The public crucifixion of Dunbar Coach Darren Powell

The DPS board meeting was not streamed. And the end of my video will be the camera locked in, wide- because I was asked to leave by security.

Dr. Adil Baguirov was excused at the beginning because he was “traveling.” It’s probably the reason the tech steering committee meeting was cancelled today as well. Sadly, no staff is capable of running that meeting, because, well, there is no IT director for the district right now thanks to the Fall RIF.

This was a night for speeches. Board Member McManus was scheduled to speak before public comments- for a special presentation, but at the last minute, it was moved to after public comment. Yet, Joe Lacey got to make an unscheduled ramble about how important teachers are- because the house was once again packed with them- all wondering why contract negotiations were at a standstill.

Former DPS teacher “Mr. U”- Brian Urquhart got up and had the audience joining in – “it doesn’t buy the groceries, it doesn’t pay the bills” to address the lack of a contract.

I got up and apologized for interrupting the board meeting last week- because they couldn’t stay on topic, asking why teachers had lesson plans, and the board didn’t. I gave them an “F” and called for the board to get an independent parliamentarian to guide them- pointing out “new business” is for voting items- not for speeches, and that the superintendent is who they address- not staff. I questioned how 4 Stivers teachers are resigning- as well as her Chief Academic Officer- and how they can spend so much on legal fees- but still not have a negotiating team at the table.

One teacher in attendance wrote this on Facebook “Get out the BBQ sauce, because David Esrati just grilled the DPSBOE.”

But, the more interesting part was the McManus ramble of our refined Southern Gentleman- who had had enough of Board members working in the dark. He asked for a clear strategic plan, and regular updates on how we’re moving toward goals. It took a while, but it was clear by the end that he felt bamboozled by the Superintendent and the Treasurer on both the RIF and the Marketing Contract fiasco. It wasn’t fire and brimstone of one of our black ministers, but, for John McManus it was an epic earful. Considering at least 3 and probably 4 seats will be occupied by someone else come January, it was pretty clear that this superintendent better learn how to inform the board better or she may be gone.

Then came the HR vote. That four teachers were leaving Stivers was unheard of. It wasn’t mentioned. What did happen is Joe Lacey asked for line 91 to be voted separately. Since Board Doc’s is worthless on mobile- I had to ask Dayton Daily news reporter Jeremy Kelley to confirm what I thought line 91 was – and it was the supplemental contract to hire Darren Powell as coach of the Dunbar football team for next fall. The role was called, Ron Lee abstained, later blaming it on his many absences. McManus, Walker, Rountree voted yes, Lacey voted no and then Taylor voted no. Lacey chimed in “it takes 4 to hire” and just like that- Darren Powell was publicly crucified for a whole bunch of peoples failures- including district Athletic Director LaMark Baker, who according to the Ohio High School Athletic Association was the primary party in the Dunbar/Belmont fiasco. The same Mark Baker that got a rushed 2 year contract a few months ago- before the ink on the reports was dry.

That they hired Belmont Coach/AD Earl White back to both positions just previous once again points to the failures of the DPS HR Department. The jobs were all specifically posted to exclude that possibility, making the entire athletic contract awards process tainted. Is it any wonder the board just allocated a quarter of a million plus for outside legal counsel. They know they’re going to need it.

After the vote, I got in trouble. I asked, “So who is going to be the Dunbar football coach?” Legitimate question. No response had me asking again. Because, well, you can’t have a team without a coach, and practice is NOW. This is a question the Superintendent should have had an answer for. This is proof that this board doesn’t respect their Superintendent by hanging her out to dry on her choice for head coach.

Many believe this entire mess was the final straw for Dr. Markay Winston, and why she resigned.

Needless to say, no one answered. But Rountree made a speech, Lee made excuses, and, if Walker said anything, I don’t remember it- possibly because I was talking on Mr. U’s phone to coach Powell’s father- outside the room.

Lawsuits may come, another coach may be named, but, all that vote did was screw the kids at Dunbar out of a coach, and leave the program in the midst of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Exactly the wrong three words you want to hear when running anything, unless your goal is to run it into the ground.

Hopefully, I’ll have video up tomorrow.

DPS as the wheels fall off

Tonight at 5:30pm should be an epic board meeting. Never mind that the teachers union and the district aren’t talking, but, there are certainly things to talk about.

As we reported last Thursday. Dr. Markay Winston, the handpicked Chief Academic Officer’s resignation is on the agenda. How can a board have faith in a superintendent who can’t keep her own deputies on the job?

Also on the agenda- is some athletic supplemental contracts. Apparently the district just figured out that August is too late to hire your football coaches. But, wait, there’s Belmont Football Coach Earl White- and, and, he’s both getting to be the AD and the Head Football Coach. Wasn’t that specifically banned in the job postings? Wasn’t this one of the things the principals all said- “fat chance Rhonda, we have a hard enough time getting qualified people into those positions.” How can they hire based on postings that were wrong without inviting lawsuits?

And as if the Dunbar/Belmont fiasco didn’t happen, coach Darren Powell will get to continue with the Dunbar program. Net result of this fiasco for those involved- AD Pete Pullen stepped down, Baker gets a 2 year undeserved contract, and Winston, who was on top- resigns, although ostensibly, not over this mess.

The board is working on their evaluations of their hires- Corr, Treasurer Hiwot Abraha and internal auditor Randall Harper. Why they aren’t evaluating their legal counsel, executive secretary etc – I’m not sure.

Corr and Abraha deserve failing grades. Harper needs to find his voice. There are things that he should have stepped in and stopped multiple times, the most flagrant foul that he passed on was the involvement in the purchasing process by the ineligible board member Adil Baguirov with his bus buy. Board members don’t negotiate deals in districts that are run properly.

As to their legal counsel, there needs to be an evaluation of the districts legal strategies. The amount being spent on outside firms in addition to the internal position adds up quickly. The fact that the legal bills are mounting should figure partially into the performance review of Corr, who has become walking lawsuit bait. Additional lawsuits over the RIF are in the pipeline as are others about discrimination and adverse work environments.

Rumors are rampant that there are still teachers planning “resignation parties” before the July 10 deadline. The fact that there are teachers resigning from Stivers should set off alarm bells at the top. That’s the one building that’s got a positive work environment and is meeting expectations.

There may be some other surprises in store. We’ll have film running, and be there to watch the circus. If you care about DPS, you may want to be there too.

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.