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.

The public crucifixion of Dunbar Coach Darren Powell

The DPS board meeting was not streamed. And the end of my video will be the camera locked in, wide- because I was asked to leave by security.

Dr. Adil Baguirov was excused at the beginning because he was “traveling.” It’s probably the reason the tech steering committee meeting was cancelled today as well. Sadly, no staff is capable of running that meeting, because, well, there is no IT director for the district right now thanks to the Fall RIF.

This was a night for speeches. Board Member McManus was scheduled to speak before public comments- for a special presentation, but at the last minute, it was moved to after public comment. Yet, Joe Lacey got to make an unscheduled ramble about how important teachers are- because the house was once again packed with them- all wondering why contract negotiations were at a standstill.

Former DPS teacher “Mr. U”- Brian Urquhart got up and had the audience joining in – “it doesn’t buy the groceries, it doesn’t pay the bills” to address the lack of a contract.

I got up and apologized for interrupting the board meeting last week- because they couldn’t stay on topic, asking why teachers had lesson plans, and the board didn’t. I gave them an “F” and called for the board to get an independent parliamentarian to guide them- pointing out “new business” is for voting items- not for speeches, and that the superintendent is who they address- not staff. I questioned how 4 Stivers teachers are resigning- as well as her Chief Academic Officer- and how they can spend so much on legal fees- but still not have a negotiating team at the table.

One teacher in attendance wrote this on Facebook “Get out the BBQ sauce, because David Esrati just grilled the DPSBOE.”

But, the more interesting part was the McManus ramble of our refined Southern Gentleman- who had had enough of Board members working in the dark. He asked for a clear strategic plan, and regular updates on how we’re moving toward goals. It took a while, but it was clear by the end that he felt bamboozled by the Superintendent and the Treasurer on both the RIF and the Marketing Contract fiasco. It wasn’t fire and brimstone of one of our black ministers, but, for John McManus it was an epic earful. Considering at least 3 and probably 4 seats will be occupied by someone else come January, it was pretty clear that this superintendent better learn how to inform the board better or she may be gone.

Then came the HR vote. That four teachers were leaving Stivers was unheard of. It wasn’t mentioned. What did happen is Joe Lacey asked for line 91 to be voted separately. Since Board Doc’s is worthless on mobile- I had to ask Dayton Daily news reporter Jeremy Kelley to confirm what I thought line 91 was – and it was the supplemental contract to hire Darren Powell as coach of the Dunbar football team for next fall. The role was called, Ron Lee abstained, later blaming it on his many absences. McManus, Walker, Rountree voted yes, Lacey voted no and then Taylor voted no. Lacey chimed in “it takes 4 to hire” and just like that- Darren Powell was publicly crucified for a whole bunch of peoples failures- including district Athletic Director LaMark Baker, who according to the Ohio High School Athletic Association was the primary party in the Dunbar/Belmont fiasco. The same Mark Baker that got a rushed 2 year contract a few months ago- before the ink on the reports was dry.

That they hired Belmont Coach/AD Earl White back to both positions just previous once again points to the failures of the DPS HR Department. The jobs were all specifically posted to exclude that possibility, making the entire athletic contract awards process tainted. Is it any wonder the board just allocated a quarter of a million plus for outside legal counsel. They know they’re going to need it.

After the vote, I got in trouble. I asked, “So who is going to be the Dunbar football coach?” Legitimate question. No response had me asking again. Because, well, you can’t have a team without a coach, and practice is NOW. This is a question the Superintendent should have had an answer for. This is proof that this board doesn’t respect their Superintendent by hanging her out to dry on her choice for head coach.

Many believe this entire mess was the final straw for Dr. Markay Winston, and why she resigned.

Needless to say, no one answered. But Rountree made a speech, Lee made excuses, and, if Walker said anything, I don’t remember it- possibly because I was talking on Mr. U’s phone to coach Powell’s father- outside the room.

Lawsuits may come, another coach may be named, but, all that vote did was screw the kids at Dunbar out of a coach, and leave the program in the midst of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Exactly the wrong three words you want to hear when running anything, unless your goal is to run it into the ground.

Hopefully, I’ll have video up tomorrow.

DPS as the wheels fall off

Tonight at 5:30pm should be an epic board meeting. Never mind that the teachers union and the district aren’t talking, but, there are certainly things to talk about.

As we reported last Thursday. Dr. Markay Winston, the handpicked Chief Academic Officer’s resignation is on the agenda. How can a board have faith in a superintendent who can’t keep her own deputies on the job?

Also on the agenda- is some athletic supplemental contracts. Apparently the district just figured out that August is too late to hire your football coaches. But, wait, there’s Belmont Football Coach Earl White- and, and, he’s both getting to be the AD and the Head Football Coach. Wasn’t that specifically banned in the job postings? Wasn’t this one of the things the principals all said- “fat chance Rhonda, we have a hard enough time getting qualified people into those positions.” How can they hire based on postings that were wrong without inviting lawsuits?

And as if the Dunbar/Belmont fiasco didn’t happen, coach Darren Powell will get to continue with the Dunbar program. Net result of this fiasco for those involved- AD Pete Pullen stepped down, Baker gets a 2 year undeserved contract, and Winston, who was on top- resigns, although ostensibly, not over this mess.

The board is working on their evaluations of their hires- Corr, Treasurer Hiwot Abraha and internal auditor Randall Harper. Why they aren’t evaluating their legal counsel, executive secretary etc – I’m not sure.

Corr and Abraha deserve failing grades. Harper needs to find his voice. There are things that he should have stepped in and stopped multiple times, the most flagrant foul that he passed on was the involvement in the purchasing process by the ineligible board member Adil Baguirov with his bus buy. Board members don’t negotiate deals in districts that are run properly.

As to their legal counsel, there needs to be an evaluation of the districts legal strategies. The amount being spent on outside firms in addition to the internal position adds up quickly. The fact that the legal bills are mounting should figure partially into the performance review of Corr, who has become walking lawsuit bait. Additional lawsuits over the RIF are in the pipeline as are others about discrimination and adverse work environments.

Rumors are rampant that there are still teachers planning “resignation parties” before the July 10 deadline. The fact that there are teachers resigning from Stivers should set off alarm bells at the top. That’s the one building that’s got a positive work environment and is meeting expectations.

There may be some other surprises in store. We’ll have film running, and be there to watch the circus. If you care about DPS, you may want to be there too.

Leaving DPS isn’t just for teachers: Dr. Winston resigns

While the administration is in denial about the number of teacher resignations, claiming they are lower than last year, this resignation has us wondering exactly how bad the fights at the top levels of the administration are.

When the board brought in the rookie superintendent, Ronda Corr, she promptly hired in two high level administrators of her own, both with superintendents licenses and credibility far exceeding her own.

I’ve been incredibly impressed at all times with Dr. Elizabeth Lolli, and have even suggested her as a replacement for Corr.

Dr. Markay Winston, former Dayton Public Schools Chief Academic Officer

Dr. Markay Winston, former Dayton Public Schools Chief Academic Officer

The other, Dr. Markay Winston, the “Chief Academic Officer” hasn’t been very vocal at board meetings. My first exposure to her was in the interviews of the botched marketing RFP process, where she didn’t ask my team anything.  Her one public presentation that I remember was her introduction of the virtual academy introduction, and it sure could have used some help from a marketing professional. She also managed to get embroiled in the Dunbar thrown game mess– and presented the new plan for athletics.

Winston was a follower of the educational reformer, Michael Fullan, who strongly believes in the power of principals. Maybe, that’s why her Confidential resignation letter today, was addressed to “Dear DPS Principals” – her resignation takes effect July 12, 2017, which is two days after the July 10 cutoff date for teacher resignations. Winston was generally well liked and respected by staff, with some mentioning that she was the only one who visited their buildings.

Where things seem to have headed south was when she was the top official on site when the Dunbar football fiasco happened. The old org chart would have had David Lawrence to blame, but since Rhonda Corr had already banished Lawrence to a corner by the mail room, there had to be someone on the short end of the stick- and since Corr protected athletic director LaMark Baker with a 2 year contract before all the facts were on the table, Winston ends up with a 2 year liability to carry. The principals asked Winston to go to bat for their AD/coaches- well aware that positions would be hard to fill, and Winston was unable to get Corr to budge on her edict that there would be no dual positions.

Some principals thought highly enough of Winston to take her out to lunch, urging her to stay about a month and a half ago, and they were assured she would if support in central office turned in her favor, but her general feelings were that power was consolidating around the more senior Lolli, and her role was being diminished. Throw in the failure of the Ohlmann Group to help with her virtual academy project, word travels fast in higher ed, and headhunters started reaching out to her. A few people also believe race to be an issue. In the fall RIF, an inordinate number of African American staff was shown the door, followed by David Lawrence.

It’s not hard to find a better offer than Dayton Public, everyone who works there knows that. Many are leaving.

The timing is right as well. Right now, the district can still brag about their one A in annual yearly progress (AYP) which was achieved pre- Corr/Lolli/Winston. Predictions by some are that scores will drop this year. One of the programs they bought and used heavily for K-2 was actually for intervention, not instruction. The entire forcing of the computer based learning was more of a thrusting instead of an introduction. DPS will be far in the rear-view mirror for Winston if scores go down, and if they go up- she looks better.

There is no doubt that Winston cared deeply about student achievement, in her eloquent resignation letter she made the following statements:

“you know that change is hard and it does not come overnight or simply from wishful thinking. True change comes from a clear theory of action, coherence in vision and direction, and clarity and consistency in executing the most essential levers for improving student outcomes.”

“Remember, if the teaching in your building is not good enough for your own child, then it is not good enough for the precious children of this district. Demand better from everyone in this organization, including yourself. As the true leaders of our schools, you have the moral imperative to make sure that the teaching in your classrooms is good enough for other people’s children (Lisa Delpit).

This district is facing a possible teachers strike in the fall. It can’t get students to the buildings. Staffing has been improving, but many senior teachers with years of experience are leaving the district now. New teachers have had to come to the School Board and beg not to get moved around like chess pieces in the hands of a baby. The confusion about financial stability has been in flux from the RIF in the fall to the massive bus purchase in the spring. The coaching/athletic director situation for next year has DPS parents in flux, wondering who is going to coach their kids (no other district leaves their coaching hires for fall sports to the fall). The upcoming school board race has more candidates than a horse race (15 and counting for 4 seats). The board seems to be in fantasy land, with Corr sitting at meetings like a dazed bystander to a driveby shooting as board members go off on tangents about things not even on the agenda (Tuesday, Board member Sheila Taylor ranted about the suitability of Miami University to do contracted research, when the whole issue was already off the table. I actually interrupted her after 20 minutes of mindless blather- and she called for my removal. No one was willing to back her up, because under their breath, they were thanking me for putting the meeting back on track).

Morale and confidence of many long term educators still in the district is shaken and at an all time low. How much longer will this board refuse to see the writing on the wall? Rhonda Corr wasn’t the answer to this districts problems, and now even, one of her hand-picked executive leaders has made a statement by abandoning the sinking ship.

Rookie Superintendent Corr kicks her lawyers to the curb

After being mostly absent in the discussions over the 400 odd issues up for contention in the contract negotiations between Dayton Public Schools and the Dayton Education Association representing the teachers, Rhonda roared into the negotiating room last Tuesday, excused the boards lawyers and they haven’t been let back in the room.

Of the 400 issues- about half are just grammatical.

The remaining 200 are serious. This is an ambitious attempt by a rookie to remake the district, and so far, the DEA has been unimpressed, leading to the invitation of a mediator.

The legal bills generated to the boards outside law firm have been large up to this point.

Now, we’re in the hands of Dr. Sheila Burton, Dr. Libby Lolli and lead by Rhonda Corr.

To be fair, the DEA hasn’t had any lawyers involved on their side of the table. The board has had Tabitha Justice of Subashi & Wildermuth and board lawyer Jyllian Bradshaw on their side of the table.

The DEA has already authorized a strike, and has promised to wait until after summer session to actually walk off the job, leaving time for last minute heroics, but, the question is will their members wait?

Teachers are now back in short supply, and other districts offer better pay, better benefits and much higher morale as enticements. DPS has been losing teachers at an insanely high 20% rate for the last few years, helping to contribute to the fact that this is the worst performing district in the state.

On Wednesday, I went to the community town hall at Belmont High School. Corr made every PR mistake possible in the span of an hour, leaving parents, teachers, coaches, bus drivers and concerned citizens feeling like they’d just witnessed a concession of failure speech.

She had no real answers on busing changes, which was her lead item- via her surrogate Dr. Burton who gave a lame powerpoint presentation basically outlining that DPS can’t get your kids to school now, or next year. Questions from the audience were better thought out than the new three bell time schedule, or on why DPS is training other districts bus drivers for free.  “We did train 60 drivers but only 7 of them stayed” (8:41 on the video).

She goes on to say she’s working with her legal department to try to figure it out- the same legal department she dismissed from negotiations?

Other questions about why Mark Baker was given a 2 year contract, despite not meeting the standard other coaches must meet- namely, not being sanctioned by the Ohio High School Athletic Association, got blown off- with “I can’t talk about personnel issues.”

Parents got hit last year with the major shakeup of the reintroduction of middle schools at the last minute.

Now, there is no confirmation that your kid will be able to be transported to the school they go to this year- next year. Parents, rightfully asked, “when will we know” which went unanswered.

Principals have reported teachers pulling up to the buildings with U-hauls to remove their personal items, something they’ve never seen at this level before.

It’s time to remove the board who hired this rookie, and to then remove her as well.

Dayton can’t afford to lose even more students to charters, to other districts, to vouchers, because our superintendent can’t lead.

After work fun in Dayton Ohio today and tomorrow and Friday

thumbnail of Volume 31 poster_for esrati com

Pecha Kucha Dayton Vol 31 poster

Actually, I lied. Tomorrow night, Thursday May 18th,  is the fun as Pecha Kucha Dayton hosts volume 31 at the Dakota Center- 33 Barnett St. at 7:30 PM. It’s a “Hack your city” edition with at least 8 or 9 interesting PK presentations, from bright, talented people. For those of you who are still living in the dark ages- PK is 20 slides, 2o seconds each- on any subject. Add in that’s it’s free, and has beer, it’s a lot of fun and brings an interesting group out.

Tonight, at 5:30, Dayton Public Schools Rookie Superintendent Rhonda Corr will be having a town hall at Belmont High School, 2615 Wayne Ave, Dayton, OH 45420. It’s free- needs beer, and will feature one hapless superintendent trying to explain the fine mess she’s gotten the district in since her arrival last July.

Feel free to ask her about how we were broke, needing a RIF in Oct- but flush enough in February to buy out David Lawrence, or buy 115 buses. Ask her why she gave District Athletic Director Mark Baker a 2 year contract, when the dust still hadn’t settled on the Dunbar/Belmont thrown game fiasco- but, can’t and won’t give any coach anything but a last minute 1 year supplemental contract?

Or, why the district and the DEA can’t seem to make any progress on contract negotiations this year?

Or, about the real estate deals?

Or how she has an ineligible Board Member?

Or the new busing plan- which pretty much will seal the fate of the remaining specialty schools- Boys Prep, Charity Early, Rivers Edge? And how the new zones won’t guarantee a return to segregation?

Freakshow Deluxe show poster

Freakshow Deluxe show Friday Night

And Friday night- if you want to be entertained yet again- check out the Freakshow Deluxe at Therapy Cafe- the “Family show” featuring the DPS student who throws knives at his sister with his parents approval.

We like to keep things fresh in Dayton.