Tuesday, September 20, 2011

BULLETIN: Richmond Hts school board apparently trying to fire superintendent amid federal investigation


The proverbial stuff is about to hit the fan in Richmond Heights tonight where the school board has called an emergency special meeting in an apparent attempt, once again, to fire superintendent Linda T. Hardwick.

Grounds for the attempted discharge — which we understand requires an affirmative vote of four of the five board members — are Dr. Hardwick’s alleged insubordination for purportedly interfering with what was probably an inappropriate and possibly unauthorized edict from board president Josh Kaye to investigate “theft” of public documents.

These documents apparently consist of a number of immature, ill-advised, and intemperate emails written mostly by none other than the board president himself. Some of these emails evidence Mr. Kaye’s penchant for malevolent micromanagement and reveal a total lack of appreciation for his role as a public official. For instance, in one email Mr. Kaye volunteers to protect a board employee from the superintendent, essentially granting the employee license to disregard the superintendent’s directives.

Most of the emails were written months ago during the in-fighting between a board majority that includes Aaron Burko and Bob Fox, and Dr. Hardwick, over her attempts to discipline former varsity boys basketball coach Jason Kopp for his mistreatment of team members. Mr. Kopp has wielded great influence with the board majority — he taught Mr. Kaye only a few years ago — and is also the head of the Richmond Heights Education Association that only recently concluded contract negotiations with the school district.

Our investigation has determined that while the board majority was posing in exasperation with the superintendent for dithering over whether Mr. Popp would return as coach in 2011-12, the Kaye-Fox-Burko team was actually working to thwart any sanction against the coach, even enlisting the district’s expensive legal team on their behalf.

While the board majority may have appeared to hold the upper hand against its superintendent — it has on several occasions this year chosen to embarrass her, citing her for insubordination and voting to non-renew her contract more than a year ahead of time — their control. The actions of Mr. Popp and Mr. Kaye have prompted investigations into the school district by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Education as well as the Ohio Department of Education.

These investigations, prompted by a series of complaints filed mostly by parents but also by the superintendent herself, have been vigorously contested by the Board majority at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars, all without disclosure to the district’s taxpayers.

Preliminary findings of the federal investigation are expected to show that Mr. Kaye has presided over an environment hostile to the superintendent and the vast majority of the district’s students. The smoking gun for much of the government’s findings is the series of email exchanges cavalierly tossed about by Messrs. Kaye and Fox themselves.
Mr. Kaye’s recent discovery that investigators are in possession of his self-indicting emails is the trigger for tonight’s emergency meeting, whose motivating logic can only be panic. For the board majority to fire the superintendent under these circumstances would only add another to the list of retaliatory charges it is already facing.

The Real Deal has been tracking this story for much of the past several months in preparation for a thorough exposition of the dysfunction over which Mr. Kaye presides. We have outlined here only a portion of our findings so that the taxpayers, students, parents, teachers, and administrators of the district can have a basis for appreciating the truly bizarre nature of the board’s efforts to humiliate the superintendent it hired.

Our next report will detail how many of the efforts Dr. Hardwick has made to improve the district have been thwarted by the controlling board majority.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Speechless. Will this ever end?

Richard said...

1. It is likely that the investigation will provoke change, once the findings are official.

2. There is an election in November. Three seats are up for grabs, but only one of the governing majority members is running, so things could potentially get worse before they get better. We will be profiling the candidates early next month.

Anonymous said...

Which one is running again, Richard? It sounds like Cleveland Heights, where the most odious and arrogant of the incumbents didn't run for re-election last time.

Richard said...

Bobby Jordan Jr, who was appointed to the Board in April, is being challenged by former board president and Dori Mitinger, to hold the unexpired term ending 12-31-2013.

Frank Barber Jr. Linda Pliodzinskas, and Terri Wade-Lyles are running for full four year terms. Pliodzinskas is an incumbent, Wade-Lyles a former board member.

Incumbent Bob Fox chose not to run for re-election.

Anonymous said...

Richard, your blog is going South. I have long appreciated your thoughts and views, but they were towards a larger view, one more respective of the greater Cleveland and national perspective. But your recent foray into Richmond Heights has been less objective and frankly disappointing. While I understand your stance on these issues, I am disappointed in the recent focus of your journalism. Sorry if other bloggers disagree. But this Richmond Heights story is about as interesting as watching grass grow. And its been the majority of what I have glanced at. Please add more pertinent information, or I will focus on others' more pertinent blogs.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the past commenter. SB5 and the Cleveland NAACP articles were more interesting. The Richmond Heights articles seemed to be written like tabloids. The emotion and focus are just too extreme lately. I normally appreciate these views, but I just feel after 3 months of Richmond Heights, why isn't the bigger picture of greater importance? This is disappointing.

John Ettorre said...

I too hope to see a return to some issues of broader interest. Not necessarily instead of this subject, but at least in addition to it.

Anonymous said...

To my knowledge, all board correspondence is public. It could have been be discussed in executive session. The youth, (Board President)violated confidentiality when he chose to email this information without designated this as confidential.

Anonymous said...

To the people not interested in Richmond Heights: I think your problem is that you like reading about things you can't change. It is fun to slam John Kasich because you don't know him and you will never met him and you will never have influence over him. The same goes for George Forbes and his NAACP. Richard's reporting in Richmond Heights has changed the culture of the city in great way. It is the model of transparency, empowerment, and advocacy. If you just want to gripe on your computer and repost your outrage on Facebook while sitting on your couch, have at it. In the meantime, let Richard do the work of social change.

Anonymous said...

I would like to suggest that someone or all of your reader, Richard, send the superintendent a bowl of nuts, because it seems that everyone working in the board office, specifically the majority of the board members are squirrels.

Anonymous said...

Richard, I enjoy your blog. The last comment was it meant for Richmond Heights school district? I think the writer should have said that the majority of the board members must be "squirrely." What kind of nuts should we send to the superintendent?

Anonymous said...

I read the paper today and am at a loss. This report was not true. There was nothing in any "rag sheet". What is really happening? Is Linda still in office and what is her take on matters?

Anonymous said...

As someone blind carbon copied in these emails, I find the matters here to be too freely distributed. I doubt a person in office would be dumb enough to indict themself in such a manner.

Anonymous said...

Ill leave my comment wait. The Blogspot options suck! Who made this thing!!! I don't have Google or OpenID!!

Anonymous said...

Where's the PD response to the last posting? Great thanks!