July 2, 2016

Mostly clear

Board seeks interim chief in wake of Stepp controversy

MEDINA — The Medina school board is looking for an interim superintendent.

Possible candidates will be discussed at a special board meeting this evening, according to an announcement Monday.

The meeting, which will include a closed executive session to consider “the employment of (a) public official,” will start at 5:30 p.m. at the board office’s switchboard conference room, 140 W. Washington St.

Board President Karla Robinson said she didn’t know whether a decision would be made tonight.

“I am not certain at this point,” she said in an email response to questions from The Gazette. “We have a lot to discuss as a board of five, and we can’t have that discussion until the meeting.”

Robinson declined to reveal who was under consideration for the post.

“We have several candidates we are considering,” she said, “but we are not releasing their names in order to protect their privacy.”

Superintendent Randy Stepp was placed on paid administrative leave by the board April 8 pending the outcome of a special state audit.

The audit will examine all transactions made on the district’s behalf from a “carryover” fund held by the Medina County Schools’ Educational Service Center. The fund contains money left over after Medina Schools paid for services from the center.

The fund was used to pay for more than a quarter-million dollars for Stepp’s college loans and other educational expenses.

In addition to his educational expenses, Stepp used the ESC fund to cover travel expenses. Earlier this month, The Gazette reported that Stepp had taken his wife and three adolescent daughters with him to a 2008 National School Boards Association conference in Orlando, Fla. Records show he was reimbursed $4,782.89, including two nights at a luxury hotel after the four-day conference ended.

The school board voted last week to pull the 5.9-mill levy that had been planned for the May 7 ballot, saying it feared the issue would fail in the wake of controversy surrounding Stepp’s compensation, which included an $83,000 retention bonus.

In the face of a public outcry, Stepp agreed to give back the bonus in biweekly installments over the term of the contract, which runs through July 2019.

The board also voted to rescind the contract it awarded to Stepp Jan. 7, saying it violated Ohio Sunshine laws during its approval.

Stepp has said he will go to court to enforce the contract.

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