July 23, 2016

Mostly clear

Clerk of courts employee’s job status in limbo until at least Friday

David Wadsworth

David Wadsworth

MEDINA — A Medina County Clerk of Courts employee will keep her job and remain on paid administrative leave until at least Friday.

Clerk David Wadsworth placed Deputy Clerk Cynthia Tyree on leave last Tuesday, accusing her of failing to back up computer data.

Wadsworth said Tyree, who is paid a $34,440 salary to administer the office computer network, also was responsible for some of the computer problems because she made changes to the server without consulting him.

Although Tyree could be fired immediately because her job is not protected by civil service, Wadsworth called for a disciplinary hearing, which was held Friday morning.

Medina County Human Resources Director Holly Muren said Denise Casteel, an administrative assistant at the county sanitary engineers office, was appointed to hear the case.

“We always try to get someone impartial to hear both sides in matters like this,” Muren said. “Usually that’s me, but I was on vacation.”

Muren said Casteel will present a recommendation to Wadsworth either Friday or early next week. She stressed that Casteel will issue a recommendation, and the final disciplinary decision will be Wadsworth’s alone.

“(Tyree)’s not civil service, so a hearing wasn’t necessary,” Muren said.

Tyree attended the hearing but declined to comment on the specific allegations.

Wadsworth said he decided to use the disciplinary hearing to give her a chance to defend herself.

“We wanted to make sure she got her due process,” he said.

Wadsworth was asked if the decision to hold a disciplinary hearing was related to the federal lawsuit filed last year by former chief deputy clerk, Julie Kauffman, who said her firing was retaliation for telling county Prosecutor Dean Holman that resources in the clerk’s office were used in Wadsworth’s election campaign.

Wadsworth was charged with misuse of public funds and pleaded no contest in September. A judgment in the case was delayed, pending Wadsworth’s completion of a “first offender” diversion program.

The civil suit ended in June with an out-of-court settlement. The terms of the settlement have not been released.

Wadsworth said the lawsuit was not a factor in his decision to conduct a disciplinary hearing.

“This is just a formality,” he said. “I’m doing my job. I’m protecting the county as best I can.”

In Tyree’s case, Wadsworth said he would take Casteel’s recommendation into account before issuing any discipline.

“I’m following a process,” he said. “No final decision has been made. That (recommendation) will be considered in my final decision.”

Wadsworth hired Tyree in January 2012.

While there is no record of previous disciplinary action in her personnel file, which The Gazette obtained following a public records request, Wadsworth did criticize some aspects of her work in an April performance evaluation.

“I really appreciate and rely on Cindee for her assistance in operating the computer systems,” Wadsworth wrote. “I recommend taking greater initiative and ownership of problems associated with the computer system. We have experienced two serious breakdowns of the system.”

He asked Tyree to communicate more about issues the computers face and to be proactive to prevent them.

A month later, Wadsworth emailed Tyree to issue “a formal warning” about her job performance, saying she had used her personal laptop computer — rather than a county-provided laptop — to access the county’s computer systems remotely, in violation of the network policy agreement she signed when she was hired.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com. Follow him on Twitter @ngfalcon.

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.