If you came here looking for our usual mix of comic books and pop
culture, I have some bad news for you. Today is another a column
on the Medina City Schools Board of Education and how that arrogant
group has once again proven itself utterly unworthy of our trust.
For a “what has gone before” summation of the Medina situation, I
direct you to my bloggy things of October 23 and November 7. Those
should bring you up to speed.
Pretty much the first thing the school board did after the school
levy passed was to hold a nigh-secret meeting in Columbus, some 100
miles south of Medina. Yes, they announced the meeting as they are
required to do by law. Yes, they claimed this was just a matter of
convenience since they would all be at an educational conference in
Columbus. No, I wasn’t buying those excuses. You don’t hold any
board meeting out of town unless you’re up to no good.
It’s such a burden to be proven right again and again when it comes
to the Board of Education. Among the matters the board discussed
at their Columbus sleepover was giving a new, five-year contract to
the district treasurer. Which is what they almost gave disgraced
former superintendent Randy Stepp until their Medina Elite cronyism
was exposed by our vigilant teachers union.
There’s more. The role of Treasurer Jim Hudson in the ethical and
financial malfeasance of the former superintendent and the school
board has not been fully investigated. There remains somewhere in
the neighborhood of a million dollars that may have been improperly
spent in recent years.
There’s even more. Apparently, the school board has been talking
about this extended contract in their executive sessions, which are
closed to the public, for several months with nary a word about it
to the public.
There’s even more. By law, even draft contracts are supposed to be
available to the public. However, the board refused the request of
The Gazette, a local Medina newspaper, for a copy of the contract.
It refused the request of the Medina City School Outrage Page for
a copy of the contract, It refused the request of various private
citizens for a copy of the contract. On the other hand, the board
did give a copy of the contract to very-connected Robert Skidmore,
who, though he won election to the school board earlier this month,
has not yet been sworn into office. Him, they give a copy of the
contract to. Incredible.
From the Medina City Schools Outrage Page:
“They’ve drafted a contract, and they have a copy available to all
the board members, I assume. There’s no reason it shouldn’t be
available to the public.” -- Tim Smith, professor emeritus at Kent
State University, expert in media law, arguing that the contract
should be public under Ohio law, even if board members had not yet
voted on it.
So, a mere two weeks after the successful passage of the levy, the
school board was still engaging in the illegal activities that put
the levy passage in jeopardy. Though the contract was finally made
public yesterday, it’s no wonder posters to the Medina City Schools
Outrage Page are saying they regret having voted for the levy and
will never do so again.
There’s more. Doug Adamczyk and Tom Cahalan were appointed to the
board earlier this year to fill spots vacated by board members who
resigned early on. Initially, they seemed to be open to engaging
with the voters and to represent a departure from the usual secrecy
of the board. That turns out to have been a sham.
Adamczyk and Cahalan kept the treasurer contract talks secret from
the community. They were the first to call for the contract to be
voted on earlier this week, despite the board’s refusal to provide
copies of the contract to the public as required by law. They are
as dishonest as the rest of this disgraced board. Sadly, they both
won their elections to remain on the board.
Who has been pushing for the extended contract big time? That would
be Bill Grenfell, another disgraced board member who chose not to
run for reelection because he knew he would never retain his seat.
He was also the fellow who thought it was perfectly fine to allow
Randy Stepp to extort an exaggerated salary and ridiculous perks
and even a signing bonus. When the board voted to rescind Stepp’s
contract extension on the basis that granting it violate Sunshine
laws, Grenfell voted to honor the illegal contract. Yeah, there’s
a piece of work for you.
In a secretive executive session, the board members voted to reduce
Treasurer Hudson’s new contract to a three-year-deal. They wanted
to vote on it with virtually no discussion. Hudson requested the
matter be tabled for a month. It’s a meaningless gesture and the
treasurer knows that.
In December, the same five board members who were ready to vote on
and approve the contract will still be there. Adamczyk, Cahalan,
Grenfell, the arrogant and intolerable Susan Vlcek and the even
more arrogant and intolerable Karla Robinson. They were all ready
to approve the new contract. What do you figure are the odds they
will have changed their minds a month from now?
Vlcek and Robinson have said they will resign their board positions
in January and May. At this point, I can see them rescinding the
resignations. They and the other board members have been shown to
have no shame.
Even if they do resign - and I don’t think they should be allowed
to determine the date of their departures - I suspect the remaining
board members will simply appoint other well-connected members of
the Medina Elite. They’ll overlook the candidates who received
3877 votes and 3831 votes (roughly 14% of the votes each) and pick
the same old same old.
Meet the new school board, same as the old school board.
Almost every day, someone on the Medina City Schools Outrage Page
posts that they feel duped and that they regret having voted for
the school levy. Almost every day, someone posts they will never
again vote for a levy. That’s on the school board.
The passage of the levy was not a vote of confidence in the board.
At best, it was a vote to give the board a chance to earn back the
trust it squandered years ago. It took all of two weeks for this
board to blow that chance.
The school board members have broken the Medina City Schools. I
wonder if anyone will ever be able to repair the damage they have
done to the system.
The only thing I’m sure of is that, in their colossal arrogance,
they really don’t care. Their claims to the contrary are without
merit. They reveal their true natures by their actions.
Shame on them.
I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2013 Tony Isabella