June 26, 2016

Partly sunny

Visiting judge will hear Stepp’s suit against auditor

MEDINA — A lawsuit brought against the Ohio Auditor’s Office by suspended Medina Schools Superintendent Randy Stepp will not be heard by Medina County judges.

Common pleas Judges James L. Kimbler and Christopher J. Collier recused themselves from the case almost immediately after Stepp filed the suit this month.

They said in a Nov. 14 journal entry they were passing the case on to a visiting judge “to avoid the appearance of impropriety.” The Ohio Supreme Court will appoint a visiting judge.

Stepp is suing state Auditor David Yost and the Medina school board. He accuses Yost’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.

His suit says the audit was biased because William J. Ward, who worked as the audit’s senior manager, is a Medina resident and sits on Project: LEARN’s board of trustees. Project: LEARN hired school board President Karla Robinson as its executive director while the audit was ongoing.

The audit, released Oct. 22 after a six-month investigation, found that Stepp was responsible for more than $4,100 worth of illegal expenses he’s been ordered to pay back.

The audit also found nearly $1 million was spent without proper authorization, half for which the “proper public purpose was unclear.”

The board is in the process of firing Stepp.

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

Nick Glunt About Nick Glunt

Nick Glunt primarily covers courts and crime in Medina County. He served The Gazette from September 2012 to December 2015. Contact him at (330) 721-4048 or via email at nglunt@medina-gazette.com.