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.

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Gone lickety-split: New downtown Dayton homes sell out

Published: Thursday, March 15, 2018 @ 12:33 PM

Simms new housing is almost sold out

The 14 new City View townhouses have sold out just about 13 months after hitting the market, making it Charlie Simms’ fastest downtown housing project to run out of product.

City View was Charles Simms Development’s sixth downtown housing project. Simms’ first project — the Patterson Square town homes, built in 2011 — took a couple of years to sell out.

Simms Development released pricing of the City View homes in February 2017, meaning it sold out four months quicker than its Brownstones at 2nd project.

RELATED: New downtown Dayton housing fetching $200 per square foot

“We would consider this a record sellout in all aspects for a downtown development,” said Robi Simms, vice president of sales and marketing with Charles Simms Development.

The homes sold out quickly even though they commanded much higher prices than Simms’ earlier housing.

The Patterson Square townhomes, at East First Street and North Patterson Boulevard, started at about $139,900, or about $100 per square foot. The City View homes, located a few blocks away on South Patterson Boulevard, have been selling for almost $200 per square foot.

The pricing of the Brownstones at 2nd were $200,000 and up range, while the City View homes have sold in the mid to upper-$300,000 range.

RELATED: Buyers snap up urban townhouses in downtown Dayton

The exterior of the City View homes is urban and modern. This was a departure for Simms, whose five previous downtown projects were traditional-style brownstones and brick homes.

Simms last month told this newspaper he intended to continue building new homes downtown for the foreseeable future. He said the demand for new housing in the urban center far outstrips the supply.

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Prosecutors seeking death penalty against Nikolas Cruz, confessed Parkland gunman 

Published: Tuesday, March 13, 2018 @ 2:31 PM

Confessed Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz appears in court for a status hearing before Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer on February 19, 2018 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Cruz is facing 17 charges of premeditated murder in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  
Pool/Getty Images
Confessed Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz appears in court for a status hearing before Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer on February 19, 2018 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Cruz is facing 17 charges of premeditated murder in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. (Pool/Getty Images)

Florida prosecutors will ask for the death penalty for confessed Parkland school gunman Nikolas Cruz, State Attorney Michael Satz said Tuesday. 

>> Read more trending news 

Satz said he filed a "notice of intent to seek death" in the 17 first-degree murder counts stemming from the Feb. 14 rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 14 students and three adults dead.

Cruz is also charged with attempted murder in the shootings of 17 others who survived.

Cruz is scheduled for an arraignment Wednesday on the murder and attempted murder charges.

Cruz offered to plead guilty to the charges several weeks ago if prosecutors removed the death penalty from the table.

>>Related: Senior at Parkland high school recalls moments when gunman opened fire

If he does reach a plea deal with prosecutors, the only other option for Cruz is life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

What You Need to Know: ENOUGH National School Walkout

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Dayton city commission race could be pastor Daryl vs pastor Darryl

Published: Friday, March 09, 2018 @ 11:19 AM

            Daryl Ward, the senior pastor at Omega Baptist Church, and Darryl Fairchild, manager of chaplain services at Dayton Children’s Hospital, have filed petitions to run for Dayton Commission.
Daryl Ward, the senior pastor at Omega Baptist Church, and Darryl Fairchild, manager of chaplain services at Dayton Children’s Hospital, have filed petitions to run for Dayton Commission.

Two well-known pastors have submitted petitions to run for the open Dayton City Commission seat in a special May election.

No other candidates filed petitions by Friday’s deadline.

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Daryl Ward, the senior pastor at Omega Baptist Church, and Darryl Fairchild, manager of chaplain services at Dayton Children’s Hospital, filed petitions to try to replace Commissioner Joey Williams, who resigned last month.

To appear on the ballot, candidates needed to collect 500 valid signatures of Dayton electors and submit them to the Montgomery County Board of Elections. The deadline to file was end of business hours Friday.

Ward turned in a petition with 1,441 signatures earlier this month. Fairchild’s petition, which he submitted Friday morning, contained 1,430 signatures.

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Ward, senior pastor at Omega Baptist Church, said he feels really encouraged by the amount of support the community has already shown him when he was out collecting signatures and starting to campaign.

“It’s been a wonderful thing, and I’ve already learned things about Dayton I didn’t know,” he said.

He said he believes he can make a difference but will have to show voters that he’s sincere and truly cares about making the community a better place.

Ward said he is looking forward to hitting the streets and talking to people about the challenges facing Dayton and what they think the city can do to improve people’s lives.

“We’ve got to face challenges together — it’s going to take all of us,” he said.

Fairchild said he’s battle tested and has good name recognition since this will be the third time in four years that he has run for a commission seat. He narrowly lost a seat to newcomer Chris Shaw in 2015, but was defeated by a much larger margin by incumbent commissioners Joey Williams and Jeff Mims Jr. last year.

Fairchild, who has known Ward for 30 years and was his student at United Theological Seminary, said he’s a little surprised Ward chose to run against him.

But Fairchild said they are friends and colleagues and he views Ward as a mentor.

“But we’re both athletes too, and we don’t shy away from competition,” Fairchild said. “We value the democratic process, and this is an opportunity for us to share our visions and put out our best ideas for the city and let the voters choose.”

Fairchild said he approved when a friend described him as “a political gym rat.”

»RELATED: Dayton special election set: Fairchild, Ward declare candidacies

Williams decided to step down just four months into his fifth term. Williams said his travel schedule with his new job kept meant he was too busy to give his commission responsibilities the attention they deserve.

Board of elections staff will review candidates’ petitions, and the board expects to certify petitions at its next meeting, March 20.

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Big downtown Dayton developer to turn empty property into offices

Published: Tuesday, February 06, 2018 @ 9:23 AM
Updated: Friday, March 09, 2018 @ 10:13 AM

Water Street developer acquired East Third building

One of downtown Dayton’s most prolific developers plans to renovate a vacant building in the fast-growing Webster Station neighborhood to create new offices and spaces possibly for retail or dining options.

Woodard Development, one of the developers of the Water Street District, has acquired the former Lotz Paper Co. building at 607 E. Third St., which sits next to the renovated steam plant near the Cannery Loft apartments.

RELATED: Dayton gives $500k for parking lot. Here’s why

Woodard Development wants to transform the upper floors of the five-story building into unique and “innovative” office spaces, said Jason Woodard, principal of the firm.

“It’s an area we really like,” Woodard said. “It’s right there in the path of growth and innovation.”

Webster Station has become one of the hottest neighborhoods in the region for new housing, but it’s also welcomed some new office product and commercial investment that is helping turn it into an “innovation district,” officials and developers say.

Development and city officials say they hope the new investment continues to spread to other vacant properties in the neighborhood, which had suffered from decades of job losses and disinvestment as heavy industry pulled out or shut down.

Woodard is in negotiations with the city of Dayton for another empty commercial property that is right next door to the building he just acquired.

Woodard Development has taken control of the Lotz paper building next to the former Dayton Power & Light steam plant, which has been renovated into offices and a swanky new event space.

Woodard’s plans are to renovate the vacant building into new office space. The building, which is about 35,000 square feet, will be called the Avant-Garde.

RELATED: New downtown Air Force office part of emerging ‘innovation district

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