November 27, 2014

Medina
Flurries
30°F

School board member attends ‘Outrage’ group meeting

Correction, 10:20 a.m.: Thomas Cahalan filed a seat on the board left vacant by Dr. Robert Wilder.

 

MEDINA — About 50 people attended the first in-person meeting of members of the Medina City Schools Outrage page on Facebook.

Medina resident Mark Kuhar started the page in response to controversy over Medina Schools Superintendent Randy Stepp’s compensation.

Thomas Cahalan

Kuhar said he held the meeting Thursday night at Williams on the Lake so members could meet one another and plan for the future.

School board member Thomas Cahalan, who works as a personal trainer at the Medina Community Recreation Center, attended the meeting. He said he was not representing the board and was there as a community member.

“I’m available at the rec center,” he said. “I’ll take comments.”

Cahalan was asked what he would like to see the group accomplish.

“From my perspective, there’s a heck of a lot of interest,” Cahalan said, adding, “what can’t be done?”

Another person asked Cahalan if he would run in November. He said he was focused on resolving issues right now but he planned to run to retain his seat.

Cahalan was appointed to the board March 23. He replaced Dr. Robert Wilder, who resigned in February.

Another board member, former President Charles Freeman, resigned in March amid the controversy surrounding Stepp.

Stepp was placed on paid administrative leave Monday pending an investigation by the state auditor into his spending of district money held in a “carryover” fund at the Medina County Schools’ Educational Services Center.

The fund was used to pay more than a quarter-million dollars for his college education costs and for travel expenses.

Last week, The Gazette reported that in 2008 Stepp was reimbursed $4,782.89 from the ESC fund for a 2008 trip to Orlando , Fla., for a National School Boards Association conference. Stepp was accompanied by his wife and three daughters and has said he billed the district only for his expenses. But records show he included receipts for two nights at a luxury hotel after the four-day conference ended.

At Thursday’s meeting, Ray Gordon, a Montville Township resident, said he would like to see the group look toward the future.

“We have to envision what our end-all goal is,” he said. “It can’t be getting rid of the superintendent, getting rid of the school board.”

“Why can’t that be our goal?” a woman asked.

Mike Garapic, a Medina resident, said he would not vote for the 5.9-mill levy on the May 7 ballot unless Stepp and the board members involved with his contract resigned.
His statement was greeted with applause.

The group later broke into smaller discussion groups and talked about issues, such as creating a website apart from the Facebook page, protests, having a regular group attend school board meetings, financial oversight and a board candidates’ forum.

The school board has asked residents to weigh in on the district’s website at www.medinacityschooldistrict.org on whether they should keep the May levy on the ballot or postpone it till November in light of the controversy.

The board’s next meeting is 7 p.m. Tuesday at Medina High School’s Middle Auditorium.

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