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.
“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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.