April 18, 2014

Mostly cloudy

Medina teachers union: No trust in school board, Randy Stepp

MEDINA — The Medina City Teachers Association passed a resolution Thursday, saying it had no trust or confidence in the Medina Board of Education or Superintendent Randy Stepp.

The union’s main complaint is that Stepp received a total of $244,037 since 2010 as repayment for student loans, according to documents it received Thursday from the district in response to a public records request.

Bill Grenfell

The payments came from the Medina County Schools Educational Service Center. A total of $172,011.40 was paid to the U.S. Department of Education on Jan. 9, 2012, and the rest of the sum was paid to Case Western Reserve University at different times for various coursework since 2010.

“Our concern was we were not aware of the superintendent’s reimbursement,” said Gary Kovach, labor relations consultant for the Ohio Education Association, who works with the MCTA. “The excessive amount is a major concern.”

The resolution came at the union meeting where teachers learned the details of their tentative contract agreement with the board. Union president John Leatherman said votes of no confidence are unusual.

“It’s very rare when it happens,” he said.

The proposed two-year teacher contract calls for no wage increase, except for longevity “step” increases.

Also, high school teachers could teach up to six periods instead of five, allowing for the possibility of more classes to be added, Leatherman said.

Teachers’ contributions for health care would increase from 17.5 percent to 20 percent, effective June 1, 2014.

Teachers will have three business days to think about the contract, followed by a vote, Leatherman said.

“We as teachers feel for the community and feel for the students,” John Semenik, a world history teacher at Medina High School, said following the meeting. “We have given many concessions over the years for Medina City Schools. We will continue,” he said.

The union’s resolution included the following list of complaints:

• At its Jan. 7 work session, the school board approved a new five-year contract for the superintendent worth $1.2 million, including an $83,000 signing bonus. The financial information provided to the teachers association by the board during negotiations was that the school district was in dire financial straits.

• The board and Stepp withheld information regarding the superintendent’s new contract from the bargaining team. This may be a violation of the collective bargaining agreement between the association and the board, sections 2.012 and 2.04.

• The board and district Treasurer Jim Hudson failed to publicly post the minutes of the Jan. 7 work session until after the union reached a tentative agreement with the board.

• The agenda provided by Hudson for the Jan. 7 work session the union received made no mention of a new five-year contract for the superintendent, a possible violation of the collective bargaining agreement, section 4.041 and Ohio’s Sunshine Law.

• The board minutes from the Jan. 7 work session provided by Hudson to the teachers association contain no action by the board approving the superintendent’s five-year contract. The union still has not received minutes from the work session approving the superintendent’s contract.

• Board member Bill Grenfell released information regarding the association’s tentative agreement with the board to the public Wednesday, in violation of collective bargaining agreement section 2.05 and possibly Ohio’s public employees collective bargaining law.

• On Wednesday, board member Susan Vlcek threatened the community with harsh consequences if the May levy doesn’t pass.

• The board called a public meeting Wednesday and failed to address the union and the Medina community’s concerns.

• The actions of the board at the work session Jan. 7 and the special board meeting Wednesday may have violated Ohio’s Sunshine Law.

Hudson said the lack of mention of the contract in the minutes sent to union members was an oversight. He said the board approved minutes at the next meeting correcting it.

“I like to think I’m a person of integrity,” he said. “I would never mislead anyone for any reason.”

Vlcek said she could not comment on the details of the union’s resolution without having more time to go over them, but said the board has utmost confidence in the district’s teachers.

“We’re on the same team always,” she said.

The board released the following statement in response to the union’s vote: “As a school district we believe in the importance and value of professional development for our entire staff. We believe it is important to be on the cutting edge of educational practices. We just learned of the actions of the teacher’s union and we are disappointed as now is the time for us to come together for our children and academic excellence.”

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.

  • Richard Leiby

    Well board and Stepp bought with their pants down again. There is so much corruption with this school road and Stepp. How can the voters trust any of them. They have to go. Only way trust can come back to the voters is when Stepp gets out of office and the board steps down. The meeting tonight would be a great time for this to happen. Because if not the recall movement will remove them. They are all corrupt. What other deals have they and Stepp made? If everything else is not bad enough. Now we find out they ” board ” have repayed Stepp student loans a tune of 244,000 plus. Wow and they tell votes school has no money. Really? Vote no on levy yes for recall

  • Richard Leiby

    Teacher need to take a stand and vote to strike. Put board in their place. Time to strike now

  • Concerned Citizen

    While I agree that the board and the superintendent should step down. In no way should the teachers strike!

  • mad

    Time to strike. The super and board-obscene.

  • MedinaParent

    Public employees should not be allowed to strike. If our teachers strike the they will get backlash from the community. The ones that would suffer the most would be the students. The Board created this mess, let’s see what they say tonight and how they try to justify what they have done.

  • Dismayed and Disgusted

    What a sorry sad state this district is in. Unfortunately after being a long time levy supporter, I am voting NO on the levy, support the resignation of all board members, and encourage the teachers to strke.

  • Anonymous

    I am voting new on the new school tax.

  • very concerned voter

    this is amazing, what an embarrassment for the entire community and voters of Medina. It isn’t just the teachers that have lost trust with the board, I think by everybody has. And then to have one of the board members threaten the voters with drastic measures if levy isn’t passed. Sad Situation!

  • BeeParent

    The forum last night was a disgrace. It was a witch hunt. Very disappointed to me by the whole chain of events but can’t help but think by the behavior in the audience, and yes many of them were teachers, you wanted an excuse to strike and get more. Who is losing focus on our children???

  • disgusted voter

    We need to stand up against the threats this superintendent and board are putting forth. If Randy Stepp can find another job with the perks, hours, part-year schedule, and protection, then he should go for it! We are made to believe that he is a flight risk but in reality if he goes into business/industry he will have “real work” year round, long days, travel, tough competition, bright peers who will challenge his ideas with intellect, much higher cost of living, etc. He and the board have made poor choices, have blown our money and I support a total house cleaning. We could be better off starting from scratch than trying to undo this mess. Go get another $200,000+ job in Medina Ohio or anywhere in Ohio Randy, I dare you! There is someone out there who can re-inspire this district and built it up from the ashes, we need unload what we have and find them. I am shocked that Bill Grenfell was part of all this corruption. Shame on all of them.

  • Glad my children are grown

    We need someone to research the changes in this district since 2007.If the board is so business-savvy, why can’t they come up with some viable solutions, not reimbursements and retention bonuses? Why does the community keep voting the same people into office? Don’t punish the teachers for trying to educate with fewer support, larger classes, and increasingly hostile attitudes from all sides.

  • EdinWadsworth

    Sounds like Susan Vlesk speaks from both sides of her mouth. After reading and hearing so much about this sordid school board’s thought processes, actions, and apparent disregard of the citizens of Medina, I believe the city of Medina should request the resignation of all of the school board members.

  • ready to work

    excuse to strike and get more??? These are the people who Stepp negotiated with in bad faith, claiming concessions were necessary, while taking the funds himself. These same people reached an agreement maintaining those concessions for the good of the students and community even after finding out what Stepp had done.

  • ready to work

    Who said anything about a strike??? The teachers reached a tentative agreement resulting in a net reduction in compensation for a fifth straight year, even after finding out that Stepp bargained in bad faith, taking the money for himself. They have character.

  • ready to work

    Unfortunately, Ohio does not have a recall process other than a judiciary removal from office.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1540908930 Cliff Donoughe

    Why would they possibly want to strike over this sweetheart deal? They are still paid more than any other district in Medina County and more than NRoyalton and Strongsville teachers. This is yet another bad contract written by an incompetent BOE.