Why DPS will fail and Trotwood did not

The first and only call I ever got from the principal at Horace Mann was to request me to come to the school over an urgent matter concerning an 11 year old. She wouldn’t tell me what the problem was over the phone. I dropped everything, as did the 11 year olds mother and we arrived at the school within 20 minutes. Apparently, our daughter had done the unmentionable- brought “Dick Tarts” to school.

What’s a “Dick Tart” you ask? It’s like a cross between a “Tic Tac” and a “Sweet Tart”- shaped like a males anatomy. It was fished out of the trash by a kid who thought they were funny- my girlfriend had gotten them as a gag at one of those “passion parties” where women invite their friends over to drink wine and maybe buy some fun clothes and toys for the bed room.

I sit in amazement as I’m read chapter and verse out of the DPS handbook, that my kid is going to be suspended for 10 days for bringing sexually oriented material to school. And, risk expulsion. There was no negotiating, no discussion, no teachable moment or intelligent thought about the insanity of this remedy for a harmless piece of candy.

That was the only call we got from the principal.

Fast forward to yesterday morning. I run up with my camera to Trotwood Madison High School to hear their new superintendent talk about what escaping state takeover means and whats next. There was no patting ourselves on the back, there was no blaming software for our troubles, not a single mention of poverty holding our students back. Just a man with a plan.

Starting with remarkable ideas like parent engagement specialists making at least 10 calls a day to parents- not to tell them what their kid did wrong, but what their kid did right. There was the move away from Principal as disciplinarian- to principal as a lead educator focused on student achievement, spending time in the classrooms. They had a dean of students to deal with discipline.

And, after the first two weeks of school and working out the kinks, attendance is up. Way up. Because, when you care about kids actually being in school- they actually show up. Someone actually gets the idea that if a kid isn’t at school, they can’t learn. Rocket surgery thinking here folks. But, wait there’s more!

We know some kids aren’t in school because they have to work in order to eat. No worries, not only will we transport our kids home after school if needed, but, if they stay for after school activities or tutoring, they’ll get a ride home too- and dinner if they want it. Trotwood won’t allow poverty to be an excuse to miss school, or sports, or chess club. They’re all in.

And while they only moved up from 608, worst in the state to 603- the goal is to see how good they can be, how high can they go. Every single person working in the district has their sights set on student achievement. The superintendent, Tyrone Olverson is buying a house in Trotwood. He’s all in too. But what you have to admire most is he shares the spotlight, he walks his people up and lets them tell the world that they’ve bought in too. That they know what the challenges are. And the crazy thing is- he’s doing it with a lot of people who used to work in Dayton, people like Lisa Minor, who was part of the reason Dayton got an A in Annual Yearly Progress a few years ago and couldn’t repeat during the turmoil years of Corr/Lolli.

Back to DPS. Superintendent Lolli, is blaming software for their sorry ass performance and threatening to sue the vendor- even though the scores wouldn’t change enough to get them back to 607 from their now bottom of the heap 608. There was no talk of 608 to Great- like the kids are now chanting in Trotwood, there was no plan for transporting high school students, or making sure they are fed, or of calling homes with good news. No plan. Just more drivel about aligning curriculum with tests and structuring her forces. You’ve got a used up wet noodle from Middletown leaning on her friends and family to remake June Cleavers vision of DPS. There has never been an inspiring speech from Libby Lolli because there is nothing inspiring about her. One look at her track record of “leading school districts” shows a woman who has never completed a contract term in her life. She’s spending money with consultants and hiring high priced administrators at a rate like Donald Trump tells lies, and not having to worry how to pay for it in 2 years because that’s when she’ll bow out and retire. She won’t ever have a student high-five her, or a teacher hug her. Who wants to hug the ice queen?

My prediction is that Trotwood is going to leverage its state champion sports teams, it’s new-found swagger and structured approaches to education and start to grow. In fact, I see the day in the not too distant future when Thurgood Marshall High School, Meadowdale High School and the new Valerie at Meadowdale, are all acquired/absorbed by Trotwood as DPS shrinks below 10K students as DPS is taken over by the State, and parents get sick of the “plan du jour” of DPS, the ridiculous 2.5% Dayton income tax and the lousy service.

Compare Trotwood Mayor Mary McDonald who is all smiles and positivity to Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley who flat out tells the entire nation (Frontline hit piece of September 11, 2018) that Dayton kids will never make as much money or have the kind of life she had thanks to her fathers union job. With Mayors like that, who needs to stay in Dayton?

While DPS says we can’t do pre-school 5 days a week, Trotwood says we can do pre-school and child care for you from 8-6 including 3 square meals a day. While Dayton is busy feeding the school-to-prison pipeline and switching winning coaches at Dunbar for losers, Trotwood is reveling in a new found confidence and feeding minds, bodies and souls.

Expectancy theory is a bona fide  management practice. You get the results you expect. Dayton still hasn’t a clue on how to transform itself, and I have a confession to make, last Tuesday, I stopped caring.

Not about the kids, who I wish and hope will manage to take advantage of the amazing teachers who put their heart and soul into trying to make a difference in the mad house. I care about them. I stopped caring about the “leadership” of DPS. I couldn’t find it in me to go to another board “review session” and spend time with stupid people. I’d had enough.

Over the last two years and a half years I went from having dreams of DPS turning around under the obvious choice for Superintendent, the home grown talent David Lawrence, to watching them pass him over for the train wreck of Rhonda Corr.

I did make a few friends out of that process. Dan Schroer a runner up, has become one of my favorite people to talk to over lunch. He’s now running the formerly raucous Springboro district like a Swiss watch, where he passed a levy on the first try- a first for Springboro. His district now has an A for a district grade, 1 of 28 in the state. When I called him to congratulate him, he spoke of how his staff is already planning visits to all the other 27 districts that got an A- to compare notes and learn how to improve. He didn’t take a bit of credit for the score himself, it was all about his team and their can-do attitude. And believe it or not, I made a friend in Rhonda Corr. Yes, even though I’ve called her some incredibly bad things on this site, I still like her as a person, and believe she was probably a great principal. She, as very few people could ever be, was just not built to take on working in a district that’s so dysfunctional. That eats its own, people like Darren Powell, Peggy Burks, David Lawrence, Pete Pullen, real people, who bled DPS right up till they had their throats slit by the very district that they loved.

With that being said, DPS has a retreat today. They should video it, but won’t. I won’t. I’m done. This coming Tuesday will be the last time I go to a meeting and record it. The last time I’ll speak. They’re on their own. Because, after 2.5 years of trying to lead a horse to water, I’ve realized they won’t drink anything but their own kool aide, and it’s the Reverend Jim Jones special blend.

My mind was made up before I went to video Olverson on Friday. But, what sealed the deal was Mrs Howard. Every time I’ve stepped foot in a Trotwood school public meeting she was there, sort of like our Mario Gallin. She made an effort to come over and thank me for what I do. She said it was important work, speaking truth to power. She bleeds Trotwood- but understands Dayton has to succeed if Trotwood is to survive. But, she wasn’t the only one. The president of the school board, the superintendent, at least half of his staff, all pretty much said the same thing as they made their way to me. The only people making their way toward me at DPS meeting is the security staff, John McManus, Jim Fowler and his team from Kiser, or Dr. Hill. The rest fear me, and the truth.

One last fact- Tyrone Olverson applied to DPS when they were looking to replace Lori Ward. They didn’t even give him an interview. Boy did we miss out.

 

July 10 and Dayton Public Schools

thumbnail of Human Resources 7-10-18 (3)

The HR report should just be called “Ch-ch-changes” and makes for fascinating reading. Click to download PDF

July 10 is the magic date to re-sign your contract with Dayton Public Schools. Sign it, and then resign after that, and the board tries to vote properly to sanction you for breaking the contract. Since Rev Harris has been elected, they rarely get the vote right.

However, it means this is when we see the churn. Typically about 20% of their employees bolt every year, which is high. Compare that to top performing schools like the one David Lawrence is taking over in Northmont- where no one leaves, you start to see a pattern.

Since the 48 hour rule precludes them from having a complete list before the “review session” tomorrow- but we still get a few glimpses on what’s happening.

Belmont gets a new Principal from Texas- probably thanks to Dr. Donetrus Hill, one of the few smart guys still left in the district. Welcome Dr. Toron Wooldridge, who seems to have a gap in employment since 2016 on his Linkedin. Quick notable fact, he was signed as a 6-0, 232-pound Inside Linebacker from Houston, TX to Texas A&M. He’s come a long way from  being a “Redshirt freshman … who sat out the regular season because of academic problems” to Ed.D. The gap in employment, may have been due to the loss of family members due to a distracted driver. Wooldridge made a push in Texas to adopt no-text while driving laws.

Change 2 is that Nelson Stone, formerly principal of the boys school, has now been assigned to Ponitz. This after he was first supposed to go to Meadowdale. Ray Caruthers went to be the Trotwood Madison HS principal.

Change 3- is that Norris Cole’s uncle is the new Dunbar Basketball coach. I don’t know if Lyle Cole can fill Pete Pullen’s shoes, but he sure can fill a whole teams worth of Chuck Taylors without much work. Amazing that Taylor still hasn’t been brought up on charges for perjury or to pay the district back the copious amounts of cash it wasted because he lied. Not sure if Cole is a teacher, which only seems to be important if your name is Powell and you’re part of a winning football program.

Change 4- the district let Jim Cole, the man who rebuilt the Dunbar Women’s Basketball team and was coach of the year last year- go. No replacement yet, and Cole was snagged by Fairborn. Watch the Lady Skyhawks take off.

In the good news department, Dr. Bob Buchheim got the message loud and clear after his second demotion in less than a year and left town.

The Office of Exceptional Children seems to be getting cleaned out after Dr. Roberson left with two more resignations.

There are a bunch of new supplemental pays for already well paid administrators- including District AD Shawna Welch- and Erin Dooley- but, we can’t tell if these are in addition to, or replacements for. Lolli likes handing out money to people at the top, and to lawyers.

There are also some new “Dean of Students” positions- which could just be a new way of putting people into assistant principal positions without having an actual principals license. Some superintendents have done this in the past- others wouldn’t.

And as a last insult to injury- when the last school board claimed it was broke in November of 2016 they fired Marijane Recob who had been running the Challenger Center at Kiser since it began. Now, they’ve hired 2 people for $40K each, to do what she did solo for about the same money. I’m guessing Marijane would have continued doing that job for $20K if it had been offered to her because she loved it that much.

We’ll see by the business meeting how many others decide to ditch the good ship Lolli-pop.

 

 

Chuck Taylor lied in court

Evidence, in the form of a video, has made it’s way to the Ohio  High School Athletics Association commissioner that proves Dunbar Basketball Coach and Dayton Municipal courts Bailiff Chuck Taylor lied in court. The basketball player who was claimed to have not been on the bench- or left the bench for the brawl, who was supposedly, passing Taylor “in the hallway” has been clearly identified as on the bench, and involved in the altercation.

The Commissioner, Dr. Dan Ross, made Acting Superintendent Libbie Lolli aware of this evidence last week, although she claims in a conversation with me, this morning, to have not seen the video yet. She has requested a copy, and is “working collegially” Ross to sort things out. She will not comment on personnel issues when pressed, she did admit that Dunbar Principal Crystal Phillips is back in the building, but only that District AD Mark Baker and Chuck Taylor are still under contract.

Internally, there are clans forming, blaming various people for this whole fiasco. Some even blame me. Others that fingers are being pointed at by the people who couldn’t follow the rules and properly benched players- are former Coach Pete Pullen, former District AD Jonas Smith, former school board member, state representative and convicted felon Clayton Luckie (who is cousins with Smith).

The reality is, since Mark Baker has been Athletic Director and had his contract hastily renewed last year, and the district was under sanctions and scrutiny of the OHSAA, competent leadership would have immediately stepped in and made sure all the t’s were crossed and i’s dotted after the bench clearing brawl in January. They weren’t. And, now, after spending considerable money defending Dunbar- just so they could play 2 more games in the tournament, the district now risks being banished from state play.

Why kids should have to continue to suffer at the hands of incompetent adults is beyond me.

It’s time for the board to replace Libby Lolli, Associate superintendent Sheila Burton, staff attorney Jyllian Bradshaw, PR Chief Marsha Bonhart (who was Bakers boss), District AD Mark Baker, the Dunbar AD, Principal and the entire coaching staff of the basketball program.

It’s time to sue Chuck Taylor for the court costs.

And it’s time for Taylor to resign from not only coaching but working for the courts, where he routinely is expected to administer this oath multiple times daily:

Oath: I swear that the evidence that I shall give, shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God. Affirmation: I solemnly affirm that the evidence that I shall give, shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Only when these things have taken place, can this district start back on a road to recovery.

And, as an aside, Lolli refuses to publish her presentation on school closings in advance for the review session where the public is allowed to comment, and says she hasn’t given it to board members either. For something as important as school closings- for her to not allow more than 7 days of review of her findings, is further proof that this is not an administration that works for the public- but for itself. It’s this kind of thinking that has them in the paper with a crisis of the day.

She’s also unable to estimate how much the district spent with Attorney Brian Wildermuth on his trial to get Dunbar back in the tournament.

 

Kids get punished for stupid adults: Dunbar BB forfeits playoff game and season ends

Because Dayton Public Schools doesn’t hire professionals, act professionally, follow procedure, pay attention, get the details right, etc. The Dunbar Boys Basketball team just learned that they had to forfeit their win on Monday Feb 26th in the tournament vs. Thurgood Marshall- giving Thurgood a  shot to the division II playoff game against Bishop Fenwick on Sunday March 4th at UD Arena.

Apparently the Ohio High School Athletic Association, who still is keeping a close eye on the district after the Dunbar/Belmont thrown game fiasco, got wind that players who were involved in the brawl at the Thurgood/Dunbar game a while back- weren’t punished, the school gets punished now.

Why does District Athletic Director Mark Baker still have a job? Why was it a good decision to unceremoniously remove Pete Pullen, one of the winning-est coaches in Ohio High School Basketball history to replace him with rookie Chuck Taylor?

At what point will the people who make these command decisions- the Superintendent and the Board, be held accountable?

Because this isn’t good for the kids. It’s not all about the kids. It’s just a string of failures to which there is no end in sight.

It’s time to cut losses. You now have a fireable offense to use to terminate Mark Baker’s contract. You have reason to fire Chuck Taylor. You have a reason to fire Dunbar Principal Crystal Phillips- after all, this is her second failure to implement policy. But then what? The people downtown STILL don’t seem to understand what it takes to run a school district.

In other district news, former treasurer Craig Jones won his appeal on his case against the district on wrongful termination. The thing that caught them was their failure to properly follow the Sunshine laws for notification of their impending planned action in executive session. The board hired the same lawyer as they have on my sunshine case, Brian Wildermuth of Subashi & Wildermuth. He’ll soon have another loss on his hands.

Maybe they need a better lawyer too, in addition to a Superintendent, Athletic Director, Principal at Dunbar, Basketball Coach at Dunbar…. the list goes on.

Dayton Public Schools still out of control under the carpetbagger interim Superintendent

Rome Burns- a metaphor for DPS under this board and Dr. Lolli. From Mr. Ripley on Deviant art

There is a reason the DPS superintendent usually lives in the District. The operation runs on an 18 hour a day schedule, from opening the transportation department to the closing of the gym after a basketball game. There is the possibility that the current interim superintendent is first reading about the following events here, because she wasn’t at the Dunbar game on Friday night, which is where she should have been after the Dunbar/Thurgood game a few weeks ago. Instead, she was probably at home in Middletown prepping for her board retreat on Saturday morning.

Today, I was going to write a nice story about an amazing event hosted by two DPS employees and their students last night. Instead, I’m going to explain why this school board needs to pull their collective asses out of the fire by fixing past wrongs. This district can’t survive the current level of incompetence.

So far, the first actions of the new board have been to allow a semi-secret task force to take over their responsibility for running the district. There was no official vote taken to empower this task force or to appoint the three board members to it- or to give the superintendent, treasurer etc authority to work on it.

Closing buildings next year for efficiency is not job number 1. It’s not even job number 2 or 3 or 4. But, they wouldn’t know that. If they actually knew anything about the district- or had a superintendent that did, they would clearly know that job number 1 right now- is student safety, to include orderly buildings where education can take place. Number 2 is instilling confidence back in the community that DPS can actually teach. Not just “Drill and kill” on the computers to a goal of improving test scores- but to teach. Make kids interested in learning and going to school and achieving.

That isn’t happening.

I didn’t write about it when there was a stands clearing brawl on January 10th at Dunbar High School when Thurgood came to play basketball. I have video. Facebook has video. It was a mess. Board members didn’t know, didn’t demand action, and haven’t investigated it even after being told. #FAIL

I was chastised on Facebook for not writing about the group hug the two varsity teams had before their game after the brawl (there was the JV game first- and that’s when the brawl happened). If you want to read good news puff stories- you can either watch the 20 minute videos Marsha Bonhart is making for the district- and being well paid, or read the occasional article in the Dayton Day-Old news.

Friday night, DPS reached a new low. After a Dunbar player committed 2 turnovers in 20 seconds according to multiple reports- the rookie coach, Chuck Taylor pulled him out. The players mother decided to come down and tell the coach what she thought. Taylor called the woman a bitch. The player got up and punched Chuckie in the face twice.

This, folks, is not how you run a basketball program.

If former coach Pete Pullen had pulled a player for committing two turnovers, the parent wouldn’t have dared to question his actions. The last board, approved the non-renewal of Pete Pullen and the hiring of Chuck. By the way- the candidate pool for the job- was just Chuck or Pete- because no one else would apply – because Pete Pullen is a coaching legend with a long list of championships- Chuck is a Bailiff for a local judge who sucks at the political teat of the Democratic party and hands out $10,000 bails on homeless people.

Still, choosing between Pete and Chuck should have been a no-brainer, except that’s the problem- the District AD is a no-brained former pro-basketball player who can’t figure out a players eligibility and brought shame to this district at the center of the thrown game between Dunbar and Belmont in 2016. He was also given a two-year contract by the former Superintendent (still not fired) and the former board- despite the investigation into the thrown game being incomplete at the time.

As the board has an emergency meeting on Tuesday to go into executive session, we could hope the following transpires:

  • Rhonda Corr is terminated.
  • District AD Mark Baker is terminated.
  • Chuck Taylor is terminated and Pete Pullen returned to coach the remainder of the Dunbar season.
  • The board opens a search for a new superintendent.

The task force is disbanded and DPS board announces that they are closing Valerie elementary, selling off HQ and the building across the street, closing Longfellow at Jackson Center, and beginning a planning process to institute a consistent alignment of schools (grades served), bell times, and transportation options for the coming school year that is focused on reducing transportation costs, improving building utilization and aligning resources properly. They also announce a downsizing of administrative staff, including the firing of their expensive PR department that still doesn’t know how to update a website in a timely manner without help (the upcoming meeting isn’t listed on the meeting schedule). Yet, one has to wonder when at the Board Retreat yesterday, the agenda included documents that still listed responsibilities that were assigned to Corr, Winston and even Jill Moberley.

There has still been no investigation and punishment for anyone other than the two teachers who actively tried to stop the riot at Ponitz (the story broke on this blog). No students were held accountable, no building administrators punished, and no questions asked on why the district was willing to let another incredible asset leave the district (Football coach Jim Place resigned).

Competent leadership from the board and superintendent wouldn’t be distracted by building use efficiency while the buildings are on fire.

It’s time for a shakeup.

And, last but not least, thanks to YouTube changing their monetization rules, I need to get the youtube channel up to 1000 subscribers to be able to help support the costs of producing video for this blog. Please go to www.youtube.com/c/electesrati and subscribe. It doesn’t cost anything. We had 100 subscribers on Thursday, we’re up to almost double that in two days, but if you want me to keep going to task force meetings and shutting them down, we need 1000 subscribers asap. Thank you.