DPS: No agenda- No meeting? 48 hour rule?

Before I’d even gotten home from getting thrown out of the Saturday “Board Retreat” which wasn’t, there was a notice in my email about yet another “Special Meeting” this Tuesday at 5:30 pm. Email time stamp: 6/24/17, 2:02 PM from Cherisse Kidd.

In accordance with Section 3313.16 of the Ohio Revised Code and File: BD of the Handbook of Policies, Rules & Regulations of the Board, I hereby call for a special meeting of the Board of Education of the Dayton City School District, Montgomery County, Ohio, to be held on Tuesday, June 27, 2017 at 5:30 p.m. in room 6S-116 of the Administration Building, located at 115 S. Ludlow St., Dayton, OH 45402.

Immediately after convening, the board is expected to go into executive session to discuss matters of personnel. In addition, the board may choose to vote on recommendations from the superintendent and/or treasurer.

The media is being advised of this meeting in compliance with the Ohio Sunshine Law.

Respectfully,

Robert Walker, D.Min.

President

Dayton Board of Education

Screenshot at 7:25 am on Monday July 26 2017 of DPS board docs

Screenshot at 7:25 am on Monday July 26 2017 of DPS board docs

While it all sounds legit, for the meeting to be legit, the agenda should be published at least 48 hours before the meeting so the public can review it, contact board members, file comments (something that isn’t done), etc. That means last night, Sunday, at 5:30 was the cutoff.

This morning. No agenda at 7:25.

If they need this many meetings, if they can’t post agendas, if they can’t do what they were supposed to do in their June Retreat (evaluate the Superintendent), if they can’t vote because “they missed too many meetings” or if they “can’t vote” because they are trying to hide things that should have been done in a business meeting at the “retreat” 4 days later- the simple answer is- they shouldn’t be trusted to be our school board.

The board policy has a “48 hour rule” for a reason. That this board and superintendent can’t even have a 2 day planning horizon is criminal.

It’s time for them all to be thrown out.

From page 118 of their own policy manual:

AGENDA PREPARATION AND DISSEMINATION
The Superintendent, working with the Board President, coordinates the agenda for all Board meetings. Items of business may be suggested by a Board member, staff member or citizen of the District. The agenda may allow suitable time for remarks by the public who wish to speak briefly before the Board.
The agenda, together with supporting materials, are distributed to Board members sufficiently in advance of meetings to permit them to give items of business advance consideration.
The agenda is made available to the press, staff representatives and others upon request.
Dissemination of Resolutions and Recommendations
All proposed resolutions and recommendations for Board consideration and action are submitted in writing to each Board member not less than 48 hours before the Board meeting.
In an emergency or extreme urgency, this requirement may be waived at any meeting by majority action of a quorum of the Board.
[Adoption date: August 5, 2009]

DPS retreat is really an excuse to hide

“Mr Esrati, we’re going to ask you to leave” said Dr. Robert Walker, president of the Dayton Board of Education at their “Board Retreat” on Saturday, June 24, 2017.

At issue was the board taking what was presented as a critical time sensitive vote, on a report from the Treasurer, Hiwot Abraha, a mere 4 days after their regularly scheduled “business meeting” on Tuesday.

Did Abraha have no clue that this was critical on Tuesday, or was this purely an attempt to slide things through without the normal scrutiny and public comment allowed at the regular board business meeting? Me thinks the latter, which is why I spoke up, and invited my ejection.

From the agenda on Board Docs:

“May I have a motion to approve the following items:
C) Purchase Requisitions
D) Resolution: Official Certificate of Estimated Resources
E) Resolution: Original Appropriation Measure for Fiscal Yer (sic) 2018”

“Subject Resolution: Original Appropriation Measure for Fiscal Year 2018

Type Information

I recommend that the Board approve the following resolution for the Original Appropriation Measure for Fiscal Year 2017.

Rationale

Section 5705.38 of the Ohio Revised Code requires the adoption and/or amendment of an Annual Appropriation Measure.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of Education of the Dayton City School District the following sums be and hereby are set aside and appropriated as indicated in the 2017-18 Original Appropriations.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, pursuant to Section 5705.412 of the Ohio Revised Code, the the Board President, Superintendent, and Treasurer certify that the Dayton City School District has in effect for the fiscal year 2018 the authorization to levy taxes, which, when combined with the estimated revenue from all other sources available to the district at the time of certification, are sufficient to provide the operating revenues necessary to enable the district to maintain all personnel and programs for all the days set forth in its adopted school calendar for the current fiscal year.”

Lee and Baguirov were absent, and Sheila Taylor abstained from this vote (using good judgement) as Walker, Lacey, Rountree and McManus voted just like this wasn’t anything different than normal Standard Operating Procedure. According to the records on Board Docs, Taylor also abstained from the Superintendents recommendations.

Note, in the Board Policy Manual, page 34, this retreat actually had instructions:

EVALUATION OF SCHOOL BOARD OPERATIONAL PROCEDURES
The Board plans and carries through an annual appraisal of its functioning as a board. Evaluation is held in the month of June, or during a regularly scheduled Board retreat, with no other items on the agenda with all Board members present. This appraisal considers the broad realm of relationships and activities inherent in Board responsibilities.

thumbnail of Auction Resolution revised

PDF- click to enlarge or download

This wasn’t the only issue that they were going to vote on, nor was it the only thing the public should be informed of. An odd RESOLUTION TO AUCTION PROPERTY AND GOODS was included, without any specifics being given. This could be anything from extra desks to the real estate on Wyoming near MVH and UD, the site of the former Patterson Kennedy Elementary School, that this blog featured in my post and video “Dirty Deals Done Dirt Cheap”. Of course, I wasn’t still at the meeting when this was discussed, but how can a board vote to approve something as unspecific as this? And, why on a Saturday morning retreat, instead of the business meeting?

There is no other school board that meets as often, as long, or does more to disrespect the public than this one. The sheer number of meetings and length, force people who want to be involved or serve as checks and balances to go to ridiculous measures to track and follow. The Open Meetings laws of Ohio, known as the Sunshine Laws, unfortunately don’t even have a provision to stop this kind of obfuscation of the public business, but maybe they should.

While I stated they are breaking the law, it barely matters, because the Sunshine laws have the least amount of teeth for punishing misbehaving public bodies that could possibly written into law. Think of them more like a 20 year old cat with one tooth- not a tiger. However, one parent was so incensed by Saturdays actions that she’s ready to file a pro se action on Monday and is looking for affected citizens to join her in the suit. She’s had legal help in formulating the argument. Please message [email protected] if you want to participate.

Also note, seven more teacher resignations since Tuesday. How much longer is this board going to whistle Dixie while a contract isn’t put in place? Some observers have said that this boards actions, from the firing of former Superintendent Lori Ward, Treasurer Craig Jones, the hiring of the outsider, rookie, Rhonda Corr, to the strife of the RIF, to the payoff of David Lawrence, to the failure to negotiate, is all part of a plan to decimate the district and force State takeover- giving the Republicans in the State House their petri dish for replacing regulated public schools with charters city wide- much like what happened in New Orleans after Katrina. It’s a Betsy DeVos wet dream come true.

In other business, why is Ron Lee, with being absent so many times that he couldn’t vote on the Dunbar Coaching choice, still allowed on the board? The State Law, is 90 days, however, in a normal school board, this could mean 2 meetings in a row, however since Dayton meets almost 2x a week, maybe there should be a tougher standard. Of course, this part of the law is what would be used to send Dr. Adil Baguirov off the board for non-residency, something this board refuses to do.

The Darran Powell Question
From the board policy document pg 120:

Reconsideration
No question decided by the Board will be raised again during the same school year except upon a motion to reconsider, made at the same or next Board meeting. Only a member who voted with the prevailing side may move to reconsider a motion that has been adopted. A majority vote of the entire membership is necessary to reconsider an action that has been taken.

Other than the new school year may technically start in July, by having this rushed meeting, and it not coming up, there can be no revote now on the hiring of Dunbar football coach Darran Powell, who was not hired last Tuesday. His petition for a revote now has 1547 signatures and 399 comments.

Final word: At least a few board members are beginning to see the sheer insanity of this “organization” that can’t get its business done according to schedule. Watch for future developments.

thumbnail of Superintendent’s Update fixed for display

The kind of information that should be given at every meeting.

Also note, much of the “Superintendents presentation” – which has information of the type that should be given at EVERY meeting, shows some troublesome stats- like declining graduation rates, poor 3rd grade reading scores, and horrible enrollment stats for the coming year, despite the best efforts of The Ohlmann Group with their premium priced contract.

Read it and weep.

DPS bus buy should get someone busted

You read about the U-turn the School Board seemed to pull last Thursday at their “review session” last week on Esrati.com Dayton Public Schools. Unsafe leadership, unsafe buses

Today, we bring you the emergency meeting of the finance committee, the meeting that was hastily called after last Thursdays discussion.

The first question should be of course, why the rush? Did a district that hasn’t bought a standard school bus since 2010 seriously not have a full plan in place? This is the purchasing department that also knows how to run an RFP/RFQ process for marketing so well that they can present their findings to the board, without substantiation, or even a contract to review- and the board buys it lock, stock and barrel.

Going back to that marketing contract- the one where district legal counsel Jyllian Bradshaw spent an inordinate amount of time telling the board that if they were to listen to a presentation, or review the documents, they would have to recuse themselves. “You have to follow our scoring rubric” were her instructions.

So when Dr. Adil Baguirov presents his document “DPS New Bus Purchase: buy 30 buses, or finance or lease 60 buses or 115 buses?” to the finance committee tonight, does this mean he built a rubric, went out to bid, accepted bids and scored them? Did I miss something and find out he’s now on payroll in the purchasing department? And, superintendent Rhonda Corr who is the CEO of the district, is allowing this to happen? Didn’t she learn anything in Chicago when her boss got sent to prison for kickback contracts?

Since when do school board members negotiate contracts?

When is someone going to investigate Baguirov’s role in the real estate negotiations that sold the Patterson Co-Op site for half the value of a parking lot a block away? Why wasn’t the board and superintendent informed of a $900K offer on the Patterson Kennedy elementary site that was previously offered for a minimum bid of $720K but got no bids?

The more we watch the Dayton Public Schools Board of Education, the more questions we have. Maybe that’s why they meet more, do less, and have worse schools than any other district in the region.

Note- this bus issue brought board members Sheila Taylor and John McManus out, possibly causing this to be an illegal unannounced meeting of the School Board. Sitting mute- doesn’t really solve the issue. Dr. Walker even said Dr. Hazel Rountree wanted to attend, but didn’t for that very reason. This issue was so supercharged that Board member Joe Lacey said he was resigning his duties as finance committee chair for this issue when it is to be presented at the board meeting tomorrow.

Here’s the video of the meeting. Please feel free to share in comments what lines you like best- as our board members go where board members never should be involved.

Whaley unopposed, Shanklin resigns, DPS is still a clusterduck

If Nan Whaley thinks the reason she’s unopposed is because she’s doing such a good job, she’s as delusional as DPS Superintendent Rhonda Corr and the Dayton Public Schools Board of Education. If any of them had any sense, they’d do what Wilburt Shanklin did- resign. Shanklin was the embattled nominee to the Montgomery County Veterans Service Commission who was appointed by the County Judges illegally, since he was already sitting on a county appointed board.

The reason Nan is unopposed is partially because no one wants to run against a candidate with $140K in the bank, and a record of spending half a million to run for a job that pays $47K a year. The other reason is that the petition process is so flawed, it should be illegal to use the city prescribed petitions. I’ve written extensively about these bad petitions- with their non-required “Ward and Precinct” boxes- and the requirements for notarization, but the main question is since when was graphology a requirement for working at the BOE? To say you can’t recognize signatures – when collected via a clipboard- is just one way that the partisan Board of (S)Elections keeps people off the ballot. Any process that generates a minimum 20% failure rate by even the most careful candidates- should be re-evaluated.

If my father hadn’t died, it my mother didn’t have dementia and I was the sole caregiver, you can bet your last nickle that I would have run. Although, they’ve often found reasons to disqualify my petitions at huge cost to the voters in the past.

That there is no primary gives the commission challengers more time to do the work and to raise the money. Hopefully, the voters will realize that with no chance of replacing Nan- maybe it’s time to add some people who do more than dress well and say yes to her highness on command.

The Veterans Service Commission position will be filled by the judges within 60 days. I’m a member of both the American Legion and the Disabled Veterans of America. I’m requesting my name to be on the list- or will be submitting my name on my own. I believe there is lots of room for improvement to the VSC- including doing what the law requires- immediate aid, when necessary. Shanklin probably resigned because it was becoming apparent that he wasn’t going to survive the court scrutiny. Mark one up for Mat Heck’s Montgomery County Prosecutors office. They actually acted on public bodies breaking the law.

Which is the lead in for the shit show at the Board of Education which I’ve been covering extensively since the Board decided to replace Lori Ward and Craig Jones with, well, there may not be words….

Last week we covered the Board violating the contract that they spent months negotiating to buy out David Lawrence, before they even approved it. Mat Heck, did you pay attention? Then there was the issue of them waiving the 48 hour rule to vote to accept a contract a week early to hire the Ohlmann Group to do their marketing. Two weeks later, Ohlmann still wasn’t on the job according to Hazel Rountree, who was wondering why no one was showing up to the DPS Virtual School meetings. This started another discussion at last nights meeting. That is after “Parliamentarian” Joe Lacey was looking at the wrong agenda and they passed motions on something that was never properly moved or seconded.

The board hadn’t heard from Ohlmann- who wasn’t entirely sure the District had committed to them. The solution? Create more stupid board lead task forces to tell the “experts” they hired- how to fix the problems the board keeps creating. We went to one today and filmed. Dr. Baguirov thinks he’s an expert at web design and usability now – and even suggested using Flash on the site. He showed off charter school sites- and their emphasis on enrollment on the front page- and thinks the district needs to build enrollment landing pages. Wow, this is some comprehensive strategy in the works. The people from the Ohlmann group sat there and nodded- and said the board needs storytellers. Working with a camera on them didn’t make them too happy. We’ll post that session tomorrow- right here. (posted 6pm Mar 9, 2017)

Never mind that Ohlmann was the highest bidder by $50K and over the stated limit the district announced. If this had been a construction contract, it would be void for exceeding the estimate by 10%, but, surprisingly, there is very little real law in Ohio on how to conduct competitive bids by school boards.

We’re starting to think the real value to our agency is to do a reality webshow on Disaster Districts, sort of like Kitchen Nightmares or Restaurant Impossible. The board should welcome this, since we’ve seen where reality TV stars end up these days.

Two things to think about from this post: This blog lead the way on calling out Shanklin’s appointment to the VSC and he’s gone. And, after me chastising the board for not taping all their meetings and not using a PA to help Board Member Sheila Taylor hear- they started to tape the off week meeting in the room of the square table- and using microphones for about 60% of the time.

Progress. It comes slowly in Dayton Ohio.

If you appreciate all the work we do here at esrati.com and would like to support it- we have set up a donation page. Every little bit helps us be able to shoot these public meetings and present them with analysis. Thank you.

Remove 5 members of Dayton Public School Board of Education? Yes please.

If you’ve been paying attention to the many meetings of the Dayton Public Schools Board of Education, you know that it’s turned into an absolute shit show since they picked Rhonda Corr as Superintendent. Just recently, they gave her a three year extension to her unorthodox one-year initial contract, after less than 7 months on the job- 7 months of turmoil and strife.

Not that the board needed Corr to create this mess, they do well on their own.

However recently, they’ve taken their incompetence to the level of criminal gross neglect- as showcased by their ignoring the first clause of the buyout contract with David Lawrence that they were supposed to vote on without comment.

The week prior, they voted early to award a contract that was published as $112,500, waiving the 48 hour rule only to have an hour conversation about a contract with the Ohlmann Group, that they obviously hadn’t read, or understood. The real amount of that contract, only revealed through a public records request that took too long, and was delivered on a ream of paper instead of the requested digital documents, $345,410 per year- with two additional one year options, making the contract worth a potential $1,036,230.

Considering that there were only 3 bidders, the second place bidder was at $321,100, and that the RFQ had stated that the cap was $300,000, one wonders why the only bidder under the cap wasn’t awarded the contract, especially, since it was the only true minority qualified business. (That bid was submitted by my firm, The Next Wave).

An old adage comes to mind, it’s called the rule of “P’s” – “Prior planning prevents piss poor performance.” Which fully sums up the actions of this board and leadership. How hard is it to publish an agenda? How hard is it for board members to take the time to either read what they are voting on- or, ask and get competent explanations from staff on what and why they are being asked to vote on.

The 48 hour rule exists for a reason- to allow both the board and the public to review actions of a public body before a meeting. It is only supposed to be waived when there isn’t time to properly notify everyone- something that shouldn’t be that difficult- posting an agenda 48 hours in advance of a public meeting.

From their own manual:

Emergency Meeting
Emergency meetings are called when a matter of urgent necessity must be decided and there is not enough time to allow for the 48-hour notice to members, or the 24-hour notice to the media. An example of a reason to hold an emergency meeting would be if a boiler were to suddenly break down in a school building and need replacing. The board could then call an emergency meeting to authorize payment.

Which brings us to their frequent use of the 48 hour rule- and the boards inability to actually review and know what they are voting for. The discussion about the buyout that wasn’t supposed to be discussed. The confusion about accepting a million dollar contract that they had obviously never seen.

These actions are clearly grounds for removal from office.

  • A board member is guilty of misconduct in office if he or she has willfully and flagrantly exercised authority or power not authorized by law, refused or willfully neglected to enforce the law or to perform any official duty imposed upon him or her by law, or is guilty of gross neglect of duty, gross immorality, drunkenness, misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance.
  • The petitioner must file a specific accusation of misconduct in office in Common Pleas Court.
  • The petition must contain valid signatures from people who live in the school district equal to 15 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the most recent election.
  • After the signatures are submitted to the court, a trial must be held within 30 days.
  • If the case isn’t dismissed by a judge, hearings proceed. A judge hears the case though the board member may ask for a jury trial.

Source: Can a school-board member be removed from office?

To take them to court, we’d need to collect signatures of 4,574 voters in the Dayton Public Schools district to move this forward. The only question is can one petition cover all 5 board members who willfully and flagrantly neglected their duty to comply with the contract terms they’d hashed out over months in executive session, or if this is just clear violation of the public trust and they can be prosecuted? Or, do we have to get circulate 5 individual petitions to do this? People who want to help get signatures should message me. Anyone planning to run in the fall, could start collecting the removal signatures while they collect their signatures to get on the ballot.

Both Superintendent Rhonda Corr and the staff lawyer, Jyllian Bradshaw, should be able to be terminated for cause by a competent board, for allowing the discussion to occur on the Lawrence buyout contract, and for voting for a million dollar marketing contract, without having it either presented or properly explained to the board. The board treasurer, Hiwot Abraha, was in charge of the marketing RFQ, and should also be held responsible for them voting a week early, without proper review.

Replace the five board members, Robert Walker, Ron Lee, Hazel Rountree, Joe Lacey and Adil Baguirov with competent members, who then remove Corr, Bradshaw and Abraha with cause, and replace them with competent people, and maybe, Dayton Public Schools will have a chance.