DPS continues controversy with bizarre moves

The Ohio High School Athletics Association sent a clear signal to Dayton Public Schools last year after they identified DPS District Athletic Director Mark Baker as the linchpin to the attempt to throw the Dunbar/Belmont football game. Instead of letting Baker go, and moving forward, DPS under former Superintendent Rhonda Corr, dug its heals in and gave him a two year contract.

This is what happens when people like City Commissioner Jeff Mims is advocating for you from the sidelines. Even though Mims left the school board and the state school board for his eventual throne on the City Commission, he still thinks he’s the man behind the curtain at DPS. Why else would he be the co-chair of the illegal task force on School Closings?

When OHSAA vacated Dunbar’s win in the tournament for failure to sit players for 2 games due to the bench clearing brawl at Thurgood in January, moving Thurgood back into the tournament, DPS decides to go to court to force Thurgood out and Dunbar back in. How does this help DPS students at Thurgood?

Legal action should have been taken against OHSAA- when they declared that students enrolled in Charter Schools now had to play sports at the school closest to their home- instead of closest to their charter school- and kids were torn from program after program- DPS sat on their hands. Because they aren’t really in it for the kids- they are in it for the money, just like the charters.

thumbnail of Incident File – Dunbar v Belmont – 1.26.18 – Redacted_Redacted

Redaction done by DPS staff. Click document to view full PDF

Defending Dunbar and Rookie Coach Chuck Taylor seems odd, especially after they had ordered Chuck to sit two games for his calling a parent a bitch. I’m unable to confirm if Taylor did in fact sit two games. From the attached reports on that incident:

Mr. Taylor in the Dayton Public Schools Athletic Handbook it states: Our goal is to not only be successful in our endeavors, but also to act according to the ideals of both good sportsmanship and good conduct on and off the court. Our program should operate with: integrity, honor, respect, and accountability. The use of the word “Bitch” to refer to a parent regardless of the situation showed a disrespect for women and our parents in which the Dunbar Varsity Team and the Dayton Community witnessed. This sets a poor example for the young men under your leadership.
Due to the severity of this incident I am imposing a two game suspension that will be served on Tuesday, January 30, 2018 and Friday, Friday February 2, 2018. Lastly we cannot always control the actions of our parents but we must control the way we react to them.

The program has been in total disarray since Baker was given his contract, and then forced the most successful coach in Dayton athletic history to the side to replace him with Taylor.

I’ve been informed that both Mark Baker and Dunbar principal Crystal Phillips are on paid administrative leave right now. This is unconfirmed at this point.

Acting Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli held a really stupid, short press conference on Thursday night with the three members of the slate, Harris, Al-Hamdani, and Wick-Gagnet standing mute behind her. The board members refused to comment, however, the choice of the three is telling.

The three remaining members who made the mistake of hiring Baker and letting former coach Pullen go, were no where to be seen: McManus, Walker and Taylor.

The lone independent candidate, Jocelyn Rhynard, seems to be doing her standard silent analysis of the issues, and may or may not weigh in before this is said and done. She’s cautious to the point of being ineffective so far.

What seems to be missing from all this is accountability at the top. Over Mark Baker according to the organization chart left over from the Corr era- is PR hack Marsha Bonhart, who had to have a hand in directing the press conference where nothing good was done.

It’s obvious that Lolli has no idea of how this is playing publicly. since she has zero connection to the community. Generally, this is seen as an embarrassing sidestepping of the actual need for action.

Litigation is never the best strategy for the court of public opinion unless you are either the underdog or absolutely guaranteed a win. DPS is neither in this case and will end up with even more egg on their face.

The only right course of action was to fire Bonhart, Baker, Phillips, Taylor and allow Thurgood to move forward and put this shitshow behind us and beg forgiveness from OHSAA.

Instead, we’re risking expulsion from OHSAA if we lose, and then, DPS will see even more exodus of students who used to stay in Dayton to be a part of powerhouse sports programs.

This school board and superintendent are getting horrible legal and strategic PR advice. You read it here first.

DPS: Special meetings are to avoid scrutiny

The announcement came on Thursday the 22nd- which is a day earlier than normal.

The Board wants to meet Thursday February 27, 2018 at 5pm to have an: “Executive Session to consider the employment, dismissal, discipline, or compensation of public employees and to investigate charges and complaints against a public employee.

The Board may choose to reconvene in public session for the purpose of conducting a public vote.”

That’s boilerplate text- and my guess is this will be where they make Dr. Elizabeth Lolli the Superintendent, with a multi-year contract, without public input, without asking the community how they feel about her, or where there is any opportunity for anyone else to apply.

And you know what? That’s just fine, because after I’m done with my lawsuit- and the judge finds that the Task Force met in violation of the Sunshine laws, Lolli, Burton, Abraha, Al-Hamdani, Walker and Harris, will all be unable to take action on closing any schools- because they discussed the issue in an illegal meeting.

If you need to see the visuals of the illegal meeting- the one the judge will review- watch “Goodbye Sunshine”

Unfortunately, this board is just as much of a mess as the last board, despite their shorter meetings.

At the community session on Thursday at Meadowdale Elementary, the community groups said the same thing over and over:

  • Safety
  • Communications and Transparency
  • Have a plan and stick to it

Unfortunately, there was only one board member actively engaging the community, Jocelyn Rhynard. The other board members, Walker, Al-Hamdani, Harris and Commissioner Mims, all stood off to the side, either talking to each other, or observing. Same can be said of Lolli, and DPS communications guru Marsha Bonhart.

As I walked from table to table, group to group, I recognized people at every table. And I kept thinking to myself, if David Lawrence was Superintendent, one, we wouldn’t be having a community in an uproar, because he actually understands and knows the issues and the community members- but, that he’d have his sleeves rolled up and be actively engaging and learning from the groups.

That’s why we need to have a board that comes clean on its plans for a superintendent in advance, and give the community an opportunity to weigh in.

Just remember, another man the last board passed over to hire Rhonda Corr – went to Springboro schools, which had been in turmoil, and brought order and pride back to a challenged district. That man, Dan Schroer, also managed to get Springboro to pass a levy on the first try ever.

I warned you about what would happen with Joey Williams. I’m warning you again, this board doesn’t understand open and honest communications, and as long as they feel the need to keep pulling secret meetings, emergency meetings, they will never earn the trust of the community.

And they won’t move this district forward.

thumbnail of Lolli’s smoking gun email

Before Al-Hamdani is in office, only he and Harris are in the loop

In the 171 pages of internal communications they released to me through a public records request- there was this gem from Elizabeth Lolli to Bill Harris’s private email and Al-Hamdani’s private email before Al-Hamdani had even taken office:

2. We have the first meeting of the Facilities Task Force on Tuesday, January 9 from 9:30-11 :00. The agenda includes a review of the district data that we have collected. I will make sure that you receive the same information Tuesday evening.

3. DPS has officially joined the Montgomery County ESC Business Advisory Group. The group has been meeting (Superintendents, Reps for the Superintendents and a consultant from MCESC) to develop the Ohio Department of Education Business Advisory Plan. They have been meeting monthly to write the plan, but after the plan is submitted in March, the meetings will be quarterly.

4. I am meeting with Phil Parker and Rick Stover on Friday to discuss the Accountability Panel and suggested changes they have for that group. We will also begin to plan out how best to rework the Contract with the Community. I will update you after the meeting to share the ideas they have and gain your input.

5. Tommy Owens met with me on Friday. He is suggesting that the BOE hire his firm to do the “grass roots” marketing for the district. He indicated a guess contract amount would be around $45,000.00 and he requested that we agree to hire him for two years ($90,000.00) if his company is hired. Please be prepared to weigh in with me on this idea. We currently have two PR people and we employ the Ohlmann Group.

7. Hiwot and I have our monthly review meeting with the Mayor and Shelley Dickstein on Wednesday. am meeting with Bill Burges on Friday to discuss a strategic communications plan that will include recruiting our students back to DPS.

What do you need to know about this: The Facilities Task Force is a district committee- being given privileged information. The district is now part of the Montgomery County ESC advisory group- the same ESC that I was denied the ability to serve on the board of. Lolli is making a beeline for Phil Parker of the Dayton Chamber of Commerce and Rick Stover– who is tied to everything business interest in Dayton- including CityWide Development. She’s talking to Tommy Owens – about marketing, when she wouldn’t talk to me, and also meeting with Bill Burges from Cleveland- who ran the campaign for “The Slate” of Harris, Al-Hamdani, Wick and the unfortunate loser Paul Bradley.

Used to be this had to go through purchasing- because it was mandated- now, we can just hire at will. BTW- someone find a company website for Tommy Owens please? I can’t find it.

Lolli isn’t working for the full board. She’s not informing the full board. If I was the board members cut out of these communications, I’d fire her.

But, then again, 3 of the board members were involved with hiring Rhonda Corr over David Lawrence and can’t admit they made a mistake. And four new board members don’t know what the Sunshine laws are.

Same screwed up situation, different actors. Sorry people, Tricks are for kids, not the way you move a district forward.

 

Commissioner Joey Williams promises not to cost taxpayers a standalone special election

Joey D. Williams- in ofice

Spelling error

The clock is ticking on when Dayton City Commissioner Joey Williams can resign, without causing a special election.

Word is that the responsibilities of his new job as president of Key Bank, raising kids, and having his wife working far away are demanding.

If Williams was to resign- there has to be a special election, unless a regularly scheduled election is eminent.

Sec. 5. – Vacancies.
Vacancies in the office of Commissioner shall be filled by special election to be held on a date determined by the Commission by ordinance, which date shall be not earlier than 60 days nor later than 90 days after such vacancy occurs, except that any vacancy resulting from a recall election shall be filed in the manner provided therefor.
The requirement of gathering 500 signatures is the issue- time has to be provided to gather them.
There is nothing specific in the charter about a minimum amount of time a petition can be out to qualify to get on the ballot. There is this however, suggesting the time line should be 90 days:
Sec. 24. – Time of Filing.
Which would preclude it happening for the primary.
However the question about timing for the general in the fall is key. When Mark Henry resigned, he did it immediately following the primary, allowing candidates to gather signatures and run for the special in November. Specials bring many candidates- since there is no run off election to thin the herd.
The fact that Mark Owens and the Montgomery County dems backed off from endorsing Carolyn Rice who is running from a protected seat to fill Dan Foley’s County Commission seat- and Mark Owens (Clerk of Dayton Muni Court and head of the party) said they had two good candidates including Rev. Daryl Ward- lends credence to them planning if Daryl loses to Carolyn in the primary- they can then usher him directly into Commissioner Williams seat, once again bypassing Rev. Darryl Fairchild who dropped out of the race when they endorsed Jeff Mims, and promised him a future endorsement- which they reneged on and gave to Chris Shaw.
This isn’t real news btw, since Williams has not resigned. However, it is insurance that Commissioner Williams won’t step down and cost the tax payers a standalone special election by his poor choice of timing. Standalone special elections are traditionally very expensive and have low turnout. Williams is too responsible of a public servant to do this to the people of Dayton.

DPS school closing task force- first meeting

This time, there were chairs for an audience. Didn’t stop Channel 7 and the paper for claiming they were the ones who stopped the first meeting (by leaving the room). All the TV stations were there. Noticeably absent was Dr. Robert Walker, board member. But DPS was there in force- Dr. Lolli, Dr. Burton, Treasurer Hiwot Abraha, head of facilities Richard Reyford, and of course the PR dept. Marsha Bonhart and Dr. Venita Kelley.

The district even filmed it.

I did too- and made a little video of the pertinent parts about the open meetings laws:

thumbnail of PRR – School Facilities Task Force 2 – 1.24.18

Future Think, formerly DeJong-Healy offered a summation of their study on enrollment projections

I wasn’t given a packet- but DDn reporter Jeremy Kelly offered his up for me to photograph. I later asked the district for digital copies and got scans of printouts (not ADA compliant)- which I am sharing here.

I took photos of the votes on the white board. I’m posting those. Each member was given two dots- to help rank what they thought was most important.

The task force added two members thanks to pressure from the NAACP- Loretta Williams- their education director, and another minister. At the NAACP meeting the minister to people ratio was probably 20-1. When you consider that both African American school board members are ministers- we now have 3 ministers on this task force- and still not a single parent, student, or non-affiliated community member.

The task force asked for more data- and all of it was from the district- once again, proving that this is an official committee of the district- fully required to be open meetings compliant. The information that they were asking for wasn’t rocket science- and should have already been gathered and available to the internal administrators of DPS- who should have been able to do this themselves- because that’s what they are paid to do.

However, it’s pretty obvious from Dr. Burton’s first spreadsheet presentation in December- right up to yesterday, that she’s a blithering idiot pretending to be smart.

The slides with the building costs per student are all incredibly incendiary because  she includes the Jackson Center building which is housing the former Longfellow students. Something like 30 students, 3 teachers- and a whole building to heat and light. Outliers like that shouldn’t be part of your curve. Shock factor for stupid people. If you pulled that shit in a board room of professionals you’d be fired on the spot- after they laugh you out of the room for even presenting it.

I’ll say it again, including Dr. Tom Lasley of “Learn to Earn” is like GM inviting Fiat Chrysler in to decide what plants to close. The man has his own tax funded, un-regulated school board, that hands out public tax dollars to private companies to take DPS students away from the district for substandard pre-schools.

This is a WTF inclusion on a task force that for the most part, may be smart people, but, when you get down to the reality of it all- we pay professional administrators in DPS to do this work, including our interim Superintendent, and have a school board who we elect, to make these decisions. This is a total abdication of their responsibilities and handing off public decisions to private enterprise. Which, of course, is what caused all these issues in the first place- since DPS has been losing students to less-regulated, charter schools, which for the most part- either perform on-par or much below DPS.

thumbnail of ED498849

We’ve been there, done that when it comes to performance

The task force is “studying building closures” – a facilities decision, yet are asking a lot of questions about school performance and quality. This is outside of their assignment, but what would normally be done by an accountable superintendent. Here is 96 pages of the same bullshit from the “Council of the Great City Schools” from 2002 talking about fixing the schools. No need for more study- what’s been missing is competent leadership that can restore faith, order and competence to the community.

When it comes to facilities and performance, now that the only people who will benefit are the people who have designs on acquiring the closed buildings after 2 years of vacancy for pennies on the dollar, or those that receive income tax dollars from the employees- we have to realize that the buildings, the locations of the buildings and the where the students live that go to those buildings have NOTHING to do with the educational performance in the buildings. Educational performance is people- buildings are just a tool. Oakwood does fine with 100 year old buildings, we could too. This task force should be limited purely to operational efficiencies- which mean costs of transportation, costs of keeping the buildings open, and how to best fit the students we have into the least number of buildings for efficient operation. We bus kids no matter what. Walking is so last century.

The obvious answers on reducing operating costs is to close Valerie- because it’s an old building, shut down Longfellow at Jackson Center, sell off HQ and the building across the street. Reduce HQ staff costs which are among the highest in the state. Move back to the old HQ on First Street- or lease back a tiny bit of Ludlow from it’s new owner. Sell off the vacant land that the district is still maintaining and then temporarily close EJ Brown which is a mess. Make a decision on if you are a PK-8, PK-6, 7-12. or 9-12 or whatever- configuration and stick to it.

Then aggressively work to bring kids back into the district over the next two years. Ask everyone in the district making more than $100K a year to take a pay cut to $100K with bonuses if they bring kids back to the district- and if they get “A” grades in annual progress. Put your money where you mouth is.

thumbnail of PRR – School Facilities Task Force 1 – 1.24.18

DPS School closing task force handout- glaringly incomplete

The agenda for tours should tell people something- first three buildings are Valerie, Meadowdale Elementary and Wogaman. Two are in Harrison Township and pay no Dayton income taxes.

The reality of this whole exercise is that the people we elect, and they pay, to run our schools are being subverted by an ad hoc organization with no accountability to the people of the city of Dayton.

Our new “interim superintendent” is handing over this process to City Manager Shelly Dickstein and the people can sit in the back without any input as these outsiders overrule home rule.

The entire school board should be recalled for abdication of duty, but since Ohio makes it almost impossible to do, we’re stuck with what we have.

Reverend Harris and Mohamed Al-Hamdani are driven by other factors, mostly their own egos.

Al-Hamdani has already been rewarded with a job in the county building- working for Russ Joseph in the County Clerks office. This hasn’t yet been made public. Note, Board member Sheila Taylor works in the City Clerks office where Russ Joseph used to be her boss. When the local party controls two members via their patronage jobs, we’re already in trouble.

This task force can only bring more trouble.

The board needs to start interviewing for a real superintendent, and figure out who can lead this district, because right now- it’s not them, it’s not the interim superintendent and it certainly isn’t the staff, who sprung this on the community at the last minute.

  • Dayton Public Schools closing task force priorities
    The task forces’s voting on priorities
  • Dayton Public Schools building closing task force guiding principles
    Dayton Public Schools building closing task force guiding principles

 

 

 

Task force conflict of interest?

A reader pointed out an overlooked relationship.

Dayton City Commissioner Jeff Mims

Dayton City Commissioner Jeff Mims

Dayton City Commissioner Jeff Mims, formerly of the State Board of Education, formerly of the DPS Board of Education is supposed to be the building closing task force co-chair with Mohamed Al-Hamdani who will be seated to the school board tonight.

His daughter, LaDawn Mims-Morrow is the principal of Residence Park Elementary (AKA World of Wonder). It’s one of the schools on the closing list- and gained fame when a 7-year old student was stabbed on the playground during recess. The assailant was never found.

How Mims can serve on a task force where an immediate family member is affected is just one more question this community needs to ask.

Of course, since they want to hold all their meetings in private in violation of the Ohio Sunshine Laws, we won’t be able to ask that question.