WELLINGTON — The Wellington school board voiced its support of board member Ayers Ratliff at a Wednesday meeting in response to the Lorain County Joint Vocational School board’s censure of him.
The JVS board, of which Ratliff is a member, had voiced disapproval of him April 19, accusing him of disrespecting his fellow board members, making racist remarks, making remarks to female staffers that could be seen as sexual harassment and relaying sensitive information from an executive session.
The Wellington board’s resolution said the JVS board acted “questionably and by means of censure to silence” Ayers. The members also told the Pittsfield Township-based JVS board and Superintendent Glenn Faircloth to stop their “defamation” of Ratliff.
JVS school board President Debbi Melda refused to comment about the Wellington school board telling the JVS board to “cease and desist.”
Neither of board’s actions carry any disciplinary or legal consequences with them and only serve as a public statement.
Ratliff is one of 13 members of the JVS board. Unlike other school districts where the public elects board members, members of the JVS board are appointed by the associate districts: Amherst, Avon, Avon Lake, Columbia, Clearview, Elyria, Firelands, Keystone, Midview, North Ridgeville, Oberlin, Sheffield/Sheffield Lake and Wellington.
He has served nine years through nonconsecutive terms representing Wellington on the JVS board and 15 years as a Wellington school board member.
Ratliff has said he recalled some instances where his actions or words were seen as racially insensitive toward Faircloth, who is black. He has denied the accusations and all others given to him in the JVS’ resolution. He also has said he requested any written proof of complaints, which the board refused. Wellington’s resolution of support also mentioned the lack of documented complaints.
In an April 25 interview, Melda said the board had received many verbal complaints over the past several years. Melda said she couldn’t share much about the discussion, other than she hopes for reconciliation among the board.
Ratliff and the rest of the JVS school board have a history of friction. Ratliff was the only dissenting vote July 20 when the board voted to approve a new contract for Faircloth that included an annual salary raise to $130,000 per year and eligibility for pay raises every year. The five-year contract also gives Faircloth an additional $3,000 per year to cover the cost of educational courses plus $500 for textbooks, supplies and fees. The contract stipulates that if Faircloth doesn’t spend the money on educational coursework, it goes into an annuity.
Ratliff reportedly took issue with the contract at a Wellington school board meeting, during which he released contractual details before the JVS board had voted on it. Faircloth then told The Chronicle-Telegram the contract shouldn’t have been released because it had only been seen in executive session and it was not a public document until it is voted on.
Faircloth also told The Chronicle he believes Ratliff, who is white, has a problem with him because he’s black.
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