Esrati offers to settle case vs School Board and City on illegal school task force meetings

thumbnail of Esrati.Bills Redacted.042518

Subashi and Wildermuth have billed the Dayton Public Schools $12,500 so far for Libbie Lolli and her boards ignorance of the Sunshine Laws. Click image above to download PDF

The School Board has spent $12,500 of their money defending themselves, to claim that they are entitled to have illegal secret meetings about closing schools in Dayton. The City, using their own attorneys has probably spent about a quarter of that.

There is no question that the task force was a public body, according to the judge, the evidence, all captured on video by David Esrati, is clear, that the task force did meet in their mobile yellow meeting room at the four schools, and the board HQ. All you need to do is watch the video.

So today, I extended the following offer to settle:

Settlement of Esrati vs City of Dayton et al

Hi Brian and John,
I tried calling Brian to make this offer- however his cell phone just disconnects when I call.
To date, the schools have spent $12,500 with Mr. Wildermuth to try to defend those without a defense.
I can’t guess what the city has invested.

Before we go to the expensive part, I’m offering to settle if the parties admit guilt, and that they clearly violated the sunshine laws in the school task force case, on numerous occasions.
First on Jan 9, with the meeting that ended up being cancelled.
Second on Jan 24, when both Mims and Al Hamdani claimed they didn’t have to do this in public.
And multiple times on the day of the tour- where I count Valerie, Meadowdale Elementary and Meadowdale High School, Wogamen and the HQ building- each as a separate meeting.
Basically- each stop of the bus.
Take those 7 violations- x $500 and then the question becomes is the organization liable or the individual violators?
If we just say the City and the School board are liable- it comes to $5K plus my court filing fees ($360)
If we do it per elected member of the task force- it comes to $10K.
Still, cheaper than the $12,500 the schools have already paid Mr. Wildermuth for this case.
And, cheaper than what the schools had to pay back to OHSAA in his other case that he “won.”

The caveat is, with their acceptance of guilt, the 4 elected officials (Harris, Al-Hamdani, Walker, Mims) would be referred to the Ohio Auditors Open Government Unit for evaluation on removal from office. Seeing that I’ve yet to find a single instance of a public official being removed from office in the State of Ohio for violations of the Sunshine laws, they should have nothing to worry about.

The Sunshine laws are here to protect us all, they shouldn’t be used by lawyers to put their kids through college. There is absolute evidence that discussions did take place on the bus, questions were asked, and video and audio recording equipment were banned, as well as non-compliance with notification of this event, and evidence that School Employees willfully suggested that communications not be conducted via email to hide these proceedings from public scrutiny. You will not win this case in court, or in the court of public opinion.

I am open to a counter-offer on the settlement amounts, however, let us be clear, that the average citizen wouldn’t have the capacity to fight this case, making it unlikely that I’m going to have invested this much time and energy and money, to allow you to be the only winner (Mr. Wildermuth).
The people of Dayton deserve better.
And I don’t take on battles that I will lose.

In the meantime, the case is scheduled for court on Aug 1, 2018

Incompetence at all levels of Dayton Public Schools

Dayton Ohio Dunbar High School Basketball program deflatedTo recap: Under the previous school board, In November of 2016, there was a major violation of sportsmanship when Dunbar played an ineligible football player, and tried to throw a game to Belmont. It was bizarre and obvious that something smelled at DPS.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association investigated, and pushed for the district to fire District Athletic Director LaMark Baker. The board instead gave him a 2 year contract. OHSAA imposed three years of sanctions and oversight of the district and a $10K fine.

Old board also gives former Superintendent Rhonda Corr a 3 year contract. She hires Dr. Venita Kelly and Marsha Bonhart at $90K ea a year to run PR. Corr puts Bonhart over Baker.

Board kicks Corr to the Curb in November of 2017. Board has new composition after Dr. Adil Baguirov resigns because David Esrati threatens mandamus action for his removal, since on Election Day, his voting registration has moved to Vandalia district. Esrati had made a case in April of 2017 that Baguirov didn’t live in the district- no officials investigated or acted. Now Rev William Harris is on Board. They put Corr on paid admin leave- promote Dr. Elizabeth Lolli to acting superintendent, this was caused because the investigation into the EEOC claims by Dr. Markay Winston uncovered credible evidence that Corr was less proficient than the stellar performance review that the board had just given her.

New board takes over in January- already has a PR debacle thanks to Lolli and Dr. Burton announcing the potential closing of schools without doing proper PR management. All schools discussed are on the West side. A task force is set-up prior to the board being seated- and Mohamed Al-Hamdani is appointed co-chair- before he has taken office. Task force tries to meet in secret, fails, then has secret meeting bus tour- Esrati files a lawsuit.

End of January 2018, Dunbar and Thurgood JV basketball game erupts in a bench clearing brawl at end of game. Rookie Dunbar Coach Chuck Taylor gets punished for calling a parent names. Thurgood sits all players for mandatory 2 game suspension. Apparently, Dunbar doesn’t.

In playoffs, Dunbar’s failure to enforce suspensions causes them to forfeit at playoff game for an ineligible player. This puts Thurgood into the playoffs. Lolli, who is now superintendent, with a huge pay package, and three year contract- without having to apply, without the job being opened up, or the district doing proper due diligence, now has brilliantly bad idea to sue OHSAA to get Dunbar back in the playoffs and kick Thurgood out.

They spend at least $50K with Subashi and Wildermuth to file suit and have a court decision. Court rules for DPS, Dunbar wins 1 game, loses the next. None of the players ever serve their 2 game suspensions. No one on the board seems to think this is a bad idea.

Sources tell esrati.com that OHSAA has been provided video that proves Coach Taylor committed perjury in his testimony, alerts DPS. Demands an apology,  repayment, and some kind of remediation to the ongoing problems. DPS votes to increase budget by $50K to Subashi and Wildermuth, which is either to cover payment to OHSAA or to continue to fund costs of ongoing lawsuit with Esrati, after they lose the first round argument that the task force is a public body subject to the Sunshine Laws. BTW- Esrati is representing himself. The Board and City had had up to 5 different lawyers working to beat him.

An emergency meeting called this morning to discuss:

The purpose of the meeting shall be to discuss new information about the OHSAA court case involving Dunbar High School. The meeting will include an executive session to:

  • consider the appointment, employment, dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion, or compensation of a public employee, or the investigation of charges or complaints against a public employee; and

  • Confer with an attorney for the school board concerning disputes involving the school board that are the subject of pending court action.

Attorney Brian Wildermuth was there. They met for almost an hour, came out and Harris made an announcement that they had made some decisions, that things hadn’t gone the way they wanted, and hinted that changes would be forthcoming.

“The BOE has been updated on the “Dunbar basketball situation” while the new information is not what we would like to hear, we acknowledge the need to accept it and move forward. The superintendent is making some changes within the structure of the athletic department and we support those changes. It is time to move forward in the Dayton Public Schools in all areas and departments.”

DPS staff attorney, Jyllian Bradshaw has been absent through most of this on maternity leave. The board has been dependent on a bunch of different law firms in her absence including Brickler and Eckler, which did the investigation on Winston’s complaint.

In this time frame, Wildermuth was also handed a defeat in the appeals court on the termination of former Treasurer Craig Jones. So this means that they are on the losing side of 3 cases so far.

After the meeting adjourned this morning, I went up to Dr. Lolli and confronted her on why I had to listen to PR Chief Marsha Bonhart on a personal phone call for almost the entire length of time that they were in executive session. She didn’t respond, looking absolutely aghast that I would speak to her. BTW- the board voted last meeting to not renew Dr. Kelly- but kept Bonhart. I don’t allow my employees one hour personal calls while on the clock- apparently Lolli does. It’s not as if there isn’t a lot to do to fix the PR problems of the district.

While Bonhart gabbed, internal auditor, Randall Harper tried to get work done on his laptop during the exec session. Bonhart didn’t even have a laptop with her.

I have video of Bonhart’s call, it’s just not worth sharing.

Sources have said their will be a joint press release in the coming days, where DPS acknowledges their mistakes, apologizes to OHSAA, announces that DPS will reimburse OHSAA for their legal fees, and that structural changes have been made in DPS.

Here are our informed guesses of what may happen:

  • Mark Baker resigns as District Athletic Director. May continue employment in the district at another position so as to not pay yet another contract off.
  • Chuck Taylor is not renewed as a basketball coach. He also retires as a bailiff in Dayton Municipal Courts. No further charges are brought.
  • Dunbar gets yet a third athletic director, as current AD is non-renewed.
  • New District Athletic Director no longer reports to Bonhart, but directly to Lolli.
  • Dunbar basketball program is put on watch by the OHSAA for three more years.

Predictions, DPS enrollment drops by another several hundred after his latest show of incompetence. Board is too stupid to sue Subashi and Wildermuth for bad legal advice, and continues to pay them ridonkulous sums to try to make up for the Board and Lolli’s incompetence.

I win suit on task force violations of sunshine laws in case scheduled for court on Aug. 1. I collect $500, board has spent tens of thousands to defend their illegal actions, I appeal to Ohio Auditors open records unit to have Mims, Al-Hamdani, Walker and Harris removed from office. They don’t do anything. I file a lawsuit to force Ohio to enforce their own damn laws, and 2 years later- all are removed from office.

UPDATE

12:17 pm complete text of joint release

News Release – Ohio High School Athletic Association
Executive Director Daniel B. Ross, Ph.D.
www.OHSAA.org | twitter.com/OHSAASports | facebook.com/OHSAA
For Immediate Release- April 26, 2018
Contact – Tim Stried, OHSAA Director of Communications, [email protected]
Dayton Public Schools and OHSAA Announce Closure to Dunbar Basketball Incident
New evidence leads DPS and OHSAA to same conclusion in aftermath of court case

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Dayton Public Schools superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Lolli and Ohio High School Athletic Association Executive Director Dr. Dan Ross have announced closure to the case Involving Dunbar High School boys’ basketball during the 2017-18 season.

In March, Dayton Public Schools filed a lawsuit to block the OHSAA’s decision to remove Dunbar from the boys’ basketball tournament for using an ineligible player, which stemmed from Dunbar not suspending junior varsity players who left the bench during a fight in January. The issue was whether one player, who later participated in a varsity tournament game, left the bench during the fight. The court sided with Dayton Public Schools, stating: “In reviewing the record upon which OHSAA based its decision, the Court finds that OHSAA’s decision is not supported by reliable, probative and substantial evidence.” The court further found “thus, as Coach Taylor testified, John Doe was already in the locker room hallway before the fight broke out.” However, after the Court’s ruling, new evidence came to light, showing that the student-athlete left the bench and went into the fight.

DAYTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS STATEMENT

“I would like to thank Dr. Ross and the OHSAA for working with us to find the truth in this situation ,” Lolli said. “It is concerning that individuals with information about the incident did not feel comfortable coming forward before the court hearing. We owe an apology to Bishop Fenwick High School, Thurgood Marshall High School and the OHSAA, We have taken corrective measures to address the situation. We appreciate the OHSAA’s cooperation and compassion during this situation. We know that removal of Dayton Public Schools’ membership In the OHSAA was an option.”‘

OHSAA STATEMENT

“I was a superintendent for a long time, so I understand what Dr. Lolli has been going through with this,” Ross said. “Our staff was convinced by the evidence we had in making our original decision that the youngster came off the bench when the fight broke out. Once new evidence was obtained and shared with Dr. Lolli, she immediately knew that It was a very serious matter and wanted to work with the OHSAA to make the needed corrections. It has been a pleasure working with her and we trust that nothing like this will happen again at Dayton Public Schools.”

DAYTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS ACTION

Dayton Public Schools began reviewing athletic department structure and procedures immediately after this Incident occurred. The District is in the process of making decisions about the athletic department and will be implementing changes over the next several weeks. Dr. Ross has been kept apprised of these discussions. DPS is committed to making certain that its coaches and administrators know and follow OHSAA rules, properly investigate incidents, and impose appropriate consequences for rule violations.

OHSAA SANCTIONS

In addition, the OHSAA has handed down the following sanctions. Dunbar will not be permitted to participate in the 2019 boys’ basketball tournament  and Dayton Public Schools will reimburse the OHSAA’s court costs, fees and expenses related to the March hearing. In addition, the OHSAA has extended the current probation period that all Dayton Public Schools are currently serving from a football incident in 2016. That probation Is now extended through June 2020 for all DPS schools and through 2022 for Dunbar.

“For the last month, this has been an effort from both sides working together – the OHSAA and Dayton Public Schools,” Ross said. “I commend Dr. Lolli for working hard to do the right thing here and get to the truth. She cares deeply for Dayton Public Schools and understands how important this is for DPS moving forward .”

###OHSAA###

Tim Stried
Director of Communications
Ohio High School Athletic Association
614-267-2502
[email protected]
www .OHSAA.org
www.Twitter.com/OHSAASports
www.Facebook.com/OHSAA
614·267-1677 fax
4080 Roselea Place
Columbus, OH 43214

When lawyers have unlimited resources: City and Board of Ed waste taxpayer money

I filed a lawsuit to stop an illegal meeting of an illegal committee to tour school buildings to close.

I was ready on Feb 7 in court to hear and try the case. It’s not that complicated, and the most the law states I’m entitled to is $500 measly dollars.

The filing fee was $330.50. Go figure.

The case is all related to the Ohio Open Meetings Act- or Sunshine laws. They specify clearly what can and can’t be discussed in public and in private by elected officials or committees. This is an easy case, since I have video of all the violations and meetings.

The city and school board sent 4 lawyers to court. It was David v Goliath. I’ve posted about this before.

We were supposed to have a phone conference today at 10 am with the judge to set a hearing date.

Instead, we got his staff attorney.

The School Board yesterday filed a request to have a jury.

Today, the city filed a 7 page response to my initial complaint with 20 defenses.

The staff attorney questioned the jury demand- since this isn’t really a case where facts are disputed- just the application of law. He’d not seen the city’s 20 defenses yet. They are laughable.

Both sides of the defense are engaged in tactics to stall and add cost (and billings for the School’s private attorney who probably bills at $300 hour or more). They claim there is no reason to move quickly on this- despite my claims that the outcome of this case reflects on the competency of the acting superintendent, and could have an impact on the makeup of the school board if the Ohio Attorney General’s Open Government Unit decides to remove members from office for violating the law- once the judge decides they did.

Since the board has stated that they will move quickly on the closings, and the courts seem to be moving slowly, I filed an injunction asking the judge to stop all discussion of closing schools until this case is settled.

I’ve attached my last memo contra, the school boards filing, the city’s filing and then my final request for an injunction for you to read.

UPDATE

1:45pm- Judge has scheduled another conference call for Friday, Mar 9 at 9:30 am

thumbnail of Request for injunctive relief

Click to download PDF- Esrati filing for injunction

thumbnail of 31945190- city answer

Click to download PDF- City response with 20 defeneses

thumbnail of 31942993 Jury demand

Click to read PDF- Board request for a jury

thumbnail of Memorandum Contra

Click to read PDF- Esrati memo contra

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

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

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

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

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

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

That isn’t happening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s time for a shakeup.

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