Why speak to a board that doesn’t listen, doesn’t respond, and brought on the chaos and confusion that has ruled their last year- the reign of Rookie Superintendent Rhonda Corr?
The union voted almost unanimously to send a message – no confidence in the school board, no confidence in Rhonda Corr. There was no discussion of this. Just a lot of glad handing themselves and passing out participation trophies to each other for having a first day where kids got picked up and delivered by buses that ran on time. Seriously- every other district in the country can do this, only the worst district in the state can’t get this right.
So what should have happened?
After the vote to accept the contract, the issue of the no confidence vote should have been brought up.
The board should have responded with a public vote of confidence or no confidence in the superintendent- so the public can know where they stand.
Although this can be done in executive session, this is a litmus test vote to let the people they represent know how they feel about the performance of the superintendent. It’s a hard decision- but a necessary one. Sticking your heads in the sand is not an option. A no confidence vote is a serious issue considering the entire DEA is half the districts workforce- and without them- there is no district.
Another scenario- John McManus, the only functional member of the board, should have said immediately after the ratification of the DEA contract, “while we are patting ourselves on the back for settling this contract at the last possible minute, may I remind the board that there are 10 other bargaining units, and none of those are settled. Our Superintendent, although claiming to be a master negotiator, cost us over $150K to Huffmaster for nothing. We let this happen. I am hearby promising to tender my conditional resignation to the new board members when they take office in the spirit of healing and recognition of the failures of this board in the past year to guide this organization in a way that would have earned the respect of the professionals we employ.
I would also ask the other two board members, Dr. Walker and Ms. Taylor to join me in this move.
To the four existing board members who have earned this vote of no confidence, I ask that you pledge to resign the day after the election results are finalized and make way for the new board immediately so this process of healing can proceed at the fastest possible pace.
As to the no-confidence vote in the Superintendent, I voice my own opinion of her performance and ask that each of you do that now. It’s time to clarify to those we represent what we think of her performance in light of this move by the DEA. If there aren’t four votes of confidence in her favor, I ask that we work to negotiate her separation from this district to be effective immediately, and Dr. Lolli be asked to serve as interim superintendent until the new board is in place.”
Of course, since McManus is the quintessential southern gentleman, we can’t expect him to go out on a limb and do the right thing.
As to the other 6, they have no clue what the right thing is.
I will be organizing a candidates forum soon for the 7 challengers. I don’t think there is any reason to give Mr. Lacey an opportunity to speak at this forum, since it’s been quite obvious that he’s had plenty of time to speak- including last night, and didn’t. The voters want change, and there is no reason to even consider his re-election.
If you disagree with not allowing him to participate- please rewatch this video:
Sorry, I’ve been busy with the real world lately, not enough time to spare to write about the soap opera/tragedy/dramady that’s the Dayton Public Schools over the last 2 weeks.
I’ll start with the contributions of the only Board Member who is running for re-election that we know of- Joe Lacey. He shouldn’t. That said, here’s his genius share at the last meeting, at the end, in closing comments, yes, our preliminary test scores went up, but, so did everyone in the state- and they went up more. So, our Annual Yearly Progress- the factor that “saved us” from State takeover and was a false flag to rally around, isn’t really happening. In fact, we still suck. Yet, Rhonda has a 3 year extension. Go figure.
Tonight, he decided to stick his foot in his mouth discussing the retirement of Horace Lovelace, one of the few master principals the district still has working for it. Apparently, the amazing thing about Mr. Lovelace was that, according to Lacey, was that Lovelace could do such amazing things with the problem children (aka black boys). Joe still doesn’t understand the why of single sex schooling – and as the meeting took a break before the executive session, he was called out by two Kiser employees who read him the riot act. He tried to wiggle out of his racist comment as a misstatement. The ignorance was deafening. I’ve got it on tape- so come election season, he can expect to see it combined with his past escapades of disrespecting the public combined into a very nice video hit piece to make sure he doesn’t return to do more damage to the district.
I’ve been waiting for someone to help me out and pull all the HR spreadsheets from June 10, 2016 to June 10 2017 to clearly show how many teachers, administrators and staff have abandoned ship. 20% attrition is probably on the low side- but Ms. Judy Spurlock actually told the board, without any facts, that it was lower. No one caught it. Rookie Rhonda said 20% attrition is normal- to which the proper answer should have been, you’re fired, but no one on the board has a spine, or a functioning brain attached. No organization can afford a 20% attrition rate- the turnover costs alone, in terms of onboarding, hiring, training, mentoring and then the acclimation process almost guarantees failure, or if nothing else, a stepping stone district, which is what we will forever be until we offer competitive pay.
Here’s an NPR article from 2016 lamenting the 8% attrition rate and the teacher shortage.
Also on the agenda was another incompetent incomplete presentation by Dr. Sheila Burton. One slide with four changes in transportation. Back to zones, 4 bell times, no 30 minute rides, and last but not least- cutting off transportation to private day care. The board jumped on this last one- telling day care operators to buy their own damn buses. McManus in particular. Then came public comments and the truth about the daycare situation came out- parents can’t send their kids to DPS if they don’t have day care. All the kids are Title 20 funded- and it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. You want to drive parents out of the district- or to charter schools- that often include after school care…. next you know- the board and district are reversing themselves. Nevermind, the busing situation with 4 bell times makes a mess for parents with kids going to different schools. Only an idiot would think that 4 bell times is the answer.
Of course, the answer, which I proposed in the short film, “There ain’t no “F” in Dayton,” of staffed neighborhood bus stops never was in the mix. That would save the district time, gas, and cut down on the number of accidents caused by trying to take buses down streets designed for horse and buggy. It also helps with attendance issues- and building community relations- but, nooooo……
Last meeting, this meeting, resignations keep coming. Corr even admitted that she couldn’t find a replacement for Horace Lovelace this late in the season, but, why worry, she’s too busy paying $160K to Huffmaster to PREPARE for hiring replacements for the strike.
Yep- they get the money whether the negotiations work or not. After the strike begins, then we start paying as many as 600 temporary teachers to half-ass do what 800 full time teachers under her command still fail at- make real, tangible academic progress and stop the district from being a shit show.
The strike vote has been taken. She still thinks there is a chance to play hardball with the DEA, despite ignoring every warning sign that they are sick of this BS coming from downtown. We have no money and have to RIF in November, then we have money to buy out a capable administrator, who by the way, was replaced by three people, 2 of which she hand picked, paid more- and then had one quit after a year. And, btw- we still had money to give administrators a $300 to $350 a month expense bonus…. and we don’t have money for a raise after 4 years? Rhonda’s own contract is richer than former superintendent Lori Wards.
This week, she hired 2 $90K administrators to handle PR- without even notifying the other applicants that the job was filled. Previously, the old PIO made less than that- with 30+ years with the district. And this is on top of her hiring the most expensive ad agency bid on the RFQ last spring. Welcome to DPS Marsha Bonhart – formerly of Channel 2 and DCDC- to your new $87K a year position of Director of Public Relations and Media, and Dr. Vernita Kelly who will make $89K a year as Director of Strategic Communications and Public Relations. I assume they will also both get the $300 a month expense accounts as well… but Rhonda says these two replace 3- maybe 4 positions, since they hadn’t filled Jill Moberley’s job, Jill Drury’s job or Ken Kreitzer’s job. Oh, and remember- Drury was the only one who knew how to manage their website. I know Marsha, and she’s not going to be actually running the website or designing the brochures- and I’ve yet to meet a PhD who could either…. hmmmmm.
And, btw- where is either of these ladies experience with turning around a failing brand?
There were questions tonight on the hiring of Miami University to to an IT survey. Since the contract was under $50K, it wasn’t bid. But, for this, the board wanted a presentation on what they’d do. Yet, when the PR contract was bid, they were told that their involvement in the evaluation process was strictly verboten and would be a problem- even though it was for $350K. Nice way to stick to standards.
The news media was all there- and asking questions of Rhonda and Board President Dr. Walker about the strike. The reality is, they are the reason there will be a strike, and they refuse to take responsibility. That the community isn’t calling for a replacement board, or state takeover at this point is unreal.
Just another performance of the greatest (side) show on earth. Welcome to Dayton Public schools.
Afterthought: better use of the Huffmaster money by the board: fire Rhonda, settle with the teachers, and move forward.
At last nights Dayton Board of Education circus, there were two prepared speeches. One was on the agenda, and was supposed to go before citizen comments- from John McManus, and the other, came out of left field and was read by Joe Lacey.
Lacey was grandstanding, suggesting that the board that brought this rookie superintendent into the district to raise havoc, was soundly behind the teachers and valued them. This despite the breakdown of contract negotiations after Rhonda Corr kicked the professional negotiators out and tried to do it herself.
Talk is cheap. And Lacey is the only one running for re-election.
I’d not prepared a speech, because I was hoping to respond or build on what McManus would say. I knew something was coming, although I didn’t know what it would be. As usual, he’s too much of a southern gentleman to actually name names or point a finger directly, but, it was a well reasoned preamble to either firing Corr, or changing business as usual.
Here’s what hasn’t been said- since last years resignation deadline, 135 teachers have already resigned. Despite what HR Director Judy Spurlock said last week at the review session, this is a huge number, and it will grow by July 10, this years deadline. There isn’t a teacher or an administrator in the district that has faith in Rhonda Corr, with the possible exceptions of Dr. Sheila Burton who has turned into Rhonda’s lap dog, and LaMark Baker, who owes his career to her. Any other superintendent and board would have fired him, the Dunbar AD Pete Pullen, and the Dunbar Coach Darren Powell after the Dunbar fiasco game. As we saw yesterday, this derelict board decided to pin all the responsibility on Darren Powell, wrongly. He’s probably the least culpable of the above in this matter.
I asked McManus for the text of his speech, and thought it should be published. Between his speech, which Sheila Taylor actually stood and clapped for after, and the overruling of the superintendents recommendation to rehire Powell, we started to see visible questioning of Corr’s future at the helm.
My prediction is that she won’t last 3 months. The lawsuits will begin to expose her working style and lack of leadership, as well as other questionable practices. I’ll also be surprised if this board isn’t replaced wholesale before the end of July- as resignations mount and the floodgates open from depositions and legal filings against the board.
Here is the McManus speech as written-
John McManus, reading to DPS kids. This is the only board member who gets it.
Last week I had the pleasure of traveling to our nation’s capitol, something I enjoy doing from time to time to take in the history and the magic of the place. While there, I took the opportunity to visit a small national landmark, a quiet place that was intimately special and familiar to one of our nation’s founding fathers. As I walked the grounds and reflected on my own life, I found myself overcome with a profound sense of gratitude to the people of this community who have given me the incredible opportunity to serve in this elected system of government that has been left to us by many who came before us.
At that moment, I promised myself that I would spend my remaining time on this Board giving it every single thing I could to earn the tremendous honor that the people of Dayton have given me. I promised myself that I would no longer allow myself to be content when I should demand more. The people of this community deserve no less. Towards that effort, I would like to re-commit myself to my campaign promises to the people, and also make my own expectations known as we close one school year and hurdle towards the next.
I ran for this seat for three primary reasons. The first was due to the fact that I thought I could put my government experience to use in helping this District navigate its way out of a takeover by state government. It struck me as a fascinating challenge. Thanks to the incredible work of our amazing teachers, our staff, students, and parents, that threat is now gone for the foreseeable future.
The next reason I chose to run is because I wanted to put my experience in public sector human resources to work, hoping to improve the District’s once-dismal HR office. No government agency can expect to be well-performing if its HR office if failing. Under the strong leadership of Judy Spurlock, our human resources office is now miles ahead of where it once was, and I am so proud of her and her staff for transforming DPS HR into what I knew it could be.
The next reason that I chose to run was to take my passion for public sector administration to our community’s school district and help oversee a large scale government agency in the hopes of making it the most effective and efficient that it could be.
With the takeover threat gone for now and with the knowledge that our HR department is in the best health it has been in in a very long time, I am re-committing myself to my promise to deeply focus on administrative effectiveness and efficiency. This year has been a year of large-scale administrative changes downtown. We have a new superintendent, a new treasurer, new administrators in new positions, and long-term administrators in different positions than they once held. By now, I am confident that everyone sufficiently understands their role, and I am making a promise to my constituents to do everything that I can to help the administration effectively run this district.
I have worked in government my entire life. I’ve worked for the federal government, state government, and local government. I’ve worked in the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch. Having served in all three branches of government and at all three levels of government, I have seen what it takes to ensure that a government agency runs well.
There is one common denominator, and that is planning.
We have done some incredible things at Dayton Public this year. We’ve provided expanded learning and development to our teachers. We successfully ensured the roll out of the 1 to 1 technology program. We selected and utilized Achieve 3000 and Imagine Learning to support a differentiated and personalized support system. We implemented the gold standard of ongoing assessments, that being NWEA. We have brought career technical education programs to every single high school, and we launched the Dayton Innovative Virtual Academy. The State of Ohio has commended DPS on our groundbreaking TBT, BLT, and DLT model. We’ve invested long-overdue resources in transportation, and we’ve invested in new text books and a course of study where one had not been introduced in 6 years. Everyone in this District, from the superintendent, staff, teachers, parents, and students have my most sincere appreciation for ensuring this progress.
While applauding this progress, it is absolutely fundamental that Dayton Public Schools begin to sufficiently engage in long term and short term planning, and communicate that plan both internally and externally in a consistent and robust way. Our staff expect it, and they deserve it.
In the coming year, I will make it a non-negotiable requirement that I be provided with weekly updates from the administration of what is being done throughout the District. A Board cannot effectively carry out its responsibility of oversight if it is not well informed. Moreover, I will require monthly status reports on progress made that is specific to our strategic plan. We have a strategic plan, but I cannot recall the last time that we as a group sat down, studied it, and asked what progress has been made in critical areas outlined on the plan. No government agency can even hope to be performing at an optimal level if it does not develop a plan, continuously reference its plan, and dedicate itself to implementing the provisions of its plan with discipline in its execution. The plan must have appropriate point persons, coupled with actual deadlines, and specific ways in which to measure progress.
My intent here is not to micromanage. My intent is to do my job as a supervisor in ensuring that my employees are adhering to their own strategic plan in a disciplined and effective way. The people of Dayton elected me, and all of us on this Board, to do exactly that.
The most effective bosses I had were the ones who expected consistent, thorough, and reliable progress reports from me on the plan that they and I set up together. I hope to do the same for those that answer to this Board, as it will help all of us stay relentlessly focused on a charted course aimed at student achievement. Remember: accountability is not punishment. Accountability is evidence of proper management.
Finally, I will specifically refer to two examples where insufficient planning led to dissolution of order and discipline. The first example is that of the proposed reduction of force of building employees in the middle of the academic year. Although I was opposed to the RIF, I can readily acknowledge that its primary reason for falling apart was the fundamentally insufficient planning of what would come after the RIF. In fact, we had failed to replace multiple positions in senior management at the transportation garage for months after the RIF, leaving our director of transportation doing his best to lead our entire operation on his own. Our students, families, educators, and staff deserve a reliable transportation system, and I cannot help but wonder if better succession planning would have helped avoid confusion and embarrassment related to busing this year. We cannot lead and make critical and strategic decisions when the planning is insufficient.
The next example is that of the process surrounding the acquisition of marketing services. At the beginning of the year, I made a video informing my constituents that one of my three top priorities this year would be the implementation of an effective marketing program at Dayton Public Schools. This responsibility is a sacred one for me, as I was asked to approve others to speak for me to my constituents who gave me the honor of sitting in this seat. It pained me to vote against the proposal, considering that marketing was one of my highest priorities. The RFP and RFQ process was ill-handled to the point that we had to start over. That kind of performance is unacceptable for a government agency with nearly 3,000 employees and an annual budget of hundreds of millions of dollars. By the end of the ordeal, I had little to no confidence in the process and little to no knowledge of the vendor’s actual plan of action to provide effective marketing for Dayton Public Schools. By now, we have spent a small fortune on marketing, and I can only hope that it has tangible and measurable results by the time enrollment numbers are provided to the Board.
I have said what I felt I needed to say. In the coming year, I expect more information, more coordination, and more planning. Updates to the Board are critical, as is relentless adherence to our strategic plan. Long term and short term planning must be at the heart of what we do, and that plan must be communicated externally and internally on a consistent and revolving basis.
I will remind you of my reference to all of the transformational changes that have occurred at Dayton Public Schools this year. To all of you who were responsible for its implementation, I am so thankful to you for a job well done there. In the year ahead, let our planning and communication be at the center of all we do, and you will see that the changes that have been made this year are only the beginning.
School board member, John McManus, Business meeting, 20 Jun 2017
It has been revealed that the DEA and the professional DPS negotiating team are scheduled to meet with the Federal mediator separately in early July. The goal is to put a contract in place to stop anymore teachers from leaving the district and to begin the slow process of rebuilding respect between the parties.
I don’t see any hope for this district with either the current Superintendent or board and believe both should be removed by a judge, who can evaluate a number of insanely bad decisions, disruptions and questionable practices. Considering there are 14 people with petitions out right now, very easily the top 7 could be sworn in as soon as the election is completed in November. It would be up to the judge to say which of these existing board members should be allowed to run again.
In the meantime, an interim superintendent or superintendent team, should work hard at teacher retention, solving the bus/driver problems, and rebuilding the trust of the staff that’s stayed and the parents that haven’t walked.
You knew the school board was ready, all of them dressed in their Sunday best- Joe Lacey even left his hoodie at home and combed his hair.
The teachers were ready too. When I say 400, it’s not an exact count, but it was the most I’d seen. They were wearing red, and they weren’t happy.
Negotiations on a contract have been going south, and for too long. The disrespect of the October surprise putsch, the buy out of David Lawrence, the buying of a $400,000 time clock system, the hiring of the highest bidder to do bad “marketing and advertising” for the district, the massive bus purchase- all while claiming broke- and paying the superintendent that’s turned this district upside down more than the board was paying the stable and confident former Superintendent, Lori Ward, are all sticking points. Oh, that and Dayton teachers are expected to do more for less than any other district in the County- with a few exceptions- like Jefferson Township- which shouldn’t even have it’s own district.
After the teachers leader David Romick got done with his address, they all marched out to have a street corner rally, complete with podium. The news media followed.
The only people who left before Mr. Romick was done talking was the three representatives from the Ohlmann Group after they made an apologetic and pathetic presentation of what they’d done so far for at least $40K of wasted money (more on this in a future post). They don’t sit through school board meetings- or provide PR advice to the district, hell- they don’t even bother to shoot their own photos for their ads, they use stock photography. Gee, maybe that’s why my firm lost, we had a 2x Pulitzer prize winner for photojournalism on our team to shoot for our proposed work.
When it came to the speakers, a young, 2nd year teacher who appears to be hitting it out of the ballpark for the district went up and made a plea for her job security. She’s teaching at Westwoood- you know, the neighborhood the Dayton Daily nominated as the most dangerous ‘hood in the city. Every year, she has had to fight to keep her position. You have to listen- this is who you want teaching your kids. Her name is Joshita Reza, and one day, if we’re lucky, she’ll be superintendent of DPS.
Dr. Hazel Rountree, the Board VP is going to look into why Ms. Reza is having problems worthy of a visit to the podium. But, later, circles back, and appears to not have understood anything that Ms. Reza said. It all comes back down to respect, and this board and superintendent don’t respect anyone.
And, if you have the lowest pay, the worst academic performance in the region- people go where the work is easier and the pay is better. It’s not rocket surgery.
I spoke, once again asking for their resignations, and why no one has done anything to investigate Dr. Baguirov’s questionable residency eligibility to even be on the board. It’s a moot point really now, as he already got them to buy the buses for $10M and help his friends in the trucking business. That was voted on after the very long executive session (where those who stuck around were treated to hearing yelling coming from the secret lair).
Before the speakers were invited to the podium, Dr. Walker asked John McManus to read the rules. This isn’t the norm. One of the rules is that you aren’t supposed to single out a single board member, but speak to them as a whole. Well, although I singled out Dr. B- I asked them all to resign, since they haven’t done anything to verify his eligibility. At least nothing close to what they’ve done to check on the eligibility of a high school football player.
I’m go glad to hear that “Great things are happening at Dayton Public Schools”
That you put that up on billboards should be grounds to have you removed- for breaking truth in advertising laws.
Because, unless you are deaf, dumb and blind, you are missing the point of why 300 teachers keep coming down here and questioning your leadership.
But- I can tell you there is a way to make that true. Resign. All seven of you.
You see, allowing an ineligible board member to do deals with your proxy is grounds for removal from office. From the real estate deals that smelled fishy- to the hiring of the most expensive bidder to do the “Great things are happening” campaign- to the bus deal- you’ve been asleep at the wheel. Following prompts from a board member who doesn’t even live in the district- and hasn’t since 2015.
I’d like to see the rent receipts for his half million dollar house in the Vandalia Butler school district- tell us who does live in the mansion.
Because sure as bees make honey- Dr., if he really is a Dr., Adil Baguirov is in a bit of a pinch. He’s registered to vote in a Ten Thousand dollar house on Maryland Ave- where he supposedly lives with his business partner- Islom Shakhbandarov.
He failed to disclose many of his business dealings on his ethics statements. He failed to disclose his maze of shell companies.
What we have here is our own version of Henry Hill- here to sell you 76 trombones. A carpet bagger- who is possibly lining his own pockets with inside deals with CareSource- Miami Valley Hospital, the University of Dayton, and even Learn To Earn.
Never mind the bus deal.
Since you won’t do anything about any of this- I’ve taken the next steps to have Dr. Baguirov removed by a judge. The next step is to remove the rest of you by collecting 4500 signatures. I think the people in this room will gladly help me get them in record time.
It’s time to stop embarrassing the city of Dayton. It’s time we had a superintendent and treasurer that actually lead our organization forward. It’s time to end the insider deals- and stop the loss of staff attrition – which has approached 20% annually.
Please, do us a favor- abdicate now- and save yourself the embarrassment- we’ve already got 13 people running for office to replace 4 of you. Do you need further evidence that the community doesn’t approve of your choice in superintendent or how you are running the district?
Because once we remove all of you- then we can legitimately claim “Great things are happening at Dayton Public Schools.”
Of course no response. Dr. Baguirov’s business partner and housemate for voting, Islom Shakhbandarov was sitting right next to the podium and filmed me as I spoke. As soon as the board broke for their executive session, Shakhbandarov ran to McManus asking why he didn’t cut me off for talking about his partner- McManus said “I just read the rules, it’s up to the board president to enforce them.”
I say fire the coaches, the athletic directors, the principals, the superintendent and move forward. Nobody was there to make sure this young man was eligible, or that his eligibility was being managed properly. The video speaks for itself- the kids didn’t want to “throw the game” and showed their disgust for this cockamamie scheme. Only thing I’m sure of is, this wouldn’t have happened if Superintendent Chaos Corr hadn’t run David Lawrence out of the district. Lawrence was previously over Baker- and, attended most of the sporting events- and knows how to calculate eligibility.
When the board came out of executive session, Dr. Hazel Rountree was missing. She’d walked off the job. Should be grounds for termination. When the going gets rough, or Hazel doesn’t get her way- she just gets going. This proves that she’s not worthy of her seat.
Joe Lacey was the only one who voted not to retain Baker. He’s a little late to the whole discussion at this point and doing nothing more than grandstanding. Of course, he dosn’t bother to hold himself responsible for putting Corr in charge of this circus. Watch the video of Corr and Lacey while he has his rant around the three minute mark.
Baker got his contract- with a 5-1 vote, with Hazel absent without leave. On his way out, Coach Powell said to me “We’re done” – knowing that they were going to be the only ones to take a hit for this gross failure to do the right thing.
Speaking of doing the right thing, the board still won’t address the eligibility of Dr. Baguirov at all. Thus, all failing their legal responsibility to follow their own rules.
The head of security who was tasked to spend all the time in the world interviewing everyone involved in the Dunbar/Belmont fiasco, hasn’t had any time to investigate Dr. B. Imagine that.
I’ve requested all the interview transcripts through a public records request for publication later.
When black people in Dayton screw up, leave no stone unturned. When it’s a slick talking, nattily dressed, carpetbagger who can’t make up his mind if we’re broke or flush- no investigation warranted.
As they always say the best defense in America is being rich.
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….
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
For the last 6 months the new Superintendent, Rhonda Corr, has been trying to excommunicate David Lawrence from Dayton Public Schools. The former Chief of School Innovation, was demoted several times to try to get him to quit. She couldn’t use the Reduction In Force (RIF) ruse that she used to clean out some of downtown last fall, because she assigned his duties to no less than 3 other people.
She brought in Dr. Elisabeth Lolli and Dr. Markay Winston at similar or higher pay, and also assigned some of his work to Dr. Bucheim. You can review some of this mess in the really long post: The calamity named Rhonda Corr. Corr could have assigned David Lawrence to be the principal at the troubled Meadowdale too, but instead, hired in a guy from Texas. Lawrence was signed to a contract through June of 2018, and it was either work with him or buy him out. That’s how contracts work.
Lawrence started to use some of his accumulated 20 years worth of sick leave while his attorney and the board negotiated an agreement for his separation. Here is a copy of the very easy to read separation contract: DPS-LAWRENCE Agreement 2-17
Three short legalese paragraphs set the stage, and then the first clause:
1. Upon his execution of this Agreement, Employee shall cause to be delivered to the Superintendent his irrevocable letter of resignation from all employment positions held with the Dayton City School District. Said resignation shall take effect on February 21, 2017.
Employee’s letter of resignation shall be accepted by the Board, without public comment, at its next regular meeting following Employee’s execution of this Agreement.
But, when this item comes to the board, you don’t have to watch very long for Dr. Adil Baguirov to start commenting- thereby violating the contract, and voiding it. First with his discussion of waiving the 48 hour rule to vote (as specified- “its next regular meeting”) thinking this isn’t an emergency. The reason they had to waive the 48 hour rule is because they can’t seem to prepare for meetings and actually post their agenda more than 48 hours in advance for issue C & G.
Baguirov is right, there has been plenty of time to discuss and post and not need the waiver. I pipe in “This is incompetence”- out of order.
Then Dr. Walker asks to move to executive session, and then Baguirov says we shouldn’t get rid of Lawrence on fiscal competency grounds, and then says to give a very qualified administrator over $200,000 to see him go as essentially unearned income.
Then he speaks on behalf of Board Member Taylor- who would agree with him, but she’s not here. Lacey says talking about what other members think is wrong.
Then Rountree jumps in that this has been discussed plenty in executive session, and no one knows why Taylor isn’t there. And calls for the up or down vote.
Ron Lee then has to agree with Rountree that this should be voted on. And that earlier decisions weren’t right (like hiring Corr over Lawrence?).
Then they are to vote to waive the 48 hour rule, Baguirov and Lacey vote no, the rest vote yes, 4 yes, 2 no.
Then there is confusion because Walker can’t tell what to do next. Where I pipe in “The buyout because of the personality conflict” again out of order. You hear a sigh from someone.
Then Corr asks to do D, E, F- skipping the actual vote on the issue that they just waived the 48 hour rule on. #FAIL. Of course, no one in the audience can follow the agenda, because the “Board Docs” application isn’t mobile friendly, it’s barely laptop friendly.
Then Lacey agrees for D, E, F and Hazel asks you have to vote on the first one, and Lacey says you don’t and we have an argument about order- because, well, confusion is always the best way.
Then McManus talks about transportation directors- he hasn’t said anything other than yes to waive the 48 hour rule on C&G.
Then Baguirov and Lacey want to withdraw their motions and confuse it more.
Now Lacey wants to separate the motion and gets in a fight with Rountree calling it a game, and he gets belligerent and wants to deal with something different. And then back to Mr. Lawrence and E & F.
Again mentioning Lawrence. Walker mentions Lawrence. We’re now 13 min and 31 seconds in- and voting on everything but Lawrence. Rountree abstains. 5-1.
Then Corr tries to come back to number D 1, and then G, a settlement agreement. Rountree moves, McManus seconds. Walker asks for further discussion- and Baguirov says he is staunchly opposed to this, due to the RIF on fiscal grounds. He can’t allow to pay over $200,000 to someone who isn’t going to be working here. There is work that Mr. Lawrence is qualified to do. He doesn’t understand why the board would allow this. He calls it a “massive payment.” And says he’s been against it in executive.
Rountree then says “treat people in the way you want to be treated” including buyouts and goes on about contracts. Lee continues about the issue and puts it back on Baguirov for this beginning under his watch.
It doesn’t matter what any of them think, the contract had to be voted on, simple yes/no and move on, without discussion. This discussion all violates the contract. Corr didn’t step in and stop discussion. Neither did board lawyer Jyllian Bradshaw.
In a corporate setting, these intentional missteps would be cause for termination. F&I insurance may cover the cost of the failings, but the board members would still be asked to step down. Unfortunately, school board members in Ohio can’t be removed by ballot initiative. Can they be removed for exposing the district to additional lawsuits?
At this point, the correct thing to do is to accept the resignation of all who discussed the issue violating the contract, Walker, Baguirov, Lacey, Rountree and Lee. Only McManus has abided by the terms. Taylor wasn’t present to get herself in trouble.
Corr and Bradshaw were responsible for managing this process. Both failed.
Let’s begin with 5 new school board members, a new attorney, and then let the new board decide if they should keep Corr, or terminate her for cause because of her inability to not only manage David Lawrence, but failure to control the process at the meeting bringing the district additional legal battles.
The obvious choice to replace Corr as superintendent? David Lawrence.
At the parents meeting Thursday night, Dr. Adil Baguirov cited yet another set of figures for student and money loss, now claiming the loss is closer to $3 million- and that the students discrepancy was off by 8 students. Yes, we know that student counts vary, but the funding shouldn’t yo-yo like this mid-school year. He also claimed that the reserves aren’t at the sacred “10% level” needed for bond ratings from the same losers at Wall Street that ranked junk securities AAA and threw this country into economic chaos- and then in today’s paper- their treasurer, Hiwot Abraha, claims they are on track.
At Thursday’s meeting, DPS parent Dave Fanjoy asked, given howmuch money the district has in reserve, why DPS chose to make the cuts in the middle of the school year.
Baguirov pointed out that the district’s bond rating was recently downgraded by one agency, in part because its reserve levels might be at risk if there was an economic downturn.
“Their requirements are always above 10 percent of the revenue in the budget,” Baguirov said. “We do not even have that 10 percent as of today.”
DPS Treasurer Hiwot Abraha confirmed Friday that DPS does narrowly have more than 10 percent in reserve today. According to the five-year forecast that the school board approved a month ago, that figure was just over 11 percent this past summer, and is projected to march upward to 13 percent this coming summer, 15 percent in 2018, and 17 percent in 2019.Asked about those numbers Friday, Baguirov pointed out that DPS had been below that 10 percent level in recent years.
It seems that Baguirov and Abraha can’t get their figures straight- and the district has suffered a huge PR and credibility blow- because Abraha can’t give the board legitimate numbers. This was never a problem under former Treasurer Craig Jones who wasn’t retained by this board- and is currently suing them for not following the law on his dismissal. The 19 fired “administrators” from Nov 8th- may have the same basis for lawsuits.
But, if we need proof that Abraha’s office is a mess, a parent just called me to share that her $250 transportation check from the district (compensation for driving her kid to a charter school instead of using DPS buses) bounced- and she was charged a bank fee- that the district will be liable for.
It would seem that besides not being able to manage an RFP for marketing services properly, or giving the board correct info on loss of dollars or students, the treasurers office can’t keep their accounts balanced either.
At this point- it should be easy to fire the treasurer, but the public should really be looking at firing the school board. There has never been this much turmoil in the district- and it comes down to the Board’s hiring of Rhonda Corr and promoting Hiwot Abraha- instead of keeping Lori Ward- who took the district out of academic emergency (but Corr got a $7,500 bonus for it) and keeping the steady financial hand of Craig Jones.
If you need further proof that the public has had it with this board, the staff has had it with Corr, note that a video posted of a parents meeting has 37 views in 12 hours, without me promoting it.
Other than Baguirov spouting off new “numbers”- the interesting parts are he responds to my question about the para’s firing this upcoming Tuesday- with “we probably won’t fire them until summer,”
If you need an indication why the district can’t keep jobs filled, this kind of inspiring statement should be all you need to know.
There is also an exchange between the parent who was disrespected by Joe Lacey and Dr. Hazel Rountree and Ms. Hazel, where she blows off the parent’s concerns for being talked to like a child in front of her child. As Hazel sits in denial, people chime in “watch the video”- which went organically viral on Facebook with over 5,600 views and almost 150 shares within days of posting.
And as that conversations ends, Dr. Walker apologizes for the boards behavior, but doesn’t apologize for the RIF (even if the numbers were wrong).
At some point, the public should be able to get a full and honest accounting of not only the costs of the bad marketing, that caused the loss of students, which created the funding shortfall, which caused the RIF mid-school year in an emergency that caused the loss of faith and respect of all involved and brought massively bad PR to the district and has employee morale at an all time-low.
Maybe a bounced check will be the final straw that broke the camels back.
Both videos end with a call for parents to be at the next board meeting, Dec. 6th- to protest their bad behavior and the coming cuts. It was unclear if the public would be allowed to speak at this meeting, since it wasn’t the normal business meeting, but, then again, they shouldn’t be conducting business at non-business meetings.
Today, a meeting is first called for 29 November 2016, notifications by Cherise Kidd, the board secretary, at 11:23 am. I write a post. This meeting pre-empts both the parents meeting on the 1st- and the meeting on the 6th where it was unclear if citizens could speak.
I’m not even sure Baguirov is allowed to schedule these meetings- they came out of executive at the long meeting- with McManus as President Pro Tem. Until they go back into executive session, or vote in a public meeting, Baguirov isn’t president, McManus is. His term ends Jan 1, 2017- but, there is nothing saying this can’t be changed now.
In a Dayton Daily news article by Jeremy Kelley, we learn the layoffs will be discussed in exec on the early meeting- Tuesday or Thursday of next week- and then the vote will be at the Dec 6th meeting- and citizens will be able to speak. That’s unclear via the public notices and agendas.
At 6:34 pm on Friday the 25th, there is still no agenda on Board Docs for this meeting that is so important. How are people supposed to keep an eye on an organization that plays these kinds of games?
The board is losing credibility by the minute.
These kind of shenanigans only further prove that this is an organization in full blown panic mode.
As far as I’m concerned, the notification process has been botched. The meeting wasn’t called legally, and the next meeting should still be the 6th.
I had planned to write a post to define the Sunshine laws, how “work sessions” are supposed to work, and what a “business meeting” is.
I was also going to cover how most elected bodies manage going into executive session, what they are allowed to talk about behind closed doors, and what it means if there is a board that spends a LOT of time in executive session- but then, I said, maybe I should look back on the 2500+ posts on this blog… surely- I’ve covered it before? And, the answer is: of course I have- over and over. Even about DPS. Even with arguments in comments with Dr. Adil Baguirov, Joe Lacey, etc.
I could just send you to all the posts- and you know what, since I’m feeling stuffed and lazy this Thanksgiving, I’m going to do that. But, there are a few things I need to point out before I do that.
Most boards go into executive session at the END of their regular meeting. This is so guests who are invited to speak, don’t have to sit around and wait for them to finish in the back room. It’s also usually done this way, so people WON’T know how long they are in executive session.
Why is the length of executive session meaningful? Typically, the limited issues that are allowed to be discussed in executive session are ones in which a board/commission/etc. is reviewing the findings and options that are presented by those they supervise- for DPS that means the Superintendent and the Treasurer. They should be getting well prepared documents in advance, with cost benefit analysis, organizational charts, performance reports, contracts, bids, etc. By the time they arrive, they should have their questions ready, and should know the material inside out. Then it comes down to are there 4 votes to support the action? This really shouldn’t take long if the organizational leadership has provided cogent, succinct, relevant briefing material. So, when you have long sessions behind closed doors- it means you are questioning your leadership. Not a good sign.
Competent leadership guides the board in the direction they are taking the organization. Weak leadership relies on the board to guide them in doing their job.
Based on the amount of time the Dayton Board of Education is spending behind closed doors- our new superintendent must be floundering in their eyes. Have they recognized yet that they made a huge mistake in hiring Rhonda Corr? Is that why there have been long executive sessions- ones that she’s not in? That most likely means they are discussing her future here.
Executive sessions are usually not needed for things that need immediate action if an organization isn’t flying by the seat of their pants. Announcing a list of layoffs, then going into executive session, then voting on it- in a “work session” instead of a “business meeting” has so many flaws in it, there is the potential for 20 separate or one-class action lawsuit for managing it incorrectly. The former board Treasurer is already suing them for his illegal firing. Items like this, should be discussed in executive session- and decided on, then posted on the next business meetings agenda- with good notice, and then acted on. At least in theory – that’s how it’s supposed to go.
But, this post is already longer than it needs to be.
You could have just read this post: What is a legal meeting of the Dayton City Commission? Yes- it’s about the city commission, but it spells out the differences between public meetings and work sessions- which the board of ed calls different things- review sessions, strategic planning discussion, various committees etc. It’s why Dayton Daily news education reporter says that this board meets more, longer than any other school board in the region. Hmmm, maybe that’s why the district is failing?
Or this post: Dayton Board of Ed votes 4-3 to donate taxes to GE/UD This one doesn’t really get into the nitty gritty of the sunshine laws, but is interesting because Joe Lacey denies screaming and gets involved in the comments. The reality is- the board didn’t really want citizen input- and gave away a big tax break to General Electric. The fact that the vote was 4-3 shows there was a little common sense on the board at the time with current board members Lacey, Taylor and Lee all voting yes. None of the no votes are still on the board. There are 87 comments on this post- a lot of insight for those who want to learn more.
And, saving the best and most relevant for last, including comments by Dr. Baguirov and Joe Lacey, is the one about how the meeting was handled when the Board was in the process of subverting former Superintendent Lori Ward as she was about to attend a forum with local groups. Time for some sunshine in DPS meetings The labeling of the local New Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islam as hate groups was just one more indication of the racist overtures of the current board president. Again, comments are illuminating with contributions from Baguirov and Lacey.
Several former employees have said that they felt they were being discriminated against because they were African American. The list of firings from the November 8th meeting- had a preponderance of African Americans on it. Several former African American employees said they wouldn’t come back to the district unless Dr. Baguirov is either off the board, or minimally not board president. Ideally, they’d like to see a majority of the board no longer on the board, but Baguirov was the main sticking point.
One last observation, strong black males, outspoken competent leadership, seem to have been high on the list for the recent cuts that were made with bad enrollment and financial data. Something else to think about.
If you go back to my speech at the October board meeting, I said the number one thing that is required for building the school brand back is trust. The “Sunshine Laws” are key to building trust through transparency. The board needs to make a few key changes immediately if they want to restore trust after this latest round of fiascos:
All board meetings should be filmed and put online.
All board meetings should have complete agendas published at least 48 hours before a meeting- and ideally 72 hours before.
All business, items to be voted on, must be done at a business meeting, or a meeting where citizen participation is welcome.
Executive sessions should be held at the end of regularly scheduled meetings, so people don’t have to wait while you futz around in the back room.
The system of using “Board Docs” to publish agendas needs so many improvements it should be abandoned. It’s not mobile friendly- or ADA compliant. It seems to be fluid- without clarification of when changes are posted (some info seems to be posted while or after the meeting took place), the sections are confusing and overly complex. It’s not easily searchable. That they pay for this joke of a system is another indication that their IT director deserved his termination more than most.
See you at the Tuesday December 6 2016 meeting, at 5pm where we will learn if John McManus becomes president, if the rest of the cuts using bad data are acted upon, if Rhonda Corr will keep her job.
The meeting the citizens are organizing to plan for this meeting is:
Thursday December 1, 2016 6-7:30 p.m.
Corinthian Baptist Church
700 S James H. McGee Blvd, Dayton
“Parents of DPS students are invited to join a conversation about proposed changes to the yearly budget and personnel in our classrooms.
Please join us to ask questions, provide feedback, and share our vision for the future of our children and community. School board members have been invited to attend to answer questions and provide greater understanding for their plan for Dayton Public Schools.”