April 18, 2014

Partly cloudy

Board: Randy Stepp done in 2014

The Medina school board made the break with Superintendent Randy Stepp official Monday night by voting unanimously not to renew his contract when it expires next summer.

“This board and I, myself, have experienced a loss of trust with Dr. Stepp,” board President Karla Robinson said.

Randy Stepp

“This action would end Dr. Stepp’s tenure with Medina City Schools as of July 31, 2014.”

Stepp could not be reached for comment Monday night. He has been on paid leave since April, pending the outcome of a special state audit into his spending of district money from a carryover fund held by the Medina County Schools’ Educational Service Center.

The school board requested the audit in response to a storm of criticism over a new contract the board awarded Stepp in January that provided a $83,000 “retention” bonus.

The public furor grew with subsequent publicity about provisions in earlier contracts that obligated the district to pay for Stepp’s old college loans and for a master’s of business administration.

The educational costs, which totaled more than a quarter-million dollars, were paid with checks from the ESC carryover fund at Stepp’s direction.

A week after placing Stepp on leave, board members voted to rescind Stepp’s January contract, saying they violated Ohio open meetings laws. Stepp responded by suing board members who voted to rescind the contract. The board then countersued.

At Monday’s meeting, Medina resident Mark Kuhar, creator of the Medina City Schools Outrage Facebook page, asked why the board didn’t act sooner to cut ties with Stepp.

Robinson replied the board had to consider various factors, including legal issues, and needed time to conduct an internal review.

Medina resident Mark Kuhar addresses the Medina school board at Monday’s work session. From left, student representative Andrew Shea and board member Doug Adamczyk. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY KIERA MANION-FISCHER)

By Ohio law, the board had until March 1 to notify Stepp in writing whether his contract would be renewed.

Medina resident Keith Trojack urged the board to rescind the contract.

“I would hope all five of you vote your conscience but also vote your professional impression,” he said. “The moment that the lawsuits were filed, it became terribly apparent that there was no longer a working, trusting relationship not only between the board and Mr. Stepp but between the district and Mr. Stepp.”

John Leatherman, president of the Medina City Teachers Association, called the board’s action, “another foot forward in the direction we need to go.”

Leatherman said Stepp’s status had to be made clear to voters who will decide the district’s five-year, 5.9-mill levy on the Nov. 5 ballot.

“I hope it does reassure the voters that we’re not returning to Dr. Stepp’s leadership,” he said.

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

  • Jason

    Superintendent Stepp will be laughing all the way to the bank. An $83,00 retention bonus for just a year and half contract extension? Paid leave until his contract ends next summer? He’ll be better off in a district that recognizes good talent is worth the pay. What a debacle.

  • OhioGuy10

    Good first Stepp but not surenwhat good it will do. I still think we (Medina) will get stuck with hisncontract that already was extended. Typical Audit results are only released anday or two to the school before they are released to the public so I do not thinknthey have the full results yet. I am very interested to see some of the othernnames that pop up as well. nnIn order for the board and citynto move on all players in this need to move on. I am happy Karla and Susan are leaving;nthey did a lot of damage. Let us also remember our Treasurer, CommunicationsnDepartment Head, Legal and Business Department and Union Head. How manynmeetings did they attend with Randy that was paid for with tax dollars? I agreenRandy was wrong and deserves what he gets but I do not think he is the onlynone. People were with him until the end when he must have miffed the Union Guynto pull the plug on their carefree spending. All that turned a blind eye for sonlong need to be replaced so we can trust those who watch and spend the communityu2019snmoney wisely! If we do not change the system we will have another randy somenday!

  • SI

    Question to the Gazette. n Has there been a ruling on his 5 year contract? I feel this article is misleading the public. There has not been a ruling on if the board could rescind the 5 year deal they gave him earlier this year.nI find it odd you don’t mention that. Yes, the board voted to non renew his contract ending in 2014. But he still has a contract until 2019, unless I missed a ruling on that. nMy guess is this is just a ploy by the board to tell voters Stepp is done. The court is yet to rule over whether Stepp’s 2019 contract is valid.

  • si

    I want to see how the board tries to get out of the contract once it is ruled that he is under contract until 2019? nnnWould the community support paying him the roughly $600,000 he is owed in order to get rid of him, or will they just let him finish out his contract and then nonrenew in 2019?

  • Medina Retiree

    For the sake of argument, let’s imagine, that BoE will somehow settle the contract termination for a reasonable amount, say just 1 year salary instead of 5 (which would be a lucky day for BoE).nAt that point they will still need to hire a super for those 5 years, which will run a tab 450-500K for 5 years on average. And they will be lucky to hire anyone remotely qualified, because those supers out there already know how unfortunate it is to sign a contract with Medina BoE, so we should expect to pay more now on.n250K of Stepp’s tuition reimbursement and probable $83K bonus are gone for good. It’s in the past. The problems of the future seem bleak at best though.

  • Buffalo

    So, essentially, the disastrous soap opera shall continue on! I still doubt that those who have created this mess – Stepp, the BoE members, and anyone else involved – realize the gravity of their actions; they not only gave themselves a bad reputation (which will hopefully follow them wherever they go), but they also ruined things for the employees and students. It’s a damn shame.

  • Medina Loses

    This will in no way stick with Stepp. I mean we are in Medina you think another state district cares… First of all if anyone puts aside their hatred of the man and looks at the entire situation logically the board holds all the blame for this. Put this in the private sector if you are a boss and you want a manager you feel may be “stolen’ away and decide to pay for his education and give him a bonus all of which happen all the time can we say A rod and the Yankees or any other high end business CEO… If you decide after the fact because your employees are mad or a client does not like the guy or the deal to take it back a judge is going to put the hammer down… Stepp did not do anything wrong other than take a cherry deal he was offered and if we were all honest with ourselves even the “its the children’s money” crowd everyone here if a lawyer said it was legal which one did and your boss offered it would take the same deal.. If you would not you are either dishonest or stupid… Here is the easy way out buy Stepp off one year pay wont do it the only reason the board counter sued was to have something to negotiate with it is a sign their lawyer knew they had a weak case. The fact that Stepp’s lawyer did not offer to settle right away tells you what he thinks of that claim and that he believes he has a very good case…So before the November election offer Stepp a deal. Offer to let him keep his bonus pay him for 2 years and cover his legal expenses no admission of wrong doing and bury this deal deep deep deep!!! Then have the board quit or agree to serve out their terms and not run OH AND GET A NEW LAWYER!!!!!!!!!!! If you don’t pay him off here is how I see it one Stepp wins and gets his entire 2019 contract all the while the board cannot offer a new contract to a new super and who would want to come what if the judge says Stepp can work til 2019 so pay the guy off and move on!!!!!

  • Here

    Don’t forget there is still the citizen’s suit filed due to violation of Sunshine Laws which may nullify the contract and the bonus. We don’t know the outcome of that. That person was very smart to have done that on behalf of the community and we should be thankful for his wisdom.

  • Medina Retiree

    Even if the court rules to nullify the contract (which I highly doubt it will), there is no way the bonus can be clawed back – the Sunshine violation was BoE’s fault and not Stepp’s. And Stepp will appeal for sure, and eventually it will get escalated to a federal court, where Sunshine Law is not enforceable. In best (for BoE) case scenario they will have Stepp back as Super on a previous contract till July ’14. And since it’s highly unlikely he’ll be found guilty of anything illegal in the audit, then he’ll be back to his office.nAnd he will be vengeful, he will squeeze the opponents hard. And due to the district budget voes he will have a perfect excuse to reduce the spending… and those who ran a big mouth against him will head to a chopping block.nNasty times are awaiting the district staff.

  • si

    The super has no authority without board aproval. Even if he is back I n office all the board uas to do is vote no on everything he brings up. That is the funny thing in all this, people are making stepp out to he the bad guy when from the begining it has been the board with the power.

  • OhioGuy10

    While I agree Randy will keep the bonus and the tuitionnreimbursement and continue to get paid for a while I really doubt any SchoolnDistrict will hire him. His best bet is to get out of Ohio and away from the stigmanof the entire mess. I do agree the board was the most culpable in this. They totallynfailed at their duties. There are others in place as well that allowed this tonhappen for many years that still enjoy positions of influence at MedinanSchools. Do not doubt, for a second, that Stepp is not guilty of being a greedynand lying piece of crap. I am sure, no,npositive, the audit will point out some unapproved expenses and outrageously overpricednpower lunches and meetings. I would love to see who attended these meetings andnate, quite frequently, at the tax payersu2019 expense. nnNot many public schools will even look at himnnow and they will not touch him after the audit is released. One should not buyngifts for others and then expense them to the school. I only hope those that have enjoyed this ridenwith him are done as well.

  • Parker

    He will have no problem finding a new job. nHe has done nothing wrong. The board members are the ones that approved his spending and bonuses. Everyone of us would have done the EXACT same things had we been in his shoes. Now the board is throwing him under the bus and claiming they didn’t know. Well guess what, you are an elected official and being paid to know what you are giving. Shame on the board. I am sick of everyone putting this on Stepp when we all know we would have taken everything offered to us too.

  • Here

    Legally? Maybe. Ethically? A big fat no. He was an opportunist who took advantage unprecedented, someone this cash strapped school district did NOT need. Don’t forget the Kelly case, just nasty. Good riddance.nnnI don’t know if he’ll be employed by a school, they’ll find his story. Maybe that’s why he’s trying the self-employed route. I seriously doubt he’d be hired a superintendent again.

  • Medina resident

    Without a doubt the BOE and Stepp are equally at fault here, Yes, the board approved Stepps contract, lets not forget who drew up that contract , Stepp himself ! Knowing the financial situation within the district, the cuts in special services, gifted programs, staffing, transportation, and so on, Stepp has the arrogance and audacity to ask for more !! An earlier comment posted suggested that the violation of the sunshine law was the BOE’s fault , im sorry, but wasnt Stepp present also ?? A man of his intellegence, superb business sense, and degrees had no clue they were violating the sunshine law while discussing his contract ? Give me a break .