Judges rule, Superintendents lie on the stand. Chaos as usual for DPS

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Judge Skelton’s decision, click to download full pdf

Judge Richard Skelton issued his ruling around 1:30 today. I was on an airplane headed back to Cincinnati from a quick trip to Tampa.

I went live on Facebook from  the airport, and then spent the trip back to Dayton talking the case over with friends who know mire than me, and calling the Ohio Attorney General’s Open Government Unit.

The decision was a split. I won on the major issue of if the task force was a public body and had to comply with the Open Meetings Act. That was a major hurdle- after the amount of BS the defense threw at the Judge claiming it wasn’t.

However, the judge refused to offer a temporary injunction banning the board from acting on the school closings because he said I failed to prove that the bus tour engaged in deliberations.

First, how could I tell the judge what happened in a meeting I wasn’t allowed to attend?

And, second, since the issue wasn’t subject to the privilege of executive session, the meeting was illegal.

But, Lolli said on the stand, they just observed and got briefed. The Judge created some kind of third kind of meeting- that isn’t defined by law- of an “information gathering session” which he thinks is exempt from public scrutiny. Here he makes an error. The contents of a meeting that isn’t open- and isn’t covered by executive session rules- is illegal. Period. (if any of you want to transcribe her lies, and put the time code of what she says and put it in comments- I’d be very appreciative).

You can watch the video of the court proceedings and hear Lolli use the “noise of the bus” as an excuse to say no discussions took place. Only problem is, the newspaper reporter, Jeremy Kelley of the Dayton Daily News wrote an article that day that said discussion did take place:

When the bus arrived, acting DPS superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said any members of the group who were tied to Dayton city government should not take part in the tour. City Commissioner Jeff Mims said that was because of “legal issues we’re dealing with.”

The remaining members of the task force briefly toured Valerie Elementary’s kitchen, gym/cafeteria, mechanical rooms and one classroom that was not in use. At 52 years old, Valerie is one of the few schools that pre-dates DPS’ building boom of last decade.

Lolli and associate superintendent Sheila Burton gave task force members detailed data on where the students attending each DPS school live, to show population concentrations, and how many students are traveling across the city each day.

As the task force headed back to the bus, Lolli told the group that legal counsel for the school district had advised the task force to stop the remaining school tours.

The group’s bus then drove to the two remaining schools, Meadowdale and Wogaman, stopping in each parking lot for a few minutes to hear information about enrollment numbers and each school’s physical condition. At each stop, one or two task force

members asked questions seeking clarity on the data. But the task force members did not leave the bus, and eventually returned to DPS headquarters.

Source: Dayton schools: Task force halts planned tours after challenge

As far as did they violate the law- it’s obvious they did. Why the judge refuses to stop them from adopting resolutions based on illegal meetings is beyond me.

The board is also trying to hastily hire Libby Lolli tomorrow night at 5pm. I highly recommend all of you come out and suggest that they haven’t done their due diligence or provided the public enough time to review the contract or the terms. Hiring a superintendent in the midst of turmoil is exactly how the last bad decision to hire a superintendent got made.

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.