After infighting, Dayton schools hire ex-principal Lawrence as business manager

Creation of position, hiring have been controversial; Lawrence is former DPS principal, administrator

The Dayton school board approved David Lawrence as the district’s new business manager in a 5-2 vote on Tuesday night.

Lawrence is a former Dayton Public Schools administrator who left the district on a controversial buyout in 2017 and went on to work as a principal in the Northmont school district.

The two votes against were board members Gabriela Pickett and Jocelyn Rhynard.

President Will Smith said the school board looks forward to “moving forward in innovative ways.” Smith previously said the position would oversee transportation and the Welcome Stadium project. A job posting on the DPS website says the business manager would also oversee nutrition services and procurement.

Smith said the district is also in support of Lawrence, treasurer Hiwot Abraha and superintendent Elizabeth Lolli working together as a team.

“We look forward to seeing them all working together,” Smith said. “I just want to make sure that everyone knows that we are in full support of all three of them.”

Lawrence said he is excited to move into the new position. He said his replacement at Northmont has already been chosen and his official resignation will be Sept. 23.

“I’m excited to come back to be an advocate for the community,” Lawrence said. “The title was business manager, but I would just say somebody here to meet the needs of families and also the education component. All the pieces matter.”

Lawrence was a candidate for superintendent in 2016, but the school board hired former superintendent Rhonda Corr instead. Lawrence was later paid $200,000 to leave his position in the district after his role was severely diminished.

Corr was placed on administrative leave, and departed DPS under a separation agreement in January 2018. Elizabeth Lolli, who had been assistant superintendent under Corr, was eventually promoted to replace her.

The business manager position has been controversial. At a meeting on July 13, Pickett accused other board members of creating the position with a specific person in mind.

“But the actions that we take, even if they are with good intentions, we need to be clear so that we don’t run the risk of favoring one’s friends when seeking employment in the district,” Pickett said. “And if we were to do that, we will deeply affect the trust given to us when we were elected to serve the people.”

Rhynard said she was disappointed in the way the job posting was pushed through and how the board did not seek public input in the decision.

“How was holding these discussions in any way open and encouraging involvement in the decision-making process by the public?” Rhynard said at a July 26 meeting.

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