April 19, 2014

Medina
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Randy Stepp sues to overturn state audit

Randy Stepp

Nick Glunt and Loren Genson | The Gazette

MEDINA — Suspended Medina Schools Superintendent Randy Stepp filed another lawsuit Wednesday, accusing the Ohio Auditor’s Office of performing a biased and therefore illegal audit into his spending from a “carryover” fund held by the Medina County Schools’ Educational Service Center.

The suit, filed in Medina County Common Pleas Court, names state Auditor David Yost and the Medina Board of Education as defendants.

In his complaint, Stepp accused William J. Ward, who he said worked as the audit’s senior manager, of impropriety because Ward is a Medina resident and had a specific interest in deposing Stepp.

He also said Ward sits on the board of trustees of Project: LEARN, which hired school board President Karla Robinson as its executive director while the audit was ongoing.

“Notwithstanding Mr. Ward’s professional relationship with Robinson and his lack of independence in fact and in appearance, Mr. Ward continued to act as senior audit manager for the state audit,” the lawsuit reads.

The audit, released Oct. 22 after six months of investigation, found that Stepp was responsible for more than $4,100 worth of illegal expenses, which he’s been ordered to pay back. The audit also found nearly $1 million that was spent without proper authorization — half for which the “proper public purpose was unclear.”

A spokeswoman for Yost said the auditor’s office likely will ask that Stepp’s suit be dismissed.

“We stand by our audit work and we anticipate that we’ll ask for this claim to be dismissed,” spokeswoman Carrie Bartunek said.

Wednesday’s suit is the second one Stepp has filed against the school board since members began an investigation into his spending in April and placed Stepp on administrative leave.

In May, Stepp filed a suit in U.S. District Court, in Akron, against school officials that alleges a breach of contract, defamation and invasion of privacy.

In the new lawsuit, Stepp argues that his spending from the carryover fund was lawful and proper and requests an injunction against the termination proceedings the board initiated on Oct. 24 following the audit’s release. An injunction would halt the termination and appeals process the board has in place.

The board is expected to send Stepp a letter outlining the reasons for his termination. Once that list is received, Stepp has the right to appeal his termination and go before a neutral hearing officer to plead his case as to why he should not be terminated.

Finally, Stepp also accuses the school board of refusing to respond to a public records request. In his claim, Stepp seeks a writ of mandamus directing the school board to produce the public records he requested.

In an exhibit attached to his suit, Stepp provided a copy of the records request he made of the school district on May 23 through his attorney Michael Matasich. In his request, he lists 27 different items including agendas, notes and video recordings of board meetings.

He also asks for any emails between two or more school officials, members of the media and a few community members who vocally have supported Stepp’s firing.

School district spokeswoman Jeanne Hurt said the board was alerted to the suit Thursday morning.

“The matter has been referred to our attorneys, who are investigating the claims made in the suit,” Hurt said. She declined to comment further.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com. Contact Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

  • angrybeeparent

    Hasn’t he stolen enough from the students in medina?????? Don’t go away mad, just go away!!!

  • Concerned

    Randy, what don’t you get? As taxpayers we don’t want you running the schools! As parents we don’t want you running the schools! Just leave quietly and let Medina Schools fix the problems you helped create and let us get on the business of education of our students instead of playing legal games with you and your “old Board” cronies.

  • OLDNAVYVET

    What a “NO Class Phony”.

  • OhioGuy10

    Once again Randy is not a nice person and deserved to benfired, before the Medina Board signed him to a new contract and gave him a hugenbonus. He is probably going to keep mostnof that and you will see a settlement rather than a long, drawn out trialnbecause it will be bad for Medina Schools and cost a ton. As for those whose emails were requestednmost of it is probably smoke but I am sure a few of you might be in a little quandary,nespecially any who might be employees. All emails (and many other things) arenpublic record when sent to a school and you had better be sure of your factsnbefore you put them in and email before any rumors get started. You should read your board policy about employee conduct. The old boardnwas disinterested and negligent. This one is over reactive and is easilynswayed. Both are not good. There is still the issue of a negligent treasurern(Who the school praises) and negligent administrators. I for one would like tonsee a lot of Randyu2019s documents released. While I do not like him I feel othersnare hiding the fact they also were negligent with tax payer money. We shouldnall be looking forward to the total truth to come out. As to those outragers who wonder who shouldnplay them if they make a movie about this total mess u2013 Really? Very self-centerednand some of the comments are totally mean spirited. Can we stop with the namencalling? A lot of people screwed up butncome on? Bullying is bullying and kids do learn from you.

  • lookingallaroundme

    You are spot on in your comments about how this will play out. I posted awhile ago that the audit gave the board grounds to terminate, but the other party can drag this dead horse farther down the road and beat it the whole way. I think this will settle out of court, and I think that will be insurance money that pays off–not sure about that. Nothing is sure when the courts get involved.nnnOften times administrators get praised or get awards in an effort to help get rid of them. Look at Medina’s red headed step child school, Cloverleaf. Do you think the awards and praise given to one of the previous treasurers there was sincere? It was to help that individual get another position. People often say it is hard to fire a teacher. Medina is finding out how hard it is to fire an administrator. It is always better if they just move on to another place.

  • George_Staursky

    My question to the citizens of Medina is simple; Why have you not gone after the school board members who gave this individual a free pass? They were all complicit in this scandal!

  • lookingallaroundme

    I don’t think there is anything to go after them for. What exactly did they do except make dumb decisions? And let’s be sort of fair in our judgment. Maybe all the newly elected board members will return from their OSBA ( Ohio School Boards’ Association) Training sessions and tell us how they were indoctrinated–er, I mean trained.nHere is the short form: Newly elected board members Trust the superintendent. S/He is the education n expert. Trust her/him.n OSBA will send policy recommendations for your board policies. Trust us; pass them

  • George_Staursky

    With all due respect, I am guessing you or a close family member are in education. One of the travesty’s of the current state of our educational system is a total lack of accountability. the school board was well aware of their actions when they gave this man a huge bonus and began paying off his student loans with taxpayer money. Forget the training, it would not take a genius to determine that this was not ethical. Once again, where is the accountability?