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?
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.
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.
Other peoples money. That’s the key to real estate, and especially real estate deals managed by those we elect who are supposed to be working in our best interest.
We’ve see stupid deals in Dayton for a long time, and they seem to slide along into oblivion in the mind of the public. No one got hoisted by their petards on the Arcade deal, or the Arcade tower, or the Wayne Avenue Kroger, or…. the list gets really long.
Let’s just say this: politicians raise bad real estate deals to a new art form. And locally, there are plenty of failures. However, it would appear that the deals by the Dayton Public School Board of Education may take the cake. This is a long video. But, it should make it pretty clear that there are serious questions about the deals they’ve done, the ones they’ve refused to do- and who’s been driving the deals- and questions about his entanglements.
We look closely at the site downtown on E. First Street where Patterson Co-op once stood, a greenfield, ready for development, and the site on Wyoming at Alberta where Patterson Kennedy Elementary once stood- near Miami Valley Hospital and the University of Dayton.
We’ve spent the last two months pursuing this story- and trying to figure out why Dr. Adil Baguirov seems to be the only member of the Board of Ed- including the school superintendent, that knows what’s been going on when it comes to these deals- and we’re wondering if this is by design.
If the schools wanted to optimize the value of these vacant properties, the key factor would be what property taxes will the development generate to the district in addition to the sale price- nothing else.
Watch the video. We’ll post supporting documents later.
Here is “Dirty Deals Done Dirt Cheap” featuring the Dayton Public Schools Board of Education, the Dayton and Montgomery County Port Authority, the former DPS operations Chief John Carr, the DPS board attorney, Jyllian Bradshaw and CareSource.
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