Architect pays $1.6 million to settle lawsuit over Dayton school flaws

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Dayton's school board approved a settlement agreement this month stemming from defects in the roof construction of Wogaman School, which was built a decade ago. The agreement calls for two contractors to pay the school district and the Ohio School Facilities Commission $900,000.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Dayton’s school board on Tuesday approved a $1.6 million settlement agreement in favor of the school district and the state, addressing longstanding design problems at Wogaman and Louise Troy schools.

DNK Architects, Inc. will pay $1 million to the school board and the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission for the Wogaman project and $595,000 for the Louise Troy project, according to the agreement.

LAST YEAR: Contractors to pay $900,000 over Wogaman roof issue

DNK was hired to serve as architect and engineer of record for construction of Wogaman in 2002 and Louise Troy in 2005. The schools sit a mile apart in West Dayton, both south of Germantown Street.

By 2013, Dayton Public Schools was seeking contractors to fix roofing and “building envelope” problems at Wogaman, and they ended up completely replacing the roof. The school district sued several contractors over the projects in 2015.

Two other contractors last year agreed to pay $900,000 to settle roof-specific claims. The lawsuit allegations against DNK said that the company’s design documents for Wogaman and Louise Troy contained a combined 2,314 “design errors and omissions” resulting in 319 change orders. In common final settlement language, neither side admitted fault.

RELATED: DPS closes school after ignoring roof issue for 14 years

The settlement does not specify how Dayton Public Schools and the OFCC will split the settlement proceeds, but a previous settlement was divided 39 percent for DPS and 61 percent for the state, to match each agency’s investment in the project. That breakdown would give DPS just over $600,000 in this case.

Speaking policy tabled

Dayton’s school board was scheduled to vote Tuesday on changes to the public comment process for board meetings, but tabled the issue for further review.

The changes, which had been approved by the board’s policy committee, would have required anyone wishing to speak at a board meeting to submit the usual form at least five minutes prior to the start of a meeting (with an online option as well). Currently, speakers can submit that form during the meeting before public comment time.

LAST YEAR: School board battles through contentious meetings

School board member Sheila Taylor said she opposed the move, especially since the school board recently moved its meetings up to 5 p.m., making it difficult for residents to get to the start of the meeting after work.

Dayton has more public participation than most school districts — 12 people addressed the board Tuesday. The policy also would have limited total public comment on non-agenda items at a meeting to 30 minutes, keeping the current limit of three minutes per speaker.

Former school board member Mario Gallin urged the board to reconsider during Tuesday’s public comment period.

“You will be doing yourselves an injustice by limiting a process that permits you to fully understand the depths of the concerns of the community you were elected to serve,” Gallin said.

Principal in limbo

Dozens of parents and staff from Ruskin Elementary came to Tuesday’s meeting to support Principal Jennifer Dearwester, whose contract may be non-renewed.

Several teachers and parents addressed the board about Dearwester’s dedication to her students, support for her staff, and the academic achievement at the school. Among DPS elementary schools last year, Ruskin had the second-highest performance index on state tests, and earned a “B” in student growth.

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Dearwester and her attorney spoke to the school board in executive session after the meeting, but the board did not vote on the principal’s status. Dearwester declined comment.