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All posts for the month April, 2014

Andy Culp is the new Superintendent

Published April 22, 2014 by justicewg

Andy Culp, the Assistant Superintendent at the Marysville Exempted Village School District, is the new Grandview Heights superintendent.

I didn’t find anything unusual about him in my review of the candidates post. Pretty standard series of jobs leading up to the post of assistant superintendent. Taking a position at Marysville while still living in Columbus tells us he has some drive (and has driven his car a lot).

He has a Masters of Education degree from OSU, and is working on a doctorate in educational administration at Ohio University, according to the story from the Marysville paper. I’m assuming he is taking some sort of online program at OU, that would be an even longer drive.

He sent the following email this afternoon:

Mr. Wagner,

Thanks for your email. As you probably already know I am scheduled to be board approved at this evenings board of education meeting. I look forward to working with you upon my start date on July 1.

Sincerely,

Andy Culp
Assistant Superintendent
Marysville Exempted Village School District
akculp@marysville.k12.oh.us

Thanks for the tip Mr. Culp. Looking forward to working with you too.

Although you might have made a major error right out of the blocks, some of the current school board members are convinced that the way to deal with critics is to throw their emails into the bit-bucket, and never respond. You will have plenty of time to learn how things are done here in Grandview before you start, I’m sure the board will be telling you who to avoid speaking to!

(later) Compensation numbers are up on the TVN.

Culp’s three-year contract, effective Aug. 1, has a starting base salary of $146,000 — about $12,050 less than O’Reilly’s 2013 base salary … Culp’s salary will increase on the first day of each contract year by the inflationary rate as determined from the Consumer Price Index. The board also will contribute an amount equal to 2.5 percent of Culp’s salary to an annuity contract as selected by him. Culp will receive life insurance, health insurance and other fringe benefits applicable to certificated administrative employees in accordance to board policy. The board will contribute $4,000 to the health savings account of the superintendent every plan year provided that Culp participates in the high deductible/HSA medical insurance option offered to eligible district employees.

Do you have a guaranteed CPI increase at your job every year? Remember, that is the least they have to give him, no matter what his job performance. They can always give him more (O’Reilly was getting raises that came out to 3.5% per year, during a time in which the economy crashed and schools were in crisis mode all over the state). Pretty sweet benefits.

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Brannan tries to do damage control

Published April 20, 2014 by justicewg

Board member Debbie Brannan has sent an email out to try to do damage control for the school board, in the wake of the firing of Band director Hennig. The full email is after the jump.

Brannan is the board member to send out this email? Very odd, she has never been the public communicator in the past. Douglass is the boss of the board, so I guess he though it would be better to have someone else telling parents to calm down. Also, Brannan is the board member who will be up for election next (along with Adam Miller, but Miller was obviously working hard to keep the band director), if the voters are still angry by next election she will take the hit.

“The School Board hires the Superintendent. The superintendent then hires and evaluates the administrators. The administrators hire and evaluate the teachers.” – D.B.

What a load of buck passing B.S. Anyone with a minimum of knowledge about the school knows that the board is intimately involved in the final decision making about keeping or booting teachers. Do you think Ken Chaffin, young and newly hired to the school administration, was the one to decide that Hennig had to go? No way.

I heard that a big part of the reason super O’Reilly chose to quit was that the board (Douglass) was spending a lot of time telling him how to do his job. This decision by the board to get rid of Hennig might have happened back in January, could it have been the final push that drove O’Reilly out?

“Third, any observations / evaluations / improvement plans have a strictly prescribed process that must be followed. That’s why the union is there – for the teachers’ protection to ensure it is a fair process. “ – D.B.

Yes, there is a process, and the teachers union has a representative to give council to the teachers. They have no power to tell the administration how to do those evaluations, and if the teacher is being screwed over by the school, they can advise the teacher about the legal options they can take. Unfortunately the best legal advice for a young teacher who is being screwed over is “shut up and move on, because you don’t want to go down in the records as a teacher who likes to fight in court”.

If the process of evaluating Hennig was completed and the conclusion was that he had to go, why was there a 50 minute executive board meeting to decide his fate? That tells me there were board members who didn’t think the evaluations were fair, or that they warranted Hennig being booted.

“As we look to the future, Mr. Chaffin will be involving parents and students in the process of determining what Grandview values most in our High School Band program, and finding the best person for that job.” – D.B.

Again pasting the responsibility and blame on Chaffin. I wonder how long he will be staying at the school when he understands how this board is willing to stick the knife in his back?

“Keep Calm and March On” – Debbie Brannan

Don’t worry your pretty little heads about anything. Like soldiers marching in a line, you need to learn to obey orders, and the board has spoken!

(Yes, I know that “Keep Calm and Carry On” was a meme, it came from a poster used in WW2 England. Quoting from the Wiki article:

Design historian Susannah Walker regards the campaign as “a resounding failure”, and reflective of a misjudgment by upper-class civil servants of the mood of the people.

So it is very appropriate for Brannan to refer to that meme, her letter is also a resounding failure!)

(Later) A post-resignation investigation by the TVN found that Chaffin had not given his recommendation to offer a new contract  or withdraw an offer at the time the board acted, and super O’Reilly confirmed that there was nothing bad enough in  Hennig’s record to cause an immediate firing. This directly contradicts Brannan’s claim that it was the super and the principal who were firing Hennig. She was lying to the parents.

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Bomb threat at the library

Published April 18, 2014 by justicewg

bomb_threat libraryThe library was evacuated and first Ave. closed off this afternoon after a bomb threat was called into the library.

Nothing had been found by 4:30PM and the police were getting ready to re-open the building.

I can’t put a number on how many bomb threats are made in Grandview Heights each year – seems like a few. Understandable that they brought in the Columbus Bomb Squad, but I hate to see these threats cause so much disruption, it feels like the people who make the threat “win” when a public building is closed for hours.

Some advice for the superintendent candidates

Published April 17, 2014 by justicewg

Welcome to Grandview, super candidates (except Quint Gage, who has been living here since 1992). You are going to have all sorts of people asking you questions and giving you advice on how to conduct yourself in the interviews – who to suck up to, who to dismiss as irrelevant (and I’m certain my blog will be pointed out as being one of the places you should avoid at all costs).

There will come a time when somebody asks you about the current conflict over the band director who “resigned”. This will not be the current board members asking the question – the majority opinion of the board will be that there was an unfortunate incident that happened because some people are just too emotional, and it was not an indication of anything. Somebody else might sneak into the interview process and ask a question about the band director.

If you do any research into the history at the school you will know that the band director incident is a bleeding raw injury that points directly to the dysfunction on the board, and its failure to communicate with the parents, or care about the opinions of the public (except for certain politically powerful members of the community). It will be obvious that the band parents and kids have suffered a major loss, and are disgusted with the board.

You will be tempted to answer “this is obviously a case of a school board that has lost its way and needs a radical corrective course change”. Do not allow yourself to be honest in answering this line of questions! This board has very thin skin, and any suggestion that they have made an error will result in the immediate loss of any consideration for the job.

The safe answer will be, “I don’t know enough to comment on the situation”.

If you really want the job, the answer you give can hint that the problem was that the public needs to be “managed” so that they have no expectation that any group of parents showing up at a meeting will have any affect on the board, and that they should learn to passively accept the wisdom of the school board. Extra points if you can imply that “rule by mob” would be the result of changing the path of the board because of a highly attended board meeting.

Good luck in your attempt to get the superintendent position. You are going to need it – doubly so if you win!

The six super candidate finalists have been chosen

Published April 16, 2014 by justicewg

The list of the six finalists for the superintendent position at the school has been posted in the TVN. Final interviews have already been done for some candidates, more are in progress today. This quote from the story shows the board is moving fast:

Truett said the board expects to make an informal decision April 19 about a hire after it holds a final 90-minute interview with each finalist.

A meeting with groups of community members and staffers is also planned for the 19th.

I’m working on a search to learn some info about these people, so this post will be updated often as new info comes up. I’m also emailing the candidates with some questions, any answers will be posted as they come in.

George Joseph

Worthington City Schools administrator George Joseph, gjoseph@worthington.k12.oh.us

Not sure what an Executive Director of Administrative Services does at the school, but I found one administrator at Worthington blogging about going over emergency procedures with him. Worthington is where we found Ken Chaffin to be our new principal, he was an assistant principal at McCord Middle School.

He is a candidate for three super positions. He applied for the top job in the Pickerington Local Schools and he is one of two who will interview for the superintendent position in Kenston, in northeast Ohio.

Dr. Quint Gage

Dr. Quint Gage, elementary principal at Bexley, Quint.Gage@BexleySchools.org

He started as an 8th grade teacher at Southwestern City Schools from 2005 to 2002, then an Asst Principal at Upper Arlington Schools until 2009. He has an OSU PhD, Education Administration.

There are only two people I can find with the name Quint Gage on the internet, so he can’t hide much. Here is a review of a book on Amazon.

He either cleared out his Instagram account or made it all private, I’m not sure how that service works.

He is listed on the roster of parents who attended the December 18, 2012 Grandview school board meeting, so I guess that means he lives in Grandview? (Yes, on Westwood Ave., via email, he is a long long time resident of Grandview (since 1992) and both of his kids were Kindergarten through 12th grade students in the district). I don’t know why he was there but the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut had just happened and some parents were talking to the board about that incident. He also attended the April 13, 2004 board meeting. A super who lives inside the district is good for the first hand knowledge of the weather conditions when he needs to call snow days, but he might regret living here when kids T.P. his house constantly.

Quint is an unusual first name. I wondered, could his parents have named him after Robert Shaw charater Quint, in the movie Jaws? The movie came out in 1975 and Gage started college in 1987, so unless he was a twelve year old freshman his name preceded the movie.  The Quint from the movie Jaws would be an appropriate person to be brought into try to deal with the school, there is a big shark on the board.

Andrew Culp

Culp (akculp@marysville.k12.oh.us) is the assistant superintendent at Marysville Exempted Village School District. He was at New Albany Middle School as an assistant principal from 2001-2006, then principal 2006 -20012.

Here is a story from Marysville about his new position at the school. His educations is listed:

Culp earned a degree in political science in 1994 from Miami University. In 1997, he earned a Masters of Education degree from the Ohio State University. He is currently working on a doctorate in educational administration at Ohio University.

He said in the story he still lives in Columbus and drives to Marysville. That might be why he is looking for a new job after only two years.

I don’t think this guy is the same Andrew Culp, but it would be cool if he was. We need someone who knows political philosophy, social science, and cultural theory.

Kimberly Pietsch Miller

 Miller (millerki@lovelandschools.org) is the Assistant Superintendent at the Loveland District School (near Cincinnati). She was Assistant Principal at Woodland Elementary School in the Lakota Local School District 2004-2008, then principal 2008 -20012. She was a teacher or consultant for 13 years previously.

http://www.lovelandschools.org/KimberlyMillerBlog.aspx

Miller has a blog! All very mainstream educational stuff, but it’s good, read the two part post on student social networking. Too many of the educational programs on social networking have a gloomy “everything can go wrong” slant that makes it sound better to throw away the computer. Miller starts by saying that networking can be good and fun, but you have to be careful.

Miller also has done a video to explain some of the expanded gifted services for students at that school. I’m very impressed with her ability to communicate.

Tracey Miller

Miller, miller_tracey@dublinschools.net , is the director of secondary education at the Dublin City School District. According to the Dublin school website, that means he:

Miller works closely with the seven secondary buildings for the purpose of coordinating and supporting secondary programming, instructional practices, and operational procedures in the district’s middle schools and high schools.  Additionally he facilitates teacher leadership groups including the Secondary Social Studies Curriculum Council.

Miller was a candidate for the superintendent at Dublin last year and lost, also applied at the the Mariemont City School District.

Two former Dublin Coffman High School lacrosse coaches were convicted of misdemeanor assault charges for attacking a player during a team trip to Tennessee in 2006, while Miller was the principal. Nothing in the stories indicated Miller failed to act and investigate, but these were his coaches.

All these Millers (and the board member Miller) make me think about the Millerites, the Adventists who believed the world would end on October 22, 1844. They were the first of the large groups who predict “the end”. I don’t think Tracey Miller is a Millerite.

Todd Meyer

Meyer is the high school principal at Olentangy Local School District. Todd_Meyer@olsd.us

One of his students was the16-year-old girl who survived being clipped by a freight train in southern Delaware County in 2010.

Meyer and board member Jesse Truett both applied for the principal position at Olentangy Local in 2009. Meyers won. How uncomfortable will Truett be with a guy who beat him to a job? I think Meyers is toast.

(later) Meyer emailed to say he was one of two finalists, and was not offered the position. Waiting to see if he will tell me who the other person was.

(April 22) The winner was Andrew Culp.

Band Director Hennig is out, despite impassioned pleas

Published April 16, 2014 by justicewg
Board meeting of 4-15-14, at which a hundred parents and kids attended

Board meeting of 4-15-14

Almost a hundred parents and students packed into the high school library for a board meeting April 15th that determined the fate of band director Justin Hennig. Parents told stories of children who had been inspired by their band leader. Kids said they felt the band was the thing that made the day tolerable, and were devastated by the loss of their teacher, many of them struggling to hold back tears. After a 50 minute private executive meeting the board members returned to the library and voted unanimously to accept the resignation.

Nobody was happy

The parents who were in favor of keeping Hennig all spoke highly of his enthusiasm and ability to inspire the students. They struggled to understand how a teacher who could fill the room with supporters would be leaving after one year, before a fair trial of his skills could be completed.

One woman said, “We can’t believe Justin is leaving by his own choice, not one word has been said against him among the people I know. Either he did something very bad and the board is not talking about it, or the board was influenced by some powerful parents who he rubbed the wrong way, and now is the board is not talking because they don’t want to admit they were wrong. No matter which of the two reasons is true, we should expect more transparency from this board.”

A man said, “There is real damage done to the school by the board not explaining its actions. The band program will be hurt for years. What kind of replacement director can we expect to attract now, if one as good as Hennig is treated this badly?

Students talked about how they were inspired by Hennig’s classes, and gave tearful pleas for him to be allowed to stay. Some said that with their band director leaving like this they would quit the band in protest.

A couple of lickspittles were defending the board and told us we should trust them to make the right decision.

Read the tells

Although the board was tight-lipped the entire evening, there were some tells that you could read from the mannerisms of the board members.

Jesse Truett was clearly getting impatient with the parents when the public comments went past an hour. Scowling down at the table with his arms crossed, he was tired of listening. Debbie Brannan was spacing out, and was so uncomfortable she had to fan herself.

Stephanie Evans and Adam Miller remained attentive and reacted to the points the speakers made.

Although I was not impressed with the job president Grant Douglass has done in the past, he did seem to be giving a fair chance for everyone at the meeting to talk, and kept a smile, or at least a neutral face, as he listen to the parents and kids.

Douglass called the board into executive session in order to discuss the employment of Hennig. They left the room at 8:50 PM, with a plea by Douglass for the remains of the crowd to wait for the results, which “shouldn’t take long”. The board was gone for almost 50 minutes – a clear indication there was some impassioned pleas being made in the school office by board members who didn’t want Hennig to leave like this.

If it were only one board member who was trying to convince the others, the executive session would have been short. I’m guessing that Miller and Evans were trying to find a way to work some agreement from the others to change their minds.

I can almost hear the reply from Truett, he probably said “we can’t let a mob push us into backing down, or we will have a new mob at every meeting”. Brannan looked at Douglass and sat in silence.

That left Douglass as the deciding vote. He might have pasted on a smile for the parents who were speaking, but he knows there is a small group of parents who have the ability to take away his board seat, and there is not much up side to defying them.

Some true things

Superintendant O’Reilly will be leaving the school this summer, so he was the designated bad news guy. He said that Hennig had resigned, and had requested that the board not reveal the details. O’Reilly claimed that Hennig was the one to speak about the real reasons for his resignation, not the board. That’s a convenient excuse, but one that the board would have broken instantly if the reason for asking Hennig to leave would have been serious.

A man who claimed to be Hennig’s close friend said that the representative from the teacher’s union told Hennig to keep the details of his employment problems to himself. He said the band director would take back the resignation if the board offered him another contract.

A woman said that the reason that was given to Hennig for his failure to get a contract was a simple “you don’t fit in here”. I didn’t see anyone on the board acting at all surprised or upset at that statement.

Elections have consequences

Throughout the evening I saw parents struggle with the concept that a small group of politically powerful people could have booted Hennig. Do you have any other explanation for what happened that would fit the facts?

This city sat passively as one of the worse possible board candidates, a man who had been forced to give up his teaching license, was elected to the board. It elected a woman who is a complete void on holding any opinion, and is proud of it. You get what you voted for, Grandview. If you don’t like the way it is working, get organized, make changes happen at the ballot box.

(Later)

Read Post resignation Investigation for more on the Hennig affair. The comment by someone with the handle “AngryGHHSBand Parent” is required reading, I don’t know if all of that is true, but it sounds legit.

There is no reason why the removal of the band director had to be a secret, no reason for the lying from Douglass and Brannan. Other than they are poor board members who don’t deserve to be in office. Anyone who defends them is a suckup who is enabling the continuation of a poor school board, which will result in a worsening school.

Band Director resignation causing parents to speak to the board

Published April 14, 2014 by justicewg

Justin Hennig was hired as the band director in the place of long time teacher Kie Watkins, just last year. This webpage welcomed him to the school, and told us about his history as the Assistant Band Director for Fairborn City Schools. He is very young with a short working experience since he left college, so it was a little puzzling how he was able to get the band director position.
Even more puzzling was the email sent out on April 9th from the high school principal, announcing the resignation of Mr. Hennig. A quote from the email:

As you may already know, Mr. Hennig has resigned his position as band director and has spoken with band students today to make them aware. We wish him well moving forward and we are very appreciative of his efforts with our band program. “

Full email after the jump.

A teacher resignation after one year might be caused by a poor fit and other opportunities presenting themselves, but all indications are that this “resignation” was caused by a school board that was unhappy and left him with no other options. The board agenda lists his resignation date as May 31, and most other full time teachers are employed until the end of July before they resign.

Word is that there will be a parent group attending the Tuesday April 15 board meeting and pleading for the board to change its mind and keep Henning at the school.

I have attended a number of board meetings where parents gave this sort of “please don’t fire our beloved teacher” plea at various schools. All of them were unsuccessful. If the board responds at all, they have a standard line about “we hate to do this, but there are reasons that we can’t talk about, you have to trust us”.

The Grandview board will be the same, they might even refuse to say a word about the reason they took action against Hennig. In case you have not read my essay on this subject, the Grandview Heights school board doesn’t care what you think (unless they want your money), and has no reason to explain themselves.

(Later) No explanation was given by the board for accepting Henning’s resignation, five votes yes.

Almost a hundred parents and students were at the meeting giving impassioned speeches to retain Henning. A full post on the meeting will be up soon.

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