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.

 

 

And they are leaving in droves. DPS loses 36 teachers on resignation day

thumbnail of DPS HR report for 11 Jul 17

PDF of resignations and HR issues for 11 Jul 17 board meeting. Click to read

It’s not funny anymore.

Today, July 10, was the final day to officially quit Dayton Public Schools- even though there is no contract.

Five administrators quit- including the only person in the district who could edit their website- Jill Drury. The hiring process for the new person to run their marketing hasn’t begun, or at least, they haven’t contacted the candidates.

Teachers and administrators we already told you about were announced, but, the part that hurts the most? 36 teachers headed out for greener pastures. Including 2 more from Stivers, the one building good teachers try to get into.

One of the teachers resigning was teacher of the year a few years back. And, btw- 36 teachers is like losing an entire school full- in one day.

Considering the district looks to be going on strike this fall, how many teachers will be lining up to work here? Exactly.

There were also some odd adjustments being made. All the top administrators now get $350 a month for business expenses. Maybe, because no one was watching this before.

And- adjustments had to be made- including $16,484.90 to Dr. Winston who quit and you read it first here. The money will come in handy, to pay her lawyer for the lawsuit that is probably coming against the district for EEOC violations and adverse working conditions.

When you have to make “one time payments” this big to fix something- most people would wonder who was asleep at the wheel? Why isn’t someone getting fired?

From Board Docs:

Dr. Elizabeth Lolli – $12,892.18 (one-time payment)

Dr. Markay Winston – $13,484.90 (one-time payment)

Dr. Markay Winston – $3,000.00 (one-time payment)

Source: BoardDocs® Pro

Speaking of getting fired, some of the board members are at a point where they are seriously considering if it’s worth it to keep Rhonda Corr, or better to just pay her off to go away.

If you add up all the resignations for the year of teachers- it’s over 20% turnover. Anyone in business will tell you, 20% annual turnover is deadly.

If this district were a horse, someone would shoot it.

Dunbar Football coach AGAIN.

One other thing on the agenda for tomorrow night- Coach James Lacking, the head Dunbar football coach before Darran Powell, declined the position on line 43. Line 255 is another attempt to hire Darran Powell back. Last time, since Ron Lee abstained, and Baguirov wasn’t there and Taylor and Lacey said no– leaving only 3 to vote. We’ll see if the vote comes out different tomorrow night. And, btw- don’t come expecting to speak- this is another one of their endless Review sessions.

In the lifeboats as the DPS ship sinks

Since the post last night:

“Half of the preschool department is leaving for various school districts-roughly 16 teachers. Most are special-needs preschool teachers who are going to various districts that still have four day preschool- that understand that you cannot get IEP work done effectively without a planning day. Thank you for bringing to light all of these ridiculous decisions.”

A  principal with enough seniority to retire twice- (almost)- says, “If she stays, or Roberson is made superintendent, I’m out. Bring back Lawrence, Brathwaite and I’ll stay”  (David Lawrence and Debra Brathwaite- former DPS administrators) Als0- “they are cutting half of my Title 1 reading and math intervention specialists, and replacing them with a phonics coach. I don’t need a separate person to teach phonics, just give my 1st and 2nd grade teachers training, and we’ve got it covered. What a waste of money”

A teacher- “Hello David I also will be resigning although I have not told my principal or human resources yet, but I am a science teacher at XXXXX one of only two physics teachers in the district and I will be going to teach at a small county school where the pay is only $1200 difference with smaller class sizes and my kids also go to the school where I will be teaching next year. I didn’t even apply for the job…?, I was recruited by community members who knew I had a science background..that’s how bad science teachers are needed all over the state. U can mention my case, just don’t mention my name or school”

I’m still waiting for other school boards to approve the hiring of 2 other principals and one top level administrator. There is a possibility of 2 additional names to add to this list.

thumbnail of DPS Board agenda 30 June 17

The last minute agenda, for a School Board that can’t get it together. PDF- click to view

The School Board is supposedly meeting at 4:30 pm today, a meeting that was hastily called Tuesday night- after another hastily called meeting. The agenda wasn’t published until this morning- and it appears it’s the entire appropriations for next year. Can someone explain why this wasn’t known to have to be done before Tuesday night? And why the public shouldn’t have been given adequate notice and time to review the issues? 48 hour rule? We’re lucky to have a 4 hour rule under Rhonda Corr and Hiwot Abraha.

More examples of complete and total incompetence and mastery of management by the seat of her pants by the current Superintendent and Treasurer.

Time to clean house, before there isn’t a house left.

Any more people want to tell the board about their resignation here first? [email protected]

And, btw, it was nice to see the Dayton Daily News share the story of Judge Dankof ruling in favor of the district over former treasurer Craig Jones – 2 days after I published it. Jones’ lawsuit was about this very BS kind of meeting announcement. Dankof obviously doesn’t care about the intent of the law- only the minutiae. Hopefully, next time he runs, he has opposition, since he doesn’t deserve to represent a public he won’t defend properly against abuse of power by other elected officials.

 

Leaving DPS isn’t just for teachers: Dr. Winston resigns

While the administration is in denial about the number of teacher resignations, claiming they are lower than last year, this resignation has us wondering exactly how bad the fights at the top levels of the administration are.

When the board brought in the rookie superintendent, Ronda Corr, she promptly hired in two high level administrators of her own, both with superintendents licenses and credibility far exceeding her own.

I’ve been incredibly impressed at all times with Dr. Elizabeth Lolli, and have even suggested her as a replacement for Corr.

Dr. Markay Winston, former Dayton Public Schools Chief Academic Officer

Dr. Markay Winston, former Dayton Public Schools Chief Academic Officer

The other, Dr. Markay Winston, the “Chief Academic Officer” hasn’t been very vocal at board meetings. My first exposure to her was in the interviews of the botched marketing RFP process, where she didn’t ask my team anything.  Her one public presentation that I remember was her introduction of the virtual academy introduction, and it sure could have used some help from a marketing professional. She also managed to get embroiled in the Dunbar thrown game mess– and presented the new plan for athletics.

Winston was a follower of the educational reformer, Michael Fullan, who strongly believes in the power of principals. Maybe, that’s why her Confidential resignation letter today, was addressed to “Dear DPS Principals” – her resignation takes effect July 12, 2017, which is two days after the July 10 cutoff date for teacher resignations. Winston was generally well liked and respected by staff, with some mentioning that she was the only one who visited their buildings.

Where things seem to have headed south was when she was the top official on site when the Dunbar football fiasco happened. The old org chart would have had David Lawrence to blame, but since Rhonda Corr had already banished Lawrence to a corner by the mail room, there had to be someone on the short end of the stick- and since Corr protected athletic director LaMark Baker with a 2 year contract before all the facts were on the table, Winston ends up with a 2 year liability to carry. The principals asked Winston to go to bat for their AD/coaches- well aware that positions would be hard to fill, and Winston was unable to get Corr to budge on her edict that there would be no dual positions.

Some principals thought highly enough of Winston to take her out to lunch, urging her to stay about a month and a half ago, and they were assured she would if support in central office turned in her favor, but her general feelings were that power was consolidating around the more senior Lolli, and her role was being diminished. Throw in the failure of the Ohlmann Group to help with her virtual academy project, word travels fast in higher ed, and headhunters started reaching out to her. A few people also believe race to be an issue. In the fall RIF, an inordinate number of African American staff was shown the door, followed by David Lawrence.

It’s not hard to find a better offer than Dayton Public, everyone who works there knows that. Many are leaving.

The timing is right as well. Right now, the district can still brag about their one A in annual yearly progress (AYP) which was achieved pre- Corr/Lolli/Winston. Predictions by some are that scores will drop this year. One of the programs they bought and used heavily for K-2 was actually for intervention, not instruction. The entire forcing of the computer based learning was more of a thrusting instead of an introduction. DPS will be far in the rear-view mirror for Winston if scores go down, and if they go up- she looks better.

There is no doubt that Winston cared deeply about student achievement, in her eloquent resignation letter she made the following statements:

“you know that change is hard and it does not come overnight or simply from wishful thinking. True change comes from a clear theory of action, coherence in vision and direction, and clarity and consistency in executing the most essential levers for improving student outcomes.”

“Remember, if the teaching in your building is not good enough for your own child, then it is not good enough for the precious children of this district. Demand better from everyone in this organization, including yourself. As the true leaders of our schools, you have the moral imperative to make sure that the teaching in your classrooms is good enough for other people’s children (Lisa Delpit).

This district is facing a possible teachers strike in the fall. It can’t get students to the buildings. Staffing has been improving, but many senior teachers with years of experience are leaving the district now. New teachers have had to come to the School Board and beg not to get moved around like chess pieces in the hands of a baby. The confusion about financial stability has been in flux from the RIF in the fall to the massive bus purchase in the spring. The coaching/athletic director situation for next year has DPS parents in flux, wondering who is going to coach their kids (no other district leaves their coaching hires for fall sports to the fall). The upcoming school board race has more candidates than a horse race (15 and counting for 4 seats). The board seems to be in fantasy land, with Corr sitting at meetings like a dazed bystander to a driveby shooting as board members go off on tangents about things not even on the agenda (Tuesday, Board member Sheila Taylor ranted about the suitability of Miami University to do contracted research, when the whole issue was already off the table. I actually interrupted her after 20 minutes of mindless blather- and she called for my removal. No one was willing to back her up, because under their breath, they were thanking me for putting the meeting back on track).

Morale and confidence of many long term educators still in the district is shaken and at an all time low. How much longer will this board refuse to see the writing on the wall? Rhonda Corr wasn’t the answer to this districts problems, and now even, one of her hand-picked executive leaders has made a statement by abandoning the sinking ship.

The mysteries of DPS marketing

If you pay $25K a year for “Annual stratus hosting for DPS website and other technical services as required for District Office of Strategic Communication” as the Dayton Public Schools pay Oxiem LLC, you should call me. You qualify as “A sucker born every minute” (which it turns out wasn’t said by P. T. Barnum)- which fits with the general circus we have running the district.

It’s on the agenda for tonight’s “review session.”

As are a ton of resignations. Maybe if they didn’t spend so much on hosting, and a website that only one person can manage, they’d have money to pay teachers and bus drivers?

But, instead of hiring the low bidder for their marketing and communications needs, they went with the high bidder- and their mad spending on media. Billboards based on a lame premise, and a ton of web advertising (without ascertaining the reach of the web to DPS students and parents who live on the wrong side of the digital divide.) Instead of fixing the one bad site, they started building microsites. Lots of them. This is what people did back in 2005, not in 2017.

I’m not going to link to the microsites- or promote them. I wouldn’t want to increase the visitor count into double digits.

They’ve also released some web videos. The graphics have the sophistication of the current logo- in other words, child like. None of them have view counts anywhere near the ones we’ve done to expose their BS.

Here is an example of their mad video skills. It had 9 whole views- published on the 12th.

Note, the Ohlmann group subcontracts video production.

Here are the latest invoices for the DPS media campaign. What seems to be missing, is approval from the board to expend funds for these media buys. They authorized the contract with Ohlmann Group, but, the media budget that was part of the RFQ- never had a spending authorization by the board.

thumbnail of Ohlman Invoice M013738-DPS thumbnail of Ohlman Invoice 013418-0000DPS thumbnail of Ohlman Invoice 013499-507-DPS thumbnail of Ohlman Invoice 013734-0000-DPS thumbnail of DPS #13418C for April and May thumbnail of DPS #13499-507

And if this isn’t enough to make your head spin, they have now decided to hire someone to be their head of marketing communications, for somewhere close to 6 figures.

I applied and put David Lawrence down as a reference.

There were a bunch of applicants, including the one long rumored as Rhonda’s favorite (not me).

Somehow, in Dayton, we think that reporting the news at one time, somehow gives you the qualifications to manipulate it and to solve marketing problems. The joke always goes that some of us have a face for radio, and then there are people like me, who don’t even have the voice for it. Marketing isn’t taught in journalism school. There are two local former journalists: Bonhart and Fogle.

But, here’s the list- with quick linkedin searches- not guaranteed to be the right person.

  • Marsha Bonhart Director of Development at Dayton Contemporary Dance Company
  • Anne Brewer- nothing obvious on LinkedIn
  • Marilyn Burchett ESL Tutor and Substitute Teacher Licensed to teach K-12 Music, Spanish, Business and Marketing. Valid thru June 2020
  • David Esrati, moi- Owner of The Next Wave
  • Julie Finley- nothing obvious on LinkedIn
  • Guy Fogle profile not available? Former News guy- and congressional candidate
  • Ian Frank – possibly Principal at Reading Community School District
  • Ryan Gilding – Public Relations Specialist at Beavercreek City Schools
  • Tawn Graham – actual ad person: Account Director at Northlich
  • Martha Hasselbusch Education Management Professional
  • Roy Hatfield Operations Manager at Classic Country Radio
  • Candace Hundley Special Education Teacher at Dixie Middle School
  • Cornelia Jammer Nonprofit Organization Management Professional (from Texas and connected with new Meadowdale Principal Dr. Hill)
  • Venita Kelley President, LOUD Family Entertainment; Founder, Kelley Communications and Consulting
  • Susan Newman teacher at DPS (and challenger to DEA president David Romick)
  • Adrienne Robinson Marketing and Public Relations Professional (formerly with the City of Dayton)
  • Suzie Tyson – nothing obvious on Linkedin
  • Sherri Waggoner Business Admintstration
  • David Wedderburn unsure which one.

The first priority of this new hire should be to reevaluate the website contract, hosting, and solution. The second should be to actually write a creative brief, and then go through the RFP process again. Here’s the tip sheet on how to do it: Hiring An Agency: The R.F.P. Guide for Governmental Organizations

And if you want to transform the district, into someplace where people actually want to send their kids to school, here’s my video submitted with my application. No one paid me to do this.

DPS strategy: Meeting fatigue

DPS TV runs a "we're hiring crawl" while a teacher resigns, listing all her issues with the district

Don’t run a hiring promo crawl over a teachers resignation speech.

No other school board meets as much and does as little as the Dayton Public Board of Education.

Their agendas confuse the members, aren’t mobile friendly, provide almost zero usable information, and lead to massive confusion.

They have a “Parliamentarian,” Joe Lacey, who is a member of the board, which is far from ideal:

If the parliamentarian is a member of the assembly, that person has the same rights as other members, but should not exercise those rights to maintain impartiality, similar to the impartiality that is required of the chairman.[12] In other words, the parliamentarian should not be making motions, speaking in debate, or voting.[12]

Source: Parliamentarian (consultant) – Wikipedia

This is only a part of the problem. But, at the end of the last board meeting, held on a Wednesday night (not the normal Tuesday- which makes problems for Mr. McManus who works second shift in Columbus) when “New business” came up- it wasn’t business at all- just speeches by the board. Rambling on about what you did the last week, while hourly employees wait is not in the best interest of the general public.

There are a million ways to run meetings. However, when a board of directors is meeting to review and guide an organization with a leader they’ve chosen to do a job, shouldn’t the leader do most of the talking? Explaining what the district is doing, why, and how its performance is improving? How initiatives are progressing, reviewing metrics? Updating on the status of directives she is given by the board? Never a public mention of posting the position of “Executive Director of Communications” at any meeting, but the posting was up and changed this week.

Nothing like that happens at DPS board meetings.

What an agenda should look like is something I’d love to show this board, but, since they refuse to investigate the eligibility of Dr. Adil Baguirov to be on the board, (he’s lived outside the district since November of 2015) I think the first order of business is to show this board the door.

Which brings us to the mysterious Friday morning meeting to review the 5 year projections of the Treasurer. Why is this not being conducted at a normal public meeting, on a scheduled Tuesday night should be the first question? Why did we show up with a video camera? Because we knew something was up. We’ll post the entire meeting soon. But, what was up is of more interest to us- I own the ad agency that was the low bidder on the contract to do district marketing– and have been hyper critical of the crappy expensive campaign done by the highest bidder and winner of the RFQ process. So what happened? Superintendent Rhonda Corr twice interrupted the board meeting with the treasurer looking for the meeting with the Ohlmann Group- who wouldn’t start their meeting with the district without board members Walker and Baguirov in the room.

That Corr didn’t know what meeting she was crashing the first time should make you wonder.

That two members of the board are meeting with a vendor- behind closed doors, should also concern you. Because, board members have no business conducting school business without a quorum in a regularly scheduled meeting- ever. We asked to film- but were told no.

There is no doubt the board needs marketing and public relations help- during the course of the Wednesday meeting when a whole big batch of teachers were resigning (a regular occurrence these days) and one of them got up to tell the board why she was leaving- the geniuses at DPS-TV were running a crawl across the bottom of the screen, asking teachers to come work for the district.

We have a technical term for this in marketing- it’s called cognitive dissonance, the rest of you would call this just stupid.

I have her “crawl segment” in the middle of my speech.

And as a final kicker, at the very end of the meeting, Rhonda Corr announces she’ll be introducing a student handbook at the beginning of next school year. This was directly out of our original marketing proposal to the district. We thought it would take over a year to create, with participation from parents, teachers, students and alumni. We thought it would be a tool to help explain the new values and focus of a newly rebranded district. So glad she’s just thought of this now, for next year. But, this is her Standard Operating Procedure by the seat of her pants. Remember the RIF? The Bus deal? Both rushed through as if a last minute afterthought. Sort of like holding a special meeting on a Friday morning, ostensibly to review a 5 year budget plan…..

 

 

DPS to hire an expensive PIO

When we bid to do all their marketing communications, it was to take over the responsibilities of the PIO and also produce the work.

Instead, the board hired, without reading the contract, the Ohlmann Group- and spent stupid money on a bad campaign.

Now- they are going to hire someone to try to direct the Ohlmann Group.

This from a district that was crying broke last year. Note- Jill Moberly didn’t make this much.

JOB TITLE:                     Executive Director of Communications

 REPORTS TO:                  Superintendent of Schools

 SALARY SCHEDULE:        $94,500.00-$113,400.00

SUMMARY

The Chief Communications Officer provides leadership, direction and strategic planning for news and information as well as marketing and advertising of DPS schools, initiatives and progress.  The ideal candidate is committed to a brand journalism strategy, with experience developing and implementing internal and external communications strategies and managing the day-to-day operations of a busy Communications Department. As a member of the executive cabinet, this position provides counsel to senior leadership and serves the Office of the Superintendent as the chief media and communications strategist, crisis communications coordinator and official spokesperson for the District.

Source: SearchSoft – The Greater Dayton Area Employment Consortium – Job Board

If there is one thing Rhonda Corr has been good at, it’s hiring expensive people at the top of the food chain.

Rhonda Corr, the sociopath superintendent

Yesterday, the Dayton Education Association got sick of being screwed with at the bargaining table and voted to authorize a strike.

Today, Rhonda Corr struck back, posting every teaching position on the Dayton Education Consortium website.

This is not how you respect your team.

Screenshot of job postings for Dayton Public School teachers on Dayton Education Consortium siteThis is a district that is already suffering high attrition rates due to changes in the state pension rules, an aging staff, lower pay than surrounding districts, poor working conditions, a challenging student population, higher income taxes, and last but not least, the worst morale thanks to inept leadership.

It was just Wednesday, when once again the board was asking if the district was doing exit interviews to better understand why people are leaving in droves.

This is because they are incompetent and criminally inept. Just two weeks ago, a young professional, accredited teacher shared her struggle to stay in her beloved Westwood Elementary building. Note- Westwood is in the center of what the Dayton Daily has labeled the most dangerous neighborhood in the city. Here’s her speech- again:

If the district had competent PR advice, there would have been an internal communication to all staff about the postings and the reasons behind it. Otherwise, this is just another example of disrespect.

One of the things Rhonda Corr said in last Wednesday’s meeting was that when things are this broken, sometimes you have to break them even more to be able to fix them.

Hint: The district has been a tornado of broken since she arrived.

By making every DPS teacher re-apply for their jobs on the consortium website, Rhonda is sending them to the very place where you can look for other jobs in districts that aren’t failing, that pay well, that don’t disrespect their staff.

Prediction: Next year, DPS will begin the school year with 25% of their positions vacant. If they are lucky. It may be worse- even if they do manage to negotiate a contract before school starts.

As to signing your kid up for summer school right now parents? Doubt there will be teachers to teach anything.

Good job Rhonda and Board.

You should all be fired.

 

Bus changes, Athletics process and procedures and more in store at Dayton Public Schools

They’ve spent money on coaching for the board and superintendent on how to run a meeting.

Unfortunately, they all must have failed the class. Last night, I filmed another 3 hour “strategic planning discussion” meeting, with most of it being pointless speeches by pompous board members (and Ron Lee and Dr. Hazel Rountree weren’t even there).

First question. Which board member suggested a newcomers/international academy? Rhonda Corr is very proud of her work in one with Cleveland Public Schools, which was a loving, caring, comforting, happy place. Of course, isn’t that what all of DPS should be shot back Sheila Taylor? We’ve now spent hours discussing some vague plan to put all the international students at Meadowdale, since the campus goes from K-12.  However, we’ve not figured out what to do with kids who are already spread out all over the district. Nor, do we know what to do with programs like Ruskin which are immersive bilingual and doing well all on their own. No one in the room has any institutional knowledge going back to the old ESL program at Miami Chapel, or the dumping of all the foreign kids at Patterson Kennedy before they tore it down.

Not a single ESL teacher was asked to speak, and Dr. Roberson really didn’t have a plan to present. Corr keeps asking for guidance from the board- and gets none. Some numbers of enrollment in DPS were provided (about 150 new kids a year, and it’s been trending up). I just love it when board members sit at their seat and try to research things on the fly- Joe Lacey pulling up census data. Doh!

No resolution, no plan, no next steps. Just waste time and move on to next disaster.

Longfellow. Dr. Sheila Burton talked to an unspecified architect and construction person, and started bandying big numbers around on what it would take to fix Longfellow- which like all DPS property- is suffering from deferred maintenance. $6 million bucks, give or take. Remember, the school only has about 60 students. There is talk about consolidating them at Gardendale or Gorman, or who knows where, but they need work too. There is no one tasked to manage this project, there are no deadlines, there are no assessments, but people seem to think getting the building historic landmark status is a good idea- because, well, all of them are skilled developers with preservation experience. Doh!

No plan, no resolution, no next steps. Just waste time and move on to the next disaster.

A new bus schedule is in the works. Was anyone from transportation there to explain it? Hell no. We’re switching back to a 3 tier schedule, which means we’ll have three different route slots. This way drivers will run three schedules instead of two. They’ll also travel less. New restrictions that there will be no routes longer than 30 minutes in length, and then the kicker- we’re going back to four zones, with kids only being able to go to school in their zone. No discussion of what this means for specialty schools like the Boys Academy or Charity Early school for girls. No discussion of grandfathering in students so they won’t have to change schools. Bam, there it is. We’d like to promote the pay the parents option- we’ll pay you $250 a year to get your kid to school- something not many parents know about.

This wasn’t so much a waste of time- just unanswered questions.

Another discussion of “Sensory rooms” was given by Dr. Roberson who has found federal dollars to build these new solutions to misbehaving children. They are going to add 5 a year each year to elementary buildings for the next three years. By 2020 we should have one in every building. There was no description of what these rooms entail, what training goes with them, or what they bring to the table other than being a better option than handcuffing students. Yet, Corr still had to stick her foot in her mouth and undo all the good will by suggesting that from now on, we just call Dayton Police instead to deal with kids who are out of control- aye carumba- wasn’t that why we hired “School Resource Officers” in the first place? So we wouldn’t have cops in schools?

I still don’t know what these are, if they work, when they work and what’s involved. However, they are apparently the new alternative to handcuffs. ’nuff said.

thumbnail of accountability-plan-dps

Accountability Plan presentation for “transforming Dayton Public Schools Athletics”

Then the crown jewel. Even though District Athletic Director Mark Baker couldn’t calculate eligibility, we’re to believe that he and Dr. Markay Winston have been holed up together coming up with the new “Accountability Plan for Transforming DPS Athletics”- Winston was there- Baker, no where to be seen. After we learned all about the new org chart with straight lines and dashed lines (and looking a bit like spilled spaghetti) several board members gushed over it. Sheila Taylor thinks this is just great. Joe Lacey on the other hand, seemed to not care at all- as if he’d written off athletics altogether. He thinks athletics shouldn’t get any more attention than other part of DPS.

The plan really looked more like a Winston/Spurlock (Judy Spurlock HR Director) creation than a Baker one. New was the magic word since apparently we’d been running the organization without job descriptions,  operations manual, protocols for OHSAA infractions/violations, employee monitoring or even financial controls. We’re going to create a new “Student Athlete Eligibility Warning System,” have mandatory study tables, a student athlete summer leadership symposium and a new 90-90-90 “non-negotiable rule for sports participation- which Dr. Winston couldn’t remember what it was. The new hiring process was highlighted- as were the board imposed conditions that aren’t visible until you start to apply.

There was also a presentation by Dr. Elizabeth Lolli about summer school. It seems we keep moving the enrollment deadline later and later, and still don’t have the participation we’d hoped to have, despite dropping the fee to either $25 or free (I’m sorry- I can’t remember). They’ve sent out flyers and still don’t have near the number of students enrolled that they want. John McManus suggested consulting with their ad agency, The Ohlmann Group, but was shot down.

They’ve hired a private company to run the courses, but, the private company has to hire DPS teachers first. Since enrollment isn’t finalized, it’s making it hard to staff appropriately. There is also a big bill for transportation. Seemed to sound like it was going to cost at least $1000 per student without transportation costs factored in. Of course, since none of these documents or presentations were uploaded for the public on Board Docs- or even the details of any of these plans, and this was at a meeting where the public isn’t allowed to speak, one has to wonder WTF is really going on?

Three hours after the start of the circus, those brave souls who were in the peanut gallery were treated to an adjournment without them going into executive session for once.

Now we can look forward to the next meeting, on 5/9/17 where we have a “review meeting” where constituents can’t speak, before we get to the “business meeting” on 5/16/17 where I imagine we’ll have a huge turnout again to speak their minds about these latest brainstorms of Rhonda Corr and crew.

Dayton Public Schools policy change will speed exodus

While the school board sits scratching their heads why they can’t keep staff (even after it’s explained to them over and over) and they do things that make no sense (failing to investigate Baguirov’s residency, giving Corr a raise and a 2 year extension, retaining Mark Baker as AD, the layoffs in the fall….) we now have a new rule which will further hasten the exit of staff from the district.

From one posting of many that went live yesterday on the The Greater Dayton Area School Employment Consortium site:

Due to the increased duties and requirements from the district and the OHSAA standards, building athletic directors will not be considered for coaching positions.

Source: Dayton Public Schools – Building Athletic Director

Currently, the coaching and building athletic director positions are “supplemental contracts” in addition to an employee’s pay. By being both a coach and a building AD, it’s possible to boost your pay by $15,000 a year – and have pay comparable to what a regular teacher would make anywhere else.

This new provision may be in violation of the current Dayton Education Association contract with the school, but my attempts to clarify that haven’t yet been fruitful.

A week ago Friday, Dunbar Coach Darren Powell was quoted in the paper, and a story ran the following Sunday that he still had his position for next year. Monday the board informed the paper that this wasn’t true, as they had not voted on any supplemental contracts. The paper ran a retraction on Tuesday. Powell was told to shut up and not talk to the media, at least until after the Mark Baker situation had resolved- which lead to the long executive session on Wednesday and the eventual 5-1 vote to rehire him- even though his contract, like the one for Superintendent Corr and Treasurer Abraha could have been voted on later. This board like to try to sweep it’s dirt under the rug as fast as possible hoping no one notices that the dirt is turning into a mountain.

Once again, coaches are in limbo. Conditioning for football has already begun for the fall season, without a contract, who is supposed to be in charge? And when you are both a coach and a building AD- which applies to about half the Football coaches- which job is more important to you? And, with the choice- is it time to take your skills elsewhere? Earl White has turned Belmont from a sports joke into a multi-sport contender in three years. Do you think he, with his 21 years experience, a masters degree in educational leadership, won’t be recruited to go to the suburbs? The postings expire in 10 days- leaving a very small window for the coaches and AD’s to chose their future path.

An anonymous letter has been circulating with serious allegations about other issues with Baker. It has been seen by members of the School Board, coaches, athletic directors. I do not believe in anonymous letters, but, since I can’t seem to get full transcripts of interviews with everyone involved on the Dunbar/Belmont fiasco- or the transcript of the OHSAA hearing, I’m running it.

To Whom It May Concern:
This letter is out of deep desperation and my genuine concern for the students, coaches, athletic directors and all associated with the Dayton Public School District. I find that I must convey my disgust with what I have observed over the last seven months related to the Dayton Public Schools athletic programs and its appointed leader Mr. Mark Baker. Mr. Baker is under qualified for the job, and with each blunder, such suspicions are proving to be true. He was promised the DPS AD job before ever interviewing for the position by then Dayton Public Schools Chief of Schools Innovation, Mr. David Lawrence. Once evidence produced suggested that Mr. Baker was given an unfair advantage for the job, second interviews were immediately granted to all the candidates. The next time, a qualified candidate was recommended for the DPS district AD job, only to have his offer rescinded due to supposed public pressure and for the second time, Mr. Baker was handed the DPS AD job despite the fact he had no athletic director experience. Clearly, the fix was on.
The point of this letter of complaint is to bring to your attention a few major infractions that have occurred under Mr. Baker’s leadership, that to my knowledge has never been reported to the OHSAA. Mr. Baker on several occasions has purposely withheld significant violations that occurred in DPS from the OHSAA other than the Dunbar Early College High School football team using an ineligible football player in the fall of 2016, and he only reported that because it was self-serving. Also as a whistleblower, I must show how Mr. Baker’s gross incompetence has placed Dayton Public Schools and OHSAA at grave risk. Mr. Baker’s leadership style is confrontational and consists of intimidation and lying.
Mr. Baker proudly lets everyone know that he’s above reproach because he believes he has the complete backing of the Dayton Board of Education, Superintendent and OHSAA. Mr. Baker’s ineptitude causes him to call other athletic directors Statewide for answers to the simplest questions concerning eligibility and rule interpretations.
The following infractions and incidents occurred in 2016 and 2017 can be collaborated (sic) with any effort of a simple inquiry or investigation by your office:

  1. In October of 2016, Ponitz ere High School, Freshman football team permitted a highly sought after private school seventh grader to play in their Freshman football game. The player in question is the son of the Ponitz assistant football coach, Mr. Derrick Shepard. When this incident began to leak to the public, Mr. Baker instructed the head football coach, Jim Place at Ponitz to handle the issue internally, and he wouldn’t report the incident to the OHSAA, and he didn’t. Coach Shepard received a suspension for the remainder of the football season, and it was one or two games with pay.
  2. Mr. Baker permitted serval players from Community Schools in September 2016 to play football for Meadowdale High School without properly vetting their eligibility. After two games into the season, it was determined by the Meadowvale AD that the two players were indeed academically ineligible. Mr. Baker informed the Meadowdale head football coach that the players could continue to play because he didn’t want to punish the players for his mistake. Meadowdale lost both games in question but Mr. Baker never self-reported the player’s illegal participation to the OHSAA.
  3. During Meadowdale High School 2016 Senior Football Night celebration Mr. Baker became furious once he learned the Meadowdale AD and football coach had failed to put a pre-game program together to recognize its senior football players. Mr. Baker entered the press box at Welcome Stadium and verbally reprimanded the Meadowdale AD. Mr. Baker then angrily came into Meadowdale football locker room before the start of the game and disrespectfully verbally lashed out on the head coach in the presence of his players and staff. Out of anger, Mr . Baker physically assaulted the coach in front of witnesses. Several Dayton Public School security staff had to separate them. Coincidentally, the head coach wasn’t rehired. The coach was informed one of the reasons was because he played ineligible players during the season, the very players Mr. Baker himself cleared to play.
  4. In December 2016 the Meadowdale Head Football job was posted. In February 2017 Meadowdale High School granted interviews to fill the job. A selection committee selected Mr. Len Hampton. Mr. Hampton’s interview took placed (sic) without Mr. Baker’s knowledge. However, Mr. Baker wasn’t satisfied with the selection. He managed to persuade the committee to grant an interview to a candidate who was denied an interview because his paperwork was late causing him to miss the deadline. This person was Mr. Derrick Shepard, who didn’t score as high as others candidates during the interview process. Unbeknownst to most, Mr. Baker had secretly promised Mr. Shepard who’s an alumnus of Meadowdale the Meadowdale head football job, yes, the one and only Ponitz assistant coach suspended for playing his seventh-grade son in a high school game. Mr. Baker already reached out and formed an interview committee to ensure Coach Shephard’s selection which consisted of high profile Meadowdale alumnus and Mr. Sheppard, ex Hall of Fame high school football coach Pat Masters. Clearly, the fix was in.
    Six days or so after earning the head football job Mr. Baker summoned Coach Hampton to his office at Welcome Stadium and told him he had to be reinterviewed for the football job by him and Mr. Keith Byars. Mr. Hampton informed Mr. Baker that he had already been interviewed, selected and named the Head Football Coach by the principal of Meadowdale High School. Mr. Baker told Coach Hampton that it was him alone that makes the final selections for all head coaching positions for DPS. Therefore, he would have to interview with him. Mr. Hampton, Who is a member of the teacher union excused himself from the meeting and immediately informed his union representative and principal of his dilemma. They in turned contacted Mr. Baker to let him know that his attempt to intimidate Mr. Hampton and interfere with their selection was a violation of union contract. Within 48 hours, Mr. Baker reluctantly apologized to Mr. Hampton, telling him it was all a misunderstanding, or was it?
  5. Because of the entire 2016 Dunbar vs. Belmont high school football fiasco Mr. Baker failed to renew Coach Pete Pullen, former AD and Coach Darran Powell head football coach, basketball jobs cleverly creating a two-game in voluntary (sic) suspension at the start of the basketball season. Mr. Baker antics and power play worked to publicly embarrass and humiliate the Dunbar community and both fore-mentioned coaches. Because of a community uproar and a few newspaper articles both coaches were reinstated without explanation or apologies from Mr. Baker. As of the writing of this letter for reasons yet unknown the Dunbar head football job has yet to be filled and interviews delayed without explanation. Dunbar has currently four high profile Division I prospects, in which Mr . Baker has vowed if it’s left up to him Darran Powell will never coach them.
  6. Mr. Baker arranged to have a female athletic trainer, Ms. Erin Cane, from Kettering Sports Medicine Center removed from Dunbar Early College High School when she refused to give him negative information about the Dunbar athletic program and coaches. Three weeks after Mr. Baker interviewed her he then implied to the Vice President of Kettering Health Network that he had reason to believed she was having sexual affairs with members of the Dunbar coaching staff. Without any proof, Ms. Cane without noticed, was assigned out of Dunbar where she had served for eight years. It’s clear this is nothing shorter than vicious slander aimed at Ms. Cane and every male coach at Dunbar Early College High School and speaks to Mr. Baker’s lack of character and unethical need to seek and get revenge against anyone who refuses to bow down to him.
  7. Mr. Baker continues to try and convince people that he inherited a school district that was completely out of control and a total mess. He claims he inherited none loyal coaches across the district. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Mr. Baker started a staff meeting last week with building AD’s saying he has the power to replace them all and he will if they don’t start producing results. He was only giving the AD’s a year to turn things around, implying his contract will be renewed. Thus, unbeknownst to him AD’s are looking for other jobs outside our district due to his dictatorship style. Mr. Baker’s lack of decision making skills prove that he has no problem cheating and will cheat at every turn without conscience.
Thank you,
Very Concerned!

The school board hasn’t voted to rehire the Powell’s as coaches for football, although they have rehired them since the fiasco as track coaches. They believe because of the rehiring of Baker and new conditions in the contracts, they may not be the coaches next year. There is no evidence of any clause in the posting or in the School Board Policy manual (updated 12/5/16) that coaches will be ineligible due to being investigated or charged with any infractions of OHSAA rules as some had rumored.

The promise of a position in the future sounds like the work of Superintendent Rhonda Corr, who did the same thing to this writer when the RFP was out for the marketing contract (fully disclosed here).

There are still many questions surrounding the how much the board knows when making decisions. The main question is why was the Baker contract done while in the middle of the controversy? Rumblings of a tape existing that will damn Baker coming to light in the next week make this decision even more worrisome.

Seat of the pants decisions and timelines seem to be the new norm with Dayton Public Schools since Rhonda Corr was hired. At what point with the School Board realize that this isn’t how you build trust and respect with your employees? With the impending strike, forcing issues like a choice between coaching or AD, is just poking the bear at the wrong time.