Saturday, March 20, 2010

Why don't they listen to the parents?

If you are a parent with an opinion you want considered, or ideas you want taken seriously, stay clear of Livonia Public Schools if you can. But why don't they listen?

Because they consider themselves superior to the parents. They feel they are the educators, and we can't be trusted to know what's best for our kids. They act as if we are children who are misbehaving and need to be put in our place.

Take a look at how they ignore public input. The Legacy Initiative was the biggest example, but hardly the first, or last. What about the superintendent search that was called off so Randy Liepa could be anointed. How about Everyday Math? How about all the unanswered phone calls to transportation when there is a problem with the busses? How about the budget and teacher raises? How about privatization?

The opinion Randy and the old guard have to the ideas of the public can be summed up in a single word.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Randy Liepa and the Open Meetings Act

Randy Liepa and the Open Meetings Act

Randy Liepa was in rare form at tonight's LPS board of education meeting. He decided he had found a disruption in his meeting. A disruption so great that only the Livonia Police Department could deal with it. What was this disruption? What was this instrument of chaos and disorder?

A Nikon D-50 digital SLR mounted on a tripod.

Yep. He called the police because of a camera. A camera in a public meeting. A camera in a televised public meeting.

There I sat in the front row, with my trusty camera sitting on its tripod when Randy and Lynda Scheel walked up. Lynda didn't say anything, but nodded a lot while Randy talked. Without so much as a hello, he said "That camera is a disruption. You can either remove it, or leave the meeting." I responded "that may be your opinion, but you're wrong." I then advised him of the Open Meetings Act, and its prohibition against interference with a citizen's recording of a meeting.

He said "Regardless, if you don't take it down, you will have to leave". I advised I had no intention of taking it down. or leaving.

He walked away.

He then called in officers from Blue Line Security (I later found out these 2 had to stay to the end of the meeting). They tried to convince me I had to take down the camera or leave. When I explained the Open Meetings Act to them, they went over to Randy, talked, and left.

During all of this, the meeting was delayed (in all, about 45 minutes).

Randy then called in uniformed Livonia Police.

The officers advised I would be arrested if I did not remove my camera from the meeting, or leave. I once again explained the Open Meetings Act. The officer advised that it didn't matter. This was his (Randy's) meeting and building. If I did not remove the camera or leave, I would be arrested for disorderly conduct and trespassing.

Now, the officers were quite polite, and I wasn't all that interested in seeing what the inside of a Livonia jail cell looked like. So I told them I would do so because they were advising I had to do so in their official capacity. But I made it clear that this did not mean I accepted that Randy had a right to use the police in this fashion. Officer Tieg advised that Randy had "kindly offered to let me rejoin the meeting without my camera".

I then asked him what would happen if I brought a camera to a future meeting. He told me I would be arrested.

I went back to the meeting, and spoke at audience communication, much to the chagrin of Randy and Lynda.

At no point during this little display did I raise my voice, or show anger in any way. Because frankly, Randy's actions didn't make me angry. They simply gave me a profound sense of disappointment at what our district has turned into.

Loyd A. Romick

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Dorothy's Experience?

Below is the response from LPS, signed by Ms. Chomicz, in which I asked for her Human Resources experience, credentials, and certifications at the time she was hired as the district's Human Resources Director. The fact that this is all they could find, speaks for itself.

Could we not have found somone with better qualified for 132k?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Not So Wizard of HR

The recent lawsuits against LPS, brought as a result of Eric Zivkovich, have emphasized the need for solid human resource policies and procedures. Unfortunately, solid just doesn’t come to mind when looking at the HR structure of LPS under the leadership of Dorothy Chomicz.

For example, you would think that any employee that had been violent with a student would be subject to some kind of periodic follow up once they have returned to work. However, this apparently isn’t the case. Not even for those forced to attend anger management.

According to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) response, signed by Ms. Chomicz, the ONLY place documents that, would even identify such an employee, can be found is in the employee’s own personnel file. Now, if this is the case, how could they possibly follow up without a list outside of the personnel file? Are we expected to believe they do this by memory? Or, do they just plain don’t do it?

Creating, reviewing, and updating the HR procedures for the district is the job of the district’s HR Director. The position is both very difficult and very well paid, and does not lend itself to on the job training. It requires a solid base of technical knowledge on a variety of HR topics, and a wealth of experience to draw on.

Dorothy Chomicz has none of these.

Instead, she brings a vast reservoir of personal loyalty to Randy Liepa. This serves Randy quite well, but leaves the work of the HR Director to either be done by subordinates, or simply not done at all. It also leaves us paying not only the HR Director’s $132k+ salary, but also the consultants and lawyers she constantly needs to use to handle the day to day operations of her department.

There are no ruby slippers we can click three times to wake up from this mess; just the ballot box.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

New LPS Reform Email Address

I have a new email address available if you have information or concerns regarding the operation of the Livonia Public School district that you want made public.

All information will be held in strictest confidence.

The address is

Friday, November 28, 2008

It's Good to be the King (with appoligies to Mel Brooks)

One of the most enduring criticisms of public officials is that they treat the public budget as their personal piggy bank. The reason for this perception is simple. It's all too often true.

Take a look at Kwami Kilpatrick's expense reports or Jack Kirksey's LPS "consulting fees", and you can see that taxpayer dollars don't always get spent in the public interest.

Unfortunately, LPS does not seem to be an exception. When the last SEALS contract was ratified, Mrs. Markarian (president of our school board) told us all how she thought it was too generous, but voted for it anyways. What she didn't tell us was that her husband (Eric Markarian) is a member of SEALS. In other words, she was voting money for herself. Apparently, she considers it best to avoid the appearance of impropriety, by making sure you don't know about it.

However, the truth has a way of getting out. When asked why she didn't simply tell the public before the vote, she advised that the district's attorney's told her it wasn't illegal. Hmmm, not exactly a ringing endorsement of transparency and accountability in government.

That brings us to Mr. Markarian's new promotion.

First some background. About a year ago, the board approved a contract with an energy consulting firm to work on ways to reduce the district's energy bill. Part of this arrangement was to create a new position at LPS (energy coordinator). The district set the salary (90k+), and posted the position. Joe Harvey was selected, and has held the position since then.

However, Mr. Harvey is in the Army reserves and has been called up for a 1 year tour of duty in Iraq. Who did Randy Liepa pick for his replacement? Eric Markarian. Husband of Cyndi Markarian. President of the board of education. Gosh, what a coincidence.

Eric now goes from making $23.77 per hour as a custodian, to a salary of more than $90,000 a year coordinating the districts energy usage. This works out to be a nearly $40,000 raise. By comparison, even the highest paid teacher can't reach this level.

Randy Liepa confirmed the promotion, although he stated it had not yet become effective, at the 11/24/08 board of education meeting. But only as a response to audience communication.

So, if this is so above board, why not let the public know? For that matter, when was the board told? Why in the world did it not need the board's approval?

According to Mr. Liepa, Eric had applied when the position was first posted, and was the "next in line". He also assured the audience that "no back room deals had been made". In other words, it's just another coincidence.

By the way, why in the world do we need to pay $90k for a job that can done without a degree, and only requires the experience of a custodian? Couldn't that money have been better spent in the class room?

LPS has suffered under a culture of secrecy for years. Its gotten so bad lately, I'm wondering when they will outlaw the "F word". You know, FOIA. Sorry Randy, but it sure looks like those LPS "back rooms" are getting quite the work out. Who else has been getting preferential treatment? Linda Scheel's daughter in law, while Linda was board president? Gosh, another pesky coincidence.

So, in the immortal words of Mel Brooks, "It's good to be the king".

Monday, August 25, 2008

LPS BOE meeting 8/25/08

Here are some of the highlights from the meeting:

There was a discussion about the demolition of Webster. They will remove all of the building, and the play equipment. However, they will leave the parking lot in place, and the area may be used as a socor field.

The process has been slowed, as some of the structure is considered toxic by the state, and has to be taken to a separate landfill.

Hull is currently used for storage, and is deteriorating. It's viability for being used as a school again is becoming "less and less". Randy states that Hull is considered an eyesore in the community, and that he is "very cognizant of that".

After the meeting, it was mentioned that Dorthy has a posting for an assistant director for the transportation department. This position would report to Steve Dickey.