State: RH must have district boss

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Rock Hill School District needs to find a superintendent - and soon, according to a letter from the Ohio Department of Education.

ODED Chief Legal Counsel Matthew DeTemple said in a letter to Rock Hill Board President Lavetta Sites that he was informed the local board had been operating the district without a superintendent and under state law, was not supposed to do so.

The district has been without a superintendent since Jan. 8 when the board voted 3-2 to send former superintendent Lloyd Evans home, pending the outcome of an appeal late last that reinstated Evans as superintendent.

Email newsletter signup

"The board of education of a local school district is required to employ a superintendent by section 33.19,01 of the Ohio Revised Code," the letter said. It was copied to the other four board members as well as

Lawrence County School Superintendent Harold Shafer and Lawrence County Assistant Prosecutor Jeff Smith.

DeTemple said in his letter that if the board does not find a superintendent, even in an interim capacity, this could result in the board losing its authority to manage the district, and that if the school district is not operated according to state law, it could lose state funding, which typically amounts to approximately 47 percent of a school's budget.

Board member Jackie Harris said that these funds account for 78 percent of Rock Hill's $14 million budget.

DeTemple asked Sites to submit a report to him detailing any plans to find a superintendent.

"I have answered Mr. DeTemple's letter and I have advised him we are, in fact, looking for an interim superintendent," Sites said.

Board member Jackie Harris said the Evans issue is only the tip of the iceberg and that the district has operated illegally for the past 40 days without a superintendent.

"This letter is just a symptom of the real problems. I'm talking about corruption of public officials," Harris said. "… The activities of these three board members have been unethical, neglectful and illegal."

In addition to alleged abuse of power, violations of the ORC, sunshine laws, board policy, withholding of public information and misuse of public funds, Harris said the board has a clear cut policy to hire an interim superintendent but has not followed those procedures including not advertising for the position.

The school board has certainly not offered the position to anyone despite published reports, Harris said. No application or resumes have been received, and the only candidate who has been interviewed was not offered the position and stated that he was not interested, Harris said.

"There are few decisions a school board makes that are as important as selecting a superintendent, a CEO if you will," Harris said. "We have clear procedures to hiring a superintendent set forth in our board manual. It is unfair even absurd that I could be asked to make such a decision based on a 15-minute interview."

Last February, the board voted 3-2 to non-renew Evans as superintendent.

Evans sued and late last year Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Richard Walton ruled that the board could not non renew him because he had a valid contract.

The board decided to appeal that ruling and had the court remove Evans from his post until the appeal is heard.