Ousted board members start appeal process

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 11, 2005

The Rock Hill school board members who were ousted in a lawsuit last month have begun the process to appeal that verdict to the Ohio Fourth District Court of Appeals.

In papers filed Monday with the Lawrence County Clerk of Courts office, Steve Rodeheffer, attorney for Lavetta Sites, Wanda Jenkins and Paul R. Johnson, submitted to the court of appeals a motion for leave - a request - to file an appeal.

Rodeheffer stated in his request that the issues surrounding the lawsuit that removed the three board members are of

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&#8220great public interest and concern” and that the trial verdict ran &#8220contrary to law.”

Rodeheffer said in his request that the main issue of contention that precipitated the lawsuit was the three board members' decision to non-renew the contract of superintendent Lloyd Evans.

In asking for the appeal, the Portsmouth attorney said the problem with the jury verdict was that the 12-member panel was &#8220essentially second-guessing a perfectly legitimate political decision” that was not open to this sort of speculation.

&#8220There was no evidence of wrongdoing in this case as described by state statute,” Rodeheffer said.

Aaron McHenry, court administrator for the fourth district court of appeals, said leaves are usually considered &#8220as soon as possible.”

&#8220It's hard to give any kind of time frame,” McHenry said.

The case has not been given to our office yet but we are aware of it because of a phone call from one of the attorneys.”

This case, he said, presents a unique situation since it entails the removal of people from public office.

Eric Schooley, one of the attorneys who represented the group that filed the lawsuit against Sites, Jenkins and Johnson, Citizens Against Poor Spending, said he had only received a copy of Rodeheffer's papers Tuesday and had read them briefly. He disputed the contention the jury was &#8220second guessing” the actions of the board.

&#8220I think they were performing a function. Their job was to review the conduct of the board members and the alleged violations to see if they felt there was a violation of statutes, and they felt it did,” Schooley said.

CAPS filed a lawsuit claiming the board members were guilty to various acts of &#8220malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance of office.” The jury agreed. The three board members denied those allegations.