DPS board stuffing money in their pockets

thumbnail of DPS rejection-letter

Brian Wildermuth either didn’t present my offer to the board, or he did illegally. Click to download PDF

On May 22nd, I offered to settle the lawsuit over the Sunshine Law violations of the public body, “school closing task force” on this blog and in writing to the City and the School Board.

This requires the attorney’s to take the offer to the school board. I go to board meetings, I watch the agendas. There has been no discussion of legal issues mentioned in the executive session briefings since I made the offer.

On June 2nd, I got a letter of rejection from the school boards lawyer of my settlement offer.

This means that either they illegally discussed it in executive session, of which they’ve had two meetings this week, both, “Special Meetings” and both about personnel. The meeting on Friday was just over the change of contract for board attorney Jyllian Bradshaw. This was 4 days after another special meeting- called for the budget presentation and a bunch of HR Changes- without public input, including the travesty of paying Erin Dooley less than Wyetta Hayden for a similar position.

Either Brian Wildermuth broke the law by not presenting the offer to his client, or Bradshaw and Lolli broke the law by not presenting it to the board, or someone illegally polled the board about the offer.

thumbnail of Esrati.Bills Redacted.042518

Invoices from Subashi & Wildermuth for “protecting” the school board from a violation of the Sunshine laws. Click to download PDF

In the meantime, the board has already spent $12,500+ defending themselves- and lost the first round.

thumbnail of Human Resources-Jyllian Change of contact

It cost taxpayers $625+ to have the board come in for a special meeting to vote on this.

But, those two “special meetings” this week- cost the taxpayers too. The meeting about the budget seems to be an annual thing- why the treasurer can’t have the numbers at the regularly scheduled business meeting like every other school board in Ohio is a mystery- and why they had so many personnel issues that couldn’t wait- is one thing, but to call a board meeting just to change Jyllians Bradshaws title?
REALLY?

You see, each board member collects $125 per meeting, plus mileage. So having these five idiots come in for one vote on Friday cost you $625 plus mileage:

Motion by Mohamed H Al-Hamdani, second by Karen Wick-Gagnet.
Final Resolution: Motion Carried
Yes: Mohamed H Al-Hamdani, William E Harris Jr, Sheila J Taylor, Karen Wick-Gagnet
Abstain: Robert C Walker

Why there isn’t outrage over this I don’t know. The rule of “P’s” should apply- Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

And if you are wondering about the pay?

Here is the section of Ohio Revised Code on school board compensation:

(A) Each member of the educational service center governing board may be paid such compensation as the governing board provides by resolution, provided that any such compensation shall not exceed one hundred twenty-five dollars a day plus mileage both ways, at the rate per mile provided by resolution of the governing board, for attendance at any meeting of the board. No member of an educational service center governing board shall receive in compensation under this division a total amount greater than five thousand dollars per year for service on the governing board. Such

Source: Lawriter – ORC

The lawmakers had to make the change and add a cap, because of idiots like the former DPS board who were scheduling meetings almost weekly and stuffing their pockets. Normal school boards meet at most twice a month. DPS finds a way to meet almost weekly, often times hitting the cap in August- meaning all the meetings after that are unpaid.

And on June 12, they are going to meet again- to give Erin Dooley a supplemental contract to fix the last oversight- and to hire yet another expensive PhD $117,040  to oversee the office of exceptional children. Dr. Angela Nichols is coming from the Lebanon City Schools. Because, well, you can never have to many PhDs in education.

There are also some inconsistencies in the supplemental contracts- with Dr. Donetrus Hill getting a premium double supplemental for $5,200, maybe because his title is longer “Chief of Curriculum, Instruction, PD ?Math/Science”

Still no word as to who the principal will be at Belmont, although former DPS superstar principal David White just got moved in Trotwood from High School Principal to Junior high principal- and it wouldn’t surprise me if he made a return, with some kind of secondary responsibility as “head of discipline” to justify a boost in DPS pay to come closer to what he makes in Trotwood.

Both the men’s and women’s basketball coaching positions at Dunbar are still up in the air. The women’s team hasn’t been playing in summer ball, thanks to the indecision by new AD Shawna Welch. Coach Jim Cole was “coach of the year” last year- which in DPS doesn’t mean anything. He’s basically built this program from nothing to a winner in 3 years.

Of course, the question is, will the board try to vote in a review session, as has been the case forever. That’s why we have “business meetings” and there is time for public input- but, hey, that would be following the rules, and they just don’t like to do that.

And, for tomorrows meeting, the agenda does have them going into executive session to discuss legal matters… maybe they will get smart and settle, before they buy Wildermuth a new boat.

 

Incompetence at all levels of Dayton Public Schools

Dayton Ohio Dunbar High School Basketball program deflatedTo recap: Under the previous school board, In November of 2016, there was a major violation of sportsmanship when Dunbar played an ineligible football player, and tried to throw a game to Belmont. It was bizarre and obvious that something smelled at DPS.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association investigated, and pushed for the district to fire District Athletic Director LaMark Baker. The board instead gave him a 2 year contract. OHSAA imposed three years of sanctions and oversight of the district and a $10K fine.

Old board also gives former Superintendent Rhonda Corr a 3 year contract. She hires Dr. Venita Kelly and Marsha Bonhart at $90K ea a year to run PR. Corr puts Bonhart over Baker.

Board kicks Corr to the Curb in November of 2017. Board has new composition after Dr. Adil Baguirov resigns because David Esrati threatens mandamus action for his removal, since on Election Day, his voting registration has moved to Vandalia district. Esrati had made a case in April of 2017 that Baguirov didn’t live in the district- no officials investigated or acted. Now Rev William Harris is on Board. They put Corr on paid admin leave- promote Dr. Elizabeth Lolli to acting superintendent, this was caused because the investigation into the EEOC claims by Dr. Markay Winston uncovered credible evidence that Corr was less proficient than the stellar performance review that the board had just given her.

New board takes over in January- already has a PR debacle thanks to Lolli and Dr. Burton announcing the potential closing of schools without doing proper PR management. All schools discussed are on the West side. A task force is set-up prior to the board being seated- and Mohamed Al-Hamdani is appointed co-chair- before he has taken office. Task force tries to meet in secret, fails, then has secret meeting bus tour- Esrati files a lawsuit.

End of January 2018, Dunbar and Thurgood JV basketball game erupts in a bench clearing brawl at end of game. Rookie Dunbar Coach Chuck Taylor gets punished for calling a parent names. Thurgood sits all players for mandatory 2 game suspension. Apparently, Dunbar doesn’t.

In playoffs, Dunbar’s failure to enforce suspensions causes them to forfeit at playoff game for an ineligible player. This puts Thurgood into the playoffs. Lolli, who is now superintendent, with a huge pay package, and three year contract- without having to apply, without the job being opened up, or the district doing proper due diligence, now has brilliantly bad idea to sue OHSAA to get Dunbar back in the playoffs and kick Thurgood out.

They spend at least $50K with Subashi and Wildermuth to file suit and have a court decision. Court rules for DPS, Dunbar wins 1 game, loses the next. None of the players ever serve their 2 game suspensions. No one on the board seems to think this is a bad idea.

Sources tell esrati.com that OHSAA has been provided video that proves Coach Taylor committed perjury in his testimony, alerts DPS. Demands an apology,  repayment, and some kind of remediation to the ongoing problems. DPS votes to increase budget by $50K to Subashi and Wildermuth, which is either to cover payment to OHSAA or to continue to fund costs of ongoing lawsuit with Esrati, after they lose the first round argument that the task force is a public body subject to the Sunshine Laws. BTW- Esrati is representing himself. The Board and City had had up to 5 different lawyers working to beat him.

An emergency meeting called this morning to discuss:

The purpose of the meeting shall be to discuss new information about the OHSAA court case involving Dunbar High School. The meeting will include an executive session to:

  • consider the appointment, employment, dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion, or compensation of a public employee, or the investigation of charges or complaints against a public employee; and

  • Confer with an attorney for the school board concerning disputes involving the school board that are the subject of pending court action.

Attorney Brian Wildermuth was there. They met for almost an hour, came out and Harris made an announcement that they had made some decisions, that things hadn’t gone the way they wanted, and hinted that changes would be forthcoming.

“The BOE has been updated on the “Dunbar basketball situation” while the new information is not what we would like to hear, we acknowledge the need to accept it and move forward. The superintendent is making some changes within the structure of the athletic department and we support those changes. It is time to move forward in the Dayton Public Schools in all areas and departments.”

DPS staff attorney, Jyllian Bradshaw has been absent through most of this on maternity leave. The board has been dependent on a bunch of different law firms in her absence including Brickler and Eckler, which did the investigation on Winston’s complaint.

In this time frame, Wildermuth was also handed a defeat in the appeals court on the termination of former Treasurer Craig Jones. So this means that they are on the losing side of 3 cases so far.

After the meeting adjourned this morning, I went up to Dr. Lolli and confronted her on why I had to listen to PR Chief Marsha Bonhart on a personal phone call for almost the entire length of time that they were in executive session. She didn’t respond, looking absolutely aghast that I would speak to her. BTW- the board voted last meeting to not renew Dr. Kelly- but kept Bonhart. I don’t allow my employees one hour personal calls while on the clock- apparently Lolli does. It’s not as if there isn’t a lot to do to fix the PR problems of the district.

While Bonhart gabbed, internal auditor, Randall Harper tried to get work done on his laptop during the exec session. Bonhart didn’t even have a laptop with her.

I have video of Bonhart’s call, it’s just not worth sharing.

Sources have said their will be a joint press release in the coming days, where DPS acknowledges their mistakes, apologizes to OHSAA, announces that DPS will reimburse OHSAA for their legal fees, and that structural changes have been made in DPS.

Here are our informed guesses of what may happen:

  • Mark Baker resigns as District Athletic Director. May continue employment in the district at another position so as to not pay yet another contract off.
  • Chuck Taylor is not renewed as a basketball coach. He also retires as a bailiff in Dayton Municipal Courts. No further charges are brought.
  • Dunbar gets yet a third athletic director, as current AD is non-renewed.
  • New District Athletic Director no longer reports to Bonhart, but directly to Lolli.
  • Dunbar basketball program is put on watch by the OHSAA for three more years.

Predictions, DPS enrollment drops by another several hundred after his latest show of incompetence. Board is too stupid to sue Subashi and Wildermuth for bad legal advice, and continues to pay them ridonkulous sums to try to make up for the Board and Lolli’s incompetence.

I win suit on task force violations of sunshine laws in case scheduled for court on Aug. 1. I collect $500, board has spent tens of thousands to defend their illegal actions, I appeal to Ohio Auditors open records unit to have Mims, Al-Hamdani, Walker and Harris removed from office. They don’t do anything. I file a lawsuit to force Ohio to enforce their own damn laws, and 2 years later- all are removed from office.

UPDATE

12:17 pm complete text of joint release

News Release – Ohio High School Athletic Association
Executive Director Daniel B. Ross, Ph.D.
www.OHSAA.org | twitter.com/OHSAASports | facebook.com/OHSAA
For Immediate Release- April 26, 2018
Contact – Tim Stried, OHSAA Director of Communications, [email protected]
Dayton Public Schools and OHSAA Announce Closure to Dunbar Basketball Incident
New evidence leads DPS and OHSAA to same conclusion in aftermath of court case

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Dayton Public Schools superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Lolli and Ohio High School Athletic Association Executive Director Dr. Dan Ross have announced closure to the case Involving Dunbar High School boys’ basketball during the 2017-18 season.

In March, Dayton Public Schools filed a lawsuit to block the OHSAA’s decision to remove Dunbar from the boys’ basketball tournament for using an ineligible player, which stemmed from Dunbar not suspending junior varsity players who left the bench during a fight in January. The issue was whether one player, who later participated in a varsity tournament game, left the bench during the fight. The court sided with Dayton Public Schools, stating: “In reviewing the record upon which OHSAA based its decision, the Court finds that OHSAA’s decision is not supported by reliable, probative and substantial evidence.” The court further found “thus, as Coach Taylor testified, John Doe was already in the locker room hallway before the fight broke out.” However, after the Court’s ruling, new evidence came to light, showing that the student-athlete left the bench and went into the fight.

DAYTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS STATEMENT

“I would like to thank Dr. Ross and the OHSAA for working with us to find the truth in this situation ,” Lolli said. “It is concerning that individuals with information about the incident did not feel comfortable coming forward before the court hearing. We owe an apology to Bishop Fenwick High School, Thurgood Marshall High School and the OHSAA, We have taken corrective measures to address the situation. We appreciate the OHSAA’s cooperation and compassion during this situation. We know that removal of Dayton Public Schools’ membership In the OHSAA was an option.”‘

OHSAA STATEMENT

“I was a superintendent for a long time, so I understand what Dr. Lolli has been going through with this,” Ross said. “Our staff was convinced by the evidence we had in making our original decision that the youngster came off the bench when the fight broke out. Once new evidence was obtained and shared with Dr. Lolli, she immediately knew that It was a very serious matter and wanted to work with the OHSAA to make the needed corrections. It has been a pleasure working with her and we trust that nothing like this will happen again at Dayton Public Schools.”

DAYTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS ACTION

Dayton Public Schools began reviewing athletic department structure and procedures immediately after this Incident occurred. The District is in the process of making decisions about the athletic department and will be implementing changes over the next several weeks. Dr. Ross has been kept apprised of these discussions. DPS is committed to making certain that its coaches and administrators know and follow OHSAA rules, properly investigate incidents, and impose appropriate consequences for rule violations.

OHSAA SANCTIONS

In addition, the OHSAA has handed down the following sanctions. Dunbar will not be permitted to participate in the 2019 boys’ basketball tournament  and Dayton Public Schools will reimburse the OHSAA’s court costs, fees and expenses related to the March hearing. In addition, the OHSAA has extended the current probation period that all Dayton Public Schools are currently serving from a football incident in 2016. That probation Is now extended through June 2020 for all DPS schools and through 2022 for Dunbar.

“For the last month, this has been an effort from both sides working together – the OHSAA and Dayton Public Schools,” Ross said. “I commend Dr. Lolli for working hard to do the right thing here and get to the truth. She cares deeply for Dayton Public Schools and understands how important this is for DPS moving forward .”

###OHSAA###

Tim Stried
Director of Communications
Ohio High School Athletic Association
614-267-2502
[email protected]
www .OHSAA.org
www.Twitter.com/OHSAASports
www.Facebook.com/OHSAA
614·267-1677 fax
4080 Roselea Place
Columbus, OH 43214

Rhonda Corr now drives a bus

On Sunday, Rhonda Corr was praying and blaming her board members for slowing the process.

Corr, who was on her way to church to “pray for resolving the issue,” said the documented struggles of the district and Dayton Education Association negotiations were heavy burdens to bear….

“I’m going to be doing some cold-calling to my board members to see how much they’ll support me in what I want to propose,” Corr said.

Source: Dayton Public Schools head says deal ‘could get done’

This morning, she was blaming her staff- specifically, board attorney Jyllian Bradshaw for the protracted negotiations.

Corr said members of her own negotiating team were against the switch to a two-year contract proposal, but she said she overruled them as lead negotiator, in an effort to get a deal done.“

“The former negotiating team (led by district attorney Jyllian Bradshaw) had five and a half months, and no movement was made,” Corr said. “The superintendent was called in and did it in nine days.”

Source: Dayton teachers ratify 2-year deal

Since this board brought Rhonda Corr on as superintendent, the district has moved from one crisis to another. The amount of chaos is exponential compared to anything the district has ever seen.

But, lets stick to the facts: The board hires and fires the superintendent, the treasurer, the auditor. The attorney is 50/50 split.

Rhonda, if she was the leader she thinks she is- should have been able to tell that her negotiating team wasn’t doing their job well before the final hour. Blaming Bradshaw is nothing but a hit and run. If you are wondering why Dr. Markay Winston, Corr’s handpicked senior leadership left– it was because she was tired of getting hit by Corr’s bus.

The no confidence vote by 800 plus teachers in both Corr and the Board is a good indication of how bad things have been. That Corr is taking credit for something that should have been done months ago, before she lost 100 teachers, is grounds for termination of her contract for cause. And the word is, that Treasurer Hiwot Abraha was the one who refused to certify the contract for 3 years because of her fiscal forecast- not because of anything Rhonda did.

This district will remain in chaos until a new board majority takes office in January, or earlier if anyone has any common sense.

The real question is, if someone polled this board, would they still publicly back their choice of Rhonda Corr? Is it time to replace her, as a token of consolation to the union who didn’t break the law by discussing the confidential negotiations a day before the final session? Can anyone in this district ever admit they made a mistake?

In the last year- the only person I’ve seen admit to being wrong, was Jyllian Bradshaw, when I called her a liar in a board meeting about the RFQ process.

Unfortunately, she’s the one who got run over by the bus today.

Rookie Superintendent Corr kicks her lawyers to the curb

After being mostly absent in the discussions over the 400 odd issues up for contention in the contract negotiations between Dayton Public Schools and the Dayton Education Association representing the teachers, Rhonda roared into the negotiating room last Tuesday, excused the boards lawyers and they haven’t been let back in the room.

Of the 400 issues- about half are just grammatical.

The remaining 200 are serious. This is an ambitious attempt by a rookie to remake the district, and so far, the DEA has been unimpressed, leading to the invitation of a mediator.

The legal bills generated to the boards outside law firm have been large up to this point.

Now, we’re in the hands of Dr. Sheila Burton, Dr. Libby Lolli and lead by Rhonda Corr.

To be fair, the DEA hasn’t had any lawyers involved on their side of the table. The board has had Tabitha Justice of Subashi & Wildermuth and board lawyer Jyllian Bradshaw on their side of the table.

The DEA has already authorized a strike, and has promised to wait until after summer session to actually walk off the job, leaving time for last minute heroics, but, the question is will their members wait?

Teachers are now back in short supply, and other districts offer better pay, better benefits and much higher morale as enticements. DPS has been losing teachers at an insanely high 20% rate for the last few years, helping to contribute to the fact that this is the worst performing district in the state.

On Wednesday, I went to the community town hall at Belmont High School. Corr made every PR mistake possible in the span of an hour, leaving parents, teachers, coaches, bus drivers and concerned citizens feeling like they’d just witnessed a concession of failure speech.

She had no real answers on busing changes, which was her lead item- via her surrogate Dr. Burton who gave a lame powerpoint presentation basically outlining that DPS can’t get your kids to school now, or next year. Questions from the audience were better thought out than the new three bell time schedule, or on why DPS is training other districts bus drivers for free.  “We did train 60 drivers but only 7 of them stayed” (8:41 on the video).

She goes on to say she’s working with her legal department to try to figure it out- the same legal department she dismissed from negotiations?

Other questions about why Mark Baker was given a 2 year contract, despite not meeting the standard other coaches must meet- namely, not being sanctioned by the Ohio High School Athletic Association, got blown off- with “I can’t talk about personnel issues.”

Parents got hit last year with the major shakeup of the reintroduction of middle schools at the last minute.

Now, there is no confirmation that your kid will be able to be transported to the school they go to this year- next year. Parents, rightfully asked, “when will we know” which went unanswered.

Principals have reported teachers pulling up to the buildings with U-hauls to remove their personal items, something they’ve never seen at this level before.

It’s time to remove the board who hired this rookie, and to then remove her as well.

Dayton can’t afford to lose even more students to charters, to other districts, to vouchers, because our superintendent can’t lead.

Remove 5 members of Dayton Public School Board of Education? Yes please.

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.

However recently, they’ve taken their incompetence to the level of criminal gross neglect- as showcased by their ignoring the first clause of the buyout contract with David Lawrence that they were supposed to vote on without comment.

The week prior, they voted early to award a contract that was published as $112,500, waiving the 48 hour rule only to have an hour conversation about a contract with the Ohlmann Group, that they obviously hadn’t read, or understood. The real amount of that contract, only revealed through a public records request that took too long, and was delivered on a ream of paper instead of the requested digital documents, $345,410 per year- with two additional one year options, making the contract worth a potential $1,036,230.

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.

From their own manual:

Emergency 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.

Source: Can a school-board member be removed from office?

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.