Tuesday, June 17, 2014


UPDATE:  09:40 AM





Some of those Canton Local District residents attending last night's school board members may have had to pinch themselves to remind themselves what country they were in.

For there were questions among them on the appropriateness (procedurally and substantively) on the selection of a new school board member to replace the recently resigned John Martin (late May, 2014).

It is likely that his "after the resignation" comments (Ex-Canton Local board member: District headed in wrong direction, Kelli Young, The Repository, June 8, 2014) stirred up already riled up dissents to the manner in which the Canton Local Board of Education (BOE) conducts the district's education business.

For example:
“We now have a superintendent who does not live in the community (and) that doesn’t experience having a neighbor from Canton Local,” Martin said. “(The administrators are) all good people but (they are) are collecting millions of community taxpayer money and all live outside the district. (They) will not pay a single cent toward our new high school, (and) will never have community involvement because they are not part of the community.”
“Our entire upper administration now has pushed local people away and brought outside people in,” Martin said. “I understand that the best hire may be from the outside, but I also understand that there’s a tremendous responsibility for a (leader) to develop the people within.”
What is interesting about Martin's reported remarks is that the reporter's check of records indicates that he on the official record supported the hires he was post-resignation complaining about, but justifies his now complaining on his claim that he did object during executive sessions in which the hires were being considered and that he continues to have concerns about the path that the BOE is going down on the matter of new hires.

It would be a violation of state law for the BOE to condition employment in the school district on living within the district and it is the official policy of the board to hire the best possible person for the job regardless of where a given applicant may live.

A specific target of dissatisfaction appears to be Superintendent Kim Redmond who lives in Jackson Township.

The Stark County Political Report has some very well placed sources within the Canton South education venue.

What is not stated in the Young report which the SCPR is hearing is that the real discontent with Redmond is not her out-of-district residence, but rather the perception that she is an autocratic superintendent.

And the discontent on the alleged dictatorial style of Redmond seems to go hand in glove with a criticism of the BOE membership itself in terms of being locked in with the superintendent in her perceived style and who is seen by some critics as being in control of the board which dissidents seem to think acts on things like appointing new board members in accordance with the wishes of Redmond.

Yours truly has been following board of education processes for over 30 years.  The Report's analysis is that superintendents of school districts work very, very hard to cultivate lock-in type relationship with their respective boards.  It appears to the SCPR that it indeed takes a very courageous board member to differ in public with fellow board members and the superintendent him or herself.

The Report's spouse served six (6) years as a Lake School District board member.  Currently, she is a member of the Stark County Educational Service Center governing board, now in her 7th year as a board member.

Accordingly, the Report is not surprised to learn of the assessments that some residents' perception of the Canton Local School District have of their board/superintendent relationship.

While there is a need for superintendents and board members to have a cooperative and coordinating relationship, it quite a different matter for them to forge a lock-in relationship.

Who, in such a situation, looks out for the public interest?

Canton Local administration and board detractors are livid over the appointment of Dianne Williams as the replacement for Martin.

Nonetheless Williams was voted in last night and sworn in.

They give three reasons for their outrage at Williams' appointment:
  • She has children in private school,
  • Allegations that her private marketing company had a role in board member Scott Hamilton's campaign, and
  • There were far more qualified candidates than Williams among the nine (9) applicants for Martin's position
Here is what the SCPR was able to find with respect to the allegation on the Williams having a role in board member Scott Hamilton (17 years on the board) 2013 re-election campaign.

It appears to the SCPR that the report may be being misread by Williams/Hamilton detractors.

The "in-kind," The Report thinks, refers to Hamilton having paid for campaign expenses out of his own pocket and has inartfully reported same.  Typically, the "in-kind" designation has the name of the person/entity making a contribution which the SCPR believes Hamilton should have listed under his name. 

It seems that the most that could be made of the listing is that there was a business relationship between Williams' company and Hamilton in the context of his re-election campaign.

Perhaps Hamilton should have disclosed the apparent "having done business with" relationship before voting on Williams' appointment last night.

    The SCPR did seek out Ms. Williams for a post-board-meeting interview as her husband who overhead the Cole interview (see below) indicated she might be willing to respond to Mr. Cole's and others' concerns.  However, she proved to be elusive at the conclusion of the meeting which might not be a good sign for someone who as a public official is to be accessible to the public.

    One of the prime candidates for the vacated Martin position based on the November, 2013 election which, of course, included incumbent Hamilton should have been Dan Datkuliak.

    Only 121 votes separated Datkuliak from surprisingly enough board president Brothers.

    Only 240 votes separated Datkuliak from top vote getter Scarpino.

    And Datkuliak has impressive education background credentials himself including having gone through the Canton Local school system as a student.

    Datkuliak went on to become teacher and an administrator in the Canton South venue before moving on to the Chippewa School District in 2009.

    He left education in 2011 because he found it was not "his first love" and that he needed to fulfill his lifelong dream of being a barber which is now in the "town" (i.e. Canton Township) he loves dearly.

    Listening to the likes of Datkuliak, it is a "mystery wrapped in a conundrum" and more benignly "tis a puzzlement" or more darkly "something is rotten in the state of Denmark" that Williams was selected over Datkuliak or as he says:  "one of the numerous other applicants who applied for the Martin vacancy.

    The SCPR was able to get one Canton Local citizen (Chris Cole) to go on camera to talk about various aspects of the dislike that he and others have for Redmond and the BOE membership.  Cole himself, as seen on the video, has no problem with Redmond's leadership style.

    One of the things that those unhappy with Redmond and the BOE membership point out is the procedures employed by the BOE at arriving at the Williams appointment.

    President Brothers did go on camera with the SCPR last night to explain the timeline of considering the Martin replacement appointment.

    First, a copy of the letter that Brothers sent out to the "unsuccessful" candidates dated June 10th, the day after a June 9th BOE work session in which the candidates were interviewed in executive session, to wit:

    June 10, 2014

    Dave Brothers
    Canton Local Board of Education

    Dear ...,

    On behalf of the Canton Local Board of Education, I would like to thank you for taking part in the interviews for the empty board seat.  We appreciated the time you gave us and the loyalty and concern you have for the students and the community.  All of the applicants presented themselves well; unfortunately only one could be chosen.  I am writing to inform you that, after serious consideration, you were not selected for the open position  It is the hope of all of us that you will stay active  and involved in the schools and perhaps even consider to run for office in 2015.


    Dave Brothers

    Next up, the SCPR interview with President Brothers for him to give his/the board's account of proceeding.

    And now, a LINK to a Ohio School Boards publication with respect to the factors that weigh-in under Ohio local of meeting Ohio's Sunshine law.

    To the SCPR there seems to be a reasonable basis (at least to be inferred) for thinking that perhaps the Canton BOE did not comply with the requirements of the Sunshine Law.

    Whether or not such opinions might be validated by a court decision should a contest of the appointment be filed, may be beside the point.

    The Report sees a awful lot of dissension among key Canton Local community leaders.

    The positive for the district is that it after four tries and narrowly (plus 52 votes) convinced the Canton Local voting public passed a bond issue ($36.2 million) to fund a replacement of its 80 year old high school.

    But "bricks and mortar" do not a morale and confidence problem fix.

    The SCPR's look at the Canton Local School District indicates that much repair work is needed by Superintendent Redmond and members of the Canton Local School District if education is to thrive in the district.

    No comments: