Who's in the Doghouse?


These are the people who are currently in the Doghouse:

Current Board Members/Administrators
David Tryon, Board President
Cathy Harbinak, Coordinator of Community Relations
Past Board Members/Administrators:
Thomas Diringer, Superintendent (former)
 George Balasko, School Board President (former)
Alan Scheufler, (Former) Board Member
Terri Neff, (Former) Board Member

David Dosen, Board Member (former)
Alan Siebert, Board Member (former)
Clark Rechkemmer, (Former) Board President/Member
Steven Farnsworth, Superintendent (retired)

Retroactive since January 2011
updated June 28, 2012
June 22, 2012
David Tryon has publicly spoken a lot about wanting the Board to be transparent; but actions speak louder than words.  Even though the Ohio Sunshine Laws REQUIRE that a public office provide public records promptly upon request, David Tryon privately told the District's Public Records Officer to needlessly delay fulfilling my public records requests for records that are readily available and could be provided promptly.  In an email to the Public Records Officer in January 2011 that was inadvertently sent to me, David Tryon said that he did not want me to get accustomed to prompt service.  (go)  In addition, David Tryon has been in the Doghouse for many other reasons--which can be found following the link in the heading above.


BBH School Board shows True Colors--they're not Red, White, and Blue
update May 31, 2010 (go)

May 26, 2010
At the May 24, 2010 Board meeting, the Board voted on the adoption of the 2010-2011 Student Handbooks. The Student Handbooks include a Quality Statement that lists 7 education objectives, one of which is to make students aware of their responsibility to contribute to the global society.

Board member, David Tryon moved that the handbook, in addition to making students aware of their responsibility to a global society, also include a reference to making students aware of their responsibility to be good citizens of the United States of America. As best as I can recall, Mr. Tryon said that including such an education objective would show that we expect our schools to instill, and our children to learn, a sense of patriotism and pride in the United States of America. 

Board member, Mark Jantzen showed absolutely no support, whatsoever, for adding language that would include a student's responsibility to our nation.  Mr. Jantzen's lack of support for instilling a sense of patriotism in our students reveals his true colors.   Mr. Jantzen now finds himself in the Doghouse.  But he's not alone. 

George Balasko, Alan Scheufler, and Terri Neff also showed absolutely no support for such an education objective either, but those Board members are already in the Doghouse, and have been for years!

Some Board members and the Superintendent claimed there wasn't time to make a change.  Mr. Tryon said the change can be made electronically in an instant.  That's true, of course.  But the Board would not bother itself with simple truth.  No other Board member found the matter worthy of discussion and the motion failed for lack of a second to the motion. 

A student's responsiblity to a global society should never overshadow a student's responsibility to our nation!

The Student Handbooks were approved (4-1). David Tryon is the only Board member who did not vote in favor of the handbooks.  And, by the way, the Board is finding time to make minor staff and date changes to the Handbooks prior to printing.
May 2011
Board AGAIN Rejects (2nd year in a row) David Tryon's Suggestion to Teach Patriotism as an Education Objective!

Update: Sept. 12, 2007
During the July 23, 2007 Board meeting,
 Superintendent, Dr. Diringer recommended the Board adopt a brand new set of policies that concern advertising, even though the Board had not ever discussed or deliberated on those policies during a public Board meeting.

Proposal:  Should we adopt a policy that provides corporations and other special interest groups direct access to our students, so they can "arouse a desire to buy, use, or patronize" their particular product, service, or business?  Should we adopt a policy that allows for commercial and non-commercial advertising in and on all (except buses) public school property, including "instructional materials?"  Should we adopt a policy that denies parents the right to know what our schools would be advertising to our children, before it is imposed upon our children?

Mr. Scheufler:   "Yes."
Mr. Balasko:      "Yes."
Mr. Dosen:        "Yes."
Mrs. Neff:          "Yes."
Mr. Siebert:      "Yes."

Mr. Dosen's vote in favor of adopting the proposed Special Interest Groups and Advertising policies resulted in a revocation of his Release from the Doghouse.


Update: Sept. 12, 2007
Earlier this year, the Board conducted a lengthy public opinion poll, which contained only one question about advertising:   "Would you support or oppose the selling of advertising signage at our athletic facilities, such as the football and baseball fields?"  With a 5% margin of error, 45% "strongly" and 29% "somewhat" support that type of advertising. 

The Board did not ever discuss the results of this poll question.  Instead, the Board allowed a misleading report to be distributed at its public meeting, to our school buildings, and to the local newspapers; a report which stated that the public overwhelmingly favored advertising on school property in general, instead of accurately stating that there was support for advertising at athletic facilities.  During the June 26, 2007 Board meeting, the Watchdog asked the Board how it could publish such a misleading report. go...

Mr. Blalasko: "We didn't write the Executive Summary.  Dr. DeSario did.  It is under his copywrite.  That's why it was released."  (Dr. DeSario is someone from the organization that the Board hired to conduct the poll.)
The Watchdog:  "But doesn't the Board have to approve information that is disseminated to the public, to our school buildings, and to the newspapers, regarding specifically a community survey that was conducted by the School Board?  Wouldn't the results have to be approved before they are released?"
Mr. Blalasko
  "No, I believe there's no formal requirement for that."

The Board tried to turn a blind eye and say "we didn't do it."  The Board cannot shirk its accountability for allowing a misleading report to be distributed at its meeting by saying somebody else created the report and they had nothing to do with it.  The Board allowed the report to be distributed and remained silent as to any inaccuracies when those inaccuracies just happened to support their action on the advertising issue.

Update: Sept. 12, 2007
Since the Board never discussed, during a public Board meeting, the set of policies that concern advertising that it unanimously agreed to adopt during its July 23, 2007 meeting, and since neither Dr. Diringer nor Mrs. Obratil were able to provide me with minutes of the Board Policy Review Committee meetings, the Watchdog asked the Board how it reached its decision to adopt those policies.  And "if the Board does not answer my question, and if the Board does not say where there is a public record of any discussions that took place which led to the adoption of the advertising policies, it will appear that either there was no thought or reasoning put into the decision to adopt those policies, or the deliberations were done behind closed doors, in which case, the Board's adoption of those policies would be illegitimate and invalid." go...

Mr. Scheufler: In response to the Watchdog's comments, "It was all done in a public meeting. So, the statement or the innuendo that the adoption of the one policy concerning advertising or outside involvement with the school, {Relations with Special Interst Groups}, that it was adopted behind closed doors is incorrect. It was adopted here at a public meeting after a second hearing."
I never said the Board adopted a policy behind closed doors.  I said that since there are no public records of any board discussions regarding the Special Interest Groups and Advertising policies, that if the Board doesn't explain how it reached its decision to adopt those policies, then it would appear that either there was no thought or reasoning put into its decision, or it would appear that the deliberations were was made behind closed closed doors.  But, the fact remains that discussion or deliberation of the policy was not done at any public Board meeting. 
Update: Sept. 12, 2007
During the June 26, 2007 Board meeting, in response to the Watchdog's statement that "No one ever said during a public Board meeting that the Board would now be acting upon a set of policies that is different from the set it previously indicated it would be adopting,"

Mr. Scheufler said: "To state that the Board committed to a different draft than what is approved here is not an accurate statement."
I never said the Board committed to a specific draft of policies.  I said "the Board indicated it would be adopting" a specific set of policies, which is not the same thing as committing itself to policies.


During the Dec. 12, 2006 board meeting, Superintendent, Dr. Diringer recommended the board approve changing our current contract with the BEA (Brecksville Education Association) which would take away two full days of instruction for our students so that our teachers could instead have two full days for their own “professional development.”

Dr. Diringer said the board should ask itself, “Is it legitimate to trade two instruction days for two in-service days?”
Mr. Scheufler:  “Yes.”
Mr. Balasko:     “Yes.”
Mrs. Neff:          “Yes.”
Mr. Siebert:      “Yes.”

Despite concerns expressed over loss of instructional time for students, the Board said "yes". The Board has made a decision that professional development for the teachers is more important than classtime for the students.

Note: Mr. Dosen is the only board member who opposed the recommendation. Mr. Dosen’s comments which supported his “No” vote earned him a release from the Doghouse.


Mr. Scheufler:  In an interview with a reporter regarding this website, Mr. Scheufler said:  "Just because a person disagrees with the school board does not automatically make everyone on the school board evil, or every decision they make wrong.  Usually, people can agree to disagree and then move on." (Brecksville Magazine and Broadview Journal, June, 2006)

I don't know any of our school officials personally, and I certainly don't know what's in any of their hearts.  I can only judge their actions, discussions, and decisions.  Contrary to what Mr. Scheufler might believe, I don't consider school officials "evil" if they do something I disagree with.  Those are Mr. Scheufler's words, not mine.  I view their actions simply in terms or right and wrong, good judgment or poor judgment. 

And while some people may tire in their fight for what is right, and then "agree to disagree and then move on" there are others who do not grow tired, and instead continue to fight for what they believe is right and against what is wrong.  That is a perfectly legitimate option; one that might even show more conviction.  That is the option I choose to exercise in certain matters that are important to me.


Cathy Harbinak, Coordinator of Community Relations:  Mrs. Harbinak sent a rather scathing message about me personally to all the members of the Key Communicators Network.  go...

Mr. Farnsworth: "There are lots and lots (of companies) that want to take advantage of our captive audience (of students)."  (Sept. 13, 2005) "There are literally hundreds of them."  (Sept. 26, 2005) Persuading the School Board to adopt an advertising policy which would allow for advertising on all school property. 


Mr. Farnsworth:  During a discussion about the million dollar artificial turf deal, even though the board acknowledged that the public is evenly divided in it's support or opposition to commercial advertising on public school property, Mr. Farnsworth said:  As long as the advertisements weren't "ostentatious" and didn't enter the school buildings, then "reasonable people in our community would support"  commercial advertisments paying for most of a million-dollar artificial turf deal. (April 4, 2006)  

I don't believe it is unreasonable to oppose commercial advertising on public school property.  And I don't believe it is unreasonable to oppose our district incurring a million dollar debt on a luxury our students don't need.


Mr. Rechkemmer:  Thank you, Mrs. Engelhart, your time is up.
Renee:  May I please have one more minute?
Mr. Rechkemmer: "No."

During the Board Meeting in October, 2005, I had severe laryngitis which had obviously  caused me to speak very slowly. As soon as I brought to the Board's attention that the High School was distributing book covers advertising the The O.C., a teen soap opera that previously aired an on-screen homosexual encounter between two teenage girls, Mr. Rechkemmer interupted me because my three minute time limit was over.


During the January 23, 2006 Board meeting, Mrs. Neff and Mr. Scheufler were reporting the work they have been doing on policy review, and they decided to change the rules for public participation at board meetings.

Mr. Scheufler:
"This is the perfect point for the new members.  There is no law in Ohio that actually requires any public entity to even hold public comment.  There's no requirement to do that.  We choose to do that." (Jan. 23, 2006)
Should the public feel grateful that you "choose" to allow the public to speak at public meetings in a publicly financed building about public school matters?
Mrs. Neff:
to Mr. Scheufler, "Were we going to have something about what the topic was, or no?" (Jan. 23, 2006)
Mr. Scheufler: "Just that they register." (Jan. 23, 2006)
They actually considered whether they should restrict what the public could speak about during the public board meetings?   more on Free Speech 


Mrs. Neff:  "That's not the school's responsibility!" (March 7, 2006) Commenting on the role schools play in childhood obesity and Type II Diabetes, specifically schools selling pop and junk food to school children.

Mr. Balasko: After stating that children "eat approximately 16% of their meals in school," he questioned the logic of getting rid of pop and junk food from the schools as a way to fight childhood obesity and Type II Diabetes.  "Any logical argument says that if you want to address a problem, do you go after the 16% of the problem or do you go after the 84% of the problem?  Let's go after the 84% of the problem." (March 7, 2006)

Mrs. Neff: "What about things like the snack carts in the schools, are they going to get rid of those?"  "Those are big money makers."  (March 7, 2006)  The snack carts are in one of our elementary schools and in the Central School.


Mr. Farnsworth: In closing the meeting with me when he refused to admit my son could read: "The next time you have a problem with dinosaurs or evolution or anything, why don't you come to us first before you go off telling all the other parents?" (April 29, 2005)

Why would I do that?