Lawsuit over RH board may begin Monday

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 14, 2005

One of a slew of legal actions volleyed back and forth between warring parties in the Rock Hill School District will take the focus Monday.

The lawsuit to remove three Rock Hill School Board members will begin Monday in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court before visiting Judge Fred Crow of Meigs County.

The group Citizens Against Poor Spending (CAPS) filed the suit to remove board president Lavetta Sites, Wanda Jenkins and Paul R. Johnson.

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The lawsuit mentions several dozen alleged acts of "malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance of office" by the three board members.

The three board members have previously denied any misdeeds.

Among the list of claims are that the board members violated open meetings law and conducted school business in secret, have failed to provide timely information on the hiring of the law firm of Vorhys, Sater, Seymour and Pease that was retained to defend the board against a lawsuit by former Superintendent Lloyd Evans and that the board has ceded its power to the Lawrence County school board.

Steve Rodeheffer, attorney for the three board members, declined to comment on the case.

Austin Wildman, attorney for Citizens Against Poor Spending, said he hopes the trial can be completed within a week. He has six or seven witnesses to call for his side.

"We're looking forward to doing our job," he said.

Wildman and his partner, Eric Schooley, were the attorneys for a group of Madison County citizens who last year filed a successful lawsuit to remove three members of the Madison-Plains Board of Education.

It was the first time in the history of Ohio that three school board members had been removed from office in this fashion.

Are there similarities between the local issue and the Madison-Plains suit? Wildman says "no."

"Those three school board members were removed for voting on family members' contracts with the school district. One of the board member's daughters was hired to teach Spanish although she was not qualified to teach Spanish, had never had a class in Spanish. One of them also interfered with a Children's Services' investigation of a football coach who was accused of having sexual contact with a female student," Wildman said.

Meanwhile, two lawsuits against former Rock Hill Superintendent Lloyd Evans, his son, Freddie, who is principal at Rock Hill Elementary, and two elementary school assistant principals, Jerry Evans and Vickie Evans, are pending in U.S. District Court.

Brent and Amanda Unroe allege in their lawsuit that Brent Unroe was unfairly dismissed from his job as a special education teacher because the two complained about the treatment of their adopted children, who are African-American or bi-racial.

Shara Jenkins alleges in her lawsuit that Evans retaliated against her after she complained about care for her daughter during school hours. The child is diabetic.

The Ohio Fourth District Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments Wednesday in Evans' lawsuit to get his job back.

The board opted to non-renew Evans contract in the February 2004, Evans sued the board and was reinstated late last year by order of the Lawrence County Common Pleas Courts. The board has appealed that decision.