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Lorain School Board survey shows respondents have little faith in CEO's leadership

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LORAIN — More than 80 percent of respondents on a school board survey felt the CEO is doing a “poor” job leading the district.

School board president Mark Ballard sent out the anonymous survey available March 23-April 1. At Tuesday’s board meeting, Ballard and vice-president Tony Dimacchia outlined their findings. They said they had more than 550 individual responses on the survey, 2.4 percent from students, 37.3 percent from teachers or staff, 28.3 percent from parents, 6.5 percent from community organizations and 25.3 percent from “other.”

The survey was prompted by and based on the evaluation rubric Academic Distress Commission chairman Randall Sampson released March 22. Per CEO David Hardy’s contract, the commission was supposed to evaluate him after 180 days, 365 days and then annually. None of those evaluations have been done, and Sampson is in the process of evaluating Hardy’s performance for the 2017-18 school year. He is the only member of the commission performing the evaluation.

Of the general questions asked to all respondents:

  • 86.95 percent said Hardy is doing a poor job leading the district;
  • 87 percent said their confidence in his ability to lead is poor;
  • 83.2 percent said their confidence in his spending priorities is poor.

Dimacchia noted common themes in extended response questions included “chaos,” “poor morale” and a “lack of direction.”

“He leads with fear,” one anonymous comment said. “People are afraid to speak up because of the backlash it is sure to bring. On several occasions he has been asked if certain things would happen and he has shared with confidence that it wouldn’t happen, and then it does.”

Another respondent wrote, “He has an ego bigger than anyone needs. His attitude is he’s above everything … The position has gone to his head. He has wasted million s of our tax dollars on inept ‘administrators’ with little or no experience.”

Other responses were less critical, noting “(Hardy) does an excellent job engaging the public via town hall forums” and that teacher attendance has improved, along with some attendance in the elementary schools.

Dimacchia said the survey shows what the community feels about the CEO’s leadership.

“550 different people from this community did it and they see it and most of them live it so I’ve got to put some value to those comments and the way they feel. If you really, truly believe in community engagement and understanding what the community feels, I guess reaching out to them would give you a pretty good idea,” he said.

The survey’s results will be shared with the district and Academic Distress Commission.

Lorain Law Director Pat Riley also gave his opinion on whether or not the board was entitled to the district’s financial records. In it, he states the board is entitled to any record held by the treasurer, without having to make a public records request. He also stated other requests, including information on contracts the district has entered into is pursuant of public records law and should be disclosed.

 Survey summary and verbatim results provided by Lorain Board of Education.

 

Contact Carissa Woytach at (440) 329-7245 or cwoytach@chroniclet.com.


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