Mohamed Al-Hamdani; the prince of pious

Before this school board was elected, I warned the citizens of Dayton that William Harris was a mistake:

Harris has said “I won’t be anyone’s puppet” as part of the slate- yet, that’s comically what he is. I don’t think he brings any of the critical thinking skills we need to this board, nor do I think he has the intellectual horsepower to move the district forward at a critical time. He’s Ron Lee 2. Pass, please.

Source: Evaluation and endorsements of the Dayton School Board candidates – Esrati

I also said it was time for Joe Lacey to go. Luckily, the voters agreed, and Joe wasn’t re-elected. Unbelievably, Harris makes me forlorn for Lacey.

On my non-recommended list, was the political climber Mohamed Al-Hamdani:

This guy has political aspiration signs coming out of every side of him- in neon, with strobe lights. This board run is his first step to his long future political career. And, he’s arrogant, by the truckload. Early on, I asked a question about the hiring of Burges and Burges and how much it cost- and why they didn’t buy local talent- and he tried to sidestep it and said they hadn’t paid them a dime. I don’t need to be lied to ever, and especially before you have been elected.

Mohamed thinks he knows it all. He has a smugness that rubs people the wrong way. He thinks he has all the answers. He probably reminds people of me in some ways- but, with the establishment nod. His campaign rhetoric has been full of bullshit about all the teachers that taught him- and his story of coming to America- all nice and fine, but missing any substance. He may indeed have all the answers, but, I’ve not heard them, and his testiness will bring back some of the rancor to the board that we can’t afford. He has a law degree- which would and might be handy, but, so does McManus- and it hasn’t kept us out of trouble. One of the biggest mistakes Americans make at the polls is thinking that being a lawyer makes you a good lawmaker- and that’s actually the opposite. Good lawmakers and only the best lawyers, understand that their profession is actually the art of compromise. Too many think it’s to win at all costs. Mohamed is a total wildcard. He may be smart, he may have a good story, he may even understand the issues, but I’d put Mario and Jocelyn ahead of him for my slate. He’s also been the one to say that if “The slate” is elected, they won’t disagree with each other as much in public- lending me to believe he’s planning on operating behind a curtain.

Source: Evaluation and endorsements of the Dayton School Board candidates – Esrati

So far, my predictions have been totally proven correct. Al-Hamdani, started with trying to have secret illegal meetings of the School Closing Task force before he was even sworn in- leading to my lawsuit against the district over the Open Meetings Act.

But, last month, when I decided to push my speech over the 3 minute limit- after Harris had let a whole bunch of people speak for well over 5 and as long as 10 minutes in the June Meeting- I mentioned that maybe, Harris practiced discrimination- since he doesn’t interrupt African American speakers- and referenced Sheila Taylor’s  nomination of him for board president as a rookie- because he was “African American.” You can watch my video: A racist on the Dayton Public Schools Board of Education 2017.

Al-Hamdani, Wick-Gagnet, Jocelyn Rhynard, John McManus, Robert Walker and William Harris were all sitting there- and didn’t say a thing then- but, when I bring it up, Al-Hamdani, the pious one, wants to make me out as a racist for reminding them how Harris got to the center seat.

“So I want to apologize to you on behalf of this community, to insinuate that your only qualification was your color, um was interesting to hear, um there’s people, as a community, we’re better than that sir, so I’m sorry that we had to hear that today, but that’s the world we live in today” ~ Mohamed Al-Hamdani

When I tried to go up with my camera to question Al-Hamdani after the meeting- the security forces played bouncer. You can watch the entire meeting here.

Word has gotten back to me, that someone is telling people that I said the “N” word. Nothing farther from the truth.
What you need to watch is how smug Al-Hamdani is as he plays this out. Note also- if you watch the DPS video feed of this meeting- you’ll never hear my outburst.
It’s sad that this is the best we can do for a school board. They all need to be removed. All of them, suffer from amnesia apparently, totally forgetting how they followed Sheila Taylor’s racist rationale for picking Harris as board president.

Nothing Trumps the Learning" sign at Belmont High School in Dayton Ohio, where a large proportion of the students are immigrants

Apparently, we’re now evoking the Trump brand at Belmont HS in Dayton.

And, while we’re at it. As part of his campaign trail story, Al-Hamdani liked to talk of his path to success as a poor immigrant child coming to America, not speaking English- and how he owes all his success to his DPS teachers and their acceptance of him.

A source has sent me a photo of new signs in Belmont High School “Nothing trumps the learning”- the DPS school where most of the immigrants are, a sign that has many of the international parents terrified. This is, after all, the country where children are now separated from their parents in deportation camps, thanks to President Trump.

A final note: Al-Hamdani, right after getting elected to the school board, was handed a high-paying patronage job in the Montgomery County Clerk of Courts office by his Democratic Party buddy Russ Joseph, who was just appointed to be the clerk when Greg Brush left town.

Different day, same circus. Dayton Public Schools tries Monday for a shit-show

Empty chambers for a special DPS board meeting

When you have a meeting on a Monday- nobody comes to watch your circus.

Dayton Public Schools Board of Education meets on Tuesdays at five, except when they meet on Mondays at five. They meet to conduct business on the second Tuesday of the Month- except when they have a special meeting on a Monday at the end of the month. They discuss the public business at hand, in public, except when they don’t…. oops, did they really say that tonight? Why, yes, they did.

thumbnail of Tax Abatement Agreement CRA

PDF of the tax abatement agreement they voted for- without knowing how it was going to work. Click to download

Ostensibly, the reason for the special meeting was that they had to approve some hiring before school started, stuff that couldn’t wait. What Dr. Lolli also stuck on the last minute agenda seemed to take board member Sheila Taylor by surprise. Board member McManus was as angry as a southern gentleman can get, telling Lolli that “he’s going to tell you one time, if I ever have something as important as this appear on an agenda without at least a phone call…” before he caved and voted yet.  The issue- a “renewal” of an agreement to cede authority on tax giveaways on commercial projects to the city. However, it wasn’t a renewal, or, maybe it was, or maybe the language had changed. After questions from Board members and a brief presentation by board attorney Jyllian Bradshaw, they still didn’t know what they were really voting for. 40 minutes of must see TV.

Note to all: if it’s not in writing in the agreement, it’s not in the agreement.

Taylor began with the fact that they really shouldn’t vote for a ten year agreement, since it exceeded their terms. Also, her folks in her ‘hood pay their taxes, and why shouldn’t the rich folk buying up condo’s downtown like hotcakes. And, what about a levy?

thumbnail of Tax Abatement – City of Dayton – 2005

The old agreement. Why this had to be done in a special session? To hide. Click to read PDF

Harris was a condescending jerk to her, telling her she should have asked her questions before the meeting. Something that Al-Hamdani and Wick-Gagnet obviously had already done and told him how to vote (which they have to do every time a vote comes on the people who quit after the deadline- he started wrong again tonight). Taylor tried to correct him that they were supposed to do the public’s business in public- but, that seemed to fall on deaf ears. I chimed in, that they should also be voting on stuff like this when the public can speak. It’s as far as I felt like screwing with them, although you will hear me applaud Taylor for showing some integrity acknowledging the Sunshine laws.

I’ll try to have my video up tomorrow- since DPS is now taking forever, if ever, to load video to YouTube. Hint: the whole world can’t access Facebook, but most in free countries can get to YouTube.

There was also a vote to renew the option with the Ohlmann Group for help in marketing the district. They haven’t used them since June of 2017- and if you need a refresher, they weren’t very happy with them. Taylor took over from former board marketing genius Adil Baguirov, now suggesting customized mailings. Hint folks- the time to do enrollment campaigns for this coming year- was back in February, not 2 weeks before school starts.

Taylor forgot she didn’t like Ohlmann- and voted yes, only McManus voted no.

Why this couldn’t wait till a normal business meeting? Because Lolli was afraid I was going to point out the way this mess happened, or their dissatisfaction, or because she wanted to stick it to me? Or, for the stated reason- because Marsha Bonhart is retiring in Oct- and they won’t have anyone left to help with their marketing. Especially after their “Digital media specialist” of the last 10 months resigned too. Of course, having an actual marketing plan wasn’t even brought up.

And lastly, Lolli shared that the upcoming test scores for DPS aren’t going to be good, thanks to the “challenging year” they had last year. We can look forward to using these scores as a baseline. Let’s see, my guess is we just moved from 607 to 608, with Trotwood making real gains to rise out of the dreaded bottom spot Dayton used to own.

Several board members tried to sugarcoat her turd of a warning with “thank you for your honesty.”

However, if they were honest, they wouldn’t be in this kind of shape with their communications – and would have had a better way to deliver the bad news. If there was ever a need for competent PR help, this was it- and Ohlmann was no where to be found. Of course, the only ad agency that goes to meetings, was the one with the low bid- and brings you videos like the one above.

Good luck Dr. Lolli, you’re gonna need it.

 

 

Dayton Public School board- still dazed and confused

thumbnail of Dayton Public School IT Assessment 1 11 2018 (3)

The deck for the 1 to 1 institute recommendations, Harris cut them off before they could explain the critical slide 14. Click to download PDF

Reverend William Harris, who still can’t say my name right, or that of Mohamed Al-Hamdani, flexed his new presidential muscle in his first meeting as commander in chief by cutting off a presentation by consultants who were hired by the board to report back on out 1 to 1 computer implementation. With no time limits on the agenda, just as the consultants were getting into the meat of their report, he ended their presentation- about 30 minutes in. Sheila Taylor was the ONLY board member who had the guts and wisdom to question his actions. The rest sat deaf dumb and mute. Taylor, was clearly in the right- as no board member has the right to speak for the entire board as clearly outlined in OSBA rules.

I cited this statement in my post about the attempt by Mohamed Al-Hamdani to close the illegal meeting about school closings to the public:

As a start, the following guidelines are offered. A good board member:
• Knows that he or she can legally act as a board member only when the board of education is in session. No one person, unless authorized, should speak on behalf of the board.

Source: Esrati and his video camera shut down first task force meeting before it starts – Esrati

Harris was authorized to speak for the board- but, when he made the unilateral decision, and Taylor questioned it, the proper move was to call for a vote on the continuation of the presentation by all board members. Harris just shut it down.

The critical slide 14- where the actual steps moving forward were to be discussed is what we missed. It was the main reason I was interested in their presentation. The slide read:

• Establish expectations for usage of eSchoolPlus and Google Classroom
• Connect the use of the Google Application Suite to “Power Up”
• Establish classroom management practices using Google Classroom (post assignments, communications, etc.)
• Discuss grading protocols using Google Classroom
• Create lesson plans that encourage effective small group, collaborative and independent learning options
• Infuse technology into teacher learning
• Support Data Dashboard adoption with building meetings and identify additional formative and summative data elements
thumbnail of PR for vote 10-30-17 DPS 1 to 1

They spent $30K for a report, but didn’t want to hear the meat of it. Click to download PDF

This was a $30K contract, approved at a non-business meeting (no public input) on Oct. 30th 2017. You think for $30K they’d be allowed to finish. The key takeaway was we did good at hiring more IT people and building infrastructure, the weakness was that this process should have been run by more than one person (Baguirov gets all the credit) and that it should have had more top level buy in. We didn’t get to hear the rest, so, oh, well.

On to my presentation, Harris tried to tell me that my 3 minutes started when I approached the podium- not when I began speaking. My teleprompter app had flipped on mirror text and I was resetting it.
Here is the text of what I said:

Congratulations to the voters of the Dayton Public School district for selecting four new board members, a majority, to redirect a failing district that has been characterized by a complete failure of leadership to instill confidence in their abilities or the future of the district.

The actions of the previous board and their ineptly chosen Superintendent have led to 20% turnover in staff, an almost completely new central office team, and a shrinking enrollment that has put school building closure on the agenda.

There is unfinished business from last year. The completion of the firing of Rhonda Corr should be foremost on the agenda. How her original mediocre evaluation penned by John McManus was changed to glowing now is incredibly relevant to her termination. We need to know what part remaining board members had in that change, and that they be held accountable.

Investigations on how and why Dr. Adil Baguirov was allowed to remain on the board after I made it clear he didn’t live in the district, and then proceeded to actively push a bus deal through procurement that not only is a violation of board policy- but also a conflict of interest since his private business does business with the vendors in the process.

These are not matters that should be overlooked. They have serious long term implications for the district, as well as set the tone for how this board will differ from the last one and everyone preceding it.

However, whatever hopes the citizens had for change have already been crassly violated, when the last board apparently sanctioned the interim superintendent to join a task force to study school closings without a proper vote to assign members or outline the scope and authority of the task force.

That a board member elect was named co-chair before he’d even been seated to this board does nothing to instill confidence in this new board. That he argued from his position of authority as a board member and a licensed attorney that the meetings should be held in private in violation of the Ohio Open Meetings laws- commonly known as the Sunshine Laws do not bode well for the future of this board.

But, beyond all that, this board met a week ago, and blindly followed the direction of the interim superintendent who crafted the agenda. Again, tonight, we see the same thing. The superintendent leading the direction of the meeting- with no real change in direction- other than to change the way you approve her agenda items to require only one vote instead of several- using simplified a “consent agenda”

Where is your direction to the superintendent on addressing issues of student safety? Besides the riot at Ponitz that the former superintendent tried to cover up, just last week we had a full fledged brawl at the Dunbar Thurgood basketball game. If you want people to send their kids to your schools- they have to feel safe. I see no item on the agenda on this.

Since we’re dropping in enrollment, what steps have you formulated to evaluate the performance of your superintendent and the district PR department that was hired last year by the former superintendent after your purchasing department failed to hire a PR firm in a legitimate, defensible manner? Your current PR people can’t even keep your site up to date. The time of this meeting wasn’t online.

And lastly, we need to have an actual role call to determine which of you support this closing task force meeting in private so voters will know who actually deserves a seat on the dais.

We voted for new people with a promise of transparency- yet, we’ve yet to see it.

By a simple yes or no response from each member, I need a response to that last issue. Failure to do so- will be taken as complicity to violate the Sunshine laws.
Thank you

Their response: nothing. So they all agree that it’s ok to have some task force meet in private to discuss the future of our school closings.

But- wait, then as I got back to the camera, Karen Wick-Gagnet made a statement suggesting there has been no additional movement on the task force and they are still new at this and are working to set a new culture. She didn’t answer the question, but at least acknowledged that they have work to do and are still learning.

Once again, Harris, who has been on the board for more than a few of these, stumbled and voted YES on resignations after July 10. Al-Hamdani meekly followed with a NO, then others followed until Jocelyn Rhynard voted YES- and then as seemed to happen more than a few times, Harris forgot to get Wick-Gagnet’s vote. Then Rhynard realized her error- asked for a re-vote, more confusion as it was sorted out- until we had the right 7 No vote that is normal to not accept resignation under contract.

I softly applauded as they finally got it right.

There was also a question about using a consent agenda by Taylor, who wasn’t familiar with the process. She was right to question its use, and that it should have required a vote to agree to implement the new process, however she couldn’t make her statement clearly. The process allows items that have been covered in the review meeting to be passed together, as one vote instead of separate votes. The new process wasn’t on the review meetings agenda- it hadn’t been discussed, therefore Taylor was correct- it needed to be voted on. They didn’t.
They also failed to vote on the treasurers recommendations, which were included in the consent agenda, but then read separately after they had voted- thereby creating the need for a vote. But, what’s getting it right when you are new at this… optional.

It wasn’t long before Harris once again was forgetting how to count to seven before calling the results of a role call, I quietly corrected them- before they proceeded. He’d skipped Wick-Gagnet.

Next thing you know DPS Media maven Marsha Bonhart is in the back talking to security and then came to ask me to stay silent- and not “shout out.” To which I said, 1) it’s embarrassing that they don’t know what they are voting on. 2) If I was shouting- you’d know it.
She left having assurances that I’d keep to myself as they were almost done.

Once again the board used “New business” which is when you are supposed to introduce issues requiring a vote to make speeches. All were stupid, except Wick-Gagnet’s who talked about how we change culture to change outcome. Worth a listen. Again, wrong part of the agenda, but, we’ll probably have to wait until they hire a proper parliamentarian.

After the meeting wrapped up in a timely 75 minutes, they headed into executive session to discuss a personnel issue and a real estate issue. Spotting  attorney Beverly A. Meyer going in, it’s a good bet that they were discussing strategy for final termination of Corr, ie settlement. Meyer was the attorney who uncovered many of Corr’s shortcomings when she was hired to investigate the work environment of Dr. Markay Winston- who’s accusations were mostly unfounded in her findings.

The board attorney said there would be no announcement after executive session.

Hopefully the last DPS Board comedy skit

Abbot and Costello did a famous skit “Who’s on first” where the players had names that would confuse you. “Who’s on first, What’s on second, I Don’t Know is on third”

And then we have the last version of the Dayton Public School board where “I don’t know” is on all the bases. Need proof- watch this simple procedural vote turn into a sad comedy show.

A little background. DPS makes all it’s teachers sign contracts July 10, that they will work the next year. Getting out of the contract is frowned upon after you sign it. However, people move, quit, run out of FMLA, etc- and for the most part, if you turn in a resignation, the superintendent presents your resignation for acceptance and for the most part, the board votes NO, to not accept it.

On occasion, the people you want to quit do- and they do accept it. That’s rare. Or- in this case, the DEA president David Romick asks them to accept two resignations because these people had extenuating medical circumstances and needed the “blessings” of the district, so to speak.

What follows, including the mostly comment by the rarely there Dr. Hazel Rountree, was the kind of stuff you’d need pharmaceutical help to dream up. Comedy of errors this epic, well, as Hazel so kindly added via her open mic “This is so embarrassing. David Esrati is gonna eat us alive.”

In between McManus’s coherent description of what an effective board president needs to be able to do- and this clusterduck, was when Board Member Sheila Taylor suggested that the main reason Harris should be the next board president is because his skin is darker than the others.

I’m going to restate the obvious- McManus is the most qualified to lead this districts meetings through the next year. I’m also going to remind everyone that the board president is just there to guide the meetings, act as a coordinator between the board and the superintendent and to make sure mistakes like this don’t happen. It still takes four votes of this body to actually do anything. I found this article helpful to understand better board meetings.

As far as I’m concerned, the only four votes that I have any faith in at this point are Jocelyn Rhynard, Karen Wick-Gagnet, John McManus and Mohamed Al-Hamdani.

I didn’t have confidence in Rev Harris after watching him on the campaign trail, and he has said little to build my confidence so far. I’m more than willing to give him the benefit of doubt and watch, but right now, with the coming controversies of the closing out of the Rhonda Corr era (error) and the potential school closings, the steady, experienced hand of John McManus is the right solution.

I will also say, I believe that Rev Walker should step down from the school board. I don’t believe he’s still sharp enough to bring any value to the discussion. I also believe that since he was one of the Rhonda Corr supporters, and signed off on her questionable evaluation, he no longer deserves our trust or respect or the right to continue on. He, along with the rest of this old board, should be held liable for some of the seriously questionable actions they took- including the hiring of the Ohlmann Group without even knowing what they were buying.

As to board member Sheila Taylor, her main reason for remaining on the board is that this helps build her retirement in PERS- she works for Democratic Party Chair Mark Owens in the Dayton Municipal Court Clerks office for her real job. Her absence at key votes, including the buy out of David Lawrence, as well as her support of Corr over Lawrence in the first place- as well as her sign off on the revamped evaluation are all reasons for her to step down as well, but, for this district and this city to allow someone who still thinks qualification is judged by skin color- is unacceptable.

For those of you who don’t remember how new board members are added to replace those who resign mid-term, the board asks the community for candidates and then picks who they want. It’s how Reverend William Schooler was picked (by Sheila Taylor and Joe Lacey- over 8 other better qualified candidates including my x-girlfriend). Walker and Schooler ran together in their last election and thankfully the people of Dayton were smart enough not to elect Schooler to his appointed seat.

The obvious first choice to place on the board to me is Paul Bradley who ran in the last election. He would still be a great addition and his connection to Senator Sherrod Brown could be very helpful.

As to the second choice, I think Mario Gallin is still a good choice, bringing some historical knowledge and field experience to the board, but, again, the field would be open.

Since it’s obvious that the district has no plans on hiring competent marketing help, judged by the recent PR folly of the badly introduced issue of enrollment declines and possible building closing, I might even throw my hat in the ring- so if they can’t hire competent marketing help, at least they will have a board member to help them guide the district when it comes to messaging.

Note to overpaid DPS PR Genius Department- if parents and students don’t feel safe in DPS- they won’t go there. Your failure to properly manage the incident at Ponitz that was covered in two posts on this blog fully showcase your incompetence. For the $180K a year this district is spending because Rhonda Corr wanted to show how much she respected African American women after Dr. Winston said she didn’t- we need to see something other than a donated video done by your family members and credited for $18,500 as a tax write off.

And that should fully do it for the Esrati eating us alive.

I’ve now managed to clearly define the battle lines between me, the cannibal, and the district- a wounded horse waiting for euthanasia by the state. As a final note- I realized when I was 16, that after a meteoric rise as a sax player, I wasn’t going to become a pro- and switched my focus to photography, selling, writing, and eventually to advertising. Just because I suggest that someone isn’t good at doing things like being a school board member, or a PR person for a district, or even the right superintendent- it doesn’t mean I don’t like them as people, or feel they may have other awesome skills.

Now where’s the Franks Red Hot Sauce- I hear if you put that shit on everything it tastes better.

Apparently, skin color is still how we judge people

There were two parts of the Dayton Public Schools Board of Education meeting tonight. A meeting that started at 4:30 pm upstairs on the hot 4th floor- and then continued at 5:30 until 9pm downstairs.

It was a fitting end to the reign of terror of the last four years of incompetence. A comedy of errors turned a simple vote into many.

Speeches galore as Ron Lee, Joe Lacey and Dr. Hazel Rountree exit the board.

Considering the questions remain on how this board gave Rhonda Corr a glowing review just a little more than a month before they handed her walking papers- hasn’t been answered, there shouldn’t have been any speeches at all. But, I’m guessing it will all come out when they get deposed in the inevitable coming court actions. We also need to find out why they chose not to force Dr. Adil Baguirov to resign when they were informed that he didn’t live in the district.

But, the most astounding thing was in the first meeting which had existing members, Walker, Taylor, McManus and Harris meeting with new members Wick-Gagnet, Al-Hamdani and Rhynard to discuss who should be president and vice-president come January.

Again facilitated by Kathy Hollingsworth, when the existing board members were asked to describe what skills the new board president should have, Sheila Taylor jumped right in to say that the next president needs to be a male from that side of town – or something to that effect an African American. I will have the video up tomorrow.

For Reverend Harris to be judged purely by the color of his skin by Ms. Taylor shows how far we haven’t moved since 1963:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Martin Luther King, Aug 23, 1963- I Have A Dream speech- March on Washington

The suggested slate right now has Harris as President and John McManus as VP. Realistically, this is not the norm, that a rookie takes over as leader, without the institutional, procedural or proven experience.

If anyone needs a reminder of how well McManus can run a meeting, look back to where he stepped in to takeover for Dr. Adil Baguirov:

It was also floated that the board retain an outside parliamentarian by McManus in the early meeting, instead of allowing a board member to try to police other board members. DEA president David Romick might even apply for that job, if it means the kind of clusterduck voting that happened tonight won’t happen again.

The board did get the chance to celebrate some district accomplishments. After reading for weeks that a single Trotwood school was recognized by the State for major jumps in achievement, DPS trotted out four schools tonight that have done that: Kemp, Horace Mann, Edison and Cleveland Elementary all received honors with the MOMENTUM AWARD,  given to schools who have exceeded expectations in student growth on the Ohio School Report Card for the 2016-17 School year.

They also recognized Nicole Plennert, a Wright Brothers Middle School physical education teacher, who was awarded the Secondary Education Physical Education Teacher of the year for 2017 by the Ohio Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

But the take your breath away winner was the young man from the Dayton Boys Preparatory Academy who won first place in the  60th annual Lucia May Wiant Speech contest which was held November 8th at Wright Brothers Middle School.

Ve’Suan Smith gave his speech- “I can’t read” that brought tears to my eyes.

And, for the record, the color of his skin had nothing to do with his qualification or first place finish.

I’ll have it cut and up as a stand alone video tomorrow.

That speech gave me hope that despite the incompetence of the exiting board, there are still teachers making a difference in this district and we will have future leaders in Dayton who can deliver inspiration in three minutes or less.