April 17, 2014

Mostly sunny

School board names Knight as interim superintendent

David Knight

Retired Sidney Fenn Elementary Principal David Knight has been tapped to serve as interim superintendent for Medina Schools.

“Dave has agreed to step forward, help us out … help the kids out,” school board President Karla Robinson said in making the announcement Tuesday evening. “He is such a good person for stepping forward into this difficult position.”

Knight, who retired last year, will take over immediately.

The board met for about 90 minutes in a closed-door executive session before resuming the open meeting and voting unanimously to approve the appointment.

The school district has been without a superintendent since April 8, when Randy Stepp was placed on paid leave, pending a special state audit of his use of district money from a “carryover” fund held by the Medina County Schools’ Educational Service Center.

The board has been under mounting public criticism since early March for approving a new contract for Stepp that provided him an $83,000 signing bonus.

Last week the board voted to rescind Stepp’s contract — a move Stepp has said he would fight in court. His old contract, signed in February 2009, runs through July 2014.

Immediately after the decision was announced, a smiling John Leatherman, president of the Medina City Teachers Association, told board members they had made a good decision in picking Knight.

“We already know him and like him,” Leatherman said. “He always gave a feeling of family and that’s a feeling we all need right now.”

Knight also has the support of parents. Earlier this month, the Parent Teacher Organization at Sidney Fenn asked the district to name the playground at the elementary school after him. Knight served as Sidney Fenn’s principal for 21 years. The PTO also purchased a train for the playground in his honor.

“Mr. Knight awakened children to learning beyond the formal classroom,” PTO Co-President Jennifer Anzalone said. “He provided teams for students to get involved with to give back, learn a new sport or skill, be challenged or just to be a part of something bigger.”

Robinson declined to say how many people were considered for the interim superintendent’s post.

“It’s a difficult thing to ask people to do,” she said.

Robinson said Knight verbally agreed to serve in the position.

She said the written contract, to run through June 30, will be drafted and “we will approve it publicly at an upcoming meeting.”

How much Knight will be paid hasn’t been worked out yet, Robinson said.

“Dave Knight’s true north is serving kids and that’s what we need to re-focus our energy on in this district,” she said.

Robinson became emotional during the announcement, and thanked all the district staff for their support and dedication.

“We’re so grateful to our administrative team, our teachers and our support staff because this is a difficult time to be associated with Medina City Schools,” she said.

Knight is expected to begin work in Medina immediately, but Robinson said he may have to spend a few days finishing up some part-time work with Mapleton Schools in Ashland County. Robinson said Mapleton officials are aware he was interested in serving as interim superintendent and will work with him to accommodate his requirements in Medina while he finishes up his Mapleton contract.

“They’re willing to work with him to make it work for all of us,” she said.

Knight will face some immediate challenges. The board plans to meet Tuesday to consider approving teacher contracts and renewals. Next month, the board will meet again to consider approving administrative contracts.

Robinson also said Knight will be responsible for overseeing final graduation arrangements and other graduation events.

“We really couldn’t have waited any longer,” Robinson said. “He will be very busy in the coming months.”

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

  • czatik

    Are you kidding me Medina!!! Paid leave for Stepp. This is the problem that all school systems have. It is not the person that is the problem it is the contract that was offered to the person. The school board should be fired for offering a contract that is unrealistic in today’s economic climate. And now we are going to pay another person to do his job while he is on paid leave. Stepp has been in the position since 2009 and nobody questioned his practices until the bonus came. WHY??? Teachers suffer from practices like this and so does all the children. What is worse is that the Medina School Board was the gull to ask for more money from the community with levies.

  • scastillojr

    Since Mr. Knight has retired from the school system, will this be considered “double dipping”? As far as Mr. Stepp when is this paid leave going to stop? Now we’re going to be paying two people for the same job?

  • si

    Yes it is double dipping, but it sounds like he is double dipping at mapleton right now. But whats the problem with double dipping? I mean who are they going to find in April? Nobody that’s qualified except a retiree…

  • Kazoo

    I have known Mr. Knight for some time now. Both my kids went to Sidney Fenn as well as I did 35 years ago. He is a awesome person talking to parents about their children’s issues good or bad. If I had a vote to put him as the superintendent he would definitely get mine and everybody’s else that knows the type of person he is. Why did the school board decide not to have somebody home grown to run our schools? Can we convince Mr. Knight to take over the job as the superintendent. Mr. Step, I know this is not all your fault. I suppose it was the tax payers of MEDINA CITY SCHOOLS not watch dogging the actions of the school board, but you are the person that accepted that crazy bonus and submitted the past college loans to be paid off as well as vacation expense in Florida. The court will definitely up hold the contract you agreed with the the school board but is it really worth it?

  • lm

    If nothing else, this will pacify the outrage people until the next person comes along that they want to crucify.

  • Medina retiree

    Yup, let’s pacify the outrage. When people with median household income of $55,811 (2010 census) are pacified, then they make much more intelligent and reasonable decision about hiring/firing personnel of much higher pay grade (120K+ for superintendents) … nThere is an ancient saying – when a shepherd is replaced, only the seep herd thinks that there is a new ruler.

  • lm

    Oh I am not saying that they arent justified…trust me I have lived in Medina 50+ years and I do believe the man and the 3 need to go. I am just saying that the majority of that particular lot will go after anyone without always getting info that is needed. There is outrage and there is crazy. nnMr. Knight will bring 2 months of peace and hopefully that will calm the crazy down. The sad thing is when that BOE ends up paying millions to get rid of the man the crazy will begin again.nnGreed…how the mighty always fall.nlm