All posts tagged resignation

Post resignation investigation at the high school

Published May 1, 2014 by justicewg

Allen Froman at the TVN did some investigation into the public records of resigned band director Hennig at the high school, and got some documents, including forms Principal Ken Chaffin completed after observing Hennig in class and an improvement plan for Hennig. None of them seemed to contain complaints that would cause Chafin to not recommend a new contract. O’Reilly said the Chafin had not made a decision on recommending a new contract, or recommending non-renewal, before the school board acted.

I got a kick out of the request that Hennig needed to “respond to all emails from parents”. If the teachers at the school followed the lead of the school board members, they would be fine with deleting emails and never responding.

O’Reilly confirmed that Hennig was not accused of a major issue like illegal or unethical behavior, which would have caused immediate suspension.

So we are again left with no reason for Hennig to be asked to leave the school. Remember, in the damage control letter from board member Brannan she said that the school administration made the decision to get rid of Hennig, and the board just acted to accept a resignation that was placed before them. Yet when the documents that should have showed this decision were supplied by the school there was nothing but minor complaints.

We really have nothing to think at this point except that the school board is hiding the real reason. Did Hennig have a fight with someone who was politically powerful enough to cause his removal? Could it have been a parent group who thought Hennig was gay and wanted him out? Nobody is talking on the school board, until they do it will remain a mystery.

School board members lying to the community

I didn’t emphasize the lying that was revealed by Froman’s investigation into the paperwork at the high school. All of the observations, reviews, and recommendations that would have shown that the band director was in trouble were handed over by the school administration. Documentation is everything in a system like the school, they produce endless files on every teacher. If there was no paperwork that showed Hennig was in trouble with the administration, that was the truth. There is no “secret probation”. And Froman confirmed that with O’Reilly.

That means that board member Brannan‘s letter to the band parents was a lie. The board was not following the wishes of the administration, the action they took to get rid of him was all their own.

I don’t recall ever hearing about a school board in Grandview Heights that blatantly lied to the public like this one. I wonder, will everyone just shrug it off? Will parents wait for the next board member election to express their feelings about this, or will the levy in the fall be the target of those angry at the board?


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.

Read the rest of this entry →

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.


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.

Read the rest of this entry →

And now the treasurer is gone.

Published March 19, 2014 by justicewg

Sometimes people get linked in synchronicity, by some unknown factor. Sometimes they sense the fun is gone. And sometimes they get fed up and walk.

Grandview treasurer Tammy Rizzo turned in her resignation during the board meeting on March 17, to be effective April 18. Along with the resignation of super O’Reilly back on Jan. 14th, this makes it the most complete shift to a new top administration at the school within my memory.

According to the Tri-V story, she will become the director of fiscal services for the Shared Services Center Council of Governments. From their website:

 Many ESCs have historically provided districts with background checks and training for substitute teachers. Today, the ESC of Central Ohio provides this service, but also offers substitute staffing services at different levels including options to hire, process and schedule all substitute teachers for several districts. By consolidating these services, the ESC is saving area districts thousands of dollars and giving school leaders more time to concentrate on other pressing issues.

In a neat bit of eating its own tail, the services center will be assisting in finding the replacement for Rizzo for the school.

O’Reilly resigns Superintendent position

Published January 14, 2014 by justicewg

This email was sent out Tuesday Jan. 14th. Quite a surprise.

Dear Grandview Families:
At this evening’s Board of Education meeting, I asked the board to accept my resignation as Superintendent effective July 31, 2014.
Professionally, I feel it is time to explore other opportunities and to continue my growth as an educational leader.  Grandview is in a great position both now and for the future. With that in mind, I am looking forward to the challenge of serving another school district that is striving to improve.
I will always feel commitment to Grandview and appreciate the opportunity I had to serve as Superintendent of the school district.  This is a wonderful community that truly values educational excellence.  I am proud to have served the school district for the past seven years.
I am appreciative of your efforts to positively impact our students.  Each day, countless community adults are engaged with the schools to improve the educational experience for our children.  I look forward to working with you in the coming months as we continue our important work together.
Sincerely, Ed

Was it really 7 years? It is hard to remember the time O’Reilly was the superintendent because he was such a low engagement person. I can’t recall one letter to the community in the paper, one issue he was willing to stand up and get in front of. Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t a bad super, he just was so determined to be out of the public eye that it seemed like he wasn’t there.

I heard a rumor that O’Reilly was thinking of running for public office for some local area. Maybe state representative? I never bothered to write about it because it seemed like someone was fantasizing. Ed O’Reilly running in public? And as a Republican, which seems to require a person who is totally anti-government (a tough sell for a person who has spent his whole career on the public payroll.)

(Later) After reading back in my Grandview Watch blog for some of the stories I wrote about O’Reilly I have to correct myself – he did occasionally answer questions from reporters or write letters to the newspaper . This post was a record of some email exchanges I had with him after he answered questions for the reporter about the deal with NRI on taxes for the school.

Here’s an anecdote about a meeting I had with O’Reilly shortly after he started work. He was trying to get to know parents and scheduled some “Talk with the superintendent” meetings for 6 PM on the days when the board meetings would be held. I decided to attend one of these meetings, and after finding no one in the room where the meeting was supposed to be held, I walked down to the super’s office. He was there alone. We walked back to the room – nobody showed up. Does the community not want to talk, or was that just a dumb time to schedule a meeting? I’m thinking the latter.

He made some other early attempts to tell parents “I’m ready to listen” in his first post on the school website. That ended quickly. Read his last “Message from the Superintendent” on the new website, there is no “I’m listening to the parents”, no “stop in and lets talk”.

I think that there was some synergy going on with a board that doesn’t care much what parents think, but it sure was comfortable for O’Reilly. I wonder if he will be shocked at his new job with a community that thinks the super should be out listening and talking?

(Later) Ed O’Reilly ended up with the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio, an education services company. Read my post for some theories why he made the jump.