Dayton Public Superintendent Rhonda Corr placed on leave, Lolli ascends

CYA (cover your @$$) was in full effect at yesterday’s Dayton Public School board meeting. As was misinform and misdirection.

That they didn’t announce why Assistant Superintendent Dr. Sheila Burton was in the center chair replacing Rhonda Corr was odd and should have set off alarm bells, but, this board does everything wrong, including being unable to publish a bona fide agenda, stick to an agenda, or actually properly follow Robert’s Rules. Dr. Walker, spent time explaining that “New Business” was for public comment by the board members- it is not. New business is for items that will require a board vote, nothing else.

It was announced that board member Dr. Hazel Roundtree was absent for “family matters.” It’s odd, that Dr. Rountree is routinely out when important votes are to be discussed, but, considering she’s never really been “all there” on this board since her attempt to run for Dayton City Commission 2 years ago, where she made her real aspirations known, who cares if she is there or not. She should have resigned when Baguirov left and let one of the elect’s step into her seat, as should have Lacey and Lee.

The first order of business was to install Rev. William Harris to Baguirov’s seat. He started up to the dais before being sworn in and had to reverse course.

Next up in public comments, yet another ad hoc organization has popped up, “The Dayton Africana Elders Council” where they hauled out grande dame of DPS teachers, Margaret Peters, to speak to the board about a pending decision on adoption of a text for high school students. Apparently, teachers are being blamed for not being willing to teach “The Mis-Education of the Negro” by Dr. Carter G. Woodson because it’s “too difficult” and they want to send it back. For those of you not familiar with it (I’m in the same boat) it’s considered a seminal text on education of minority students in this country, even though it was written in 1933. The basic premise of the book is that our schools are designed to give students a Euro-centric curriculum that justifies the oppression and cultural norms of white society, trying to push students into believing “what their place is” isn’t what it should be in post Civil Rights Act America.

The Elders Council offered to provide the needed professional development courses for teachers to be able to teach this book effectively, and as usual, the response from the board was deafeningly quiet.

Next up were complaints about busing woes and then fights leading to suspensions at Thurgood, where the parent accused the principal, Sharon Goins of allowing this to build, and even saying that Goins said to the students after the fight, “oh, you finally fought.” Walkers response was to send PR out “to get their contact information” as he is totally out of touch with the fact that the information is required on the speakers sheet. What should happen is that they direct the superintendent (the person they hire and control) to get a complete report back to them on the situation and how it was resolved- and set a date for completion, and thank the parent for bringing the issue to the board.

Hopefully, this is how things will run after the new board steps up.

School fighting and suspensions aren’t a PR issue in a competently run district, they are the issue for the Superintendent and her staff. All PR should do is make sure the community knows what the steps are to register a complaint and communicate the Superintendent and boards position.

I spoke- calling for a full investigation into Dr. Baguirov’s residency, and now that I was proven right, I should have gotten an apology, but I’ll accept resignations of the remaining board members and anyone else who is proven to fail to act.

Next faux pas was on the proper way to do a first and second reading. Hint, it actually does require two readings, and typically is done with time between so the public can comment. When you do them both at once- it is usually stipulated as an emergency, and then you have to read it twice. They did not. The policy was about changes in the law to allow for school personnel to administer meds- as in asthma inhalers, epi-pens etc. It needed to be done- but it needed to be done right.

The last bit of confusion got me hauled out of the room by security for a talking to was their attempt to do something to give Rhonda Corr pay for housing from 2016. I had looked at the agenda on Sunday and again on Tuesday. There were two posts. I didn’t see anything about this and spoke up.

They tried to claim it was there hidden under “New Business” hidden under “Board Discussion” “a motion to approve the Reimbursement expense for Superintendent Rhonda Corr?”

It was tabled. There weren’t details enough in this description for anyone to know if this was $50 for parking fees at the airport- or months of rent (which shouldn’t be their problem, they paid her big money to accept this job- housing is her problem.)

Then off to executive session- with the new board members in the room to “bring them up to speed.” The public meeting ended at around 7:15, they sent the new members home at 8:30 or so. They then returned to executive session and voted 6-0 to put Rhonda Corr on administrative leave due to findings in the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission complaints filed by Dr. Markay Winston (a Corr hire) and Connie Selano. Even though Dr. Elizabeth Lolli was named in the complaint by Winston, the board chose to put her in charge of the district with Corr’s pay and her existing benefits package.

This decision came close to midnight- and, the DPS video crew, security, and others, had to sit and wait it out, all on the clock.

Dayton Board of Education Meeting Part 2

November Business Meeting Part 2 11/21/17

Posted by Dayton Public Schools on Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Early this morning in a text conversation, Dr. Lolli said to me that she will serve as long as the district needs. She looks forward to proving herself to the new board and has a deep love go the kids here and believes in the potential of the staff to turn this district around.

The other on hand superintendent possibilities are Dr. Sheila Burton, Dr. Greg Roberson (a finalist in the last superintendent pool), Erin Dooley, and maybe one or two others who have the credentials.

Considering this action by the old board, will have profound effect on the new board, it is a very strange mess we have ourselves in. With about 5 weeks left in their terms, should these three existing members be involved in cleaning their own mess up? And, since the others ignored the Baguirov eligibility issue- should they be trusted? Only in a dysfunctional district would have these questions. And, btw, the only board member being paid at this point in the year, is Rev. Harris. Ohio has a cap of $5K to pay a school board member annually, and our meeting happy board usually exhausts the funds by August each year.

Welcome to Dayton Public Schools Superintendent Lolli. Please put the train back on the tracks.

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.

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 DPS investigation

It’s been three business days since I published the post that clearly identifies a serious problem with the residency requirement for school board member Dr. Adil Baguirov. You’d think the local news would pick the story up, or that the prosecutors office or the board of elections would have a statement? Nope. You’d think other school board members would be calling for an investigation- nada.

However, when the Dunbar coaches played an ineligible player against Belmont, knowing that he had played the week before at Taft as ineligible, there has been no stone left uncovered. Fingers pointed everywhere- and now the Ohio High School Athletic Association has weighed in as well- with probation and a fine. Wow.

I requested both the report from the Director Safety & Security, Jamie Bullens, a former Dayton cop with plenty of experience, and the OHSAA report and read them.

thumbnail of OHSAA Ruling – 4.7.17

OSHAA Report

thumbnail of Investigative Summary – Dunbar Eligibility

DPS internal report

Reading them, all I can say is add another ring to the three ring circus, with the coaches, athletic directors, principals all looking like clowns on parade.

How do you have a star quarterback failing to maintain his C average in the first place? There are no excuses for this- once again, Dayton Public Schools fails a student- all the rest really doesn’t matter.

Not a single one of these people did what was right for the students, and this goes all the way to the Superintendent.

The reason I bring her in, is because previously, David Lawrence was the guy who was over the rookie athletic director- and was known for his attention to the details of eligibility. Once Corr had demoted him, she forgot to appoint someone else to keep tabs on athletics- mostly, because she’s too busy at the same time with the self-created budget crisis and RIF that turned the entire district upside down for the entire month of November.

Here is the DPS Organizational chart- having LaMark Baker reporting directly to Rhonda Corr- the chart was supplied to me on Feb 3, 2017.

thumbnail of DPS org chart Feb 3 2017

Dayton Public Schools Org Chart 3 Feb 2017

For the people who worry about the $10K fine- really? Considering Corr and the board had no problem spending 20+x that to buy out Lawrence’s contract- as well as to pay off Lori Ward, as well as for unnecessary time clocks ($400K) or to hire the most expensive ad agency to do sub-par work, or buy buses from people who do business with Dr. Baguirov….

If Dayton really cared about the students, we’d end this circus by having a judge recall the entire board, fire the superintendent and treasurer for gross incompetence, and ask the state to install a professional team to supervise the schools and pick a new superintendent.

The best choice to run the district is Dr. Elisabeth Lolli, who seems both competent and has integrity.

In the meantime, we’ll wait to see if anyone has the gumption or brains to ask Baguirov to step down.