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Lorain Schools Academic Distress Commission chairman gets extra access (UPDATED)

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    Randall Sampson.

    KRISTIN BAUER / CHRONICLE FILE

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UPDATE: Around 9 a.m. Friday morning, Academic Distress Commission Chairman Randall Sampson sent a comment regarding the email he’d sent to commission members the previous afternoon. He noted he will try to respond to requests for comment during normal business hours. After business hours, he said he will typically respond the next day.

“I have no problem with anyone speaking to the free press,” he wrote. “The email did not come as reaction to our conversation, but it was a reaffirmation of trust and focus with the professionalism of the ADC. You have a job to do and I appreciate that very much. Sharing information is the only way that we can get Lorain out of Academic Distress. This commission is doing a great job focusing on the learning of all students.”

The Lorain Schools Academic Distress Commission chairman expressed concern over commission members sharing information following questions regarding his district-provided email Thursday.

Randall Sampson is the only current member of the Academic Distress Commission to have a district-provided email and badge, outside of Steve Cawthon, who is a teacher with the district. Sampson also lists the district’s main phone line in his email signatures, according to a screenshot shared with The Chronicle-Telegram.

When asked about the email and listed phone number Thursday afternoon, he did not answer directly but said he was concerned about who had shared the screenshot with the paper. Within roughly a half-hour after being contacted by The Chronicle-Telegram, he sent an email to commission members, CEO David Hardy, Chief of Staff Elena Rivera and Anthony Farris with the Ohio Attorney General’s office.

A copy of that email was shared with The Chronicle-Telegram on Thursday evening.

“I know we can’t talk shop in a group email,” Sampson wrote. “I do appreciate the one-on-one calls and conversations. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at any point. I believe everyone in this group has my cell contact number. It will never be my intent to share email conversations or phone conversations as screenshots or unauthorized voice recordings. I believe everyone on this committee has high moral and ethical standards; clearly focused on working together for Lorain.”

Sampson did not return a request for comment regarding the email Thursday evening.

Schools badges

CEO David Hardy confirmed via email Thursday that Sampson does have an identification badge and email from the district.

“Mr. Sampson abided by district policy and requested to visit schools during his first visit to Lorain,” Hardy wrote. “Given he is the chair and had requested access to visit (and the CEO was unable to travel with him to all schools), we wanted to make sure he had identification to enter the building. We want individuals to show identification when entering our buildings to ensure the safety of our kids, teachers, and staff.”

He did not clarify why Sampson was not given a regular visitor’s pass or badge to visit the schools, but stated the badge Sampson was given does not give him access to buildings via the district’s carded entry doors.

At the front entrance of each of the district’s buildings there is a key card reader employees can use to get in the building. Without that key card swipe, a person must be buzzed into a building by office staff and sign in with them.

Hardy did not answer if the former chairman Tony Richardson had an identification badge, but did confirm he had a district-provided email Hardy said district emails are available to commission members “if requested.”

The only other member of the commission to have a district badge and email is Steve Cawthon, a teacher at the high school and the Board of Education’s appointee. Board of Education members also are given emails and badges, President Mark Ballard confirmed.

“I don’t think any of them need access to our email system or our building through badges because in their ADC role they’re not employees of the district,” Ballard said. “But it’s obvious there’s a difference in the way they treat one another and I don’t think Mr. Sampson gave out a badge to himself. So somebody’s decided to give him one but not give the others the same access, and I think that shows favoritism.”

Contact Carissa Woytach at (440) 329-7245 or cwoytach@chroniclet.com.


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