Dayton Public Schools fail marketing 101

This is far from the first post on the extended failure of Dayton Public Schools to manage their marketing resource acquisition.

If this is your first time finding out about this, this post is the full recap, with all the documentation to let you examine the process and see how to fail at issuing an RFP for professional services. First clue- don’t have a single marketing professional on staff to help you evaluate what you are buying.

Second clue: have someone who has no knowledge of how to pick an ad agency write the RFP/RFQ.

thumbnail of RFP-16-846-Comprehensive-marketing-services1.docx2-3

The initial RFP for “Comprehensive marketing services” issued by the Dayton Public Schools

With that said, here is the absolute failure that they issued to start the process. It was missing so many key pieces of information, like a budget, an objective, that it made me wonder if there was anything already written to serve as a guideline for picking an ad agency for governmental organizations. There wasn’t, so I wrote this for The Next Wave blog: Hiring An Agency: The R.F.P. Guide (for Governmental Organizations)

Well, actually I wrote it after the School Board missed their original start deadline of Sept. 21, and threw out the recommendation of their purchasing department who ran this “process” on November 1st.  It was pointed out that their “RFP process” kept favoring big firms, who they’d already worked with, and that the scoring rubric seemed to be off- especially since my firm had real diversity qualifications (Certified Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business by the VA, HUBzone by the SBA, Ohio ED/GE). They also wondered how a team that included a photographer, Larry Price, who has won an Emmy and the Pulitzer prize for photojournalism twice, didn’t rank higher as “qualified.” Five firms applied. Due to a cc instead of bcc on an email, I knew who the competition was. Had the process been handled competently, my bid should have been very well received.

Superintendent Corr’s answer was to suggest they go out and ask other districts how it’s done. Next came a new instrument to ask for proposals- this one, a Request for Qualifications. The difference being that the purchasing department is supposed to be ranking how qualified each agency is to do the job – to suggest who the board should consider issuing a contract with. Since there isn’t really supposed to be any proposed work, the instrument should be administered in a way that’s kind of like the Pepsi Challenge- blind of branding, just asking to see examples of past work, and describing the skill set of each organization. Yes, you can ask for prices- for a set service, but, usually, you would leave out anything that would tip off an evaluator who submitted what.

thumbnail of RFQ-16-846Q-Comprehensive-Marketing-Services

DPS issues RFQ to replace RFP for marketing services

This wasn’t how they did it. In fact, much of the RFQ was a copy and paste job from the RFP. They were still asking for timelines, plans, and now, added how would you spend $75K. This time only 3 of the firms bid, with one subcontracting one of the other first round bidders to fill their “diversity” quotient.

The RFQ asked for a lot of “reporting” proof. Can you show that your marketing dollars spent were effective type things? Showing Neilsen numbers (as Ohlmann does for a lot of their response) doesn’t tell anyone how many widgets were sold. And, unless it’s the EFFY awards (Effectiveness), no ad awards shows actually care if your ad actually sold more widgets, but awards were important. Laughably, The Ohlmann Group bragged at length of how they’d won lots of “Mercury Awards” from the local ad club- the only problem is, they aren’t real awards given by judges- it’s a popularity contest- much like what the Dayton Business Journal does with “Best Pizza in Dayton” awards.

The RFQ, much like the RFP was based on a Board provided guesstimate of total hours of 3120- or 1.5 man years. This district is in much greater need of 1.5 man years- especially if they are hoping to do a rebrand. Both Ohlmann and The Next Wave would want to fix the website that was built in a proprietary content management system (supplied by the third bidder Upward) that has already cost the district a small fortune. Hilariously, it can only be maintained by one person in the district, the current default Public Information Officer Jill Drury, who came out of TV news and has no marketing chops.

thumbnail of RFP-16-846Q-CMS-QA-18-January-2017

DPS Q&A for the RFQ

There was a Q&A issued 2 days before the turn in deadline of 20 January, 2017. In it, it clearly put a cap of $300K on the project. My firm, The Next Wave bid under it, at a fixed price to deliver 3.5 man years or 7280 hours. And, as a caveat, as long as we were on retainer and doing the work we specified- all the other stuff that they never budget or foresee, we’d do it at the effective rate of $41 an hour. The other two bidders were considerably more expensive- with the average hourly rate of $113 for the “winner” picked by purchasing and hired by the board without a contract review before the vote.

Now, what I’m asking you the reader to do, is to pretend you care about your school district, and where public dollars are spent. And take the time to actually read the proposals submitted by each of the three agencies.

Then read the score sheets/evaluators forms. Then read the contract issued to the Ohlmann Group, waiving the 48 hour rule to vote on it a week early at a meeting without public comment. Then, you decide- who had the best plan, the most cost effective proposal?

Remember that there is still a digital divide in Dayton and that the households feeding DPS schools are mostly poor and many don’t have reliable high speed internet. Also know that almost all broadcast media would have serious over-reach, delivering the DPS message to people who wouldn’t send their kids to DPS if you paid them (the exception being St. Ivers- I mean, Stivers).

That’s why The Next Wave proposal for a media spend of $75K a year was to hire someone in each neighborhood to meet the kids at the central bus stop and take attendance as the kids got on the bus. Then to follow up in the neighborhood with housecalls on homes where the kid may didn’t made it to the bus- and to try to figure out what the district can do to get the kid in school- all before the bus even makes it to the building. Novel idea? Creative? More valuable to the district than a TV campaign? You tell me. Some friends of mine who run a very hot shop in Minneapolis have a mantra- “Actions speak louder than words.” Doing things always beats talking about them in our book too.

Here are the documents provided by the DPS legal counsel for each agency. Note, she gave me scans of printouts, not the original high resolution PDF’s that each agency submitted, with the hope that the low-fi, non-ADA compliant docs wouldn’t be able to be posted and indexed as well- but, don’t worry- I ran them through OCR. Only The Next Wave doc has working links.
Note, the Ohlmann and Upward submissions both run 100 pages. The longest proposal we’ve ever done for a non-governmental client has run 6 pages. Why government purchasing departments think requiring so much information actually helps the process is beyond me.

thumbnail of TNW RFQ proposal

The Next Wave RFQ response

thumbnail of PRR – D. Esrati – Ohlmann Group RFQ Response

The Ohlmann Group RFQ response

thumbnail of PRR – D. Esrati – Upward Bound RFQ Response

The Upward Brand Interactions RFQ Response

Next is the evaluators score sheets. We were told there were 5 evaluators and that one was the superintendent. One can assume the woman from purchasing who ran this mess, Teri Allen, was also one. Obviously, after me calling for her firing after the first round debacle, she’s going to score for anyone but The Next Wave.

The comments in scoring are very different for the three firms.

Of course, my mockery of the actual RFQ in our response- which had the audacity to ask for an Org chart when DPS barely has one, isn’t helping engender warm fuzzys, but, this district has serious problems and asking about org charts makes me wonder?

How does an Org chart make you do better ads? Websites? Video production?

The real key is to read the RFP and then realize the RFQ is yet another cut and paste job- looking to create “gotchas” instead of to actually evaluate what an agency is bringing to the table.

I always tell new clients that hiring an agency is a lot like dating- it takes almost a year before you really know enough about each other to do anything really great. Of course, if you baseline is decades of mediocrity, it’s not too hard to look amazing out of the box.

thumbnail of PRR – D. Esrati – Project Overview and Scores – Marketing RFQ

The RFQ scoring instrument

The last document is the actual contract, which was presented to the board on board docs as a $112,500 contract instead of $345K. Then there were the two additional “option years” making the whole thing a million dollar commitment.

The school board actually bought this contract, without reading it. Mostly because they were told they had a 90 day out (which was specified to all bidders in the RFQ).

The contract has one hinkey legal mistake, that should make it null and void:

2. In the event of a conflict, precedence shall be given to the following order: (1) this document, (2) the Request for Proposal, and (3) the Contractor’s proposal response, (4) “SOW’ for specified project scope.

Uh, what RFP? This was a response to an RFQ. The RFP had been withdrawn. Of course, you can’t see the top secret RFP, unless it’s actually awarded. Of course, The Next Wave proposal didn’t shy away from sharing our ideas fully- because, well, we actually care enough about this district to have done all this journalism to expose the incompetence at the top.

thumbnail of PRR – D. Esrati – Ohlmann Group Contract

The DPS contract with the Ohlmann Group

The real question is, how many people will take the time to examine all this? Probably not many.

That’s why we produced a video to walk you through the whole thing- ending with the absolutely insane meeting between Board Members Adil Baguirov, Sheila Taylor and John McManus with the representatives from the Ohlmann Group.

We’ve already posted and talked about this meeting, and a few of you watched the whole 90 minute debacle. The meeting was mostly Dr. Adil Baguirov showcasing his marketing expertise, including advocating for the use of Flash- a web application that’s almost universally despised by any modern web developer and has never been usable on any Apple iOS device.

You are probably wondering what the next step is? It’s pretty obvious that after calling for the resignation of 5 board members, and Superintendent Corr, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll change their mind and hire us. Of course, come Jan 1, 2018, there will be four new board members who may want to be able to fully explain why the current board and their picks for Superintendent and Treasurer have caused this district more trauma than triage.

There is another post coming that should clearly change the course of coming board action, but, it will take a considerable amount of time to write and fully document. It’s the final chapter for one of the DPS pretenders.

In the mean time, to those of you who take the time to read all the docs, I’d love to hear your evaluation of this three ring circus.

Criminal incompetence at a Dayton Public Schools Board of Education meeting

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.

 

 

 

 

 

How bad decisions are made by the Dayton Public School board

“Did we ask to do this?” was a question asked last week during a protracted Dayton Board of Education meeting? This was during an hour long discussion about awarding a contract for marketing the Dayton Public Schools for the next four years.

During that discussion, board members suggested they use students to create the materials (one would wonder if that’s been the case over the last 20 years). Others didn’t know why they needed marketing at all. Joe Lacey didn’t like the use of the word “slick graphics” by the remaining person in the “public information office”- the one that couldn’t show them what they were purchasing. You know- a presentation on who they chose and why. The purchasing department that had run the process couldn’t do much better. And, when asked why they didn’t have an actual contract to look at before they voted, the board attorney tried to tell them that if they saw the qualifications- it could lend to bias, and wasn’t legal.

UPDATE

Wed. morning the 22nd, Forgot to mention, that the “Learn to Earn” board was mentioned in the Dayton Daily the morning of the 20st- for putting out an RFP to hire an ad agency to connect with the community and let them know all about their programs. Of course, they only have to reach about 1,500 parents each year, but at least they know what and why they need competent advertising. My firm will not bid the contract because we don’t believe in quasi-public organizations spending tax dollars without voter oversight.

The Preschool Promise board approved a large marketing plan this week, including plans to hire a vendor to run a “field campaign” for grassroots outreach in Dayton. Board member and former Dayton Mayor Clay Dixon said the marketing approach “is of the utmost importance.”

“That is actually how we’ll go out in the community, shoulder to shoulder, eyeball to eyeball,with the parents to make sure they are aware of the program, aware of what we do to get those kids into one of our quality programs,” Dixon said.

The board’s request for proposals for field campaign vendors is going out this week. Lightcap said the vendor will hire people who know Dayton’s neighborhoods and can build relationships with community partners, all in an effort to connect with the families who would participate in expanded preschool.

Source: Preschool board plans marketing blitz

That’s when I interrupted and called her a liar. And was supported by another staff person- with an Request for Qualifications, which was what they used to select a “winner”- the point wasn’t to compare actual proposals- but, the skill sets.

That the purchasing department misrepresented the amount of the contract on the agenda as $112,500 instead of the actual $300,000, was another problem, that they didn’t care to call the staff on.

Tonight, the school board published their “board docs” saying the meeting started at 6pm. Only when we got there, they were a half hour into it. Competent PIO’s and board secretaries wouldn’t make that mistake. Especially since this was the actual business meeting- the one where they were supposed to vote on business.

And vote on some sticky business they did. After, Dr. Walker mis-ran the public speaking section giving some speakers up to a half hour at the podium (and no- it wasn’t me). We’ll have that story after we edit some of our video. There is supposed to be a 3 minute limit. It should also apply to board members. The meeting ran from 5:30 to 9:05 before they went into executive session.

They couldn’t make up it clear what they were doing about an intervention specialist that they hired at Dunbar who used to be a sub. She’s working on her PhD, but is 9 credits short of a teaching certificate. They hired her knowing that- and so she bought a house, a car, and now has no job- and two kids at home to feed. Apparently, this district isn’t smart enough to know how to get her enrolled in Teach for America- where no teaching license is required.

Then came the issue of paying off David Lawrence to go away because Superintendent Rhonda Corr doesn’t like him. This has been subject of executive sessions for months. The buyout had been agreed to- and yet, here they were, waiving the 48 hour rule to vote because their staff can’t publish an agenda with the right start time, or in adequate time to not have to invoke the rule.

Dr. Baguirov objected, saying the waiving is for emergencies- something he didn’t protest last week when they did it to hire The Ohlmann Group to do their marketing. Then he and Joe Lacey objected to spending $200,000 to buy Lawrence out- when he could have been used in the district (had it not been for Corr being intimidated by a competent black male). The vote was 4-2 to send Lawrence away with what was contractually due him. A huge loss to the district- as board member Lee stated. In fact, the last thing I said to them as I walked away from the podium when I spoke was “you should have hired David Lawrence.”

Here is the text of my speech as written from tonight:
There is a 48 hour rule for a reason.
There is also reason we have an elected school board.
It’s your job to hire a superintendent, and a treasurer, and to run checks and balances on them.
Tonight you are waiving the 48 hour rule again.
It’s fitting that you are doing it to pay the home-grown competent internal candidate for superintendent you passed over, to go away. Because the current superintendent didn’t like him.
But I guess you were ahead of your time- picking a leader for our district much like the one our country ended up with. You know the one that brings huge protests out over their actions.
Remember her Reduction in force- based on numbers that no one was able to verify- including your treasurer, who you are re-hiring tonight.
The treasurer who was over the purchasing department that ran the process that extended 6 months- and you waived the 48 hour rule last week to execute.
If you were doing your job, and your due diligence before you voted to approve a contract for a year, with multi-year options, on something as important as marketing services for your failing school district and it was run competently, I wouldn’t have watched and recorded video for an hour of discussion about a contract that you eventually voted 5-1 to approve, with John McManus being the only no vote, and Mr. Lee being absent.
The contract, which was supposed to be awarded on Sept. 20th. When you actually came around to vote on it, on November, 1, you chose to not award because the process of the request for proposal was flawed. You had 5 bidders, and were about to award it to the most expensive bidder.
This time you used a Request for Qualifications, a different contracting vehicle, although it still asked for many of the exact same details, just in a more convoluted manner.
This time, you only had 3 bidders, and once again, the recommendation of your superintendent, was to award to the same, most expensive bidder.
When you had questions about what you were buying, why you were buying, and why it was necessary, your superintendent sat there- and at one point, even asked you for guidance to what you want. You still bought it.
The purchasing department couldn’t legitimately explain what you were buying. Ten days before you voted, at 10pm on a Saturday night, there was an email issued saying that “Responses have been evaluated and results provided for review and determination of a recommendation to the DPS Board of Education. It is expected that the recommendation will appear on the Feb 21, 2017 business meeting agenda.”
So, what I learned last week is that you had homework due in 17 days, but, your staff decided to change it to 10 days. They either never provided you with anything, or they did and you all decided not to do your homework, based on your confusion last week.
The waiving of the 48 hour rule on a million dollar contract, the fact that the agenda outright lied about the amount of the contract- listing it at $112,500 instead of $300,000 – “because it was pro-rated” as an excuse to mis-represent it to the public.
The public records request I filed the next day, still hasn’t been fulfilled as I speak, a week later. So I can’t tell you what you bought or didn’t buy last week either.
What’s even more important, is that you did it at a meeting that didn’t allow for public comment. So, yes, I was out of order when I interrupted and called your staff lawyer a liar. One of your staff confirmed I was right. That you voted on it- after learning your attorney was misguidingly stopping you from evaluating qualifications for a qualitative contract, is negligence.
You had every right to review all submissions of an RFQ, and to see the contract you bought.
She still has her job.
Your purchasing person, still has her job, and now, I am going to question if any of you are fit to carry out your duties other than Mr. McManus and Mr. Lee. There needs to be an investigation into the ethics filings of Dr. Baguirov and if his private business does work with CareSource, and why the board was never presented with offers for the Patterson Kennedy site as well.
This School System needs you performing your due diligence it’s what the kids deserve- because, as your superintendent loves to say- it’s all about the kids-
which should prove she has no business in her position-
it’s also about our professionals, our city, our future.? And by blindly awarding a very large contract, you shouldn’t be a part of that future.

End of prepared speech.

After tonight’s meeting, Baguirov called me a liar to my face over questioning his business relationships and non-disclosure of all his businesses in the video about the real estate deals. He still thinks I’m a lobbyist for some real estate developer- yet won’t say why the vacant land isn’t being auctioned. Corr shot daggers at me for much of the meeting- and was particularly pissed when she saw Dayton Daily reporter Jeremy Kelley talking to me. She really doesn’t like it that she’s the one to blame for the buyout of Lawrence’s contract.

This board, under Walker is a model of incompetence. The meeting management was totally lacking. They couldn’t even figure out what they were voting on, nor could the audience follow. Compare their use of “Board Docs” with the simple agenda’s used by the Dayton City Commission and you can quickly see the why this district is dysfunctional- and the public being left out of the process or misled by the incompetence of their leadership and staff.

There are people pulling petitions like sharecroppers pick cotton. Hopefully, come next January, we’ll have four new, competent board members and this kind of chicanery will end.

 

Amateurs. School boards and quasi school boards.

If you have lots of meetings, it’s hard for people to pay attention. That’s been the modus operandi of the Dayton Public School Board under Dr. Adil Baguirov. Meetings were long, and many. Last night, where they had to pick a new president and vp and parliamentarian, the meeting ran 2 hours, and then into executive session for at least another 2.

Note- the president doesn’t make more money, has no more power, and has no extra duties other than to run the meeting. The district is run by the Superintendent, who is well paid to be the voice and leader of the school district. So, why it took 2 hours to do that is a pretty good indication of what’s wrong. They even had a long argument about their start times- so this year, their meetings will begin at 5:30 instead of 5pm. Sheila Taylor suggested they put an end time on their meetings- to be fair to the employees who have to be there, to be fair to the board members who don’t get paid more- and to try to put a damn cap on the long pontificating from the dais that became the norm under Baguirov. She was shot down.

She also voted as the only no to appointing Dr. Robert Walker (Div.) as president and Dr. Hazel Rountree (Ph.D.) as VP. I kept waiting to hear her resign in her later speaking opportunities- it was clear she had no faith in Walker.

Most bizarre was the speech by John McManus, who basically ushered Walker to the center seat- saying he’d promised to support Walker and would vote for him, but, if Lacey or Walker couldn’t get 4 votes, he’d step in…. really?

One change, it seems DPS is now going to record all meetings, but they take forever to post them, despite having the tools and bandwidth to do it in real time.

We recorded last night.

If you are looking for insight on how they are going to solve the RTA busing issue, don’t look here, they are still saying it’s not their problem and that they can’t organize a solution because of liability issues- both, untrue, especially next week when the state does count week for attendance for funding.

But as crazy as the DPS board is, we may have a new champion in amateur hour- the “Learn to Earn” board which is now in charge of $4.5 million a year from Dayton taxpayers thanks to the passage of issue 9. To start with- they meet in Riverside, not Dayton. And while they have managed to publish their meeting schedule, they haven’t published minutes, or much of anything on their website. They still have Lori Ward as the DPS superintendent.

We sent our video genius to try to film their first meeting- so the public could see exactly what this unelected body will do with your tax dollars.

First meeting- they got a lecture on the Sunshine Laws- from someone from “Nan Whaley’s office”- here’s that excerpt:

 

Every one who is interested in Ohio politics should learn about the Sunshine laws. Especially school board members (hint, hint).

They get to spend their money anyway they want- unlike the DPS board. So hiring consultants like UD Professor Richard Stock is not a problem for the Learn to Earn (or help our board earn) board. Stock is one of the people who helped guide the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission on the abomination that is Austin Landing- with its two tier tax structure (only the little people pay taxes there).

Stock catches himself trying to self-edit, since this is a real public meeting- and, oops, maybe he shouldn’t share the facts that the pre-school promise won’t make a bit of difference to the residents moving into Dayton’s new tax abated projects- singles, empty nesters- not parents with kids- at least not parents with good jobs with kids.

The reality is, this board has to waste tax dollars, duplicating a lot of the things that DPS already has in place- finance, HR, health benefits, legal counsel, purchasing, video of meetings etc- as well as a website… that all are overhead- to help give money to people who have 5 star pre-schools? Really? Remember, DPS has the most 5 star pre-schools, and they aren’t at capacity- and have to scrounge for money.

The entire meeting is here:

Lastly, and most important- the pre-election report from  Neigborhoods for Dayton’s Future.PDF was the last filing of the organization that paid for this tax funded quasi-public slush fund. They have still not filed their post general election filing. You can see the big dollar donors in my last post about this.

Until they publish their campaign finance report, they shouldn’t be allowed to meet, or to spend any of the funds- in the name of Sunshine. Also, they need to provide minutes, organizational documents, and their articles of incorporation etc. as well as disclose all expenses. These are public tax dollars at work.

We’ll tape the Friday meeting, but after that, they should have to pay someone to do it. And, maybe, they should consider having their meetings in Dayton- since it’s our money, and our city they are working for- meeting in Riverside just doesn’t cut it.

Time to file an injunction against the Dayton Board of Education

I produce a video that goes viral on Facebook, showcasing the bad behavior of board members Joe Lacey and Hazel Rountree. I produce another video that asks the viewer to compare and contrast the leadership styles of Dr. Adil Baguirov and John McManus– which gets a fair number of FB views in a short time.

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.

Then at 4:48 pm Kidd sends yet another notice: The meeting is at Dec 6th, and people will be able to speak.

Then at 5:03, another notice, the meeting previously scheduled for Tuesday Nov 6th- will be held on “Thursday November 29th”– which according to my calendar- the 29th is on a Tuesday- and Thursday is Dec 1. But- minor details. When you are incompetent, you are grossly incompetent. And, “Public comments will not be heard at this meeting. The Board will allow comments from the public at a special meeting being held December 6, and at the regularly scheduled Business Meeting.”

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.

Of course, maybe this next meeting isn’t about the layoffs, but the mess they made on the non-sale of the Patterson-Kennedy School site for more than the minimum bid?

Or could it be to end the reign of terror and confusion caused by Rhonda Corr as superintendent?

Those might actually be more pressing than the layoff question.

 

 

 

A tale of two meetings: Dayton Public Schools

This video speaks for itself. Large crowd at both meetings.
Who would you want to lead your organization into the future?

R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

McManus was President Pro Tem- after Baguirov walked out of executive session that went 1 hour and 45 minutes.
The audience began to chant “come on out”

A lot of speeches were made. We put the whole thing up as a youtube video so you can embed it starting when ever you want.

We pulled a few speeches out for you:

Jamont Matthews

Thomas Nealeigh

And your humble scribe:

There will be more videos on this subject coming.

It’s time that the Board of Education, the new superintendent, the senior staff, realized that they will be held accountable for their actions.

Disrupting the classrooms mid-school year, firings without justification, contracts not awarded, bad PR, refusing legal offers for vacant property, and last but not least, taking credit for the work of others in getting them a single A among a sea of F’s.

 

A level headed leader emerges for Dayton Board of Education

Dr. Adil Baguirov slowing down the process of hiring a new school superintendent

Dr. Baguirov dallies along while the Schools fail.

When there’s been a protest, a rally, a whole bunch of pissed off people at a public meeting in the last 30 years in Dayton, I’ve generally been there. I’ve watched, time after time, when the person running the meeting makes it worse.

Tonight, 300 or so people at the Dayton Board of Education meeting were loaded for Baguirov, and after they went into executive session for an hour and forty five minutes, after the chants of “Come On Out” were started, out came John McManus to soothe the angry mob.

And when the whole board appeared a few minutes later as McManus promised, he was in the center seat as “President Pro Tem.” That normally means temporary, but, in this case, it should be permanent. And the board should be taking applications for a new member.

It seems Dr. Adil Baguirov, stormed out of executive like a spoiled child who didn’t get his way. Photos were taken by district employees of him leaving. The arrogant smirk still hadn’t been wiped off his face. Some joked he had to go home to find his calculator, since he’s been spouting numbers from the center seat just last week- that were as factual as a Donald Trump campaign statement.

With Baguirov gone, the swamp draining began. McManus announced that there would be no action on any layoffs tonight. That the board needed to hear from the public, to work with real data instead of the random facts that have been used as justification for rookie Superintendent Rhonda Corr’s personal personnel plan. The people who’ve already been laid off or RIF’d are still RIF’d- but no more action will be taken until the Dec. 8th meeting.

First came the labor leaders. They weren’t kind. This kind of disruption mid-school year and pre-holidays was unheard of. One even got up with her promotional sunglasses that were passed out by Corr at the beginning of the year convocation- because “Our future’s so bright we have to wear shades” when in fact, the shades were better used to hide the tears that were generated as some of the 50 speakers got up to share their stories- from kids to people who’ve been in the district for 30 years. One even pointed out that the “We are DPS” didn’t include Corr, Baguirov or even the rest of the board- who didn’t seem to understand exactly how things work in the district.

Veteran teachers who were getting moved mid-year tried to explain the impact of having to learn an entire classroom worth of kids mid year- and trying to adjust for individual learning types. How this just puts us back on track for failure.

Corr, sat there, showing every emotion on her face, except the one that should have been there- embarrassment. The meeting was 5.5 hours long. This was her mess. She still won’t own it.

Limiting speakers to 3 minutes each isn’t easy without ruffling feathers. There was a board meeting about a year ago where Racial Justice Now showed up in force. Baguirov tried to cut the times to a minute each. It ended up with DPS security hauling people away from the podium. Not so under McManus who managed each person deftly and left everyone feeling that they were appreciated, respected and heard. The boy’s a natural.

During the long executive session, where the district was probably trying to avert a lawsuit or two from wrongly terminated employees, the district ran video on their screens. Probably to stop people from organizing more in the room. Probably wouldn’t have happened anyway- it was standing room only and getting hotter by the minute. I talked to many principals, paras, union chiefs, and parents- who had all read the 8000 word post from last night. Already fired Challenger Learning Center leader MariJane Recob thanked me and told me she had a pair of Speedos in her back pocket. They never made an appearance in her highly emotional speech later, unfortunately. They all thanked me profusely. All day long, it was making the rounds. One high level person suggested my name should be Bernstein- as in Watergate reporters Woodward and…

I wrote a speech early in the day. As I got up to give it- someone yelled “I want your autograph.” That, is a new one. Usually it’s me, the candidate asking for their autographs to get on the ballot.

After I gave it, Darryl Fairchild said to me it was my best speech ever. Darryl doesn’t compliment me often. Here it is:

Last night I wrote an 8000 plus word post on my blog about this, and I’m glad to hear so many of you read it. Thank you for coming.
I’m going to start out with quoting someone famous.
We all know that quoting famous people makes you look smarter.
And, I’m told that citations are essential if you want to have a PhD – which of late, seems to be all that counts in this district.
So I’m going to quote the queen of soul, because right now- I think this district needs to rediscover its collective soul.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Find out what it means to me
R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Take care, TCB
TCB stands for Taking care of business.
Something that apparently has been lost on this board and superintendent
I need a little audience participation on this next part. Your line “Just a little bit”
I get tired- (AUDIENCE cue: “Just a little bit”)
Keep on tryin’ (AUDIENCE cue: “Just a little bit”)
You’re runnin’ out of fools (AUDIENCE cue: “Just a little bit”)
And I ain’t lyin’ (AUDIENCE cue: “Just a little bit”)
But someone sure has been. Lying. (someone called out “just a little bit”)
First it’s enrollment drops and money loss.
We need to cut para’s- because we don’t have money.
Then we need to hire 30 teachers- because, well, we do have money.
The people of the city trusted you with their school district.
And now, while you sat idly by- because someone thinks they can do a backroom deal where they get a “seat at the table” – there will be a private organization getting paid a whole lot more than our school board, to administer a program targeted at a tiny sliver of your responsibility.
Seriously- how’d that happen?
Our taxes are going up to fund the “pre-school promise” while, you were busy firing and then having a change of heart on the person who delivered the Top Pre School PERFORMANCE.
Aretha said it best:
I’m about to give you all of my money
And all I’m askin’ in return, honey
Is to give me my propers
It’s time to end this charade. Ms. Corr, Ms Abraha, and this boards leader can’t be trusted to tell the truth. Or do the right thing.
You got your single A that saved you from takeover because in part, of the work done by the lowest paid direct educators in the district.
You passed over the local superstar who helped get you there for an untested rookie.
It’s not too late to end this charade.
Time to quote Ray Charles- “You’ve got the right one baby” right here in Dayton. Home grown. A Dayton Public School Grad. Who doesn’t need a GPS to find his way to the schools, or a name tag to know who does the real work here.
He may not be perfect. None of us are. But, at least he is worthy of R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

When McManus gave his closing remarks (he had a speech too that was 10 minutes long, that he didn’t feel needed to be shared once they delayed the RIF) one of his last words was RESPECT. He should have spelled it out… R-E-S-P-E-C-T

People came up to me after and thanked me. Others asked what the URL of the blog was. All day I’ve seen people sign up for email notifications to the blog, often with those long .k12.oh.us endings. Others said they’d vote for me.

Right now, the board needs to take a vote of no confidence in Dr. Adil Baguirov. They need to remove him as President, and ask for his resignation.

They also need to reconsider the employment of Superintendent Rhonda Corr, Treasurer Hiwot Abraha, Associate Superintendent Sheila Burton who is in charge of enrollment management and legal counsel Jyllian Bradshaw.

They should be asking the consultant Deborah Heater, who helped them with this RIF, for their money back. How any consultant could claim this would help the district, mid-school year, and without checking the enrollment numbers carefully, is gross professional negligence.

And an investigation should be conducted into how the fourth grade at Horace Mann elementary school was closed in June. It’s not a school you can enroll in and get a transfer voucher. In fact, it usually has a waiting list. I know it well, my x-girlfriends kids went there- we had to fight  to get them in. This point came up over and over from parent, teacher, para in comments.

Lastly, there are still questions about property deals that haven’t come out. There may be reason to have the State Attorney General investigate the sale of real estate by the district. There are also questions on why this district sat idly by as Issue 9 subverted their responsibility for pre-school. Was a board member given promises of future money? Employment? Help with running for future office for letting this levy run without opposition?

Goodbye Dr. Baguirov, you won’t be missed.

Save

Save

Time for some sunshine in DPS meetings

Sunshine law cartoon

Columbia Tribune: Sunshine John Darkow
03/09/2005

Ohio has open meeting laws, commonly called “Sunshine laws”– which are to protect the public from public officials doing things behind closed doors. When you are elected, you are not in charge, you work for all the people who elected you, and as such, except for a few key things like legal disputes, contracts, personnel decisions, you do it where the public can watch.

It’s a weak law, with even weaker consequences. No one gets rich catching politicians acting badly thanks to the low fines, and high court costs. If we really believed in this, instead of electing a coroner or a county engineer, we’d elect a chief ethics officer whom you could turn to and they would take care of things like this.

While the Dayton Public School board only has one new member, John McManus, all the rest of them should have taken the Sunshine law class offered by the secretary of state. I know for a fact that board VP Sheila Taylor has taken it and knows enough to know right from wrong.

Recently, the DPS board has been receiving a lot of flak- mostly from African American activists in our community. First it was the “School to Prison Pipeline” then the “cops at basketball games” and most recently, for the non-renewal of the two top administrators who are black, by a board that is majority white and led by two white people. Dr. Adil Baguirov’s move to limit speakers to 1 minute instead of the normal 3, had security forcibly removing people from the podium over the basketball game issue.

So, this little item, had it been on the agenda, would have had a ton of people wanting to talk about it, protest it, and generally knock some sense into a board that seems pretty insensitive to the community it was elected to serve.

Meeting Mar 01, 2016 – Strategic Planning Meeting
Category: Resolution
Subject: Resolution – Hate Groups
Type: Action, Information

Whereas the Dayton New Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islam are recognized by the Southern Poverty Law Center and other groups as hate groups,

The district shall not participate in events that promote or attempt to legitimize nationally recognized hate groups.

Motion by Joseph E. Lacey, second by Adil T. Baguirov, Ph.D.
Final Resolution: Motion Carried
Yes: Adil T. Baguirov Ph.D., Joseph E. Lacey, John S. McManus, Sheila J. Taylor
No: Hazel Rountree, J.D, Ph.D.
Abstain: Ronald C. Lee
Not Present at Vote: Robert C. Walker
For the record, the bottom three members are African American, the first four are white.
The real question is, why wasn’t this on the printed agenda? And when did they actually vote on it?
A friend told me this:
“The resolution was not on the agenda handed out to community observers at the beginning of the meeting, and was not presented until after the executive session, which means all community members were gone.”
Executive session rules have been bent, twisted and misapplied for years in Montgomery County, and don’t even get me started on the gray area of “work sessions.” If we had a real chief ethics officer, with power, the public would see a new level of transparency that would make their heads spin, but that’s wandering off on a tangent.
To go into executive session, you must announce it in a regularly scheduled public meeting. You must, explain before hand the reason it’s called, then go into session, and then only discuss the matter at hand. When returning from executive session, you announce that you stuck to the stated item and close the meeting. You do not come back in and take a vote on something that was not the topic of discussion- as they did on March 1.
The law is pretty specific about resolutions being adopted in an open meeting- one where the public is still there- and are informed about it via the agenda:

8 (H) A resolution, rule, or formal action of any kind is invalid unless adopted in an open meeting of the public body. A resolution, rule, or formal action adopted in an open meeting that results from deliberations in a meeting not open to the public is invalid unless the deliberations were for a purpose specifically authorized in division (G) or (J) of this section and conducted at an executive session held in compliance with this section. A resolution, rule, or formal action adopted in an open meeting is invalid if the public body that adopted the resolution, rule, or formal action violated division (F) of this section.

Source: Lawriter – ORC – 121.22 Public meetings – exceptions.

The question really becomes why did the board do this now, in sneaky fashion? What is the urgency to ban both the Nation of Islam and the New Black Panthers? Who gave the Southern Poverty Law Center the divine right to judge for us in Dayton? Has the SPLC ever heard of “Racial Justice Now”? Would they be a hate group? Although their site is far from as sophisticated or informative- I see some of the same language there that I see on the New Black Panther site.

Going to the SPLC site- to their “Hate Map” I grab their definitions:

All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.

Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing.

If we look at the first statement- I’d think the Dayton Board of Ed should be passing a resolution against Donald Trump before wondering about NOI or the NBPP.

And looking at the second, how they segue from “criminal acts” to “marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing” which are all, the last I checked, activities protected by the First Amendment.

In fact, the grouping of the local NOI and NBPP groups with the national- is in fact maligning an entire class of people- based not on actual facts or actions, but, guilt by association. I would say the local Montgomery County Democratic Party, which pressures people not to run, sends out smear mail about opponents, and engages in closed-door screening of candidates by a secret group- is more a danger to our community – especially since they have control of half the board of elections, than either of these local groups.

I sent an email to all the members of the Board of Ed this morning to ask them to admit or deny the way they handled this resolution- with the quote above about the agenda- exec session.

I received 2 responses- from Dr. Baguirov and John McManus. I am closing with their statements. You decide if this resolution was necessary, needed, racially motivated, legal, done out of fear….

Agenda of the meetings often is slightly amended, as it was nearly every month in the past years, and as it was on a couple of occasions at the March 1 meeting: item that was marked subject “A – Review of Report Cards” was moved to be discussed after other subjects and became Subject E – last in line. No objections to that it seems, even though printed agenda shows it as Subject A. So yes, the agenda was further adjusted with one more item in the end, on hate groups, and all was done fully in line with the law and board policy. Board meetings are public, advertised, and open, and after executive sessions there is some action taking place sometimes, as it happened on February 23, just a week prior. Thanks.

~Baguirov

Let me be clear that I only speak for myself here, as it is against board policy to speak for the board.
“Personally, until it was introduced, I was unaware that we would be voting on any kind of resolution of this nature. I listened to the discussion, though, and did vote for it in the end. After the article in the Dayton Daily News that stated that the groups had been classified as hate groups, I didn’t think I had a choice. With that being said, though, I have had the opportunity to meet many of the leaders and members of the two local groups and I don’t think that they personally have any hate in their hearts. They’re donating coats and shoes to kids who can’t afford them. That’s love, not hate. There is so much healing that needs to be done in this community, and I just hope and pray that it happens sooner rather than later.”
~McManus (and yes, apparently he writes in quotes)

 

 

 

 

Only one upset in Dayton

You can pull up the results of the Nov. 3, 2015, Montgomery County elections here: http://www.mcohio.org/document_center/BoardElections/ElectionResults/11032015es.pdf

It wasn’t Darryl Fairchild’s turn after all. Despite falling on his sword to let Jeff Mims take Nan Whaley’s seat, Democratic party pick Chris Shaw beat the former party favorite by a measly 169 votes. Matt Joseph cruises in to collect a paycheck for four more years of doing nothing, and the reign of Queen Nan continues.

In the Dayton School Board race, newcomer John McManus squeezes past Nancy Nearny. At his watch party were almost all the other board members, including his opponent Sheila Taylor. The first issue on their agenda will be if they should renew Superintendent Lori Ward’s contract. My guess is the vote just got a lot closer.

The big success was local defense attorney Mia Wortham Spells beating the Dem party pick- Colette Moorman by 265 votes. Enough that it should be good through the final. Moorman was on the Dem party stupid voter card and should have ridden the coattails of Joseph and Shaw, but she didn’t. For Moorman, a magistrate, the only thing that changes is her new boss for the next 6 years- her opponent.

The Sinclair levy passed convincingly 54-44, with at least three quarters of a million behind it. As the treasurer of www.keepsinclairfair.org I can tell you that this is fine- people will see their tax bill go up, while the taxpayers in Warren, Greene and Preble County- where “no Montgomery County tax dollars are spent” get away with a small tuition increase and NO tax at all. When the big Sinclair levy comes up in a few years- we’ll be ready, and Dr. Steven Johnson can learn to live on a 1 mil levy when the big one fails. He can try charging $50 more a credit hour in Montgomery County- since that’s all this really costs… if you believe his bullshit.

At least Montgomery County voters voted Yes on issue 1, and No on 3 – unfortunately, the legislature pulled a fast one, and now have the ability to do anything they want to any statewide ballot initiative (as if they weren’t doing it already).

Results were held until 9pm because Butler and Hamilton Counties couldn’t get their polling places handled properly. That would be a #fail for Secretary of State Jon Husted who still hasn’t figured out how to overcome the stupidity of the BOE system in Ohio where friend and family get to run elections instead of professionals.

With all the confusion on Issue 2 and 3- I consider this more of a state IQ test than an election. I’ve not looked at the Statewide results yet to see how we Buckeyes did collectively, but I have faith that Issue 3 will rightfully go up in smoke. Too bad “investors.” When Ohioans pass a pot law, maybe we’ll still be able to buy some Acapulco Gold, or some Mile High Weed, but for now, we’re still a pot free state.

My own father was challenged at the polls for presenting his VA photo ID. He held his ground, and one of the supervisors figured it out ok.

That wasn’t true for a friend of mine. She and her husband went in to vote- same polling location as last year, same address, and somehow, her husband was allowed to vote, and she was made to vote provisionally. The difference? He’s white, she’s black and it was a South suburb. We’re still making Third World countries look good when it comes to ballot box access.

The biggest problem still hasn’t been solved: too many elections/candidates/jurisdictions/issues and no reliable source of information. This again turned out to be a low turnout election.

It’s not a true democracy unless everyone has a chance to be heard, and for every vote to count equally. Let’s get to work on that people.

Whaley’s candidates withdraw from Dayton School Board race

Late yesterday, Jerry Brunswick and John Lumpkin both withdrew from the Dayton School board race.

This is the day before the the Montgomery County Dems are to meet to endorse.

This brings the race to the 3 incumbents, Rev. Robert Walker, Nancy Nearny and Sheila Taylor, vs. one challenger, John McManus.

Word on the street was that Brunswick and Lumpkin were Mayor Nan Whaley’s hand-picked candidates and that Matt Joseph helped them get their signatures.

Once again, “democracy” is thwarted by the Monarchy of Montgomery County.

This just went from an interesting race to not much of one.