DPS PR machine is still not doing its job

First rule of public relations: be honest.

Second rule of public relations: be proactive. Be in front of the storm, not in the middle of it, or after it passes.

Third rule of public relations: be trustworthy, which is an extension of the first two rules.

Despite hiring 2 PR professionals for $180K a year, in addition to an “ad agency” for $345K a year, Dayton Public Schools continue to soil themselves through inept public relations. It may have absolutely nothing to do with any of the people who are hired to do PR, because this school board and superintendent are totally tone deaf and sabotage their own positions of authority at will and often.

Here is some backstory of how the move from the 2.0 to 1.0 gpa for athletics began, long before the Dunbar vs Belmont eligibility fiasco last year. (btw- I went to the rematch on Thursday and watched Belmont annihilate Dunbar 42-0). The story comes from “the man who would be superintendent” if it wasn’t for a board that doesn’t like strong black males with better community ties than they have. David Lawrence, the former Chief of Innovation for Dayton Public Schools, before he was bought out for big money to go away by this incompetent school board, told me he proposed this lowering of standards plan to former superintendent Lori Ward over 3 years ago. Note, he was a DPS athlete who went on to play D-1 sports. He still holds track records at Welcome Stadium.

His reasoning made sense. First, there are other districts, albeit ones that aren’t failing in all academic categories, that use this standard. Not that Oakwood or Centerville has to apply it to as many students, but they will allow kids to participate. But here is the kicker, he put the blame squarely on the teachers in this district, who sometimes would only give a midterm and a final, with no quizzes, tests, or other evaluation items like class participation, attendance, homework, etc. This meant some kids were being discriminated against- because some teachers don’t really try to work with the dumb jocks and take great pleasure in ambushing them.

Dang.

Didn’t see that one coming at all. But when you have a district with a horrible graduation rate, failing at all levels of academic success, this story seems more legit than the one coming out of the PR machine days after a seemingly secret meeting pops this change on us like a magician pulling an elephant out of a hat. We expect a rabbit, not an elephant.

First issue is why was this done, without proper public knowledge in advance, at an unscheduled meeting? That’s a guaranteed sign of “we’re being sneaky” instead of “we’re being strategic.” Proper PR handling would have made sure this issue was out in public long before and well explained and discussed before hand- as well as having proper answers for the board members who voted against or abstained. That way, it doesn’t feed the fires of the public who sees this as yet another lowering of standards.

I still posit that part of this policy is driven by fall out from sanctions imposed on the district after the Dunbar fiasco. The board had to lower standards in a hurry because most high schools wouldn’t have had enough players to play this year after athletes from DECA and other charter schools could no longer play for the program of their choice. In other words, the district was reacting instead of being proactive. Yet, none of that is in the explanation being circulated on Facebook by new media relations head Marsha Bonhart:

Lots of discussion about Dayton Public Schools and the sports policy – and a lot of confusion. As director of public relations and media at DPS, please allow me to help everyone understand the bar is NOT being lowered – it’s being raised. Student athletes who carry a GPA between 1.0 and 1.99 will have to raise their grades each quarter AND pass five classes to remain eligible to play any sport. They must be involved in an hourly, Monday – Thursday academic improvement program that includes tutoring. They have to remain in the program for a year until their GPA raises at least to 2.0. If they do not show quarterly improvement and do not pass the classes, they will not participate in any sports. If their grades slip the next year, they are back in the program for the entire year, again.
The deal is, improve your grades, pass five classes or you don’t play. This is for grades 7-12, girls and boys. Questions? 542-3023 (937)

Note, this is on her personal account, not on an official district channel. The post on the site, which most people can’t navigate, is here, posted Aug 26th (the decision was made and announced Aug 22):

FAQ for New Athletic Eligibility Policy

DPS to encourage athletes to perform better in the classroom

To Our Parents and Community,

There has been lots of discussion about Dayton Public Schools and the new sports policy – and a lot of confusion.

As director of public relations and media at DPS, please allow me to help everyone understand the bar is NOT being lowered – it’s being raised. Student athletes who carry a GPA between 1.0 and 1.99 will have to raise their grades each quarter AND pass five classes to remain eligible to play any sport. They must be involved in an hourly, Monday – Thursday academic improvement program that includes tutoring. They have to remain in the program for a year until their GPA raises at least to 2.0.

If they do not show quarterly improvement and do not pass the classes, they will not participate in any sports. If their grades slip the next year, they are back in the program for the entire year, again.

The deal is, improve your grades, pass five classes or you don’t play. This is for grades 7-12, girls and boys. Questions? (937) 542-3023

Marsha Bonhart Neilson

Director of Public Relations & Media, Dayton Public Schools

Source: News | FAQ for New Athletic Eligibility Policy

Maybe the big news is that Marsha has a new last name?

Or that she tries to legitimize the lowering of standards as “he bar is NOT being lowered – it’s being raised”- which is straight out of a 1980’s style PR textbook, where you try to reframe the truth. This is a complete and utter #FAIL, days after the fact. If this is the best spin DPS can put on this dead on arrival PR nightmare, Marsha and her new boss should be next on the chopping block. See the three rules at the beginning of this post.

My main questions still remain: why is this study table policy limited to athletes? The district is in academic emergency, shouldn’t all students getting less than “C’s” be getting mandatory help? And, besides the discriminatory nature of this plan, last I heard, we didn’t have money to pay teachers more, so who is paying for these professionals to help guide our dumb jocks up to a 2.0? The district is claiming volunteers? Is that really the answer?

As with most cases DPS, we have to look at the root problems: poverty and low expectations. If you believe in expectancy theory, this lowering of GPA requirements reinforces a problem that the district is already fighting to overcome. The timing of this announcement should have been made before school started as well- which means, once again, we’ve started a school year out with controversy- much like last years RIF. This kind of leadership is only reinforcing perceptions of a district in turmoil. Competent leadership would know better- but we don’t have competent leadership.

No PR machine on the face of the earth can fix stupid. At this point, only voters can. Yet, even though he was the lone vote against this change, Joe Lacey still shouldn’t be on this board, he’s part of the problem that made this fiasco happen when he hired Rhonda Corr, which is the real reason this district has been mired in controversy for the last year.

 

8 Certified to run for DPS board, 7 options, 4 seats

thumbnail of November_7__2017_Certified_Candidates_8_15_17

Click to download complete PDF from BOE

From the Montgomery County Board of (S)Elections today, the complete candidate list.

For Dayton Public Schools there are 8 candidates for 4 seats, and seeing as one is an incumbent.

Which is an odd coincidence- if the current board, with the vote of no confidence in them and the Superintendent did the right thing- there would be 7 seats available.

  • Mohamed Al?Hamandi 26 Hawthorn St. Dayton 45402
  • Paul Bradley 227 Green St. Dayton 45402
  • (Mario)  Ann Marie Gallin 40 Gebhart St. Dayton 45410
  • William E. Harris Jr. 1125 Cornell Dr. Dayton 45406
  • Joe Lacey 207 E. Sixth St. Dayton 45402 (incumbent)
  • Jocelyn S. Rhynard 107 McDaniel St. Dayton 45405
  • Jo’el T. Jones 33 W. Babbitt St. Dayton 45405
  • Karen Wick?Gagnet 222 Warren St. Dayton 45402

There is another issue, with my filing of candidacy for the Montgomery County Educational Service Center board. Despite it being mandated that DPS purchase services from the MCESC, and that they are the first people the State turns to in a state takeover, somehow, despite it being THE MONTGOMERY COUNTY ESC- I’m not eligible to sit on the board, although people in Brookville and Trotwood are (which both have city school districts).

There are some other questions about the legitimacy of the oversight of this organization- including how much involvement it has with the Issue 9 money and Learn to Earn. I am consulting with State legislators and my volunteer legal team to challenge this strange taxation without representation.

The same three people have run un-opposed before- and we know what happens there.

In other DPS news- the board will vote to accept the new contract with the DEA tonight- several months later than it should have been settled. Superintendent Rhonda Corr claims she settled it single handily after her negotiations team failed (her words). What’s missing from this picture? The reality that there are 10 other bargaining units- and none of their contracts have been settled.

The real question that the board should answer today- is if they still have faith in the Superintendent and her capacity to lead the district.

Expensive drama for nothing

In the wee hours of the morning, version 5 of the DPS negotiation team, reached a tentative agreement with the DEA. This afternoon, the DEA union may still vote it down and go on strike, but that’s unlikely.

The reason that’s unlikely- is because after 8 months of negotiation- and an illegal public ambush on Tuesday afternoon where the district illegally discussed negotiations and threatened to withhold the teachers checks (which would have cost the district treble damages, because it’s illegal to withhold earned pay), the teachers basically got everything they were asking for- except the contract is only for 2 years, instead of 3.

DPS Treasurer Hiwot Abraha wouldn’t certify the 3 year contract because “we don’t have the money.” Hmmm, we had the money for 3 years to sign Superintendent Rhonda Corr’s lush contract for 3 years- and we did the 7 year bus buy, no problem.

Now, the craziness begins again. The bus/bell schedule is going to be a disaster. My whole office watched a DPS driver in a brand new bus trying to make a turn from Bonner onto Adams- a narrow one way street with cars parked on both sides. It was entertaining to all of us- but not so much to the person who was honking at them to move….

Many of the fundamental problems of poor leadership and no-attention span planning will still exist. Teachers are being shuffled like a six card deck in Vegas according to my facebook feed. The moving of teachers from school to school is just one more way we make sure DPS won’t make real progress on academic scores.

Hopefully, with the raises and recognition of steps, we’ll stop seeing our best teachers leaving by the boatload for greener pastures. What won’t be able to be undone- is the huge loss suffered from this protracted drama. There are now 8 certified PK teachers with masters degrees and additional certs- all working in Springfield. Sure, the drive will suck, but, they said I make $8K a year more AND it’s a positive working environment.

That last part, the positive working environment, won’t come to DPS until a new board is seated and some sort of rational thinking guides this district again.

At the board meeting on Tuesday- Dr. Walker pulled me aside and had a friendly discussion with me. He was concerned I’d called him a “dumbass” on my blog. Sheila Taylor mentioned it as well. It’s amazing, considering the district is on the verge of collapsing- and they were concerned with words- that according to the search function- don’t even exist as pertaining to them on this blog. Just another indication of the misdirected focus.

There are solutions to many of DPS’s problems, including rebuilding trust between the administration and the staff, but, after the last year of turmoil, it’s hard to see it coming anytime soon.

As one last contract point- since the teachers are only going to get a two year contract, the DEA should ask that Rhonda reduce hers by one year as well.

This afternoon will be telling, especially when the terms are shared publicly. The teachers really do want to be in the classrooms next week. The idea of allowing the people that Huffmaster was going to supply as scabs made all of them queasy. Delaying the opening of school a week wouldn’t be a bad idea either at this point, but, most likely, it won’t happen.

Had the district resolved this before the June 10th resignation deadline, we’d be in much better shape. This can’t ever be allowed to happen again.

It’s not about the kids, Rhonda.

Dayton Public Schools strike prep- signs for the strikers

The teachers are prepared.

If I had a nickle for every time rookie superintendent Rhonda Corr said “It’s about the kids” we’d have enough money to fix Longfellow school, with some left over.

Of course, we don’t really know how much it would cost to fix Longfellow, all we have is hearsay, because fixing a historic building was never the goal of this Board of Education, because, well, Dr. Baguirov apparently isn’t in the construction industry on the side. Things that relate to his private businesses get done (helping CareSource- the largest Medicare provider in the state- helps pay Dr. B’s home health businesses, and the bus deal- he’s the guy with a trucking company that does business with the company that got the gold plated warranty deal).

This board that meets more times than any other public board, and gets less done, is criminal in its actions. They conduct business at “review “and “strategy” sessions- which seem just like board meetings- only they hold them in the room outside the board room- and don’t allow citizens to speak. This, is intentional- and wrong.

And when they do meet to conduct business- they allow Dr. Sheila Burton to present a one slide plan for revamping busing in the district- in JULY! With zero questions. They praise the cutting off of private day care providers and make speeches- only to reverse course after they learn what they are doing- because, frankly, they have no clue what they are doing- and neither does Corr, Burton, Treasurer Hiwot Abraha.

It’s this kind of lack of intellectual horsepower that has our district permanently checked in to the ICU as a major trauma victim. Switching bell times, this late in the season doesn’t work for all parents. Can you imagine if you have multiple kids at different bell times? Or, you have your daughter at Charity Early- which used to start at 9am and now is 7:15- meaning an earlier dismissal time- and now you have to figure out after school care? Or if your daughter will even be transported still- since the bus ride is over 30 minutes from your East Dayton home?

As we approach the last two days of negotiations on a contract with the DEA, not a single board member has stepped in to observer the “negotiating team” in action. They are depending on the word of Rhonda Corr to tell them what is going on in negotiations- the woman who showed up after a two month break without a proposal for the DEA. Read that last line again. She showed up, no proposal, and, is quoted in the media that she’s surprised that the DEA was going to vote to strike. She came out of the day long negotiation saying 5 things had been cleared off the table- according to DEA president David Romick the DEA didn’t sign anything- or agree to clear any item and he has no idea of what she’s talking about.

It was pretty clear yesterday that the DEA is tired of the incompetent leadership at Ludlow HQ. I walked among the teachers, as they gathered in solidarity at Triangle park, and told me story after story of what this failed negotiation process has cost the district. Half of the 5 star pre-school certified staff- has left. Not because they wanted to – but because the administration doesn’t seem to understand the program and what being a 5 star program entails. The latest news is that HQ is telling people who call- that DPS preschool is now a 5 day a week program instead of 4. Meaning that the things required to be a 5 star program- that are done on Fridays- can’t be done anymore. There are required meetings, training, reports, and lesson planning that is done on these days- and apparently, Corr doesn’t understand this. These teachers are truly teachers- with masters degrees and additional licenses, that’s what a 5 star rating entails.

On Friday, I spoke to a former DPS math teacher, male, younger. He’s now working at Trotwood. I’ve known him for around 8 years, as he used to teach my x-girlfriends daughters. He left, not because of pay, he didn’t even know how much he’d make more at Trotwood- but did say they honored all of his years, and step increases, but because he’s in the middle of a medical situation that he can’t afford to be without health insurance. If you know anything about HR in schools- male, math teachers, in pk-8 grades- are unicorns. One of ours, just flew away.

No board members attended the union picnic. Not even Sheila Taylor, supposedly the mouthpiece of local labor. John McManus blamed his job in Columbus for stopping him from going, but the rest, steered clear. How a board that works for the community, can be so out of touch with their staff is mind-blowing. However, many of the candidates appearing on the ballot in November to replace Ron Lee, Dr. Hazel Rountree, Joe Lacey and Dr. Adil Baguirov were there. 8 have already filed petitions (sadly, Joe Lacey is one of the 8) and the turn-in deadline is Wednesday Aug 9th. Many DEA members asked me to run, something that’s just not possible right now due to my responsibilities with my 89 year old mother with dementia.

The real question, with two negotiating days to go, is when will someone from the board step in to the negotiations to observe and see how their team is working?

The board has already spent $150K on Huffmaster to prepare for the strike- and has agreed to pay $200 a day per substitute strike breaker- and Corr has claimed they will have “Certified teachers in the classrooms” yet Huffmaster’s ad clearly doesn’t require it. There aren’t 600 unemployed certified teachers in this region, never mind Dayton.

This is why, the only sane move the board can make is to tell Corr if an agreement isn’t reached on Monday, she’s fired, and Dr. Burton takes over. If Burton, can’t negotiate a settlement on Wednesday, she’s fired and it’s up to Dr. Lolli to lead the district.

We’ve already lost enough students to charter schools, and when the strike hits- 5 days before school starts, and parents rush to enroll their kids in Charters, and funding drops again, we’ll be left in shambles. The only logical thing to do if an agreement isn’t made on Wednesday is to re-set the school year to begin in September, pending a settlement. Pushing forward with schools staffed with temps isn’t a viable solution anymore than maintaining Corr as superintendent. The damage she’s already done to the district can’t even be enumerated.

Because, at this point, it’s not about the kids- it’s about her competence.

DPS enters the final countdown

Sorry, I’ve been busy with the real world lately, not enough time to spare to write about the soap opera/tragedy/dramady that’s the Dayton Public Schools over the last 2 weeks.

I’ll start with the contributions of the only Board Member who is running for re-election that we know of- Joe Lacey. He shouldn’t. That said, here’s his genius share at the last meeting, at the end, in closing comments, yes, our preliminary test scores went up, but, so did everyone in the state- and they went up more. So, our Annual Yearly Progress- the factor that “saved us” from State takeover and was a false flag to rally around, isn’t really happening. In fact, we still suck. Yet, Rhonda has a 3 year extension. Go figure.

Tonight, he decided to stick his foot in his mouth discussing the retirement of Horace Lovelace, one of the few master principals the district still has working for it. Apparently, the amazing thing about Mr. Lovelace was that, according to Lacey, was that Lovelace could do such amazing things with the problem children (aka black boys). Joe still doesn’t understand the why of single sex schooling – and as the meeting took a break before the executive session, he was called out by two Kiser employees who read him the riot act. He tried to wiggle out of his racist comment as a misstatement. The ignorance was deafening. I’ve got it on tape- so come election season, he can expect to see it combined with his past escapades of disrespecting the public combined into a very nice video hit piece to make sure he doesn’t return to do more damage to the district.

I’ve been waiting for someone to help me out and pull all the HR spreadsheets from June 10, 2016 to June 10 2017 to clearly show how many teachers, administrators and staff have abandoned ship. 20% attrition is probably on the low side- but Ms. Judy Spurlock actually told the board, without any facts, that it was lower. No one caught it. Rookie Rhonda said 20% attrition is normal- to which the proper answer should have been, you’re fired, but no one on the board has a spine, or a functioning brain attached. No organization can afford a 20% attrition rate- the turnover costs alone, in terms of onboarding, hiring, training, mentoring and then the acclimation process almost guarantees failure, or if nothing else, a stepping stone district, which is what we will forever be until we offer competitive pay.
Here’s an NPR article from 2016 lamenting the 8% attrition rate and the teacher shortage.

Also on the agenda was another incompetent incomplete presentation by Dr. Sheila Burton. One slide with four changes in transportation. Back to zones, 4 bell times, no 30 minute rides, and last but not least- cutting off transportation to private day care. The board jumped on this last one- telling day care operators to buy their own damn buses. McManus in particular. Then came public comments and the truth about the daycare situation came out- parents can’t send their kids to DPS if they don’t have day care. All the kids are Title 20 funded- and it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. You want to drive parents out of the district- or to charter schools- that often include after school care…. next you know- the board and district are reversing themselves. Nevermind, the busing situation with 4 bell times makes a mess for parents with kids going to different schools. Only an idiot would think that 4 bell times is the answer.

Of course, the answer, which I proposed in the short film, “There ain’t no “F” in Dayton,” of staffed neighborhood bus stops never was in the mix. That would save the district time, gas, and cut down on the number of accidents caused by trying to take buses down streets designed for horse and buggy.  It also helps with attendance issues- and building community relations- but, nooooo……

Last meeting, this meeting, resignations keep coming. Corr even admitted that she couldn’t find a replacement for Horace Lovelace this late in the season, but, why worry, she’s too busy paying $160K to Huffmaster to PREPARE for hiring replacements for the strike.

Yep- they get the money whether the negotiations work or not. After the strike begins, then we start paying as many as 600 temporary teachers to half-ass do what 800 full time teachers under her command still fail at- make real, tangible academic progress and stop the district from being a shit show.

The strike vote has been taken. She still thinks there is a chance to play hardball with the DEA, despite ignoring every warning sign that they are sick of this BS coming from downtown. We have no money and have to RIF in November, then we have money to buy out a capable administrator, who by the way, was replaced by three people, 2 of which she hand picked, paid more- and then had one quit after a year. And, btw- we still had money to give administrators a $300 to $350 a month expense bonus…. and we don’t have money for a raise after 4 years? Rhonda’s own contract is richer than former superintendent Lori Wards.

This week, she hired 2 $90K administrators to handle PR- without even notifying the other applicants that the job was filled. Previously, the old PIO made less than that- with 30+ years with the district. And this is on top of her hiring the most expensive ad agency bid on the RFQ last spring. Welcome to DPS Marsha Bonhart – formerly of Channel 2 and DCDC- to your new $87K a year position of Director of Public Relations and Media, and Dr. Vernita Kelly who will make $89K a year as Director of  Strategic Communications and Public Relations. I assume they will also both get the $300 a month expense accounts as well… but Rhonda says these two replace 3- maybe 4 positions, since they hadn’t filled Jill Moberley’s job, Jill Drury’s job or Ken Kreitzer’s job. Oh, and remember- Drury was the only one who knew how to manage their website. I know Marsha, and she’s not going to be actually running the website or designing the brochures- and I’ve yet to meet a PhD who could either…. hmmmmm.

And, btw- where is either of these ladies experience with turning around a failing brand?

There were questions tonight on the hiring of Miami University to to an IT survey. Since the contract was under $50K, it wasn’t bid. But, for this, the board wanted a presentation on what they’d do. Yet, when the PR contract was bid, they were told that their involvement in the evaluation process was strictly verboten and would be a problem- even though it was for $350K. Nice way to stick to standards.

The news media was all there- and asking questions of Rhonda and  Board President Dr. Walker about the strike. The reality is, they are the reason there will be a strike, and they refuse to take responsibility. That the community isn’t calling for a replacement board, or state takeover at this point is unreal.

Just another performance of the greatest (side) show on earth. Welcome to Dayton Public schools.

Afterthought: better use of the Huffmaster money by the board: fire Rhonda, settle with the teachers, and move forward.

And they are leaving in droves. DPS loses 36 teachers on resignation day

thumbnail of DPS HR report for 11 Jul 17

PDF of resignations and HR issues for 11 Jul 17 board meeting. Click to read

It’s not funny anymore.

Today, July 10, was the final day to officially quit Dayton Public Schools- even though there is no contract.

Five administrators quit- including the only person in the district who could edit their website- Jill Drury. The hiring process for the new person to run their marketing hasn’t begun, or at least, they haven’t contacted the candidates.

Teachers and administrators we already told you about were announced, but, the part that hurts the most? 36 teachers headed out for greener pastures. Including 2 more from Stivers, the one building good teachers try to get into.

One of the teachers resigning was teacher of the year a few years back. And, btw- 36 teachers is like losing an entire school full- in one day.

Considering the district looks to be going on strike this fall, how many teachers will be lining up to work here? Exactly.

There were also some odd adjustments being made. All the top administrators now get $350 a month for business expenses. Maybe, because no one was watching this before.

And- adjustments had to be made- including $16,484.90 to Dr. Winston who quit and you read it first here. The money will come in handy, to pay her lawyer for the lawsuit that is probably coming against the district for EEOC violations and adverse working conditions.

When you have to make “one time payments” this big to fix something- most people would wonder who was asleep at the wheel? Why isn’t someone getting fired?

From Board Docs:

Dr. Elizabeth Lolli – $12,892.18 (one-time payment)

Dr. Markay Winston – $13,484.90 (one-time payment)

Dr. Markay Winston – $3,000.00 (one-time payment)

Source: BoardDocs® Pro

Speaking of getting fired, some of the board members are at a point where they are seriously considering if it’s worth it to keep Rhonda Corr, or better to just pay her off to go away.

If you add up all the resignations for the year of teachers- it’s over 20% turnover. Anyone in business will tell you, 20% annual turnover is deadly.

If this district were a horse, someone would shoot it.

Dunbar Football coach AGAIN.

One other thing on the agenda for tomorrow night- Coach James Lacking, the head Dunbar football coach before Darran Powell, declined the position on line 43. Line 255 is another attempt to hire Darran Powell back. Last time, since Ron Lee abstained, and Baguirov wasn’t there and Taylor and Lacey said no– leaving only 3 to vote. We’ll see if the vote comes out different tomorrow night. And, btw- don’t come expecting to speak- this is another one of their endless Review sessions.

In the lifeboats as the DPS ship sinks

Since the post last night:

“Half of the preschool department is leaving for various school districts-roughly 16 teachers. Most are special-needs preschool teachers who are going to various districts that still have four day preschool- that understand that you cannot get IEP work done effectively without a planning day. Thank you for bringing to light all of these ridiculous decisions.”

A  principal with enough seniority to retire twice- (almost)- says, “If she stays, or Roberson is made superintendent, I’m out. Bring back Lawrence, Brathwaite and I’ll stay”  (David Lawrence and Debra Brathwaite- former DPS administrators) Als0- “they are cutting half of my Title 1 reading and math intervention specialists, and replacing them with a phonics coach. I don’t need a separate person to teach phonics, just give my 1st and 2nd grade teachers training, and we’ve got it covered. What a waste of money”

A teacher- “Hello David I also will be resigning although I have not told my principal or human resources yet, but I am a science teacher at XXXXX one of only two physics teachers in the district and I will be going to teach at a small county school where the pay is only $1200 difference with smaller class sizes and my kids also go to the school where I will be teaching next year. I didn’t even apply for the job…?, I was recruited by community members who knew I had a science background..that’s how bad science teachers are needed all over the state. U can mention my case, just don’t mention my name or school”

I’m still waiting for other school boards to approve the hiring of 2 other principals and one top level administrator. There is a possibility of 2 additional names to add to this list.

thumbnail of DPS Board agenda 30 June 17

The last minute agenda, for a School Board that can’t get it together. PDF- click to view

The School Board is supposedly meeting at 4:30 pm today, a meeting that was hastily called Tuesday night- after another hastily called meeting. The agenda wasn’t published until this morning- and it appears it’s the entire appropriations for next year. Can someone explain why this wasn’t known to have to be done before Tuesday night? And why the public shouldn’t have been given adequate notice and time to review the issues? 48 hour rule? We’re lucky to have a 4 hour rule under Rhonda Corr and Hiwot Abraha.

More examples of complete and total incompetence and mastery of management by the seat of her pants by the current Superintendent and Treasurer.

Time to clean house, before there isn’t a house left.

Any more people want to tell the board about their resignation here first? [email protected]

And, btw, it was nice to see the Dayton Daily News share the story of Judge Dankof ruling in favor of the district over former treasurer Craig Jones – 2 days after I published it. Jones’ lawsuit was about this very BS kind of meeting announcement. Dankof obviously doesn’t care about the intent of the law- only the minutiae. Hopefully, next time he runs, he has opposition, since he doesn’t deserve to represent a public he won’t defend properly against abuse of power by other elected officials.

 

DPS needs to fire the captain before the ship sinks

Every minute that Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) reign supreme under Rhonda Corr, the talent makes plans to leave. The board, unwilling to admit their massive failure of hiring Corr, of keeping Baker (while turning Darren Powell into the only fall guy), of the insane Reduction in Force mid-year, the questionable real estate deals negotiated by Adil Baguirov (and maybe Corr?), the botched buyout of David Lawrence (probably their only option for a superintendent), then the failure to investigate allegations that Baguirov didn’t even live in the district, then allowing him to somehow negotiate a bus deal, without action by purchasing (an insane violation of board policy) followed by the resignation and pending investigation into the short lived tenure of Rhonda’s hand picked Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Markay Winston….

and now- the envelope please…. Leaving the Dayton Public Schools

  • Dwon Bush is leaving the district to be an Elementary School Principal in Huber Heights- if her name sounds familiar, it’s because they tried to RIF her, and had a student make a compelling plea to keep her.
  • Vanisa Turney-Crews, an assistant principal at Kiser is leaving to be the Director of Curriculum and Instruction in Huber Heights.
  • Taylor Porter, who was Corr’s initial pick to be the principal at Meadowdale when the fan hit the shan, is going to Westerville to be an assistant principal.
  • Monica Utley, the principal of Fairview- gone.
  • Valerie Herdman, a future principal- gone.
  • Sam Eckhardt a superstar high school math teacher at Thurgood- leaving for Xenia. Math teachers are hard to come by.
  • Ralph Davis – is leaving, one of the key players in the Males of Color program.
  • And, because they haven’t had their new contracts boarded in their new assignments-  there are at least 2 more principals leaving Dayton and 1 more administrator.

The resignation deadline is July 10. There will be plenty more. And while next week there are going to be 2 meetings to negotiate a contract, Corr is the reason that talks got shelved until August.

As long as she’s on top, people are gonna go.

Best case scenario: The board investigates Baguirov, he resigns, Lee and Rountree step down early as they both clearly are tiring of the fight, 3 people who’ve successfully turned in petitions get picked randomly for filling in until the election.

The new board invalidates the Baker contract- fires Corr for cause, fires Hiwot Abraha who can’t get her work done on time, or run purchasing legally, brings back Darran Powell as Head Football Coach (we don’t have time for this sideshow) and gets down on their knees to ask Lawrence to step in as interim.

If they ask nice enough, he may even come in and count part of his buyout as pay until next June.

If they don’t stop the resignations, and get a tentative contract in place before July 7, 2017- or at least have a man with a plan, their may not be enough people to put on a show next year. My guess, is instead, we’ll see that Baguirov has successfully completed his mission- to turn the district into such a clusterduck that the State can come in and turn the whole district into a charter and hand it over to the alternate “school board” Learn to Earn Dayton, and make sure the right people get paid off.

The longer lists of resignations are coming. If you are planning to resign, feel free to contact me to be added to the list. Tell me where you’re going and why if you’d like the public to know what the Reign of Corr hath brought. [email protected]

Update: 1 hour after publishing- have unconfirmed reports of another star principal leaving, and one who is considered a grand dame- may be fed up and turning in her resignation as well if Corr isn’t removed ASAP.

 

https://esrati.com/who-is-dwon-bush-and-why-dps-board-should-be-fired-before-her/13261

https://esrati.com/who-is-dwon-bush-and-why-dps-board-should-be-fired-before-her/13261

Those who can’t do, call another meeting

Just in:

In accordance with Section 3313.16 of the Ohio Revised Code and File: BD of the Handbook of Policies, Rules & Regulations of the Board, I hereby call for a special meeting of the Board of Education of the Dayton City School District, Montgomery County, Ohio, to be held on Friday, June 30, 2017 at 4:30 p.m. in room 6S-116 of the Administration Building, located at 115 S. Ludlow St., Dayton, OH 45402.

The purpose of the meeting is to allow the Board to vote on recommendations from the superintendent and/or treasurer.

The media is being advised of this meeting in compliance with the Ohio Sunshine Law.

Respectfully,

Robert Walker, D.Min.

President

Dayton Board of Education

This is after they acknowledged yet ignored about 60 people in Dunbar blue who piled into the 6th floor board room tonight, to be seen but not heard by the children in charge of the Dayton Public Schools.

The board, less Dr. Adil Baguirov, took great pains to explain that they were just there to go into executive session, and then went for yet another 2.5 hour marathon.

So here’s some things to think about: no one realized that they hired a replacement football coach at Dunbar on Saturday. Yep, a Mr. James Jacking. On the HR recommendations that were passed by 4 members with Sheila Taylor abstaining.

thumbnail of HR hiring James Jacking

Check page 2. They hired Jacking, not lacking.

Mr. James LACKING, was kinda surprised when he found out first from a reporter that he may have the job. Not only that, he’s willing to step down if the board ever holds a revote to hire Darran Powell back.

Powell has his petitions with over 1500 signatures turned in. Somehow, it hasn’t connected with the board or with Rhonda Corr that 1,500 signatures in 3 days is a hint that they don’t have the political capital to win. But, when you have an administration as tone deaf as this one, maybe they just have to wait for the bomb to go off.

There was good news for the district today.

Rhonda Corr made an announcement about preliminary state testing results as part of the preamble to the executive session. She claims all scores went up and that the final numbers will be even better. The board was just slightly happy, wondering if the 60 Wolverines were going to eat them for lunch was higher on their list of priorities.

thumbnail of Craig Jones ruling

The ruling by Judge Dankof on the notification process used by DPS board- click to download PDF

The other news was that Judge Steven Dankof actually gave them a seal of approval for their insane meeting practices by tossing out the lawsuit by former treasurer Craig Jones. Dankof took at face value the arguments for the legitimacy of their poor notification actions and confused votes and said the board didn’t do anything wrong in firing Jones and Ward back in Feb of 2016.  Nevermind the board definitely tightened up their notification emails to comply properly after (which should tell you something).

For the record, the vote was 4-1 and Ron Lee wasn’t there and said he would have also voted to fire. Do I care who was the one no vote? Do the rest of us? Not really, because this whole thing has gone from bad to worse since. You can read the ruling here.

How many meetings a week can this board hold?

How long will the public stand for this nonsense?

One things for sure, someone who didn’t think much of Rhonda’s hand picked Chief Academic Officer who just quit found this blog and made it clear that Dr. Markay Winston wasn’t any less controversial than her former benefactor Corr. This article about Markay’s obstructions in court proceedings against the now imprisoned former Superintendent of Chicago Public Schools, Barbara Byrd Bennet, should have set off warning bells for the DPS board long before they even had Corr in to interview.

Is this mess the best we can do? Isn’t it time to just start with a completely new board, and a superintendent that actually knows who she hired for head coach of the winningest football program in the city?

 

McManus makes his case for change

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.

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.

Thank you.

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.