LORAIN — The Lorain school board has no confidence in the district CEO, David Hardy.
A resolution, which the five-member board approved unanimously at its meeting Monday night, said the Board of Education had no confidence in Hardy or the direction of the district.
The resolution said Hardy “has irresponsibly spent the taxpayer money on administration and out of state firms and has made zero investment in the classroom” and that he, along with the state Department of Education and the district’s Academic Distress Commission, have had no contact with the board.
The vote was the latest move in recent tensions between Hardy and the school board, who have locked horns since the CEO came to the district last summer.
Hardy was brought to the district to be the CEO, which has all of the powers of a traditional superintendent and a school board, after years of failing state report card scores placed the Lorain district in academic distress. State House Bill 70 outlined the takeover process, placing the responsibility of CEO selection on a mostly state-appointed Academic Distress Commission.
According to the law, the only powers left to a school board are the ability to place a levy or bond issue on the ballot and to vote on tax abatements. Because of this, board president Tony Dimacchia said the resolution doesn’t really hold any water but it conveys a point.
“It doesn’t do anything because we don’t have any power,” he said. “But it sends a message to the citizens of Lorain and the members of this community that their elected officials are not happy with the direction the district’s headed in. If this was a superintendent that we had no confidence in, we would have the ability to fire them.”
Dimacchia said there’s been a complete “lack of communication, information and cooperation” from Hardy who refused to attend their meetings despite being invited, which the board thinks has placed them at an impasse regarding levy discussions — if they don’t have a clear financial picture of the district, how do they know if the district needs the funds garnered from a renewal levy?
Hardy, who has a town hall meeting with members of the community on the second Thursday of every month to provide updates on the district, has said he doesn’t feel as though he has to attend board meetings because he doesn’t answer to them.
Conversely, some members of the school board, including Dimacchia, don’t attend the town hall meetings.
After the “no confidence” vote Monday night, Hardy said he’s hopeful that the board will “engage in conversations on how to improve academic outcomes for scholars.”
“It has become apparent this doesn’t seem to be a common priority,” he said. “We, as a district, will move forward and continue to do right by our kids and their families who depend on us to provide their children with the education they deserve. This work is hard and it would be great to have the support of our school board in our effort to change our district’s academic circumstances.”
Hardy said regardless of the board’s lack of support, he will push forward to focus on education of the students “instead of politicizing them.”
The school board also approved a resolution forming a committee made up of Dimacchia and school board vice president Mark Ballard “to seek and engage legal counsel in two primary objectives”:
n assist the board in pursuit of information though the public information request process; and n identify and consider legal options and actions available to the school board to address concerns related to House Bill 70 and its implementation.
At the board’s last meeting March 5, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dennis Kucinich presented what he felt were two options of legal recourse.
The first option is to fight the constitutionality of state House Bill 70 and the second is based on a section of Ohio Revised Code that allows citizens to remove a public officer, which he believes Hardy is, based on nonfeasance, the failure to act when action is required; misfeasance, a willfully inappropriate action or intentional incorrect action; or malfeasance, a willful and intentional action that injures a party.
According to Kucinich and the state law, a written complaint must be produced and it must be submitted in the form of a petition that’s signed by 15 percent of the number of votes cast in the last governor’s race.
In Lorain, 11,609 votes were cast for governor in 2014 so the petition must have 1,741 signatures on it before it can be submitted to the court, which then has 30 days to consider the complaint.
The next school board meeting will take place April 9.
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