April 20, 2014

Medina
Hazy sunshine
69°F

Stepp inquiry should be expanded, board says

MEDINA — Medina City Schools have asked Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost to expand the examination of Superintendent Randy Stepp’s spending to include at least one month of his credit card bills.

The district originally asked for a special audit of Stepp’s spending from a district “carryover” fund held by the Medina County Educational Service Center.

The board placed Stepp on paid administrative leave April 8 pending the outcome of the audit, which is expected at the end of this month.

The amended agreement with the state auditor approved unanimously by the board on Monday calls for a review of transactions included in the district’s December 2007 American Express credit card statement.

District Treasurer Jim Hudson said he could not say why the school board requested the expansion of the audit because the audit is ongoing.

“They are just expanding their scope a little bit to include some transactions at Medina City Schools,” Hudson said during Monday’s meeting, when the board approved the change.

The amended agreement asks the auditors to examine the credit card expenditures to ensure they met the following requirements:

• Authorization for approval to pay per district’s policies or employment contract.

• Adequacy of supporting documentation.

• Proper public purpose.

• Proper fund/account coding in the district’s records.

• Exclusion from any amounts previously reimbursed or paid by the Educational Service Center.

Hudson also said he would be asking the auditor to review proposed changes to the district’s credit card policies.

Lawsuit

School board members did not comment on a federal lawsuit filed by Stepp on Friday, charging four board members and other district officials with breach of contract, defamation and invasion of privacy.

At the end of Monday’s meeting, the board went into executive session to discuss “pending court action.”

The school board did send out a press release earlier in the day stating that the board had not received any communication from the court or Stepp’s lawyers, but that they had obtained a copy of the lawsuit.

The lawsuit named school board President Karla Robinson and board members Susan Vlcek, Doug Adamczyk and William Grenfell; James Shields, the school district’s general counsel; and district Treasurer James Hudson.

The board members named all voted to rescind Stepp’s contract April 16, arguing it was not valid because the board had violated the state’s open meeting law by failing to properly publicize the Jan. 7 meeting where it was approved.

The board’s action followed a month of public furor over Stepp’s new contract, which provided him an $83,000 “retention” bonus, and subsequent publicity about earlier contracts that obligated the district to pay for Stepp’s old college loans and for a master’s of business administration. School board members later said they did not know the full cost of Stepp’s educational expenses, which totaled more than a quarter million dollars.

The lawsuit charges the board knew the full cost of the contract provisions but falsely claimed ignorance in a March press release.

The lawsuit asks the court to award “the amount of the full value of the 2013 contract,” estimated by the Medina City Teachers Association to be $1.2 million, along with other damages, including attorney’s fees, interest and court costs.

The suit, which asks for a jury trial, does not specify a specific dollar amount of damages.

Levy discussion

In other action Monday, interim Superintendent David Knight proposed that the board place a 5.9-mill, five-year emergency levy for operating funds on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Last month, the board pulled a planned 10-year, 5.9-mill levy from the May 7 special election ballot April 16, the same day it voted to rescind Stepp’s contract.

When asked why the change from 10 years to five years, Knight said the shorter time frame would show the community the money is being well-spent.

“We need to re-establish trust, prove ourselves,” he said. “… The downside is — we’ll be back on the ballot five years from now.”

If the levy is approved, Knight said busing would be brought back to a one-mile radius from all school buildings. Busing is now at the state minimum of two miles, and there is no high school busing. It would also provide funding for more school resource officers.

Knight said the levy would also bring back various programs and services that have been cut, including:

• A reading intervention teacher at each of the elementary buildings.

• Gifted services at the elementary schools.

• Increased counseling services at all the schools.

• More art, music and gym classes at the elementary level.

“It’s the arts that really foster the excitement and the motivation of wanting to be in school,” he said.

The levy resolution needs to be filed with Medina County Board of Elections by Aug. 7.

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

  • tired of the bs

    What a bunch of idiots! Now that they are getting sued they are going to expand the inquiry??? How much is this going to cost the taxpayers. The school board has to go!!

  • xapd

    Agreed. Are they actually claiming they didn’t exercise proper oversight in 2007? NO to any levy proposed by these morons.

  • Richard

    They need to audit the total financial records of the district. From top to bottom. This way they and the public will know just where they stand with everything and if Stepp helped him self to any other monies. As for the levy. It should not be past until total board and treasure have resigned and new superintendent has been put in place. Then only after they have proven to the public that they are really all about doing right for the student. So they they need to not wast any money on a levy until that all happens. Then put levy on in November of 2014 and maybe if New board new treasure and new superintendent have proven them self it would pass. They claimed without levy passing in May all kind of cuts would have to be made. Well no levy wheres all those cuts? Scam that just shows they don’t need the money!!!!

  • Common Sense

    I guess the real question here is can we afford a 5.9 mil levy with all of the lawsuits hanging over our heads? Why don’t we see where this all ends up before we go off half cocked and realize that we under-estimated what we really need. Unless the auditor comes up with something really good, we are going to have to pay Randy. The way I see this ending is that we are going to have to pay him a bunch and he is going to have to reimburse us for a few things. Either way, we will loose. nn Question for the Board….How does it feel to have “Your” guy turn on you and heave you all under the bus? The three of you that are up for re-election should be thankful that the end is near. I wonder how many people are going to run against you? I guess it doesn’t matter…. you will not win.

  • Disgusted

    They need to investigate all funds and all credit card usage for the last 6 years. Their actions of expanding it by 1 month of his bills only, will only help Stepp’s law suite.

  • Roger

    What a bunch of bumbling crooks. Wow. And Randy Stepp is STILL getting paid. Wow.