#8216;Lawyering#8217; halts personnel debate

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

“Why are we being lawyered out?”

That was the question from one person who attended the Ironton Board of Education Thursday evening.

About 100 people showed up, many of them wanting to discuss issues with the athletic department, partly because of the recently announced retirement of football coach Bob Lutz.

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Few chose to speak after the board’s attorney, Sue Yount,

laid down ground rules for speaking: no complaints against any school employee could be aired unless the complaint had first been channeled to the employee, the principal at his or her building and then the school superintendent.

“The board has policies it must follow,” Yount told the crowd. “It has an agreement with the Ironton Education Association and they are not here to see the agreement be violated.”

This drew derisive hoots from the audience, many of whom sported orange and black “Keep our coaches” T-shirts.

“Has anyone here ever heard of this before?” asked Phil Staton, one of the few people who braved the lawyer to get a chance at the microphone to speak.

“They are published on our Web site,” Board President Kathy Kratzenberg said.

“But why could this not have been put in the (news) paper before we all came?” Staton asked. “How are we supposed to know this prior to the meeting?”

“This board of education has not had the situation it has tonight,” Yount explained.

Many left when the board went into a second executive session.

“I think this is the biggest farce I’ve ever seen,” Gary Coburn said. “They won’t answer our questions. They had two executive sessions in one night. They’re lawyering up so nobody could ask any questions. Nothing got accomplished.”

At the end of the meeting, the board issued a press release saying their actions were the result of

“ a grievance filed by a member of the Ironton Education Association.

The grievance alleged that the board had violated the collective bargaining agreement with its certified employee by permitting public complaints against a certified employee without first channeling those complaints through the proper process.”

The press release stated the complaint was filed May 18 — Thursday, same day as the school board meeting.

Kratzenberg declined to give specifics about who filed the grievance and why.

This comes a little more than a week after


Lutz resigned and after reports that other coaches may follow suit. Many Ironton fans believe this stems from differences with Athletic Director Terry Parker, a claim Parker has denied.