Sunday, May 24, 2015

9 1/2 Hours - When They Get Behind Closed Doors

9 1/2 Hours: The true story behind the Superintendent hire

It begins on March 24th.    This is immediately following current Columbus Superintendent Bryan Davis' candidate forum.  Internal candidate Erik Olson's forum was held the previous evening.

Two and one-half hours of discussion ensued, followed by a very specific motion by Steve Schoeder/John Whalen:  extend offers (note the plural)  to: 
--- Bryan Davis the Superintendent position and 
--- Erik Olson a Deputy Superintendent position (for strategic planning and organizational alignment) and 
to direct President Tom Weber to discuss with the candidates.

The vote was unanimous.

Then two weeks passed with no notification.  Of course, in there was spring break for Sun Prairie, as well as the Spring Elections when 3 shool board seats were up with 4 candidates including one incumbent.

On April 7th, the board met again for 2 hours and 22 minutes.  
Two critical motions were made:
The first was to offer the superintendent position to Bryan Davis.  That motion failed having only support from John Whalen.
The second motion was to offer the superintendent position to Erik Olson.   
That motion passed 6-1, with John Whalen in opposition (God love John Whalen for his fierce loyalty to the Culver regime!  It's cute; really it is).

The question is...what happened between the decision to make a tandem offer (David/ Superintendent, Olson/Deputy Superintendent and this decision?  And what about Bryan Davis declaring for all the many (???) STAR readers that no offer was ever made to him. If one digs a little, one will learn that in the world of Public Instruction, what the rest of us would call "negotiations towards making a formal contract offer" is viewed a "an offer".

We have no need to trash Dr. Davis' reputation or bona fides, but clearly the room turned dramatically against him (except for Johnny Whalen!).  Did he demand an outrageous salary?  Or were other demands simply not to the board's liking?  Or did something else come out during the background check (which--newsflash-- is a prerequisite before a contract is offered)? Perhaps we never need to know, but the vote on April 7 made it clear that Davis was no longer a viable option.

April offer is rejected.
We now now that on April 15th an offer was extended to internal candidate, who subsequently declined for personal reasons.  We don't blame him.  The behavior of district "professionals" in this who process would turn most away. If it were up to us, the district office would be raining pink slips in the not too distant future.
Two weeks later....the drama further unfolds
We now have a new school board...3 new members in fact.  At the school board meeting on Monday May 27, more district staff come out to speak the praises of Bryan Davis and for the board to hire him.  There are rumors (which, if true, can be confirmed via Open Records) that Dr. Davis was heavily lobbying for himself with key district staffers (more on that to come!).  Several community leaders also spoke, including Jerry Ruffin, whose wife Marilyn is a newly elected board member.

The April 27 closed session brought two more very key motions during a 95 minute session.
The critical motion, passing unanimously, was--interestingly enough-- what is termed a "motion n the negative.  Normally motions are made in the positive...i.e., worded in favor of something.  This motion made it clear for those that hadn't figured it out yet, that the board would NOT consider any of the candidates from the failed search.  Instead, they would go in a different direction.

The second motion direct board president Weber to bring in Dr. Bradford Saron in for an interview.  So clearly, that name materialized on the board's rada, and in a relatively short meeting, they abandoned all candidates from the initial search and went after Dr. Saron.

April 28th...success!
Just a hair over 3 hours spent interviewing Dr. Saron, the board unanimously directed president Weber to negotiate a contract with Dr Saron.

So there you have it, peeps.  These are the facts.   There was no formal contract ever offered to Dr. Bryan Davis.  In fact, the board was clearly opposed to offering one to him.  So disinclined were they that they actually made a motion in the negative to make crystal clear that the search had ended and none of the 18 applicants would be considered any further. 

We wish Dr. Davis luck in his quest to be somewhere other than Columbus.