Tuesday, October 12, 2010


On September 8th, the SCPR wrote that the appointment of new board of education member Wilbur Allen, III may be the harbinger of a political takeover of the Canton City Schools by Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II.

The Report's read of the line-up on the Canton BOE is that Members Nadine McIllwain (the president), Eric Resnick and the new appointee Allen are all Mayor Healy allies and that they may be working with him to effect a de facto take over of the Canton schools by Healy.

The mayor of Cleveland has de jure control of the Cleveland schools specially authorized by the Ohio General Assembly.

The Report hears that Healy also wants to take over the Canton Recreation Board and its finances.

A group of Cantonians is investigating the procedures/communications employed by the Canton BOE in bringing Allen onto the board.  Their focus is on the board president Nadine McIllwain, and they are saying that:  "It is clear that there was communication between McIlwain and Allen."

The Repository has reported the following of Allen's account of the matter:
“I wanted to be considered,” Allen said in a recent interview regarding his school board appointment. “I wasn’t given any assurances. There was a process, and that is all that I knew. When I found out was when (the board) voted. Up until that time, I did not know, and I was not told.”
And although Allen, who hadn’t regularly attended board meetings, showed up June 14 with his family in tow, he said he had no idea he was about to be named to the board.
  Moreover, here is a copy of an e-mail sent by President McIllwain to Allen:
From: Nadine McIlwain <retired6105@sbcglobal.net>
To: "Wilbur Allen, III" <wallen@allsaintstemple.org>
Cc: John Spitzer <john.h.spitzer@gmail.com>
Sent: Sun, June 13, 2010 12:42:40 PM
Subject: Fw: Re: peace of mind needed
Wilbur, I suggest that you resign from the Coming Together Board effective immediately. You can send an email to Rabbi dated June 13.
Thank you so much.

The mission of Coming Together Stark County is to serve as a catalyst and agent to promote inclusion and open opportunity for the diverse population of Stark County.
Nadine McIlwain-Massey
Executive Director
Coming Together Stark County
408 9th Street S. W. Suite 215
Canton, OH 44707
ph: 330 454-5880 fax: 330 454-9465 alt: 330 705-6366
Allen was selected for the board on June 14th.

Here is an interesting note about the above e-mail provided by the investigating group:
Mr. Olson,
Below you will find an email exchange that was obtained by our group thru a public records request to the Canton City Schools Board of Education Mamber Nadine McIlwain. Our concerns are growing as this email was excluded from our first public records request which we forwarded on to you some time ago. Omitting this email is clearly against Ohio Public Records Law and is a major concern of ours.
The Repository has editorialized (Board needs to correct mistake, September 7th) that the Canton City Schools Board of Education needs to re-interview the candidates and select anew, to wit:
The operative word is "public," and the board's unadvertised June 10 interviews were illegal. Its best course is to re-interview all of the candidates in public, then take a new vote, after announcing in advance that it will do so.

The board also needs to look at whether any votes have been taken since Rev. Allen joined the board that would have been different without his vote.
On Saturday, yours truly attended a work-study session of the CCS BOE and on the way into the meeting asked member Richard Milligan whether or not the board was going to address the matter of Allen's appointment.  He said the board was not.

Like many boards of education, it appears that that the CCS BOE has sewn seeds of distrust with the manner in which this appointment was handled.  Combine this event with other disatisfactions with the board and administration on the part of constituents of the district and the distrust is likely manifold.

Apparently, the board knows it has a trust problem.

On Saturday last, at the work-study session the board had Corky O'Callahan from the Santa Rita Collaborative in.  As seen in the video below, O'Callahan specializes in engaging school boards with their constituent communities in order to rebuild lost trust.

While the Canton City schools are not in immediate financial jeopardy, it appears they will be sometime in 2013.

So the with Cantonians questioning the procedures applied in the Allen appointment coupled with other public grievances accumulating over the years, it is indeed wise for the CC BOE to get moving on rebuilding trust.  2013 is over two years away, but rebuilding trust, once lost, is a long-term process.

Just ask the folks in the Northwest School District (Canal Fulton, New Franklin, North Lawrence and Lawrence Township).  Northwest could not pass a levy to save their educational lives for about a period of ten years because of squandered trust by previous boards of education.

The SCPR pauses here to recognize Northwest superintendent William Stetler for conceiving of and masterminding the "apparent recovery" of Northwest trust in an unprecedently short period of time using the O'Callahan formula.  It was a miracle!

But how often do miracles happen?

It appears that the CC BOE is ready to adopt the Northwest approach (Plain schools also used the O'Callahan approach).  They had better get cracking on trust rehab real soon.  And they better hope that the Canton schools do not have any additional major mistakes (the handling of the James Irwin matter) in the schools (i.e. the board, the administration and staff) relationship with the voting public.

And the good Lord knows, political meddling (if in process) by Mayor Healy, II will only exacerbate existing problems.

Here is a video featuring Canton City Schools Treasurer Jeffrey Gruber and Mr. O'Callahan.

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