Published: Tuesday, November 28, 2017 @ 6:10 PM
Updated: Tuesday, November 28, 2017 @ 9:35 PM
By: Jeremy P. Kelley - Staff Writer
— Dayton School Superintendent Rhonda Corr slept in front of the federal mediator during an Aug. 9 contract negotiating session, berated high-level administrators and received death benefits for a domestic partner while legally married to another person, according to a pre-disciplinary hearing notice released Tuesday.
The notice from Dayton’s school board provides the first detailed explanation for why the board placed Corr on administrative leave after a four-hour executive session seven days earlier.
“Administrators report a hostile working environment created by your behaviors,” the hearing notice signed by school board President Robert Walker says. “District employees have expressed their reluctance to continue working with you as you undermine, disparage, and bully them.”
The same school board had unanimously given Corr a three-year contract extension in February after seven months of work, then gave her a glowing performance review on Oct. 3.
Tuesday’s notice says that the board “is considering disciplinary action” against Corr that “may include termination of your Superintendent’s contract for good and just cause.” It says Corr’s alleged actions violate multiple school board policies, “constitute conduct unbecoming an educator” and “violate the trust and confidence the Board of Education has placed in you.”
8 WEEKS AGO: School board gives Corr glowing evaluation
“They further demonstrate your inability to lead the District and reflect poorly on the District as a whole,” the notice says, warning that Corr could be suspended without pay pending termination proceedings. She is currently getting paid her salary while on leave.
The hearing notice does not include numerous accusations of racial discrimination/harassment that were part of a report the school board mentioned publicly last week. That report, also released Tuesday night, found that Corr committed one violation of board policy. The report recommended policy training for Corr and that she stop certain speech patterns that some employees referred to as “black talk.”
The hearing letter goes into detail on several allegations.
In September 2016, Corr told Executive Director of Human Resources Judy Spurlock that the school board had agreed to pay moving expenses and a certain retirement benefit for new administrators Elizabeth Lolli and Markay Winston, according to the notice.
Corr “demanded that the payments be added immediately,” the notice says, but the board had not approved the expenses as Corr indicated, and the contract modification led to an internal audit warning, according to the notice. In a later meeting with the board, the document says, Corr allegedly said she had told Spurlock she did not have authority to offer those payments, which the board then had to approve retroactively.
The notice says Corr did not “act professionally” at the Aug. 9, 2017, negotiating session, which came just two days before teachers union’s strike deadline. Corr, the notice says, arrived late, said she was ill and appeared “unkempt.”
“Rather than excusing yourself from the meeting, you behaved unprofessionally by sleeping during caucuses in front of the mediator and your fellow bargaining team members,” the DPS document says.
The document says Corr listed “inaccurate information on board documents.” On July 1, 2016, it says, she marked on her W-4 form that she was single and signed the form under penalty of perjury. But Montgomery County Common Pleas Court documents reveal that on Oct. 3, 2017, Corr filed for divorce from her spouse whom she had married in 2007 in Massachusetts.
The notice also says she used her position as superintendent “to promote your self-interests.” It says she lobbied Human Resources officials to make life insurance available to employees’ spouses and domestic partners a short time after she was hired in 2016, and then, after it was approved, purchased life insurance for a “domestic partner” who was already ill and passed away on Oct. 15, 2016.
This occurred “even though you were legally married to another person and had not obtained a legal separation,” the document says.
It also accuses Corr of failing to request approval for absences from the DPS treasurer, as the board requires so that her number of days off can be tracked. The notice lists nine days “at a minimum” when she was absent from work without getting prior approval.
After one of the allegations in the report, the notice says: “You refuse to accept responsibility for your actions.”
Corr is scheduled to meet with the school board’s designated hearing officer at 9 a.m. Dec. 13 to tell her side of the story. She could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.