Surfacing- He said/She Said/ They said- Lorain City Schools- What will they say?

November 29, 2010 at 12:00 am 16 comments


I have decided to surface- albeit for a little while- I have written about Lorain City Schools of late- which has brought to my attention –off the blog and on the phone- various situations and concerns.

The failed November 2010 levy of course and the WHY?(Lorain school board looks to build trust within community)

could it be that old saying from Confucius

“HE WHO WILL NOT ECONOMIZE WILL HAVE TO AGONIZE”

The Corner Stone Caper and the wordsmithying that entailed . (That really became for me a bit of joke). I listened and read for nearly 5 days to the he said/she said/ they said this was the case until I finally got cheesed off and browned off enough to ask for “definite” clarification !

However, the episode does point out a fundamental flaw in the system- trying to get to the crux of the matter, even in so simple a task, is frustrating and a myriad of the he said /she said! Two newspapers and 5 days to finally get to the bottom of the tale ( and John Cole still got it wrong on Wednesday – there is a surprise! ;)and this was just a simple missing ( not missing ) artifact- NOW – where trust and money is involved- Oh Boy!

So in the course of all this to-ing and fro-ing and the he said/ she said and the this happened /that happened – with levys and readers also giving me information on other aspects upon which to ponder – especially the financial situation that is effecting Lorain City Schools – a mention of a retreat and the cost thereof this past summer caught my attention.

Now I know the China trip did not go down too well – Remember this post
http://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2009/06/30/confucius-again/
with my readers at least – but I had nothing to compare it to for “worthiness”

However, this particular Lorain City Schools “SCHOOLS IMPROVEMENT” retreat was on familiar territory- it so happens I too had spent a lot of money on 130 guests at the self same “resort”.

hiring the whole of the rotunda, reception rooms – decorating the place, blocks of sleeping rooms (some for two nights) , two nights of an open bar , three days of food, entertainment etc. etc.
So when I heard the supposed amount of a LCS Retreat function at the same facility I had used and what I paid for 130 people – I decided rather than listening to the he said/ she said /they said to check it out for myself!

To that end I have today sent off a public records request as seen below- I await the “they say” 🙂
Dr. Atkinson

D. Weber LCS Treasurer

November 30th, 2010

Lorain City Schools
Charleston Administrative Center
Room 10
2350 Pole Avenue
Lorain, Ohio 44052

For the attention of Lorain City Schools Treasurer D. Weber

Dear Mr. Weber

Re: Public records request- Lorain City Schools

Pursuant to the state open records law, Ohio Rev. Code Ann. sec. 149.43 to 149.44, I write to request access to information pertaining to

1. The August 15-17 2010- Retreat for SI for the OIP at Sawmill Creek- Huron Ohio
PO # 303140 – $17,435.94

Please provide itemized billing and a breakdown of the services provided- for example:
(a) How many people attended the retreat?
(b) What was the purpose of the retreat?
(c) How many of the participants were teachers ( k-12 working classroom teachers) (d)How many were Administration ( e.g. principals, Charleston staff)
(e)How many family members of staff were included ( e.g. rooms)
(f)How many rooms were paid for and for how many nights, meals, the cost of “the family day” pool side barbeque?
The account(s) from which the PO’s of this retreat was paid. What was the funding source? If “grant funds” were used to cover expenses who was the “granting authority “and what were the parameters of said grant? Could this funding be used for anything other than a retreat? How much money is left in the grant if any?

PO # 303304 – $500.01
The account(s) from which the PO was paid and itemized statement of billing- what was the funding source, who was the granting authority, what were the parameters of the grant. Could this funding be used for anything other than the purpose billed? How much money is left in the grant if any?

PO# 303538 – $1,860.55
The accounts(s) from which the PO was paid and itemized statement of billing- what was the funding source, who was the granting authority, what were the parameters of the grant. Could this funding be used for anything other than the purpose billed. How much money is left in the grant if any?
Please confirm the total amount for the Schools Improvement “retreat” at Sawmill Creek for Lorain City Schools (August 15-17th 2010) was a grand total of $19.796.50

2. Information on Previous retreats- LCS

Please provide me with the following information:
(a) Number of retreats held FY 2007- 2008- 2009- 2010 inclusive if any?
(b) Where were the retreats held?
(c) Cost of each retreat- PO numbers?
(d) The account(s) from which the PO’s were paid.
(e) What was the funding source for each retreat, which was the granting authority, what were the parameters of the grant? Could this funding be used for anything other than the purpose billed. How much money is left in the grant if any?

3. Premier Speakers –AUGUST 24th-2010I would also like to request a breakdown of the following PO numbers for payment to the vendor – Premier Speakers .

PO#302796 for Speaker Ron Clark $9750.00 on August 24th 2010The accounts(s) from which the PO was paid. Please give an itemized breakdown – such as – how long did Mr. Clark speak, how many were in attendance, where was the function held what was the purpose of the event? If paid for through a grant, who was the granting authority and what are the parameters of the grant and can the grant be used for anything other than speakers.

PO#302891 Premier Speakers $8,750.00 – August 24th 2010The accounts(s) from which the PO was paid. Please give an itemized breakdown of this PO exactly what this money was used for from what funding source or granting authority was used to pay this PO what are the parameters of the funding or granting authority and can the funding source be used for other services

4. Compassion Project. Compassion Baptist Church

PO#303647 – $10,000.00

The accounts(s) from which the PO was paid. Please give an itemized breakdown of this PO exactly what this money was used for from what funding source or granting authority was used to pay this PO what are the parameters of the funding or granting authority and can the funding source be used for other services. I further request a copy of the service contract for services provided in the 2010-11 school year under said project.

5. Average Daily Membership Data
Please give me the numbers of students as per the Average Daily Membership data as compiled in October 2010

If your department does not maintain these public records or cannot assist with the answers to the questions above, please let me know who does and include the proper custodian’s name and address.

I agree to pay any reasonable copying and postage fees of not more than $50.00. If the cost would be greater than this amount, please notify me. Please provide a receipt indicating the charges for each document.
I would request your response within ten (10) business days.

If you choose to deny this request, please provide a written explanation for the denial including a reference to the specific statutory exemption(s) upon which you rely. Also, please provide all segregable portions of otherwise exempt material.

Please be advised that I am prepared to pursue whatever legal remedy necessary to obtain access to the requested records. I would note that violation of the open records law can result in the award of court costs and attorney fees. Thank you for your assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me should you need further clarification.
Sincerely
Loraine Ritchey
CC. Superintendent Atkinson and BOE

To Be Continued…………….

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Entry filed under: Brit take, education, notorious opponents of exactitude, opinion. Tags: .

Symbols- Lost and Never to be found -Chris Ritchey The Christmas Countdown Tradition: Ritchey

16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Paula Tobias  |  November 29, 2010 at 12:19 am

    You had to be a Lawyer in another life.:)

    Bravo on your research.

    Inquiring minds do want to know.

  • 2. bethechange  |  November 29, 2010 at 1:02 am

    Wow! I sure would like to know. What do you think the chances are that you will get answers without pursuing legal remedies?

  • 3. Anne Molnar  |  November 29, 2010 at 3:22 am

    The Freedom of Information Act was signed by President Johnson on September 6 1966.

    You go Gal, times are tough now, City and Schools both must have an accountability on every penny spent. Have been attending as many school board meetings as possible. Very interesting. More people need to question both the city and school finances more often. That alone will keep them alert knowing that the public is watching.. Many good questions were presented at the last meeting by the public.

  • 4. Marion Thomas  |  November 29, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    I hope you don’t get stone-walled. It’s time the administration was taken to task and made to give up the answers. They really believe we don’t know what to ask.
    Grammy

  • 5. Loraine Ritchey  |  November 29, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    Well “stonewalling” me wouldn’t be a good idea as through the years readers of my columns in print media and various blogs including this one will tell you I am very tenacious and won’t give up until there is a “conclusion” 🙂 I don’t go into the night quietly. We are all entitled to ask questions and receive answers when our taxers are involved and granting authorities too have to have open books 🙂

    The other thing is none of these requests are untoward as far as I know there is no litigation involved ( the only one with a concern is the Hud looking into Compassion Baptist Church records – as linked in the request-

    It just seems to me that in one week in August LCS spent $38,296.50 more than 3 thousand dollars more than the median income of the Lorain taxpayer for ONE YEAR.

    OK even if these expenses did come from “grants” what grants are they …. Federal Grants which means it is still OUR tax money…. and can these grants be used for anything other than to ” pay a motivtional speaker or sitting around in a resort dividing into “think tank groups” IN HURON for decision made to improve Lorain City Schoools….. could they be used in Lorain at one of the schools or three of the schools..

    Well I can tell you where I would start and as for motivational speakers if the recent levy failures haven’t motivated them wellllllllllllll

    We will see ….. there are of course other situations that have also come across the desk and phone … but we will start with these for now

    However the minutes for the BOE are a disgrace – they aren’t minutes they are notes of an over view of the meeting at best.….. Lorain City Council minutes are much more in tune with “real minutes”- those minutes of the BOE need to be fleshed out…… maybe another post 🙂

  • 6. Paula Tobias  |  November 29, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    Minutes of Meetings are rarely accurate in the concept of recording/reporting ALL of the conversation.

    I also have found that the “Body Language” and tone of meeting/dialogue can not be conveyed.

    Regarding Stone Walling. Do you think the Powers that be deliberately drag their heels as people become exasperated and ultimately apathetic, thus giving up?

  • 7. Mark  |  November 30, 2010 at 4:01 am

    Here’s what gets me even before we see the pricetag on this event:

    Was there no place in Lorain County to do this? They had to go to Huron??

    Someone’s awfully free with the purse when their supposed to be hard up for money.

  • 8. Mark  |  November 30, 2010 at 4:02 am

    Sorry, last line should be “they’re” instead of “their”.

    I hate when that happens.

  • 9. Susie  |  November 30, 2010 at 4:16 am

    You’re LCS education is shoeing, Mark 😉

  • 10. Loraine Ritchey  |  November 30, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Then maybe the boards etc shouldn’t OK the minutes……… 🙂 the thing is that I was extremely disappointed as taxpayer that I couldn’t see the discussions reflected in the minutes……….

  • 11. Mark  |  November 30, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    That was bad, Susie.

  • 12. Sur-real-ity- « That Woman’s Weblog  |  December 7, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    […] laughter breaks through- tears fall- a bed to made – dishes to be done- life to go on with- meetings to go to-Lorain City Schools, babysitting Gavin – taking mum to the Dr. and then the dentist and all the time you my son […]

  • 13. thatwoman  |  December 19, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    I am pleased to tell you that Lorain City Schools sent me a package of information about a half in thick in response to my public records request- I will go through all the documentation and also the review the meeting I had with them . I will post a “report” after the first of the year Loraine

  • […] City Schools. I found some of the expenditures ( in my opinion as a surface dwelling voter) “worrying and wasteful” The links to all of the posts are here in my “conclusions” post […]

  • […] The story that started well with co-operation and hope soon became a community in conflict with itself- derision on the Lorain Board of Education- armed guard ( Lorain Police) protecting the superintendent from the public at School Board meetings escorting her to and from those meetings . Questions as to favouritism, spending that seemed superfluous to education. It was precisely that concern that led me to a public records request https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2010/11/29/surfacing-he-saidshe-said-they-said-lorain-city-schools-wh… […]

  • 16. dekalbschoolwatch  |  February 9, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    We applaud your efforts. We tried very hard to demand information via Open Records from Atkinson after she came to DeKalb. She ignored about 95% of our requests. ESPECIALLY the ones requesting the contents of her text messages. These were requested by a local attorney for an employee lawsuit. Instead, Atkinson and our head of legal, Ron Ramsey, offered the plaintiff her job back – if she would drop the request for the text messages. She did and the riffed employee is back at work. Atkinson promptly quit. The rest of us are left wondering, “What on earth was IN those text messages?!!”

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