Judge set to hear dispute between Evans, RH board

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 14, 2004

They will get their day in court next week.

Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Richard Walton next Wednesday is scheduled to hear the case of Lloyd Evans vs. the Rock Hill Board of Education.

Evans, the former school superintendent, sued three members of the school board earlier this year after they voted to non-renew his contract. Evans is seeking, among other things, to get his job back.

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"Mr. Evans should be put back to work," Richard Meyers, one of Evans' attorneys, said Tuesday. "He has done everything he has to do. He had a valid contract which was extended in December of last year. It was signed."

The attorney for the board of education, G. Ross Bridgman, was not available for comment.

In his lawsuit, Evans has maintained that he has a "clear legal right" to be employed as the superintendent of the Rock Hill School District and has a valid contract with the board that is not open for non-renewal.

Evans contends that board President Lavetta Sites, Vice President Wanda Jenkins and board member Paul R. Johnson "met in unlawful meetings" prior to the special March 25 board meeting, and that they drafted the resolution to non-renew his contract at these secret meetings.

In July, Walton ruled the board did violate the state's open meetings law by not specifying what kind of personnel matter was to be discussed. Walton did not punish the board, other than to remonstrate the governing body from doing the same thing in the future.

Lawyers for the board contended in their response to the lawsuit that the board did have the right to non-renew Evans, citing a law that took effect in September 2003. The law required governmental entities who plan to rehire a retired professional to seek input during a 30-day time period

prior to when that person is rehired.

They have also contended

Ohio law and the wishes of people of Ironton were ignored when the previous school board attempted to grant Mr. Evans a new 5- year contract.

In the spring of 2002, Evans handed in his resignation as superintendent, and then was immediately rehired by the board as superintendent, a practice commonly referred to as "double-dipping." That contract was for three years and would have expired in July.

However, following the November 2003 school board election, three members of the board, Troy Hardy, Jackie Harris and Rich Donohue voted to extend Evans' contract by five years.

That vote came less than two months before two new board members, Sites and Johnson, took their seats. Board members Jenkins and Carl Large, who had also voted against rehiring Evans in 2002, voted against the contract extension.