Friday, November 04, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: Richmond Hts School Board Suspends Superintendent

The Richmond Heights School Board suspended Superintendent Linda T. Hardwick by a 3-2 vote in a special meeting held last night.

Unconfirmed reports suggest the suspension is pursuant to the investigation of an alleged theft of school district records, but some school observers are suggesting that the action relates to the board majority’s desire to terminate Dr. Hardwick’s contract before January 1, 2012 when a new school board will be installed.

Last week the Board fired clerk-typist Peggy Parker in another special meeting. The same board majority found Parker guilty of misappropriation of district property dishonesty, theft of confidential documents and emails, and insubordination. Parker, who reported to both the superintendent and the school treasurer Brenda Brcak, has filed complaints over her dismissal with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and the US Department of Education. She has not ruled out further legal action.

None of the three board members who voted to suspend Hardwick are on next week’s ballot. Board president Josh Kaye and Aaron Burko each have two years remaining, while the third Bob Fox chose not to stand for re-election.

Board members Linda Pliodzinskas and Bobby Jordan Jr. voted against the suspension. Pliodzinskas is seeking election to a third term while Jordan, who was appointed in March, is seeking voter approval to complete his term.

Several issues are roiling the Richmond Heights community at present. Two council members on the city council have challenged the tax increase placed on the ballot by their colleagues, pointing out serious lapses in the administration’s fiscal reporting as cited by state auditors.

Meanwhile, school officials await what are likely to be harsh findings from the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, based on complaints filed by school administrators, parents and students. Other investigations, by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and the State Department of Education, are also pending.

The school board majority has authorized tens of thousands of dollars in legal expenses aimed at forcing out the superintendent and defending the charges that have piled up against them since early this year.

Calls and emails placed to Mr. Kaye and to Charles Tyler, Sr., the board’s attorney and a former board member himself, had not been returned as of post time.

Hardwick’s indefinite suspension is without pay. When contacted by The Real Deal she declined comment other than to say she was not present when the vote was taken and had not been officially notified of the Board’s action.

We will have a fuller report here before Monday rolls around.

No comments: