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.
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.
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.
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.
Once again, Dayton Public Schools believes rose colored glasses will somehow solve their public relations fails. In an epic 4 hour meeting, first we handed out awards for showing up to bus drivers, awards for janitors for cleaning and a real award from the State for Teacher of the Year to a Stivers teacher, Rachael Murdock.
Then it was into a presentation first by Dr. Sheila Burton and then Dr. Elizabeth Lolli about how there was some good in the state test scores- which put us as the second worst district in the State (behind Trotwood). While this kind of information is great, it’s not really useful as “good news.” It’s like saying “we got shutout, but, at least we didn’t fumble the football” (and by the way, the score was 654-0).
It also shouldn’t be presented by administrators.
The proper way to present this, by a competent PR staff, would be a presentation outlining the steps we’re taking over the next 3 years, in order to remedy the issues. What best practices have we implemented that caused things to move up, how we compared to the State in areas we didn’t move up, and what are the performance goals for the future.
While identifying that Horace Mann got 5 “A”s is nice – without knowing what the “A’s” were in, or why, or how- is useless information and a waste of our time. How are we going to replicate those “A’s” across all the other schools is more important. It’s not what grade you got, but what you learned- and how you will improve that counts.
This set up the first fireworks. After Burton and Lolli finished, Baguirov had to blather on about schools getting “A’s” and how we’re not all failing. It was a ramble- unchecked. Joe Lacy had a totally illegible slide to show his analysis- and was promptly cut off by Walker. Rudely. Joe, stormed off the dais. When he returned to vote on an unscheduled Exec session midway through the meeting- he asked if he was allowed to vote now- after he’d been cut off.
The discussion in executive was obviously about the upcoming decision to replace Pete Pullen with Chuck Taylor as the head boys basketball coach at Dunbar. The public comments were dominated by people singing Pete’s praises. The only one to not talk about Pete, was the poor girl who was a DECA student who had cheered for Dunbar for her entire high school career- only to be told she couldn’t finish her senior year for her school, with her friends- and was risking her chance at a scholarship.
Sheila Taylor took a roundabout way of explaining how this was all the Ohio High School Athletic Associations fault and sorry. “We tried to appeal” was Taylor’s line- nevermind the fact that had she not given district athletic director Mark Baker a 2 year contract- this probably wouldn’t have happened.
The fireworks finale was the vote on Taylor/Pullen for the coaching job, but slipped in-between was the board voting not to pay Huffmaster on the contract they signed for Strike Prep. $35,766.78 will be cited in the lawsuit Huffmaster files- and then throw in fees, and penalties and this will cost even more.
The board should be held personally liable for the breech of contract. The superintendent as well, since she didn’t bother explaining that this wasn’t an optional payment.
The Taylor vote had a lot of BS attached. First and foremost, Baguirov announced he’d abstain. Why, not sure. Reality- dereliction of duty. He did this after Lacey actually made a competent case for why the board should reject the recommendations to not rehire the legend for a rookie coach.
He cited 20 years experience, the winning record, the loyalty, and the scoring system which seemed more subjective than objective- especially when you are talking a coaching legend with a record that’s unmatched- compared to a rookie with zero high school coaching experience. But his most damning point was that only 2 people applied to be head coach at one of the states premier programs.
There could only be one reason- insider information and bias. Why wouldn’t we have more applicants? Probably because no one that knows anything about the program and Pete’s legacy would apply until Pete resigned- what idiot would think they’d get picked over a coaching god?
And there lies your problem- only a system run by idiots would toss away one of the best coaches in the State- and possibly in the country – and that’s what we have. Only Chuck Taylor had the inside line on the plan, and here we are.
Lacey walked off to talk to the Dunbar parents, former players, coaches and of course the media- because he’s running for reelection, and because, he’d already been disrespected by the board that evening. This one vote isn’t a good reason to keep him, but, for the first time in a long time- Joe was actually right on the money. That should scare us all.
Until next meeting of the circus clowns, stay sane, and send your kids to CJ or the Miami Valley School. No signs of intelligent life emanate from the puzzle palace on Ludlow.
At last nights Dayton Board of Education circus, there were two prepared speeches. One was on the agenda, and was supposed to go before citizen comments- from John McManus, and the other, came out of left field and was read by Joe Lacey.
Lacey was grandstanding, suggesting that the board that brought this rookie superintendent into the district to raise havoc, was soundly behind the teachers and valued them. This despite the breakdown of contract negotiations after Rhonda Corr kicked the professional negotiators out and tried to do it herself.
Talk is cheap. And Lacey is the only one running for re-election.
I’d not prepared a speech, because I was hoping to respond or build on what McManus would say. I knew something was coming, although I didn’t know what it would be. As usual, he’s too much of a southern gentleman to actually name names or point a finger directly, but, it was a well reasoned preamble to either firing Corr, or changing business as usual.
Here’s what hasn’t been said- since last years resignation deadline, 135 teachers have already resigned. Despite what HR Director Judy Spurlock said last week at the review session, this is a huge number, and it will grow by July 10, this years deadline. There isn’t a teacher or an administrator in the district that has faith in Rhonda Corr, with the possible exceptions of Dr. Sheila Burton who has turned into Rhonda’s lap dog, and LaMark Baker, who owes his career to her. Any other superintendent and board would have fired him, the Dunbar AD Pete Pullen, and the Dunbar Coach Darren Powell after the Dunbar fiasco game. As we saw yesterday, this derelict board decided to pin all the responsibility on Darren Powell, wrongly. He’s probably the least culpable of the above in this matter.
I asked McManus for the text of his speech, and thought it should be published. Between his speech, which Sheila Taylor actually stood and clapped for after, and the overruling of the superintendents recommendation to rehire Powell, we started to see visible questioning of Corr’s future at the helm.
My prediction is that she won’t last 3 months. The lawsuits will begin to expose her working style and lack of leadership, as well as other questionable practices. I’ll also be surprised if this board isn’t replaced wholesale before the end of July- as resignations mount and the floodgates open from depositions and legal filings against the board.
Here is the McManus speech as written-
John McManus, reading to DPS kids. This is the only board member who gets it.
Last week I had the pleasure of traveling to our nation’s capitol, something I enjoy doing from time to time to take in the history and the magic of the place. While there, I took the opportunity to visit a small national landmark, a quiet place that was intimately special and familiar to one of our nation’s founding fathers. As I walked the grounds and reflected on my own life, I found myself overcome with a profound sense of gratitude to the people of this community who have given me the incredible opportunity to serve in this elected system of government that has been left to us by many who came before us.
At that moment, I promised myself that I would spend my remaining time on this Board giving it every single thing I could to earn the tremendous honor that the people of Dayton have given me. I promised myself that I would no longer allow myself to be content when I should demand more. The people of this community deserve no less. Towards that effort, I would like to re-commit myself to my campaign promises to the people, and also make my own expectations known as we close one school year and hurdle towards the next.
I ran for this seat for three primary reasons. The first was due to the fact that I thought I could put my government experience to use in helping this District navigate its way out of a takeover by state government. It struck me as a fascinating challenge. Thanks to the incredible work of our amazing teachers, our staff, students, and parents, that threat is now gone for the foreseeable future.
The next reason I chose to run is because I wanted to put my experience in public sector human resources to work, hoping to improve the District’s once-dismal HR office. No government agency can expect to be well-performing if its HR office if failing. Under the strong leadership of Judy Spurlock, our human resources office is now miles ahead of where it once was, and I am so proud of her and her staff for transforming DPS HR into what I knew it could be.
The next reason that I chose to run was to take my passion for public sector administration to our community’s school district and help oversee a large scale government agency in the hopes of making it the most effective and efficient that it could be.
With the takeover threat gone for now and with the knowledge that our HR department is in the best health it has been in in a very long time, I am re-committing myself to my promise to deeply focus on administrative effectiveness and efficiency. This year has been a year of large-scale administrative changes downtown. We have a new superintendent, a new treasurer, new administrators in new positions, and long-term administrators in different positions than they once held. By now, I am confident that everyone sufficiently understands their role, and I am making a promise to my constituents to do everything that I can to help the administration effectively run this district.
I have worked in government my entire life. I’ve worked for the federal government, state government, and local government. I’ve worked in the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch. Having served in all three branches of government and at all three levels of government, I have seen what it takes to ensure that a government agency runs well.
There is one common denominator, and that is planning.
We have done some incredible things at Dayton Public this year. We’ve provided expanded learning and development to our teachers. We successfully ensured the roll out of the 1 to 1 technology program. We selected and utilized Achieve 3000 and Imagine Learning to support a differentiated and personalized support system. We implemented the gold standard of ongoing assessments, that being NWEA. We have brought career technical education programs to every single high school, and we launched the Dayton Innovative Virtual Academy. The State of Ohio has commended DPS on our groundbreaking TBT, BLT, and DLT model. We’ve invested long-overdue resources in transportation, and we’ve invested in new text books and a course of study where one had not been introduced in 6 years. Everyone in this District, from the superintendent, staff, teachers, parents, and students have my most sincere appreciation for ensuring this progress.
While applauding this progress, it is absolutely fundamental that Dayton Public Schools begin to sufficiently engage in long term and short term planning, and communicate that plan both internally and externally in a consistent and robust way. Our staff expect it, and they deserve it.
In the coming year, I will make it a non-negotiable requirement that I be provided with weekly updates from the administration of what is being done throughout the District. A Board cannot effectively carry out its responsibility of oversight if it is not well informed. Moreover, I will require monthly status reports on progress made that is specific to our strategic plan. We have a strategic plan, but I cannot recall the last time that we as a group sat down, studied it, and asked what progress has been made in critical areas outlined on the plan. No government agency can even hope to be performing at an optimal level if it does not develop a plan, continuously reference its plan, and dedicate itself to implementing the provisions of its plan with discipline in its execution. The plan must have appropriate point persons, coupled with actual deadlines, and specific ways in which to measure progress.
My intent here is not to micromanage. My intent is to do my job as a supervisor in ensuring that my employees are adhering to their own strategic plan in a disciplined and effective way. The people of Dayton elected me, and all of us on this Board, to do exactly that.
The most effective bosses I had were the ones who expected consistent, thorough, and reliable progress reports from me on the plan that they and I set up together. I hope to do the same for those that answer to this Board, as it will help all of us stay relentlessly focused on a charted course aimed at student achievement. Remember: accountability is not punishment. Accountability is evidence of proper management.
Finally, I will specifically refer to two examples where insufficient planning led to dissolution of order and discipline. The first example is that of the proposed reduction of force of building employees in the middle of the academic year. Although I was opposed to the RIF, I can readily acknowledge that its primary reason for falling apart was the fundamentally insufficient planning of what would come after the RIF. In fact, we had failed to replace multiple positions in senior management at the transportation garage for months after the RIF, leaving our director of transportation doing his best to lead our entire operation on his own. Our students, families, educators, and staff deserve a reliable transportation system, and I cannot help but wonder if better succession planning would have helped avoid confusion and embarrassment related to busing this year. We cannot lead and make critical and strategic decisions when the planning is insufficient.
The next example is that of the process surrounding the acquisition of marketing services. At the beginning of the year, I made a video informing my constituents that one of my three top priorities this year would be the implementation of an effective marketing program at Dayton Public Schools. This responsibility is a sacred one for me, as I was asked to approve others to speak for me to my constituents who gave me the honor of sitting in this seat. It pained me to vote against the proposal, considering that marketing was one of my highest priorities. The RFP and RFQ process was ill-handled to the point that we had to start over. That kind of performance is unacceptable for a government agency with nearly 3,000 employees and an annual budget of hundreds of millions of dollars. By the end of the ordeal, I had little to no confidence in the process and little to no knowledge of the vendor’s actual plan of action to provide effective marketing for Dayton Public Schools. By now, we have spent a small fortune on marketing, and I can only hope that it has tangible and measurable results by the time enrollment numbers are provided to the Board.
I have said what I felt I needed to say. In the coming year, I expect more information, more coordination, and more planning. Updates to the Board are critical, as is relentless adherence to our strategic plan. Long term and short term planning must be at the heart of what we do, and that plan must be communicated externally and internally on a consistent and revolving basis.
I will remind you of my reference to all of the transformational changes that have occurred at Dayton Public Schools this year. To all of you who were responsible for its implementation, I am so thankful to you for a job well done there. In the year ahead, let our planning and communication be at the center of all we do, and you will see that the changes that have been made this year are only the beginning.
School board member, John McManus, Business meeting, 20 Jun 2017
It has been revealed that the DEA and the professional DPS negotiating team are scheduled to meet with the Federal mediator separately in early July. The goal is to put a contract in place to stop anymore teachers from leaving the district and to begin the slow process of rebuilding respect between the parties.
I don’t see any hope for this district with either the current Superintendent or board and believe both should be removed by a judge, who can evaluate a number of insanely bad decisions, disruptions and questionable practices. Considering there are 14 people with petitions out right now, very easily the top 7 could be sworn in as soon as the election is completed in November. It would be up to the judge to say which of these existing board members should be allowed to run again.
In the meantime, an interim superintendent or superintendent team, should work hard at teacher retention, solving the bus/driver problems, and rebuilding the trust of the staff that’s stayed and the parents that haven’t walked.