Corr’s attorneys strike back, say board’s allegations are weak

Published: Wednesday, November 29, 2017 @ 11:50 AM

Corr’s attorneys strike back, say board’s allegations are weak

The attorneys for Rhonda Corr struck back Wednesday, saying the allegations against her by the Dayton school board are weak and don’t make sense in the wake of a glowing performance review issued by the board on Oct. 3.

“We believed that Dayton deserved a response to the accusations being made because we frankly just don’t believe, number one, that many of them are accurate, or maybe they’re half-truths, and second, that they wouldn’t rise to the level of a contractual violation,” attorney Jon Paul Rion said.

DPS attorney Jyllian Bradshaw was in contract negotiations and could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

RELATED: District spells out allegations against Corr

Corr was placed on paid administrative leave last week, and Dayton Public Schools released a pre-disciplinary hearing notice Tuesday night that made several allegations against her. Some were related to her day-to-day work habits — alleging she created a hostile working environment, that she isn’t truthful with colleagues and fails to take responsibility for her actions.

Specifically, the hearing notice alleged Corr slept during an August session with the federal mediator, just two days before the teachers union’s strike deadline. And it said she claimed and received a death benefit for life insurance on a domestic partner even though she was married to a different woman.

Corr is scheduled to meet with hearing officer D. Jeffrey Ireland (not a DPS employee) on Dec. 13, after which the school board will consider the hearing officer’s report before deciding on whether to terminate Corr’s contract.

8 WEEKS AGO: School board gave Corr glowing evaluation

Rion at Wednesday’s press conference addressed the issues of Corr’s marriage and sleeping during a mediation session. Regarding the mediation session, Rion said Corr showed up even though she was sick, and within 24 hours, had completed negotiations that avoided a strike.

“How would that be a negative, somebody showing up to work even though they are not well physically and staying until the job is done?” Rion said. “How could that be anything but a positive reflection of someone’s commitment to the school board?”

On the marriage, Rion said at the time Corr filed documentation with the district, she believed she was legally single, based on information she received from Massachusetts officials.

“She has been living as a single person for years and has been filing as single on her taxes,” Rion said. “She in good faith filled out the forms as she believed her status to be at the time.”

RELATED: Report said Corr violated one discrimination policy

Laws on recognition of same-sex marriage have varied by state in recent years.

“She contacted the clerk’s office in Massachusetts to determine the legitimacy of the ceremony that had taken place and received information that it was not in accordance with the law of Massachusetts,” Rion said. “She acted on information she received from the authorities.”

Montgomery County Common Pleas Court records show that Corr filed for divorce on Oct. 3, 2017, from a Cheryl Dzuro, whom she married in Provincetown, Mass., in July 2007.

Officials at the Provincetown, Mass., Town Clerk’s office said Wednesday they have a copy of a legal marriage certificate from July 2007 between Dzuro and Rhonda Ann Saegert. In Corr’s previous jobs with the Chicago and Indianapolis school districts, she went by Rhonda Corr-Saegert.

RELATED: Acting chief Lolli says DPS improving in classroom

Rion repeatedly raised the issue of Corr’s Oct. 3 performance review, which includes a dozen places where the school board “applauds,” “commends,” and otherwise praises Corr’s actions. There are no negative comments in the evaluation, which is signed by Corr and board President Robert Walker.

Rion asked how the school board’s opinion of Corr could have swung so wildly in seven weeks, and suggested there could be political motivations. The board is in the midst of a major makeover.

One seat changed in the past month when Adil Baguirov resigned and William Harris was chosen to serve out the final six weeks of his term.

Then, Harris and three others — Mohamed Al-Hamdani, Jocelyn Rhynard and Karen Wick-Gagnet — were elected to the board earlier this month. Each will begin serving a four-year term in January.

RELATED: A look back at DPS’ turbulent 16 months under Corr

“I’m not here to make an accusation. Except that I can see no other reason, no other motivation,” Rion said. “When you have such a glowing review on Oct. 3 that applauds Rhonda Corr’s work in so many different ways across the board … then certain individuals change, and the power structure changes, and all of a sudden we have a totally different response, it just raises our suspicions.”

Attorney David Duwel, who is also representing Corr, said he believes the school board is not properly following the provisions of the contract in seeking to discipline Corr.

“We believe that the contract clearly delineates all the various reasons why her employment could be terminated,” said Duwel, who represented Kettering schools treasurer Steve Clark in a high-profile 2014 termination case. “And there has to be just case for that termination. There is no just cause for Rhonda’s termination because none of the provisions in the contract have been violated.”

Corr’s contract says “cause” for termination shall include, among other things, “material violation of board policies.” The school district’s hearing notice argues that Corr violated board policies dealing with the superintendent’s job duties, staff ethics and staff conduct.

RELATED: Dayton schools improve long-term busing problems

Duwel said he believes when the matter is finished, Corr will be back in the superintendent’s job. Although he said the resolution in this type of case “is usually some kind of settlement,” he cited examples in other instances where employees have returned to their jobs.

Rion said he wants to better understand the case before he says whether the goal is to put Corr back in the superintendent’s post. Corr declined to speak at the press conference.

Residents won’t have to vacate downtown Dayton apartments

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 4:26 PM


            The boiler in the Newcom apartment building at 255 N. Main St. in downtown was shut down because it was releasing dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, city officials said. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
The boiler in the Newcom apartment building at 255 N. Main St. in downtown was shut down because it was releasing dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, city officials said. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

A Montgomery County Common Pleas judge has granted a temporary restraining order that blocks the city of Dayton from forcing some tenants to move out of a downtown apartment building that has a malfunctioning heating system.

RELATED: Dayton issues vacate order for downtown apartment building

Last week, city of Dayton housing inspection officials issued an emergency vacate order to residents at the Newcom Building, located at 255 N. Main St., citing “unsafe” living conditions.

The residents were ordered to move out by 4 p.m. today if the building’s owners had not repaired its heating system, which was shut off because it was releasing dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

NEW DETAILS: Witness saw husband, wife before her death, sheriff says

But about an hour before today’s deadline, Judge Richard Skelton granted the building’s owner, Howard Heck, a temporary restraining order on the condition he purchase small heating units for each apartment and get the boiler repaired or replaced in about a month.

Skeleton said he or court officials would stop by the Newcom building routinely to check on the temperatures inside the apartment building to make sure it is not too cold and check on the progress to repair the heating system.

“I am going to be watching this very closely,” he said.

This afternoon, Judge Skeleton presided over a hearing about the Newcom Building Company’s request for a restraining order and permanent injunction against the city of Dayton division of housing inspection.

MORE: Will a shutdown happen? Wright Patt in holding pattern

The seven-story apartment building’s boiler was shut down this month after fire crews determined it was releasing high levels of carbon monoxide, which can cause deadly poisoning.

But that left residents without a safe way to heat their homes, and city inspectors told the building owner to fix the boiler or they would board up the structure by this afternoon.

Seven tenants have left the apartment building after the emergency order was issued, leaving about 18 other occupied units, officials said.

Skelton said the owner has 30 days to fix the boiler, but could maybe get a “reasonable” extension if things are going OK and the temperature inside is satisfactory.

4 law enforcement officers shot in South Carolina; suspect in custody

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 5:30 AM
Updated: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 7:26 AM

Photo credit: WSOCTV.com
WSOCTV.com
Photo credit: WSOCTV.com(WSOCTV.com)

WSOC-TV is following breaking news in York County, South Carolina, where officials said four law enforcement officers were shot overnight.

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Simone Biles latest gymnast to claim team doctor sexually abused her

Published: Monday, January 15, 2018 @ 6:53 PM
Updated: Monday, January 15, 2018 @ 8:06 PM

What You Need To Know About Larry Nassar

Simone Biles, who won four gold medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics, went on social media Monday and became the latest gymnast to claim that former team doctor Larry Nassar sexually abused her.

>> Read more trending news

“I am one of the many survivors who was sexually abused by Larry Nassar,” Biles, 20, wrote on Twitter. “Please believe me when I say it was a lot harder to first speak these words out loud than it is now to put them on paper.”

Nassar, who spent more than 20 years working at Michigan State University and as a physician for USA Gymnastics, has admitted to sexually assaulting gymnasts, ESPN reported. 

In December, Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison on charges of child pornography. He will be sentenced Tuesday for 10 state counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, ESPN reported. Nassar, 54, pleaded guilty to those charges in November.

Nassar has been accused by more than 140 women and girls of sexual misconduct. That includes Olympic gymnasts Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman, CNN reported.

“For too long I’ve asked myself, ‘Was I too naive?’ ‘Was it my fault?’ I now know the answers to those questions,” Biles tweeted. “No. No, it was not my fault.

“No, I will not and should not carry the guilt that belongs to Larry Nassar, USAG (USA Gymnastics), and others .”

In her tweet, Biles also called Nassar’s behavior “completely unacceptable, disgusting and abusive.”

Raisman offered her support to Biles in a tweet. Raisman accused Nassar of sexual abuse in November.

“I stand with you,” Raisman tweeted.

Dayton issues vacate order for downtown apartment building

Published: Friday, January 12, 2018 @ 12:43 PM
Updated: Friday, January 12, 2018 @ 12:51 PM


            The city of Dayton issued a vacate order to Newcom ManOr residents at 255 N. Main St. after problems with carbon monoxide. STAFF/CORNELIUS FROLIK
The city of Dayton issued a vacate order to Newcom ManOr residents at 255 N. Main St. after problems with carbon monoxide. STAFF/CORNELIUS FROLIK

The city of Dayton has issued an order to vacate a downtown apartment building containing almost 50 residents after its owners failed to fix a malfunctioning heating system, making the building unsafe to live in, city officials said.

Officials say they will board up the Newcom Building at 255 N. Main St. on Tuesday unless the heating system is repaired.

All residents would be required to relocate.

The boiler was shut off after fire crews earlier this month discovered high levels of carbon monoxide in the building, which can lead to deadly poisoning.

“Ensuring that our citizens are safe is of the utmost importance,” said Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein in a statement. “If we find conditions that are hazardous and that put lives at risk, the only recourse we have is to vacate the building for the residents’ safety.”

But Newcom Building Co. President Howard Heck said three days is not nearly enough time to repair the boiler since it is old and its parts are not easy to get.

The boiler could take a couple of weeks to repair “unless there is a miracle and the center sections would be available, in stock that can be overnighted,” he said.

Some residents say it’s unreasonable that they will have to find some place to move to when it’s perfectly safe and warm in their apartments.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” said Bradley Brumit, who lives in the building. “No one wants to leave because they ain’t got no place to go. … We’d have to be Houdini to find somebody to give us a place to move.”

MORE: 2 dead in suspected carbon monoxide poisonings

On Thursday, the city issued the owners and residents of the Newcom building an emergency vacate order.

The city’s housing inspection department said conditions inside the building are dangerous because the heating system is not working properly.

The city told residents that they need to make arrangements to find housing by Tuesday. There are about 25 apartments in the building. Many residents are elderly and low-income.

The city discovered building code violations at the Newcom building after crews responded to an emergency medical run on Jan. 4.

Fire crews found high levels of carbon monoxide related to a malfunctioning boiler as well as other deficiencies.

City officials said they gave the building owner seven days to fix the problems.

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The building had multiple electrical hazards and an improperly functioning fire alarm that created dangerous conditions and required intervention, said Dayton Assistant Fire Chief Nicholas Hosford.

But now from a fire safety standpoint, the building no longer has any immediate fire hazards, Hosford said. However, it does not have heat, which means its not compliant with code.

Heck said the boiler would cost $40,000 to replace, which he cannot afford to do. He said he’s called multiple companies trying to get it repaired or rebuilt, but that likely will take time.

“I’m willing to work to get this done, but it’s just like if you have a car and need the parts but OK they have to come down from Chicago or Detroit or Kansas City, you just can’t do it” immediately, he said. “The timeline of three days, especially over a holiday weekend, is unreasonable.”

The building has a double layer of brick, and even when the temperature dropped below zero, it is not freezing cold in the apartments, Brumit said.

The gas in the building is on so residents can take showers, cook food and wash clothing, residents said.

“They act like being in here when it’s cold is worse than being homeless,” he said.

The city said residents can access their rooms and the property until Tuesday.

The order cannot be lifted unless a state inspector re-certifies the boiler, which requires it to be repaired or replaced, officials said.

The city has worked with Montgomery County Emergency Management and some social service agencies to assist residents in finding a place to go and move and accessing other services.

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