David vs Goliath: round 1, or what do you call four lawyers installing a light bulb?

The Ohio Sunshine Laws are laws that mean well, but are designed with so many gotcha factors that people have to feel really pissed before they jump through the hoops. Like the first one: Get a lawyer. Pay the lawyer. Then filing fee ($330.50), then show up in court. Watch the government agencies who broke the law, show up in court, unprepared, with 4 lawyers to tell the judge you are wrong, and this whole thing is just David being an idiot (while their meters are running full tilt.).

Then we have to argue about what laws apply, even though Judge Richard Skelton made that very clear right off the bat. His reading of my brief and the law in question, ORC 121.22 said to him that Rule 65- the procedural rule used for asking for a Temporary Restraining Order, said that since the Sunshine Law had remedies (what he’s supposed to do to punish the lawbreaker) there was no need to bring in Rule 65, which is a federal law. In other words, the specific rules of the State law apply because the the general rule (rule 65) is controlled by the specific one. Did I lose you? I hope not.

I was wondering why even with their expert on the Sunshine Laws they weren’t ready to discuss the merits of that part of my filing?

This wasn’t an actual trial, so I wasn’t allowed to introduce evidence. All I could do was to turn to my filing to ask for relief.

Skelton stated a few things that made a lot of sense to me (but apparently, Brian Wildermuth, attorney for the District, wants to pick a fight with a judge known for being feisty): one, that laws are generally in place to “do the right thing.” Two- that while unable to guide me, he’s working toward transparency, and understands that this law in particular is written in mostly plain terms- in order to make sure the people keep their elected officials in line.

Wildermuth tried to say that I’d been allowed to attend and video meetings and that they’d comply in the future, and that this one “bus trip” is over, and therefore there was no need for my case. Totally denying the fact that I was shut out of the bus trip- and that what happened in their closed rolling yellow conference room was a meeting held in secret, as was the tour of Valerie Elementary. They also claimed that they cut short the trip, after hearing from the judge that this may be a violation.

If you watched the videos from facebook live- or my edited video of the event, you’ll know that yours and mine idea of cutting off a bus tour would mean, stop doing what you are doing and return home. A go to jail, go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200 moment if there ever was one. The bus continued on from Valerie, to Meadowdale Elementary and Meadowdale HS and then to Wogamen middle school and then back to DPS.

Let’s also be clear, that the government bodies could send 4 lawyers on your tax dime to deal with my complaint, yet, none were prepared to answer the case.

Let’s also be clear, that the judge suggested to the lawyers yesterday to hold off on the tour, and that Dayton City Officials were told NOT to enter- hence my conversation with Jeff Mims outside Valerie on camera about my mom. Let’s also be clear, that Mohamed Al-Hamdani, the mastermind behind this task force, actually had the bus pull over between DPS HQ and Valerie so he could get off the bus. Some of the people knew better, but did it anyway.

My arguments were basic: That by participating in a single secret meeting, the committee has poisoned any decision that the schools may make on closing any buildings. School Board Members William Harris, Robert Walker and Mohamed Al-Hamdani would and should have to recuse themselves. Dr. Lolli, Burton, Treasurer Abraha, also have now poisoned themselves. Any closure could be challenged in court by the community saying deliberations were held in private- thereby, just like inadmissible criminal evidence, forcing whatever decision they make to be illegal.

The fact that Lolli keeps saying she has a right to do these things in public is an embarrassment. It’s really just time to do with her, what the board did with the woman who hired her- part ways. But, without the payoff. She can serve as a principal, or something until the end of the year, while we hire someone who can abide by the sunshine laws and not require a bunch of people picked illegally to advise them on what to do.

The sad thing about all this, is the lawyers want to continue with their charade of denial. This will be costly for the district. I look forward to depositions, and a trial, because, much like the Dr. Markay Winston EEOC investigation which ended up bringing the end to Rhonda Corr, I think I know the right questions to ask people under oath that will show that this district leadership, has acting illegally (I was chastised for calling it criminal, because there is a difference to lawyers- while the rest of us think that when you break the law, you are a criminal, they don’t think that way.)

Watch the video, read the briefs, examine how many times in the tour video that they said NO, YOU can’t come in. I believe everyone of those, times the number of people who should have known better equals $500 ea instance… but, we’ll see.

And remember while you’re on Youtube to subscribe to my channel. I need 1000 subscribers to monetize it. Thank you.

For the record, what do you call four lawyers installing a light bulb? More billable hours, and no one that actually knows how to turn on a light.

 

New board folds, buys out Corr. Superintendent search may be on.

In less than 15 minutes, the DPS board went into executive session- came out, and parted ways “by mutual agreement” with former Superintendent Rhonda Corr.

The payoff is the remainder of a years pay and bennys- around $200K $115K. Not a good way for this board to start out- less than 30 days into their tenure, but, probably a lot cheaper than the legal bills a court case would run up. The lawyer who dug up all the dirt when investigating the Dr. Markay Winston EEOC complaint, Beverly A. Meyer, probably has made a small fortune already in legal fees in this long drawn out process. She was there tonight as the board announced their decision.

I’ll have a public records request in for the money spent on legal fees thanks to all this.

Board members John McManus, Sheila Taylor, and Robert Walker are all breathing easier. No lawsuit means no depositions. We may never know what happened in the all too frequent executive sessions that allowed this mad woman to run the district- excuse me, ruin the district, and still get a glowing review.

Corr is crazy enough to believe she’s still employable in education. We’ll see how much of her settlement is left after the insurance company is done collecting the money they paid her when her 2nd wife died- before she’d been divorced from the first one.

After the board adjourned, Board President William Harris spoke to the media, with tender Marsha Bonhart at his side. He handled the questions well, but did slip that the board will see what kind of applicants they get for the next Superintendent- meaning Dr. Lolli is still interim, and the board is thinking of seeing what they can get.

Here is the text of the official release:

AGREED PRESS RELEASE
The Dayton Board of Education and Rhonda Corr have mutually decided to part ways. Corr has resigned her position as Superintendent of Dayton Public Schools to pursue other opportunities in the field of education. The Board accepted Corr’s resignation at its special meeting held on January 30, 2018.

The Board and Ms. Corr have executed a separation agreement that provides for the continuation of Corr’s base salary, insurance benefits, and State Teacher Retirement System contributions through the end of her current contract year. The parties decided to forego the final two years on Corr’ s contract as both she and the Board felt it was in the best interests of the District.

Ms. Corr successfully tackled numerous issues confronting the District and continued academic gains during her time as Superintendent. Dayton Public Schools’ students and families are of the utmost Importance to both Corr and the Board, and both parties believe that moving forward is in the best Interest of all involved. The Board looks forward to capitalizing on the improvements it has realized in recent years and ensuring that the students of Dayton Public Schools continue to receive quality educational opportunities.

Unlike the last buyout of a high level employee, this time the board didn’t violate the agreement in the process- at least, in appearance, since I don’t have the actual agreement. Esrati.com will be requesting it as well.

The next question is when will strong leadership show up in this district to set a course and deliver results?

So far, we’ve not seen it.

thumbnail of Separation Agreement – R. Corr – Partial Exec – 1.26.18

The separation agreement from the District- Harris hadn’t signed it yet.

UPDATE

31 Jan, 2018- I got the separation agreement. It is through the end of the school year- not the calendar year.

The board gave Corr a get out of jail free card, which may or may not stand up in criminal court, with clause 6B:

For valuable consideration received, the sufficiency of which is hereby acknowledged, Dayton forever releases and discharges Corr from any and all claims and/or causes of action, known or unknown, which Dayton may have or could claim to have against Corr up to and including the effective date of this Agreement.

The agreement was signed on the 19th of January, and Corr’s right to revoke it is over.

 

First steps to return DPS to stability

On Tuesday, Nov 21, 2017, the Dayton Board of Education will install Rev. William Harris on the board to the seat vacated by Dr. Adil Baguirov who finally had to resign because he didn’t live in the district.

Unfortunately, Joe Lacey, Ron Lee and Dr. Hazel Rountree didn’t tender their early resignations to allow Mohamed Al-Hamdani, Jocelyn Rhynard and Karen Wick-Gagnet to also take their seats early. Considering the board has a no confidence vote from the Dayton Education Association, the sooner the new board (which the DEA endorsed) takes office, the sooner the healing process can begin.

It’s also time to change some things about the way the meetings are run. First and foremost is to explain to the Superintendent that an agenda, in order to be effective, needs to be posted to the public site by Thursday at 5pm before a Tuesday meeting. Any changes, additions, “emergencies” better come with a damn good reason- as in, the person requesting the changes will stand in front of the board and explain why they couldn’t turn in their issue on time. They will have a disciplinary note added to their personnel file for each time this happens. The documentation must be complete- posted as a time stamped, ADA compliant single PDF. We can cancel Board Docs which isn’t ADA compliant. Isn’t mobile friendly, and isn’t searchable- at least the way it’s being used now.

If this isn’t acceptable, a different system can be put in place for posting of agendas.

Another issue is the number of meetings. There will never be a vote at anything but a business meeting, ever again. If there will be a vote, there has to be opportunity for public review- and comment.

All the “committee” meetings- will cease, until actual agendas are created, published- and reported back to a public business meeting. There will be no more hiding of business in committee, or discussion of public business without a video record. All committees must make reports with actual metrics- goals and progress reports. Committees that can’t do this- will cease to exist.

Each meeting will begin with an actual report by the Superintendent or designee, on progress on identified key performance indicators. Suggested initial metrics:

  • Student attendance, broken down by school, grade, race.
  • Staff attendance, broken down by union, building, classification.
  • Computer usage, performance metrics from academic improvement software applications.
  • Suspensions, Expulsions, Discipline, broken down by age, building, race.
  • Transportation ratings
  • Enrollment figures
  • Student performance/behind, on-track/advanced

Next will be follow up on outstanding issues as brought up during board meetings. Each issue must be designated open, on-hold, closed. Any time a board member speaks, it must either be asking for a clarification on presented items, or to open an issue for resolution on an agreed to time table. There will be no tolerance for speeches from the board. If it’s not on the agenda, it will either be added during “New business” or it will be attached to a current agenda item. Any board member who violates this rule more than 3 times in a meeting will be asked to leave the meeting.

When a board member brings an issue up for clarification, they must be able to get at least two other board members to agree that this requires further investigation. If they can’t get two other votes, the issue will be considered a violation.

The board will no longer refer to anyone else on the board with the title of Dr. unless they have a PhD- since this is an academic organization and not a church. Divinity degrees mislead the public as to qualifications. Also, it is unnecessary to address each other with “Board member” “Vice President” or “Board President” – this is a waste of time and an unnecessary formality. Mr. Ms. Mrs. or Dr. are fine and appropriate. The board may return to formal titles when they actually have a district operating above a “C” in all State Standards, if they feel it is a title worth bestowing. Below average school districts shouldn’t reward mediocrity with formal respect until they’ve earned it.

Other than actual, mandatory business required to keep the district operating, this current board should not be allowed to dispose of any property, enter into long term or large contracts or extend any contacts of staff until the new board takes their seats. At that point, a full review should be started on issues and actions of the board dating back to when they were made aware that Dr. Baguirov didn’t live in the district- and their actions or inaction on following their own policy. Any board members who remain who failed to act, should be held criminally liable for failure to comply with board policy. This also applies to legal counsel, and others who should have investigated this issue.

Head of security, Jamie Bullens retirement is a starting point for an investigation. He should be properly deposed by an independent investigator as to what actions he was asked to do, by whom, and what was done.

An external investigation should also be conducted into the sale of the Patterson Co-Op site to CareSource, the purchase of the buses with their 10 year warranty on 7 year life expectancy vehicles and Dr. Baguirov’s illegal involvement in the contracting process, a review of both Superintendent Rhonda Corr’s and Athletic Director Mark Baker’s contracts. If Dr. Baguirov was a key factor- and he didn’t live in the district, both these contracts should be nullified. An investigation into the award of the marketing contract to the highest bidder- and then the change of direction to hire internally- also needs review. This change of direction shows a lack of competency by either the Superintendent or Purchasing or both. Within a 6 month period, the district did a complete U-turn, after not meeting their stated goals with either solution.

Last but not least, considering the DEA no confidence vote in the board and superintendent, the current remaining board members should all tender their resignations to the new board for consideration. It should be obvious, that their performance created the turmoil that caused an 8 way race and the loss by the only incumbent who ran. It’s time to bring stability back to the district.

The days of packed 4 hour meetings has to stop now. RESIGN, and let this district heal from your trespasses of trust, respect and dignity and move forward.

The most important Key Performance indicator will be seeing turnover of staff drop below 8% from the current 20%. We can’t run schools and a teacher/staff training facility at the same time.

For that to happen, we need clear, focused leadership. It will be up to the new board to see if Ms. Corr can actually run a district instead of a circus. If she can’t, I have two words for you: David White.