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.

 

DPS to waive 48 hour rule to hire ad agency for 4 years

Full disclosure: My firm, The Next Wave, did some work for the new superintendent Rhonda Corr last summer. At the end of the proposed solution was a pricing matrix that included an option to take over the complete marketing operations of the district, that were being handled by 3 people (2 of whom retired Dec 31, 2016). An RFP went out that was so badly constructed it lead me to write this post: Hiring An Agency: The R.F.P. Guide (for Governmental Organizations). The board was supposed to vote to pick an agency on Sept. 20, and work was to begin Sept 21. They blew that date, and on Nov 1. 2016 the purchasing department under treasurer Hiwot Abraha tried to push the district to hire The Ohlmann Group of Dayton, who were the high bidder. The number isn’t showing anymore on BoardDocs but if I recall correctly it was over $360,000. The board refused. Dr. Baguirov even questioned why the bids always go to large firms, and pass over veteran owned businesses (like mine). Some of this was covered in the post: The calamity named Rhonda Corr

So here we are again. The treasurer launched an RFQ this time, just as convoluted. There was no award date, nor was there a set time frame. They capped it at $300,000. There was no guarantee of award. It was supposed to be a request for qualifications, but asked for solutions- much like an RFP. They wanted everything submitted as an attachment- the language looked like it had been run through a cut and paste machine from several other RFPs. The purchasing department has zero expertise in hiring creative firms. The due date was January 20 2018.

There was a single communication to bidders at 10pm on Saturday night Feb 4 2017:

Dear Responders: Thank you for your interest in DPS Request For Qualifications for Comprehensive Marketing Services. 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 February 21, 2017 business meeting agenda. Selected firm(s) will be contacted to negotiate contract terms and conditions.

Lie number one was that the results were presented to the board of education. Lie number 2 is that it will appear on the Feb 21 agenda.

It’s now on the Feb 14 agenda- with a request to waive the 48 hour rule, and award it once again to the Ohlmann Group, this time, for $112,500 with 3 1 year options for a total of $450,000.

If you look at contracts presented to the Dayton City Commission, you can actually examine the contract that they are about to approve. In this case, all we see is this boilerplate:

Contracted services to provide Comprehensive Marketing Services for DPSD to include, but may not be limited to Public Relation Services, Print/Media Design & Management, Marketing Consulting Services, Social/Digital Media Services , Web Development, and other services to be determined by a defined “Statement Of Work.” Effective February 15,2017 thru February 14, 2019. To include three (3),one (1)-year options to be exercised at the sole discretion of OBOE. February 14, 2017 Board Agenda

Compare this to the text of the Nov 1 attempt to hire Ohlmann for over 3x more:

Contracted services to provide Comprehensive Marketing Services for DPSD to include, but may not be limited to Public Relation Services, Print/Media Design & Management, Marketing Consulting Services,  Social/Digital Media Services, Web Development, and other services to be determined by a defined Statement Of Work” Effective November 1, 2016-thru October 31, 2017. Funds to follow

And the public can evaluate these and weigh in how? With the 48 hour rule waived each time?

Of course, the public didn’t get a chance to weigh in on the 3 year contract awarded to Rhonda Corr either- which came as a surprise a few weeks ago, and basically, paid her as much as they were paying Lori Ward- who actually got them out of academic emergency and never caused the community to practically shout down the school board over mid-year reductions in force.

Considering the second RFQ talked about a rebrand, but didn’t specify timelines, budgets, all I can ask is how can DPS afford to hire Ohlmann Group who charged the City of Dayton $25K for a logo that looks a lot like what Fairborn bought for $20K. That’s about a quarter of their first years budget for DPS, gone.

There is no reason to skip the 48 hour rule to start this contract. It’s just an attempt to make sure the public and the school board, doesn’t look closely at this.

I’ll be putting in a public records request to see the bids and the score sheets, for both rounds. It’s time to shine some sunshine on the DPS procurement process.