July 24, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Clerk of courts rejects HR recommendation, fires deputy clerk

David Wadsworth

David Wadsworth

MEDINA — Medina County Clerk of Courts David Wadsworth has fired Deputy Clerk Cynthia Tyree, rejecting the recommendation of lesser discipline from a county human resources official.

Tyree said she received a short letter in the mail Wednesday saying her employment was terminated, effective Tuesday.

Tyree was put on paid leave two weeks ago for allegedly failing to back up computer data and changing files on a computer server without consulting Wadsworth in violation of an employee policy manual.

“I have applied for unemployment. Long-term I’m not sure yet what I’m going to do,” Tyree said. “At this point, I’m just glad a decision’s been made and I can move on.”

The firing followed a disciplinary hearing July 11. Denise Casteel, an administrative assistant at the county sanitary engineers office who was appointed to hear the case, recommended Wadsworth discipline Tyree by putting her on unpaid leave instead of firing her.

Tyree acknowledged not backing up the servers but defended her work performance at the July 11 disciplinary hearing, Casteel wrote in her report.

Tyree refused the opportunity to resign from her position, Casteel said.

Casteel agreed that discipline was warranted, but said unpaid suspension or a “last-chance agreement” were appropriate remedies.

Tyree released a statement that she gave at a pre-disciplinary hearing.

“I understand that for the past few months neither Mr. Wadsworth, Mr. Shirer (Chief Deputy Clerk Albert Shirer), nor myself have been, for different reasons, happy with my job, and I am saddened by the treatment I have lately experienced culminating in this meeting,” she said in a statement. “I firmly believe that I have made many efforts to better the state of technology within the Clerk’s office for which I will not be recognized, but will hold with pride myself.”

Wadsworth did not return phone calls for comment.

Human resources director Holly Muren said last week that the hearing was an unnecessary step in disciplining Tyree. Because Tyree is not a civil service employee, Muren said Wadsworth could have terminated Tyree without calling for a hearing.

Wadsworth said last week he asked for the hearing so Tyree could have a chance to defend herself. He denied that the request for a hearing was related to a recently settled federal lawsuit filed in June 2013 by former Chief Deputy Clerk Julie Kauffman.

Kauffman accused Wadsworth of violating her First Amendment right to free speech by firing her because she turned him in to county Prosecutor Dean Holman for campaigning for the 2012 election while on the job.

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.

Contact reporter Katie Anderson at (330) 721-4012 or kanderson@medina-gazette.com.

Katie Anderson About Katie Anderson

Katie Anderson covers Medina County government and the city of Wadsworth. She has been with The Gazette since July 2014. Contact her at (330) 721-4012 or via email at kanderson@medina-gazette.com.