April 19, 2014

Medina
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Petition seeks ouster of board members

A Medina resident and creator of the “Medina City Schools Outrage” Facebook page is leading a petition drive calling for the resignations of two board members saying it’s the only way to pass a levy on the November ballot.

“It’s a symbolic gesture,” Mark Kuhar said. “We’re hoping to demonstrate that enough people would consider voting for a levy if they felt like the board was in good hands.”

Lori Berger, a special education teacher at Heritage Elementary School, called on board members Karla Robinson and Susan Vlcek during Monday's board meetingto resign if they expect to pass a levy. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY KIERA MANION-FISCHER)

The board approved an initial resolution Monday to place a five-year, 5.9-mill levy on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The petition asks for resignations from Board President Karla Robinson and Boardmember Susan Vlcek, who are not up for election in November. The other three board positions will be on the ballot.

As of Wednesday night, the petition had gathered 115 signatures and Kuhar’s Facebook page had collected about 1,700 supporters.

Kuhar said he decided to start the petition drive because Ohio law does not allow school board members to be recalled through an initiative process. They can be removed from office but only if a complaint is filed with the county court signed by residents representing at least 15 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the school district.

“From what I understand, it could be a costly legal endeavor to get somebody forcibly removed from that position,” Kuhar said.

Kuhar said he would present the petition at the next board meeting.

Robinson responded Wednesday to the petition with a written statement, saying she intends to remain on the board through the remainder of her term, which ends in 2015, but would not seek re-election.

“I understand the dissatisfaction and anger that many people have with decisions this board has made,” she wrote. “I have read the emails, listened to the public comments, read the letters to the editor, and taken many meetings with concerned citizens. But the needs of this district require a board that is not composed of five new members without experience and knowledge, to lead us through the levy and beyond.”

On Wednesday, Vlcek sidestepped the question whether she would resign.

“I’ve had the honor to serve on this board for many years and I think in order to be a good leader, you’re always evaluating your impact on the district,” she said. “I’ve done that every year and I will continue to do the same.”

Vlcek voiced regret about public criticism of the board, but stopped short of a full apology.

“I couldn’t be sorrier to be part of any decision that has taken even one moment of focus away from the great work that people in Medina City Schools do,” she said. “My passion for public education is what brought me here and what’s keeping me here.”

Kuhar started the Medina City Schools Outrage page in March after details of Superintendent Randy Stepp’s contract became public, including an $83,000 signing bonus.

Since then, the controversy has grown as details of other benefits provided by earlier contracts became public, including paying more than a quarter of a million dollars for Stepp’s college degrees.

Robinson said the board has taken many actions in the past three months responding to the controversy:

• Calling for a state audit of Stepp’s spending from the Educational Service Center carryover fund, which was used to make the educational payments.

• Placing Stepp on paid administrative leave.

• Rescinding his latest contract.

• Pulling the May levy from the ballot.

• Hiring David Knight as interim superintendent and asking him to communicate to the public exactly what would happen if the levy passes or fails.

If passed by voters, the levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $181 a year. The levy will generate about $6.6 million a year in revenue.

If the levy fails, Knight told the school board that plans call for closing Heritage Elementary School and convert the traditional neighborhood schools to “banded elementary schools,” with each school holding no more than three grade levels.

Under the plan, two of the district’s elementary schools would be pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade, two would be grades two and three and the remaining two schools would contain grades four and five.

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

  • Angie Kovacs

    It’s all well and good that “many actions have been taken”, but none of them should have been needed. If I kicked a hole in the wall at the library, and then repaired it, no one would be praising me for repairing it. I’d still be wrong for putting the hole there in the first place, and they’d be absolutely right to ban me from the library.

  • Common Sense

    Neither one of them will step down. But, with three new members coming on board, they will be irrelevant. All we can hope for is that they don’t make any more decisions for us in the mean time.

  • MomOf2

    There is no reason why we cannot have five new board members come in november. No levy will pass until then. All we ever heard before was “its for the kids its about the kids” over and over. The board needs to stop with the threats, by threatening the community is not a way to go! Cutting positions not needed is a start.

  • NineToFive

    What? Vlchek sidestepped the issue? What a shocker! She sidesteps everything.

  • SICK OF BOARD

    This just shows that they really think there is not anyone out there that can do the job better then them. They feel a totally new board would not know what or how to do the job. Well they forget they were new once and had to lean the job. Well no levy should ever pass until everyone of these corrupt board members are gone one way or another. Then once a totally new board is in place and then only can a levy be past. Maybe it is time for court action because they all have violated their duties as well as just maybe laws. No levy until they are all gone. If they are really for the students and not them selves. Then They would step down now!!!!! But they are in it for everything they change for them selves not the students.

  • Concerned

    “We kind of beat this to death a little bit”, says Susan Vlcek on 3/8. Have we forgotten the teacher’s union has voted a No Confidence on our board and Randy Stepp, Mr. Cash Grab himself? Please, Mrs. Vlcek is completely out of touch. Karla Robinson on one hand thinks she holds no responsibility for her actions because she’s been on the board for only 18 months but then turns around and claims she shouldn’t resign because she is an experienced board member. You can’t have it both ways. These people somehow have deluded themselves into thinking they are above everyone in the community and they are the only ones that can do this job. Rewatch the March 8th board meeting, who could EVER forget them. Mr. Grenfell was the only one who showed any contrition. I can’t believe it’s come to begging and pleading for them to resign and they still won’t. What does that tell you about their characters? It’s all about them and not the children. Karla pretty much admitted she is there to “fix her messes”. She can’t accept she failed and is wanting to right her wrongs for her own personal satisfaction or perhaps to save her resume. Susan still won’t actually apologize but who is really surprised by that given her patronizing history? They have been told over and over the many voters that will not vote for a levy if they are still on the board, they won’t step down for the students future. The years of them being spin doctors are over, they can’t change the course on this ship, the new board members will.

  • Medina retiree

    No. they will not. New board members will not change the course. “This ship” will continue to stay on the same course – to the bottom. With, or without Karla and Susan. These two worthless hags will be replaced by two others, no less worthless. Nothing will change – Medina BoE spends more and more money every year with only recourse – more levies. It can’t continue indefinitely. The proverbial can can be kicked down the road some more, but the end of it within the sight already. Good luck with it.

  • Concerned

    I have hope that we’ll start to see some real change, any new board member will have to humble him/herself. They know what the community demands of them, the only people that don’t get that are the two remaining board members.