Ben Dibble is the new President of the Lakota School Board with the former levy campaign worker Julie Schaffer serving as VP of the 2012 school board. Joan Powell had a rough year and there were considerable challenges that obviously the former school board president had which a small sample is shown below. Lakota to their credit is at least putting on a new face to attempt to give the impression they are changing their ways and are committed to solving some of their internal problems. However, I am skeptical of the move, especially given that Julie is a tremendous tax increase supporter, so it appears that the names are changing at the top, but the motive is the same. The school board at Lakota and virtually every school district in Ohio eats out of the hand of the labor union and is committed to maintaining the status quo of simply asking for more tax money when their back is against the wall.
To see how difficult simple changes in school board politics are all one needs to do is examine our national politics at the highest level which is President of the United States to compare the quality of these political servants with those of the local school board, which might be considered the lowest. Politicians at all levels for the most part seem obsessed with obtaining the recognition of public office as though it might improve the quality of their inner perceptions. But in listening to Doc Thompson’s interview with the author of a new book revealing the secrets of several Presidents of the United States, it is clear that America’s supposed best politicians—it’s presidents, are lacking severely in human quality which would befit characteristics of leadership. Listen to that interview here:
Our society just does not produce very high quality people, because it has been generally accepted that faults are satisfactory in performance and human eminence. This has created a political system where the lowest of our human counterparts seek political office opposed to the highest who build businesses and social assets of actual value. The political parasites of the lowest value seek to validate their existence by gaining the ability to tax citizens of real worth using the force of law to do so. In short politicians like presidents who would struggle to produce anything of any real value without the assistance of public money, require the funds of the public to prop them up to appear valuable. What level does anyone think is the value of their local school board member if United States Presidents are of such low quality?
I believe most of these elected officials believe they are doing what is right and good, but their definition of “good” is flawed by their own lack of worth and the ability to be productive. They do not understand the value of something because their method of obtaining things is to manipulate and legally rob it, so that they can appear to have value. So their definition of good is in having the ability to loot, not produce.
The Lakota School Board appears to be plagued by this complex because they have been given every opportunity to be productive and efficient, yet they have chosen to play the game of manipulation and image control to cover their lack of management skill. There are several instances of this occurring over 2011 most notably in this article about the release of Laura Kursman, Lakota’s former public relations employee. Read for yourself what Lakota thinks is acceptable spending on image control: (the actually billing documents are included so you can see the numbers for yourself)
The reason politicians at all levels hire image specialists in public relations are to cover their inner faults as skilled practitioners of their chosen occupations. There is no other reason. And this is why Lakota is spending so much money to manage their public image, and using public money to do it. This is also why in the first meeting of the new year the board is already exploring yet a 4th levy attempt when all they would have to do is ask the employees of Lakota to take a 5% reduction in their wages and benefits. And when the average wage of the Lakota employee is over $63K per year it’s not asking much to put the burden on the employees instead of the tax payers who make far less on average. The school board obviously lacks the skill and determination to actually manage costs; instead they spend their time in maintaining their image, by moving around board members to make it appear they are functioning under a new philosophy. They spend a lot of money on public relations to clean up any problems that might arise from employees in the district so that the public will believe their tax money is being spent correctly. The public needs to be willing to increase their tax burdens to cover the discrepancies of the board’s lack of skill, which is why the district’s effort is spent on image, so the ability to legally loot the public can be obtained.
The most obvious evidence of this trend is how the school board handled the former public relations employee Laura Kursman when Laura developed a fundamental discrepancy at what she was willing to do as an employee of the Lakota School System. Allegedly the board asked her to perform duties of public relations that violated her own ethical behavior. There were two sex issues in 2011 that I know about and have stacks of documents to support, that involved teachers at Lakota that the school board needed to clean up so the district could attempt to pass more school levies, and needed public support to obtain those tax increases. It appears that Laura and the school board developed conflicting versions of how to present that information to the public which caused a rift that involved Laura having to leave the district and Lakota paying her $90K to end her contract with the school.
You can see the official statement by Lakota below. The source of the information is their website. When reading this consider how much money that document below must have cost after looking at the billing documents from the PR firm at the previous link. The document you are reading was approved by the current PR firm and the attorneys at Lakota.
Source of information: http://www.lakotaonline.com/news.cfm?story=2975
LAKOTA RELEASES INFORMATION ABOUT THE DEPARTURE OF A SENIOR EMPLOYEE
School District agreed to settlement
Lakota Local School District has paid $90,000 to its Executive Director of School-Community Relations as part of an agreement to end her employment.
The district agreed to the settlement after discovering an internal administrative oversight that raised questions about whether the district had complied with Laura tim contract. The oversight involved Lakota’s failure to complete an evaluation for Ms. Kursman during her employment.
The failure to complete an evaluation for Ms. Kursman occurred before many current members of Lakota’s Executive Team, including Superintendent Karen Mantia, came to the district.
Dr. Mantia, who started her job in August 2011, noted it’s common for a new chief executive to make changes in senior personnel.
“The district needs to move forward and the demand for communication and public outreach is critical at this time. This agreement ensures we can do just that,” Lakota said in a Dec. 12 statement.
Ms. Kursman did not sue Lakota. But her lawyer, Elizabeth Loring, sent an Oct. 11 letter to the district, raising legal claims. Such a letter is a typical preliminary step before an employment action is filed.
Ms. Kursman’s lawyer did not raise the issue about Lakota failing to complete an evaluation for Ms. Kursman. It was the district that discovered that oversight.
Dr. Mantia and other Lakota administrators have taken steps to ensure that employee evaluation processes are followed properly.
Ms. Kursman’s lawyer, however, did make other legal claims alleging, in part, that the district had asked Ms. Kursman to engage in improper activities.
After Dr. Mantia learned about the allegations, she directed Williams Deters, the district’s attorney, to conduct an internal inquiry. Mr. Deters found no evidence to substantiate the allegations nor did he find any complaints, made by Ms. Kursman before she left the district, alleging improper activities. The inquiry included reviewing district records and interviewing School Board members as well as past and present members of Lakota’s administrative team.
“As Lakota’s chief executive, I needed to find out if there was any truth to the claims,” Dr. Mantia said.
Ms. Kursman’s employment ended Dec. 13 after the School Board unanimously approved her negotiated separation agreement. The $90,000 payment included $2,000 in legal fees to her lawyer. Ms. Kursman could have potentially earned a total of $285,000 if she had stayed with the district until her contract ended on July 31, 2014.
Ms. Kursman had worked for the district since April 2008. Her latest annual salary was $79,517. She’d been on leave from Sept. 2 to Dec. 13, 2011.
The district is seeking a replacement for Ms. Kursman. That process is expected to be completed no later than March.
Contact: Elliot Grossman, firstname.lastname@example.org; 513-240-9801
Date: January 6, 2012
INFORMATION ABOUT THE KURSMAN SETTLEMENT
–How much did Lakota pay Laura Kursman as part of the agreement that ended her employment?
$90,000, which includes $2,000 payable to her attorneys.
–How did the district arrive at that amount?
It was a negotiated settlement. Ms. Kursman could have potentially earned a total of $285,000 if she had stayed with the district until her contract ended on July 31, 2014.
–Why did the district agree to this settlement?
Lakota agreed to the settlement so it could make a personnel change in her position and because of an administrative oversight by the district. The administrative oversight raised questions about whether the district had complied with her contract.
–What were the administrative oversights?
Lakota neglected to complete an evaluation for her during her employment.
–A letter from Ms. Kursman’s lawyer alleged that Ms. Kursman lodged several detailed verbal and written complaints regarding “potentially unlawful activities” in which she was requested to engage. She was also “unwittingly instructed to falsify information to the press.” Is there any truth to these allegations?
Lakota does not have any records that Ms. Kursman lodged such complaints. Additionally, because of the serious nature of these allegations, Superintendent Karen Mantia directed Lakota attorney William Deters to conduct an internal inquiry into the claims. He found no evidence to substantiate them.
–In the same letter, Ms. Kursman’s lawyer alleged that Ms. Kursman’s “complaints were met not with concern and remedial action, but retaliatory treatment.”
Again, Lakota does not have any records that Ms. Kursman lodged such complaints. And Mr. Deters found no evidence to substantiate the claims.
–Ms. Kursman’s lawyer further alleged that hostile acts were taken against Ms. Kursman, including “false and disparaging statements to Ms. Kursman’s media contacts, setting of unrealistic deadlines and expectations, unwarranted and disparate scrutiny of her work, and reprimands for working at home to accommodate her disability.”
Mr. Deters found no evidence to substantiate these claims.
–Her lawyer also alleged that Lakota was trying to replace her while she was on leave for a disability. Is that true?
No. After Ms. Kursman went on leave, Lakota began using a consultant – a temporary, part-time independent contractor — to help perform some of her work because there was no one else at Lakota available to do her work.
–Her lawyer asked for copies of policies, plans and rules applicable to district employment, discrimination and other subjects. Do you know why?
This is a standard request during a legal dispute. Mr. Deters found no evidence that any district policy, plans or rules were violated, except the failure to complete Ms. Kursman’s evaluation.
–Did the district overpay Ms. Kursman at some point?
Yes, in prior years, the district inadvertently overpaid her. In 2010, the district and Ms. Kursman agreed to a payback plan. When she left the district, Ms. Kursman was still repaying the district. As part of the separation agreement, the district agreed to waive $1,513 she owed the district.
–Can Ms. Kursman apply for future Lakota job openings?
No. The agreement precludes her from doing so.
–Should Lakota have been more forthcoming sooner with this information?
Lakota takes seriously its responsibility to be as open as possible with the community. But the district needs to balance that responsibility with its legal, financial and managerial responsibilities. In this case, the district felt it needed to let the agreement with Kursman be executed before it provided more information. That execution included making the payments to Ms. Kursman after the School Board approved the agreement and waiting until Ms. Kursman’s seven-day time frame to change her mind about the agreement had expired.
Lakota either is very foolish in their value of money, or the $90K was hush money to end the contract with Laura to move on to another employee because that’s a lot of money to pay for not giving an employee a proper employee review. The case-law from such a settlement is a dangerous proposition and we can only hope that every employee at Lakota doesn’t try to obtain a $90K settlement because human resources failed to give them a timely review. Such a precedent is dangerous no matter how it’s framed.
Just like presidents of the United States our local school board members seek to hide their deficiencies with increases in taxes and public relations to obtain looted money from the public with smiles on their faces. The game is played the same from the top to the bottom in American politics so the motives are easy to spot no matter what level we are looking at. So knowing that, the shuffle on the school board is simply an attempt to take Joan Powell out of the spot light and give the new school board the appearance of a new regime change. But in reality, these public servants and the employees they manage are lost in their task and seek to hide their faults with tax increases. And with that in mind, it is easy to see that the Lakota School District even though they’ve been given the answer to their problems by the business community and the No Lakota Levy group, have chosen to side with their old friends the labor unions in conspiring against the public with a planned tax increase in 2012. They are planning it because they know of nothing else to do but ask for money, because collectively, they lack the management skills for such an endeavor. No other conclusion can be determined based on their actions.
That is why presidents ask for tax increases, that’s why congress and senates ask for tax increases, and that’s why school boards ask for tax increases—because they are people of limited value who want the power of the position, because internally they lack value in themselves. They require legally looted money from those who have value to validate their existence, because without that money, they are nobodies going nowhere on a desperate search to have someone honor them with some token of appreciation, because their souls lack it. That is what makes them looters, because they must take from those who have value to supplement their lack of it.
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