The question again, is why is this change being made this late? Would Dunbar have lost two star players, DeVon Baker and Caleb McConnell, to SPIRE Academy in Geneva, Ohio, for their senior year? Other districts know that parents of star athletes choose to enroll their kids in schools because of the coaches, not necessarily because of academics. If your ticket to college is being punched because you can play hoops- that’s the first thing you look for.

However, I sure wouldn’t want to be on the other side of the coming Dunbar parents and alumni storm- which all could have been avoided had this been handled properly.

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.

 

Worst school district lowers academic standards for sports

How do you raise the bar for a failing district? You lower the eligibility grade for athletic participation of course! Only Dayton Public Schools would do this, without any warning, without notifying the public, without public discussion, at an emergency meeting last night. Why? Because, the district is run by an incompetent school board who hired an untested, rookie superintendent, who hired an AD that flunked eligibility 101.

Dayton Public Schools’ existing policy required students to earn at least a 2.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale in order to play. The new policy will allow students between 1.0 and 1.99 to participate — if they enroll in their school’s Athletic Academic Intervention Program.

In order to remain eligible, those students must “remain enrolled for at least one calendar year, must attend all study tables, and must make satisfactory progress toward the established goal of a 2.0 GPA each academic quarter.

DPS attorney Jyllian Bradshaw explained that last item. It means if there is any quarter where a sub-2.0 GPA student-athlete sees their cumulative GPA decline, the student-athlete will immediately be academically ineligible for the next quarter. But a student with a 1.3 GPA who increases it to a 1.4 will be eligible for the following quarter.

Source: DPS lowers GPA for sports eligibility, adds mandatory tutoring

Board member Joe Lacey, actually had the brains to vote against this- saying a C average isn’t that hard to maintain. Dr. Adil Baguirov abstained. The other four (Ron Lee was absent AGAIN)- thought this was a good idea. This is why they all need to be removed.

First of all, athletics, like academics, requires discipline. If you can’t be disciplined enough to get a C average, why is a D ok, with a study table?

And, why, are only athletes being given access to “Academic Intervention Programs”- shouldn’t ALL students who don’t have a “C” average have this right?

But, what we’re really doing is allowing for mediocrity- something this district is already well acknowledged as a leader in. That’s why we fail (that’s with an “F” grade- every educational standard by the state- except for the manufactured  stat “annual yearly progress” which we got an “A”).

There isn’t a single athletic scholarship available for a student with lower than a C average. Why should we not set the bar at that level?

And, what does this do to the reputation of all the athletes that have come before? Will people think that Commissioner Joey Williams was able to play high school ball with a D average? Or Norris Cole? Give me a break. Give us all a break. If the board thinks D’s are acceptable at any level, they need to resign.

Need to see what happens when you coddle athletes based on physical skills over academic ones? Head over to Netflix and watch Season 1 and 2 of the documentary “Last Chance U” about the football program at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba Mississippi, population 732.

The story is of athletically gifted losers ending up at a junior college trying to redeem themselves to go back on track for D-1 or possibly the pros.

It’s a story of fantasy. Much like a focus on educational excellence at Dayton Public Schools.

Is this new lowering of academic standards a last chance attempt to boost enrollment that is dropping due to the threatened strike? Or, because new rules stop charter school kids from picking which athletic program they can attach themselves to? Why was this enacted in a hurry- without public knowledge, after the start of school? What’s the new enrollment figure?

You want the answer? Here’s the new district tagline to sell this brilliant move:

“Dayton Public Schools, where losers can still play.”

It applies to the administrators that thought this up, as well as to the student athletes who play because of this new lowered standard.

This will be a litmus test question for any candidate running to replace Lacey, Baguirov, Rountree and Lee.

It should be grounds for removal of Walker, McManus and Taylor.

If you aren’t up in arms about a failing district already, this should be a clear indication that academics aren’t a priority in Dayton.

 

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:

 

Trouble coming Tuesday morning

Bus routing for 14,000 students plus isn’t easy. In fact, it’s a pretty difficult math problem.

I suck at math. Most Americans do. Even smart people don’t understand how you do this. The classic story was that of a business school student who turned in a business plan for an overnight shipping company- where everything wen through one hub. His name was Fred Smith, he got a C. You may have heard of his company though- it’s FedEx.

Dayton Public Schools has been struggling with these issues for years, despite having less schools, less students and now 4 bell times up from 2 long ago. I watched in horror as Dr. Sheila Burton gave a single slide “presentation” on how she’d solved our bus problem with 4 bell times, new rules and cuts- that the board didn’t ask the superintendent to fire her for incompetence on the spot was beyond me.

Boston Public Schools on the other hand have a much more complicated system- with over twice as many students. They chose another way to solve this:

“A trio of MIT researchers recently tackled a tricky vehicle-routing problem when they set out to improve the efficiency of the Boston Public Schools bus system.
Last year, more than 30,000 students rode 650 buses to 230 schools at a cost of $120 million.
In hopes of spending less this year, the school system offered $15,000 in prize money in a contest that challenged competitors to reduce the number of buses.
The winners—Dimitris Bertsimas, co-director of MIT’s Operations Research Center and doctoral students Arthur Delarue and Sebastien Martin—devised an algorithm that drops as many as 75 bus routes”

from “How Do You Fix a School-Bus Problem? Call MIT” subscription required

FedEx, UPS, USPS all spend millions on figuring out how to do their door to door routes more efficiently. UPS software saves millions in fuel costs and works at refining routes in real time.

But here’s the thing- packages don’t walk. Door to door delivery is essential for them- but, not for students. For some idiotic reason, DPS still insists on trying to route buses down one way streets in historic districts that just aren’t wide enough for buses. My whole office stood and watched- and laughed – as a new DPS bus tried to turn down Adams street- I know, I should have grabbed a video camera.

Why neighborhood collection points aren’t in the solution is idiotic. Other than special needs kids- who may be physically challenged, pickup and drop-off points can be moved- and, as an added benefit, kids get some exercise.

Unfortunately, we aren’t smart enough to ask MIT or even UD to try to help. Nope, we’ve got Dr. Sheila Burton, who’s last day should be Tuesday if this doesn’t work.

Additional resources: 2 non paywall articles:
Here is a free article on MIT on public transit issues: https://www.citylab.com/…/inside-bostons-bus…/522726/
And here is a great one- with all kinds of links from NPR http://www.wbur.org/…/07/27/mit-quantum-boston-bus-routes

Rhonda Corr now drives a bus

On Sunday, Rhonda Corr was praying and blaming her board members for slowing the process.

Corr, who was on her way to church to “pray for resolving the issue,” said the documented struggles of the district and Dayton Education Association negotiations were heavy burdens to bear….

“I’m going to be doing some cold-calling to my board members to see how much they’ll support me in what I want to propose,” Corr said.

Source: Dayton Public Schools head says deal ‘could get done’

This morning, she was blaming her staff- specifically, board attorney Jyllian Bradshaw for the protracted negotiations.

Corr said members of her own negotiating team were against the switch to a two-year contract proposal, but she said she overruled them as lead negotiator, in an effort to get a deal done.“

“The former negotiating team (led by district attorney Jyllian Bradshaw) had five and a half months, and no movement was made,” Corr said. “The superintendent was called in and did it in nine days.”

Source: Dayton teachers ratify 2-year deal

Since this board brought Rhonda Corr on as superintendent, the district has moved from one crisis to another. The amount of chaos is exponential compared to anything the district has ever seen.

But, lets stick to the facts: The board hires and fires the superintendent, the treasurer, the auditor. The attorney is 50/50 split.

Rhonda, if she was the leader she thinks she is- should have been able to tell that her negotiating team wasn’t doing their job well before the final hour. Blaming Bradshaw is nothing but a hit and run. If you are wondering why Dr. Markay Winston, Corr’s handpicked senior leadership left– it was because she was tired of getting hit by Corr’s bus.

The no confidence vote by 800 plus teachers in both Corr and the Board is a good indication of how bad things have been. That Corr is taking credit for something that should have been done months ago, before she lost 100 teachers, is grounds for termination of her contract for cause. And the word is, that Treasurer Hiwot Abraha was the one who refused to certify the contract for 3 years because of her fiscal forecast- not because of anything Rhonda did.

This district will remain in chaos until a new board majority takes office in January, or earlier if anyone has any common sense.

The real question is, if someone polled this board, would they still publicly back their choice of Rhonda Corr? Is it time to replace her, as a token of consolation to the union who didn’t break the law by discussing the confidential negotiations a day before the final session? Can anyone in this district ever admit they made a mistake?

In the last year- the only person I’ve seen admit to being wrong, was Jyllian Bradshaw, when I called her a liar in a board meeting about the RFQ process.

Unfortunately, she’s the one who got run over by the bus today.

And now- an illegal meeting? Baguirov in charge?

An email went out to community leaders today from Adil Baguirov- but not from his board email- from his “American Power Transport” email address- italics is my replacing the email address, name and org name.

From: Adil’s private corporate email On Behalf Of Adil
Sent: Tuesday, August 01, 2017 12:56 PM
To: Community leader
Subject: August 8, from 4 p.m. until 5 p.m meeting at DPS

Community leader name,

DPS is preparing to hold a special “closed door” meeting for community leaders. The meeting will concentrate on the current status of negotiations with DPS teachers and DPS’ response and comprehensive plan. It would be good if you and anyone else you feel necessary could attend if your time permits, so that Community Organization is well represented and hears directly from DPS all the facts surrounding this important issue.

Adil

Instead of actually attending the negotiations and pushing the superintendent to settle and to stop the strike, he’s busy trying to sell community leaders on the mistake he made in hiring Rhonda Corr in the first place.

You can’t hold “closed door” meetings- at DPS HQ.

You can’t discuss the negotiations in public.

You can’t really believe that the community has any faith left in this board, or the leadership they’ve hired after a year of total chaos.

Can we see an injunction?

As reference, Ohio Revised Code:

4117.21 Collective bargaining meetings private.Collective bargaining meetings between public employers and employee organizations are private, and are not subject to section 121.22 of the Revised Code.Cite as R.C. § 4117.21Effective Date: 04-01-1984 .

Source: Lawriter – ORC – 4117.21 Collective bargaining meetings private.

From their own policy manual:
RELEASE OF COLLECTIVE BARGAINING INFORMATION
Negotiations between the Board and an employee organization are private and are not conducted in public session.  Communication on behalf of the Board relative to the bargaining process with the news media and the public is by a person or persons designated by the Board; such communications are carried out in accordance with Board policy and the obligation or prerogative of the Board under the collective bargaining contract(s) or agreement(s).

[Adoption date:  January 17, 2017]

LEGAL REFS.:  ORC 102.03(B)

121.22(G)

4117.21

It’s not about the kids, Rhonda.

Dayton Public Schools strike prep- signs for the strikers

The teachers are prepared.

If I had a nickle for every time rookie superintendent Rhonda Corr said “It’s about the kids” we’d have enough money to fix Longfellow school, with some left over.

Of course, we don’t really know how much it would cost to fix Longfellow, all we have is hearsay, because fixing a historic building was never the goal of this Board of Education, because, well, Dr. Baguirov apparently isn’t in the construction industry on the side. Things that relate to his private businesses get done (helping CareSource- the largest Medicare provider in the state- helps pay Dr. B’s home health businesses, and the bus deal- he’s the guy with a trucking company that does business with the company that got the gold plated warranty deal).

This board that meets more times than any other public board, and gets less done, is criminal in its actions. They conduct business at “review “and “strategy” sessions- which seem just like board meetings- only they hold them in the room outside the board room- and don’t allow citizens to speak. This, is intentional- and wrong.

And when they do meet to conduct business- they allow Dr. Sheila Burton to present a one slide plan for revamping busing in the district- in JULY! With zero questions. They praise the cutting off of private day care providers and make speeches- only to reverse course after they learn what they are doing- because, frankly, they have no clue what they are doing- and neither does Corr, Burton, Treasurer Hiwot Abraha.

It’s this kind of lack of intellectual horsepower that has our district permanently checked in to the ICU as a major trauma victim. Switching bell times, this late in the season doesn’t work for all parents. Can you imagine if you have multiple kids at different bell times? Or, you have your daughter at Charity Early- which used to start at 9am and now is 7:15- meaning an earlier dismissal time- and now you have to figure out after school care? Or if your daughter will even be transported still- since the bus ride is over 30 minutes from your East Dayton home?

As we approach the last two days of negotiations on a contract with the DEA, not a single board member has stepped in to observer the “negotiating team” in action. They are depending on the word of Rhonda Corr to tell them what is going on in negotiations- the woman who showed up after a two month break without a proposal for the DEA. Read that last line again. She showed up, no proposal, and, is quoted in the media that she’s surprised that the DEA was going to vote to strike. She came out of the day long negotiation saying 5 things had been cleared off the table- according to DEA president David Romick the DEA didn’t sign anything- or agree to clear any item and he has no idea of what she’s talking about.

It was pretty clear yesterday that the DEA is tired of the incompetent leadership at Ludlow HQ. I walked among the teachers, as they gathered in solidarity at Triangle park, and told me story after story of what this failed negotiation process has cost the district. Half of the 5 star pre-school certified staff- has left. Not because they wanted to – but because the administration doesn’t seem to understand the program and what being a 5 star program entails. The latest news is that HQ is telling people who call- that DPS preschool is now a 5 day a week program instead of 4. Meaning that the things required to be a 5 star program- that are done on Fridays- can’t be done anymore. There are required meetings, training, reports, and lesson planning that is done on these days- and apparently, Corr doesn’t understand this. These teachers are truly teachers- with masters degrees and additional licenses, that’s what a 5 star rating entails.

On Friday, I spoke to a former DPS math teacher, male, younger. He’s now working at Trotwood. I’ve known him for around 8 years, as he used to teach my x-girlfriends daughters. He left, not because of pay, he didn’t even know how much he’d make more at Trotwood- but did say they honored all of his years, and step increases, but because he’s in the middle of a medical situation that he can’t afford to be without health insurance. If you know anything about HR in schools- male, math teachers, in pk-8 grades- are unicorns. One of ours, just flew away.

No board members attended the union picnic. Not even Sheila Taylor, supposedly the mouthpiece of local labor. John McManus blamed his job in Columbus for stopping him from going, but the rest, steered clear. How a board that works for the community, can be so out of touch with their staff is mind-blowing. However, many of the candidates appearing on the ballot in November to replace Ron Lee, Dr. Hazel Rountree, Joe Lacey and Dr. Adil Baguirov were there. 8 have already filed petitions (sadly, Joe Lacey is one of the 8) and the turn-in deadline is Wednesday Aug 9th. Many DEA members asked me to run, something that’s just not possible right now due to my responsibilities with my 89 year old mother with dementia.

The real question, with two negotiating days to go, is when will someone from the board step in to the negotiations to observe and see how their team is working?

The board has already spent $150K on Huffmaster to prepare for the strike- and has agreed to pay $200 a day per substitute strike breaker- and Corr has claimed they will have “Certified teachers in the classrooms” yet Huffmaster’s ad clearly doesn’t require it. There aren’t 600 unemployed certified teachers in this region, never mind Dayton.

This is why, the only sane move the board can make is to tell Corr if an agreement isn’t reached on Monday, she’s fired, and Dr. Burton takes over. If Burton, can’t negotiate a settlement on Wednesday, she’s fired and it’s up to Dr. Lolli to lead the district.

We’ve already lost enough students to charter schools, and when the strike hits- 5 days before school starts, and parents rush to enroll their kids in Charters, and funding drops again, we’ll be left in shambles. The only logical thing to do if an agreement isn’t made on Wednesday is to re-set the school year to begin in September, pending a settlement. Pushing forward with schools staffed with temps isn’t a viable solution anymore than maintaining Corr as superintendent. The damage she’s already done to the district can’t even be enumerated.

Because, at this point, it’s not about the kids- it’s about her competence.

DPS enters the final countdown

Sorry, I’ve been busy with the real world lately, not enough time to spare to write about the soap opera/tragedy/dramady that’s the Dayton Public Schools over the last 2 weeks.

I’ll start with the contributions of the only Board Member who is running for re-election that we know of- Joe Lacey. He shouldn’t. That said, here’s his genius share at the last meeting, at the end, in closing comments, yes, our preliminary test scores went up, but, so did everyone in the state- and they went up more. So, our Annual Yearly Progress- the factor that “saved us” from State takeover and was a false flag to rally around, isn’t really happening. In fact, we still suck. Yet, Rhonda has a 3 year extension. Go figure.

Tonight, he decided to stick his foot in his mouth discussing the retirement of Horace Lovelace, one of the few master principals the district still has working for it. Apparently, the amazing thing about Mr. Lovelace was that, according to Lacey, was that Lovelace could do such amazing things with the problem children (aka black boys). Joe still doesn’t understand the why of single sex schooling – and as the meeting took a break before the executive session, he was called out by two Kiser employees who read him the riot act. He tried to wiggle out of his racist comment as a misstatement. The ignorance was deafening. I’ve got it on tape- so come election season, he can expect to see it combined with his past escapades of disrespecting the public combined into a very nice video hit piece to make sure he doesn’t return to do more damage to the district.

I’ve been waiting for someone to help me out and pull all the HR spreadsheets from June 10, 2016 to June 10 2017 to clearly show how many teachers, administrators and staff have abandoned ship. 20% attrition is probably on the low side- but Ms. Judy Spurlock actually told the board, without any facts, that it was lower. No one caught it. Rookie Rhonda said 20% attrition is normal- to which the proper answer should have been, you’re fired, but no one on the board has a spine, or a functioning brain attached. No organization can afford a 20% attrition rate- the turnover costs alone, in terms of onboarding, hiring, training, mentoring and then the acclimation process almost guarantees failure, or if nothing else, a stepping stone district, which is what we will forever be until we offer competitive pay.
Here’s an NPR article from 2016 lamenting the 8% attrition rate and the teacher shortage.

Also on the agenda was another incompetent incomplete presentation by Dr. Sheila Burton. One slide with four changes in transportation. Back to zones, 4 bell times, no 30 minute rides, and last but not least- cutting off transportation to private day care. The board jumped on this last one- telling day care operators to buy their own damn buses. McManus in particular. Then came public comments and the truth about the daycare situation came out- parents can’t send their kids to DPS if they don’t have day care. All the kids are Title 20 funded- and it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. You want to drive parents out of the district- or to charter schools- that often include after school care…. next you know- the board and district are reversing themselves. Nevermind, the busing situation with 4 bell times makes a mess for parents with kids going to different schools. Only an idiot would think that 4 bell times is the answer.

Of course, the answer, which I proposed in the short film, “There ain’t no “F” in Dayton,” of staffed neighborhood bus stops never was in the mix. That would save the district time, gas, and cut down on the number of accidents caused by trying to take buses down streets designed for horse and buggy.  It also helps with attendance issues- and building community relations- but, nooooo……

Last meeting, this meeting, resignations keep coming. Corr even admitted that she couldn’t find a replacement for Horace Lovelace this late in the season, but, why worry, she’s too busy paying $160K to Huffmaster to PREPARE for hiring replacements for the strike.

Yep- they get the money whether the negotiations work or not. After the strike begins, then we start paying as many as 600 temporary teachers to half-ass do what 800 full time teachers under her command still fail at- make real, tangible academic progress and stop the district from being a shit show.

The strike vote has been taken. She still thinks there is a chance to play hardball with the DEA, despite ignoring every warning sign that they are sick of this BS coming from downtown. We have no money and have to RIF in November, then we have money to buy out a capable administrator, who by the way, was replaced by three people, 2 of which she hand picked, paid more- and then had one quit after a year. And, btw- we still had money to give administrators a $300 to $350 a month expense bonus…. and we don’t have money for a raise after 4 years? Rhonda’s own contract is richer than former superintendent Lori Wards.

This week, she hired 2 $90K administrators to handle PR- without even notifying the other applicants that the job was filled. Previously, the old PIO made less than that- with 30+ years with the district. And this is on top of her hiring the most expensive ad agency bid on the RFQ last spring. Welcome to DPS Marsha Bonhart – formerly of Channel 2 and DCDC- to your new $87K a year position of Director of Public Relations and Media, and Dr. Vernita Kelly who will make $89K a year as Director of  Strategic Communications and Public Relations. I assume they will also both get the $300 a month expense accounts as well… but Rhonda says these two replace 3- maybe 4 positions, since they hadn’t filled Jill Moberley’s job, Jill Drury’s job or Ken Kreitzer’s job. Oh, and remember- Drury was the only one who knew how to manage their website. I know Marsha, and she’s not going to be actually running the website or designing the brochures- and I’ve yet to meet a PhD who could either…. hmmmmm.

And, btw- where is either of these ladies experience with turning around a failing brand?

There were questions tonight on the hiring of Miami University to to an IT survey. Since the contract was under $50K, it wasn’t bid. But, for this, the board wanted a presentation on what they’d do. Yet, when the PR contract was bid, they were told that their involvement in the evaluation process was strictly verboten and would be a problem- even though it was for $350K. Nice way to stick to standards.

The news media was all there- and asking questions of Rhonda and  Board President Dr. Walker about the strike. The reality is, they are the reason there will be a strike, and they refuse to take responsibility. That the community isn’t calling for a replacement board, or state takeover at this point is unreal.

Just another performance of the greatest (side) show on earth. Welcome to Dayton Public schools.

Afterthought: better use of the Huffmaster money by the board: fire Rhonda, settle with the teachers, and move forward.

The DPS saga continues: Principals leaving

The agenda for last nights review session wasn’t quite complete. Many more resignations that were turned in on the 10th weren’t included. While the board was falling all over itself for their “New Digital Dashboard” for reviewing their slow improvement from failure to mediocrity, the question of how we’ll even open school in the fall isn’t mentioned.

Scratch one Megan Winston from the roster. Winston, one of their “star” principals, who took over from Tracy Mallory several years back (another “star” principal who is now working in Trotwood) resigned yesterday. And while Corr was meeting today with the remaining principals for their planning for next year this morning at 9:30 there are two in the audience ready to resign, just finalizing their contracts with other districts. Principals contracts actually run through July 31- so if you leave early, you may owe the district some money back. Of course, if DPS was smart- 1) they would work hard not to lose them- by paying better and having a contract in place, and 2) have a way to keep these valuable assets on to manage a building transition via a per diem wage.

Dr. Adil Baguirov was in fine form, boasting that the district was the first in Ohio to have such amazing technology, and possibly in the midwest. Taylor actually asked Dayton Daily news reporter Jeremy Kelley to write about this stunning achievement. Apparently, she missed the group MMS I sent to the board members and Kelley- of a link to an undated article from Columbus about their new data dashboard.

The boards internal auditor, Randall Harper, gave the paper another freebie bad news story about the Athletic Department having yet another loss of funds from athletic event collections. Board members asked how this happened- and the auditor blamed a failure to follow the procedures put in place. The Dayton Daily made inquiries on who what where and how much and got the dodgy responses we just love (he can’t hide it- so why they don’t answer truthfully is unbelievable). If this theft is related to anything relating to Dunbar athletics- it would and could have impacted the vote later- to rehire coach Powell. Whole thing was strange. In any company I work at- you steal money, you get a pink slip, not a nice request to write an IOU.

The funniest faux pas came from Dr. Sheila Burton while walking the board through the data dashboard. When looking at attendance numbers- she publicly questioned the work of The Ohlmann Group, who the board hired to do marketing and enrollment campaigns but came up short. Why this contract is still in place, if you are publicly going to slam your sub-contractor is beyond me. Full disclosure, my firm was the low bidder, and the highest ranking minority firm- and didn’t get the contract. This has been extensively covered on this site.

Last but not least, Board Member Sheila Taylor wanted to go into executive session over the Darran Powell hiring – and another personnel issue that she wanted separate but didn’t want to identify by name. Well, it’s too late in the meeting to remove an item and not be by name. If she had prepared properly, reading the agenda- she should have had the item removed from the agenda in advance. Despite all her years on the board, she still seemed lost at the basics of Robert’s rules of order- and the process to vote something separate. This is part of the reason this board is beyond help.

No discussion of the board negotiations, school start dates, or questions about the mass exodus of talent.

Just another day at the circus.