The agenda for last nights review session wasn’t quite complete. Many more resignations that were turned in on the 10th weren’t included. While the board was falling all over itself for their “New Digital Dashboard” for reviewing their slow improvement from failure to mediocrity, the question of how we’ll even open school in the fall isn’t mentioned.
Scratch one Megan Winston from the roster. Winston, one of their “star” principals, who took over from Tracy Mallory several years back (another “star” principal who is now working in Trotwood) resigned yesterday. And while Corr was meeting today with the remaining principals for their planning for next year this morning at 9:30 there are two in the audience ready to resign, just finalizing their contracts with other districts. Principals contracts actually run through July 31- so if you leave early, you may owe the district some money back. Of course, if DPS was smart- 1) they would work hard not to lose them- by paying better and having a contract in place, and 2) have a way to keep these valuable assets on to manage a building transition via a per diem wage.
Dr. Adil Baguirov was in fine form, boasting that the district was the first in Ohio to have such amazing technology, and possibly in the midwest. Taylor actually asked Dayton Daily news reporter Jeremy Kelley to write about this stunning achievement. Apparently, she missed the group MMS I sent to the board members and Kelley- of a link to an undated article from Columbus about their new data dashboard.
The boards internal auditor, Randall Harper, gave the paper another freebie bad news story about the Athletic Department having yet another loss of funds from athletic event collections. Board members asked how this happened- and the auditor blamed a failure to follow the procedures put in place. The Dayton Daily made inquiries on who what where and how much and got the dodgy responses we just love (he can’t hide it- so why they don’t answer truthfully is unbelievable). If this theft is related to anything relating to Dunbar athletics- it would and could have impacted the vote later- to rehire coach Powell. Whole thing was strange. In any company I work at- you steal money, you get a pink slip, not a nice request to write an IOU.
The funniest faux pas came from Dr. Sheila Burton while walking the board through the data dashboard. When looking at attendance numbers- she publicly questioned the work of The Ohlmann Group, who the board hired to do marketing and enrollment campaigns but came up short. Why this contract is still in place, if you are publicly going to slam your sub-contractor is beyond me. Full disclosure, my firm was the low bidder, and the highest ranking minority firm- and didn’t get the contract. This has been extensively covered on this site.
Last but not least, Board Member Sheila Taylor wanted to go into executive session over the Darran Powell hiring – and another personnel issue that she wanted separate but didn’t want to identify by name. Well, it’s too late in the meeting to remove an item and not be by name. If she had prepared properly, reading the agenda- she should have had the item removed from the agenda in advance. Despite all her years on the board, she still seemed lost at the basics of Robert’s rules of order- and the process to vote something separate. This is part of the reason this board is beyond help.
No discussion of the board negotiations, school start dates, or questions about the mass exodus of talent.
Don’t run a hiring promo crawl over a teachers resignation speech.
No other school board meets as much and does as little as the Dayton Public Board of Education.
Their agendas confuse the members, aren’t mobile friendly, provide almost zero usable information, and lead to massive confusion.
They have a “Parliamentarian,” Joe Lacey, who is a member of the board, which is far from ideal:
If the parliamentarian is a member of the assembly, that person has the same rights as other members, but should not exercise those rights to maintain impartiality, similar to the impartiality that is required of the chairman. In other words, the parliamentarian should not be making motions, speaking in debate, or voting.
This is only a part of the problem. But, at the end of the last board meeting, held on a Wednesday night (not the normal Tuesday- which makes problems for Mr. McManus who works second shift in Columbus) when “New business” came up- it wasn’t business at all- just speeches by the board. Rambling on about what you did the last week, while hourly employees wait is not in the best interest of the general public.
There are a million ways to run meetings. However, when a board of directors is meeting to review and guide an organization with a leader they’ve chosen to do a job, shouldn’t the leader do most of the talking? Explaining what the district is doing, why, and how its performance is improving? How initiatives are progressing, reviewing metrics? Updating on the status of directives she is given by the board? Never a public mention of posting the position of “Executive Director of Communications” at any meeting, but the posting was up and changed this week.
Nothing like that happens at DPS board meetings.
What an agenda should look like is something I’d love to show this board, but, since they refuse to investigate the eligibility of Dr. Adil Baguirov to be on the board, (he’s lived outside the district since November of 2015) I think the first order of business is to show this board the door.
That Corr didn’t know what meeting she was crashing the first time should make you wonder.
That two members of the board are meeting with a vendor- behind closed doors, should also concern you. Because, board members have no business conducting school business without a quorum in a regularly scheduled meeting- ever. We asked to film- but were told no.
There is no doubt the board needs marketing and public relations help- during the course of the Wednesday meeting when a whole big batch of teachers were resigning (a regular occurrence these days) and one of them got up to tell the board why she was leaving- the geniuses at DPS-TV were running a crawl across the bottom of the screen, asking teachers to come work for the district.
We have a technical term for this in marketing- it’s called cognitive dissonance, the rest of you would call this just stupid.
I have her “crawl segment” in the middle of my speech.
And as a final kicker, at the very end of the meeting, Rhonda Corr announces she’ll be introducing a student handbook at the beginning of next school year. This was directly out of our original marketing proposal to the district. We thought it would take over a year to create, with participation from parents, teachers, students and alumni. We thought it would be a tool to help explain the new values and focus of a newly rebranded district. So glad she’s just thought of this now, for next year. But, this is her Standard Operating Procedure by the seat of her pants. Remember the RIF? The Bus deal? Both rushed through as if a last minute afterthought. Sort of like holding a special meeting on a Friday morning, ostensibly to review a 5 year budget plan…..
You knew the school board was ready, all of them dressed in their Sunday best- Joe Lacey even left his hoodie at home and combed his hair.
The teachers were ready too. When I say 400, it’s not an exact count, but it was the most I’d seen. They were wearing red, and they weren’t happy.
Negotiations on a contract have been going south, and for too long. The disrespect of the October surprise putsch, the buy out of David Lawrence, the buying of a $400,000 time clock system, the hiring of the highest bidder to do bad “marketing and advertising” for the district, the massive bus purchase- all while claiming broke- and paying the superintendent that’s turned this district upside down more than the board was paying the stable and confident former Superintendent, Lori Ward, are all sticking points. Oh, that and Dayton teachers are expected to do more for less than any other district in the County- with a few exceptions- like Jefferson Township- which shouldn’t even have it’s own district.
After the teachers leader David Romick got done with his address, they all marched out to have a street corner rally, complete with podium. The news media followed.
The only people who left before Mr. Romick was done talking was the three representatives from the Ohlmann Group after they made an apologetic and pathetic presentation of what they’d done so far for at least $40K of wasted money (more on this in a future post). They don’t sit through school board meetings- or provide PR advice to the district, hell- they don’t even bother to shoot their own photos for their ads, they use stock photography. Gee, maybe that’s why my firm lost, we had a 2x Pulitzer prize winner for photojournalism on our team to shoot for our proposed work.
When it came to the speakers, a young, 2nd year teacher who appears to be hitting it out of the ballpark for the district went up and made a plea for her job security. She’s teaching at Westwoood- you know, the neighborhood the Dayton Daily nominated as the most dangerous ‘hood in the city. Every year, she has had to fight to keep her position. You have to listen- this is who you want teaching your kids. Her name is Joshita Reza, and one day, if we’re lucky, she’ll be superintendent of DPS.
Dr. Hazel Rountree, the Board VP is going to look into why Ms. Reza is having problems worthy of a visit to the podium. But, later, circles back, and appears to not have understood anything that Ms. Reza said. It all comes back down to respect, and this board and superintendent don’t respect anyone.
And, if you have the lowest pay, the worst academic performance in the region- people go where the work is easier and the pay is better. It’s not rocket surgery.
I spoke, once again asking for their resignations, and why no one has done anything to investigate Dr. Baguirov’s questionable residency eligibility to even be on the board. It’s a moot point really now, as he already got them to buy the buses for $10M and help his friends in the trucking business. That was voted on after the very long executive session (where those who stuck around were treated to hearing yelling coming from the secret lair).
Before the speakers were invited to the podium, Dr. Walker asked John McManus to read the rules. This isn’t the norm. One of the rules is that you aren’t supposed to single out a single board member, but speak to them as a whole. Well, although I singled out Dr. B- I asked them all to resign, since they haven’t done anything to verify his eligibility. At least nothing close to what they’ve done to check on the eligibility of a high school football player.
I’m go glad to hear that “Great things are happening at Dayton Public Schools”
That you put that up on billboards should be grounds to have you removed- for breaking truth in advertising laws.
Because, unless you are deaf, dumb and blind, you are missing the point of why 300 teachers keep coming down here and questioning your leadership.
But- I can tell you there is a way to make that true. Resign. All seven of you.
You see, allowing an ineligible board member to do deals with your proxy is grounds for removal from office. From the real estate deals that smelled fishy- to the hiring of the most expensive bidder to do the “Great things are happening” campaign- to the bus deal- you’ve been asleep at the wheel. Following prompts from a board member who doesn’t even live in the district- and hasn’t since 2015.
I’d like to see the rent receipts for his half million dollar house in the Vandalia Butler school district- tell us who does live in the mansion.
Because sure as bees make honey- Dr., if he really is a Dr., Adil Baguirov is in a bit of a pinch. He’s registered to vote in a Ten Thousand dollar house on Maryland Ave- where he supposedly lives with his business partner- Islom Shakhbandarov.
He failed to disclose many of his business dealings on his ethics statements. He failed to disclose his maze of shell companies.
What we have here is our own version of Henry Hill- here to sell you 76 trombones. A carpet bagger- who is possibly lining his own pockets with inside deals with CareSource- Miami Valley Hospital, the University of Dayton, and even Learn To Earn.
Never mind the bus deal.
Since you won’t do anything about any of this- I’ve taken the next steps to have Dr. Baguirov removed by a judge. The next step is to remove the rest of you by collecting 4500 signatures. I think the people in this room will gladly help me get them in record time.
It’s time to stop embarrassing the city of Dayton. It’s time we had a superintendent and treasurer that actually lead our organization forward. It’s time to end the insider deals- and stop the loss of staff attrition – which has approached 20% annually.
Please, do us a favor- abdicate now- and save yourself the embarrassment- we’ve already got 13 people running for office to replace 4 of you. Do you need further evidence that the community doesn’t approve of your choice in superintendent or how you are running the district?
Because once we remove all of you- then we can legitimately claim “Great things are happening at Dayton Public Schools.”
Of course no response. Dr. Baguirov’s business partner and housemate for voting, Islom Shakhbandarov was sitting right next to the podium and filmed me as I spoke. As soon as the board broke for their executive session, Shakhbandarov ran to McManus asking why he didn’t cut me off for talking about his partner- McManus said “I just read the rules, it’s up to the board president to enforce them.”
I say fire the coaches, the athletic directors, the principals, the superintendent and move forward. Nobody was there to make sure this young man was eligible, or that his eligibility was being managed properly. The video speaks for itself- the kids didn’t want to “throw the game” and showed their disgust for this cockamamie scheme. Only thing I’m sure of is, this wouldn’t have happened if Superintendent Chaos Corr hadn’t run David Lawrence out of the district. Lawrence was previously over Baker- and, attended most of the sporting events- and knows how to calculate eligibility.
When the board came out of executive session, Dr. Hazel Rountree was missing. She’d walked off the job. Should be grounds for termination. When the going gets rough, or Hazel doesn’t get her way- she just gets going. This proves that she’s not worthy of her seat.
Joe Lacey was the only one who voted not to retain Baker. He’s a little late to the whole discussion at this point and doing nothing more than grandstanding. Of course, he dosn’t bother to hold himself responsible for putting Corr in charge of this circus. Watch the video of Corr and Lacey while he has his rant around the three minute mark.
Baker got his contract- with a 5-1 vote, with Hazel absent without leave. On his way out, Coach Powell said to me “We’re done” – knowing that they were going to be the only ones to take a hit for this gross failure to do the right thing.
Speaking of doing the right thing, the board still won’t address the eligibility of Dr. Baguirov at all. Thus, all failing their legal responsibility to follow their own rules.
The head of security who was tasked to spend all the time in the world interviewing everyone involved in the Dunbar/Belmont fiasco, hasn’t had any time to investigate Dr. B. Imagine that.
I’ve requested all the interview transcripts through a public records request for publication later.
When black people in Dayton screw up, leave no stone unturned. When it’s a slick talking, nattily dressed, carpetbagger who can’t make up his mind if we’re broke or flush- no investigation warranted.
As they always say the best defense in America is being rich.
When you hire an ad agency that likes to buy media- of course, the first thing you do is buy media. Dayton Public Schools hired The Ohlmann Group, who bragged about winning the “Mercury award” for media buying all seven years the award has been in existence. Airing today, radio spots on 103.9- Clear Channel Alt rock station – directing people to the new landing page site www.enrolldps.com
Which starts off with:
GREAT THINGS ARE HAPPENING AT DAYTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS
At Dayton Public Schools, good grades aren’t just for our students. The State of Ohio recently awarded Dayton Public Schools a grade of A for “value added,” recognizing the improvement we’re making in our students’ education. From our top-rated preschools to our innovative elementary and high school technology initiatives and career programs, the future is filled with tremendous promise. Enroll now and discover how Dayton Public Schools provides the teachers and educational resourcess (sic) that help every child thrive.
Please tell me one thing on this page that makes you confident that DPS is any different than it was last year – the year before, or the year before that? Should you really be bragging about “Award winning athletics- Committed to providing student-athletes with a healthy athletic experience designed to enhance their overall development” considering the district just got put on probation for 3 years by the Ohio High School Athletics Association?
Here we go spending money on radio, billboards, new bad websites, without addressing any of the issues facing the district.
My favorite is the part about the 1-to-1 computers: “Will my child receive a chromebook? As part of the district’s 1:1 Initiative, all students and content area teachers (including self-contained teachers) grades 1-12 will receive a Chromebook for the upcoming school year. Similar devices will be available for kindergarten students”- leaving out that they won’t actually have possession of said chromebook, or be able to bring it home, you just get to use it to drill and fill while in a classroom.
Considering radio reaches communities well outside DPS, one has to wonder what DPS thinks they are doing? Do people in Kettering really need to hear this message?
Another #FAIL brought to you by the fine folks at Dayton Public Schools.
If this is your first time finding out about this, this post is the full recap, with all the documentation to let you examine the process and see how to fail at issuing an RFP for professional services. First clue- don’t have a single marketing professional on staff to help you evaluate what you are buying.
Second clue: have someone who has no knowledge of how to pick an ad agency write the RFP/RFQ.
The initial RFP for “Comprehensive marketing services” issued by the Dayton Public Schools
With that said, here is the absolute failure that they issued to start the process. It was missing so many key pieces of information, like a budget, an objective, that it made me wonder if there was anything already written to serve as a guideline for picking an ad agency for governmental organizations. There wasn’t, so I wrote this for The Next Wave blog: Hiring An Agency: The R.F.P. Guide (for Governmental Organizations)
Well, actually I wrote it after the School Board missed their original start deadline of Sept. 21, and threw out the recommendation of their purchasing department who ran this “process” on November 1st. It was pointed out that their “RFP process” kept favoring big firms, who they’d already worked with, and that the scoring rubric seemed to be off- especially since my firm had real diversity qualifications (Certified Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business by the VA, HUBzone by the SBA, Ohio ED/GE). They also wondered how a team that included a photographer, Larry Price, who has won an Emmy and the Pulitzer prize for photojournalism twice, didn’t rank higher as “qualified.” Five firms applied. Due to a cc instead of bcc on an email, I knew who the competition was. Had the process been handled competently, my bid should have been very well received.
Superintendent Corr’s answer was to suggest they go out and ask other districts how it’s done. Next came a new instrument to ask for proposals- this one, a Request for Qualifications. The difference being that the purchasing department is supposed to be ranking how qualified each agency is to do the job – to suggest who the board should consider issuing a contract with. Since there isn’t really supposed to be any proposed work, the instrument should be administered in a way that’s kind of like the Pepsi Challenge- blind of branding, just asking to see examples of past work, and describing the skill set of each organization. Yes, you can ask for prices- for a set service, but, usually, you would leave out anything that would tip off an evaluator who submitted what.
DPS issues RFQ to replace RFP for marketing services
This wasn’t how they did it. In fact, much of the RFQ was a copy and paste job from the RFP. They were still asking for timelines, plans, and now, added how would you spend $75K. This time only 3 of the firms bid, with one subcontracting one of the other first round bidders to fill their “diversity” quotient.
The RFQ asked for a lot of “reporting” proof. Can you show that your marketing dollars spent were effective type things? Showing Neilsen numbers (as Ohlmann does for a lot of their response) doesn’t tell anyone how many widgets were sold. And, unless it’s the EFFY awards (Effectiveness), no ad awards shows actually care if your ad actually sold more widgets, but awards were important. Laughably, The Ohlmann Group bragged at length of how they’d won lots of “Mercury Awards” from the local ad club- the only problem is, they aren’t real awards given by judges- it’s a popularity contest- much like what the Dayton Business Journal does with “Best Pizza in Dayton” awards.
The RFQ, much like the RFP was based on a Board provided guesstimate of total hours of 3120- or 1.5 man years. This district is in much greater need of 1.5 man years- especially if they are hoping to do a rebrand. Both Ohlmann and The Next Wave would want to fix the website that was built in a proprietary content management system (supplied by the third bidder Upward) that has already cost the district a small fortune. Hilariously, it can only be maintained by one person in the district, the current default Public Information Officer Jill Drury, who came out of TV news and has no marketing chops.
DPS Q&A for the RFQ
There was a Q&A issued 2 days before the turn in deadline of 20 January, 2017. In it, it clearly put a cap of $300K on the project. My firm, The Next Wave bid under it, at a fixed price to deliver 3.5 man years or 7280 hours. And, as a caveat, as long as we were on retainer and doing the work we specified- all the other stuff that they never budget or foresee, we’d do it at the effective rate of $41 an hour. The other two bidders were considerably more expensive- with the average hourly rate of $113 for the “winner” picked by purchasing and hired by the board without a contract review before the vote.
Now, what I’m asking you the reader to do, is to pretend you care about your school district, and where public dollars are spent. And take the time to actually read the proposals submitted by each of the three agencies.
Then read the score sheets/evaluators forms. Then read the contract issued to the Ohlmann Group, waiving the 48 hour rule to vote on it a week early at a meeting without public comment. Then, you decide- who had the best plan, the most cost effective proposal?
That’s why The Next Wave proposal for a media spend of $75K a year was to hire someone in each neighborhood to meet the kids at the central bus stop and take attendance as the kids got on the bus. Then to follow up in the neighborhood with housecalls on homes where the kid may didn’t made it to the bus- and to try to figure out what the district can do to get the kid in school- all before the bus even makes it to the building. Novel idea? Creative? More valuable to the district than a TV campaign? You tell me. Some friends of mine who run a very hot shop in Minneapolis have a mantra- “Actions speak louder than words.” Doing things always beats talking about them in our book too.
Here are the documents provided by the DPS legal counsel for each agency. Note, she gave me scans of printouts, not the original high resolution PDF’s that each agency submitted, with the hope that the low-fi, non-ADA compliant docs wouldn’t be able to be posted and indexed as well- but, don’t worry- I ran them through OCR. Only The Next Wave doc has working links.
Note, the Ohlmann and Upward submissions both run 100 pages. The longest proposal we’ve ever done for a non-governmental client has run 6 pages. Why government purchasing departments think requiring so much information actually helps the process is beyond me.
The Next Wave RFQ response
The Ohlmann Group RFQ response
The Upward Brand Interactions RFQ Response
Next is the evaluators score sheets. We were told there were 5 evaluators and that one was the superintendent. One can assume the woman from purchasing who ran this mess, Teri Allen, was also one. Obviously, after me calling for her firing after the first round debacle, she’s going to score for anyone but The Next Wave.
The comments in scoring are very different for the three firms.
Of course, my mockery of the actual RFQ in our response- which had the audacity to ask for an Org chart when DPS barely has one, isn’t helping engender warm fuzzys, but, this district has serious problems and asking about org charts makes me wonder?
How does an Org chart make you do better ads? Websites? Video production?
The real key is to read the RFP and then realize the RFQ is yet another cut and paste job- looking to create “gotchas” instead of to actually evaluate what an agency is bringing to the table.
I always tell new clients that hiring an agency is a lot like dating- it takes almost a year before you really know enough about each other to do anything really great. Of course, if you baseline is decades of mediocrity, it’s not too hard to look amazing out of the box.
The RFQ scoring instrument
The last document is the actual contract, which was presented to the board on board docs as a $112,500 contract instead of $345K. Then there were the two additional “option years” making the whole thing a million dollar commitment.
The school board actually bought this contract, without reading it. Mostly because they were told they had a 90 day out (which was specified to all bidders in the RFQ).
The contract has one hinkey legal mistake, that should make it null and void:
2. In the event of a conflict, precedence shall be given to the following order: (1) this document, (2) the Request for Proposal, and (3) the Contractor’s proposal response, (4) “SOW’ for specified project scope.
Uh, what RFP? This was a response to an RFQ. The RFP had been withdrawn. Of course, you can’t see the top secret RFP, unless it’s actually awarded. Of course, The Next Wave proposal didn’t shy away from sharing our ideas fully- because, well, we actually care enough about this district to have done all this journalism to expose the incompetence at the top.
The DPS contract with the Ohlmann Group
The real question is, how many people will take the time to examine all this? Probably not many.
That’s why we produced a video to walk you through the whole thing- ending with the absolutely insane meeting between Board Members Adil Baguirov, Sheila Taylor and John McManus with the representatives from the Ohlmann Group.
We’ve already posted and talked about this meeting, and a few of you watched the whole 90 minute debacle. The meeting was mostly Dr. Adil Baguirov showcasing his marketing expertise, including advocating for the use of Flash- a web application that’s almost universally despised by any modern web developer and has never been usable on any Apple iOS device.
You are probably wondering what the next step is? It’s pretty obvious that after calling for the resignation of 5 board members, and Superintendent Corr, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll change their mind and hire us. Of course, come Jan 1, 2018, there will be four new board members who may want to be able to fully explain why the current board and their picks for Superintendent and Treasurer have caused this district more trauma than triage.
There is another post coming that should clearly change the course of coming board action, but, it will take a considerable amount of time to write and fully document. It’s the final chapter for one of the DPS pretenders.
In the mean time, to those of you who take the time to read all the docs, I’d love to hear your evaluation of this three ring circus.