SIDNEY — The acceptance of four resignations of Sidney City Schools employees took an unexpected turn during Monday night’s Board of Education meeting.
The four members of the board — member Paul Heins was absent from the meeting — were poised to vote on the resignations of Penny Stackonis, custodian, Julie Curtner, custodian, Erin Harvey, aide, and Larry Jurosic, Sidney Middle School wrestling coach. When Treasurer Mike Watkins called for a vote — two members, Bob Smith and Mandi Croft, abstained from voting while Chip Hix and Bill Ankney both voted yes. The motion was approved by a 2-0 vote.
According to Superintendent John Scheu, to pass an item on the agenda, a majority of votes is needed. Two members voted yes with two members abstained.
“An abstention is a refusal to vote and therefore the only two votes cast were yes votes to accept the motion to approve the four resignations,” said Scheu in an email Tuesday morning. “If the board had voted to not accept the resignations, at some point in time would have had to terminate their employment for abandonment of position (after effective date of resignation not reporting to work).”
Following the meeting both Croft and Smith were asked why they abstained from voting on the resignations.
“I didn’t feel comfortable with one of the resignations,” said Croft. She declined to say which resignation she was concerned with.
Smith said he felt he couldn’t vote for or against the resignations so “the other option I had was not voting.”
Ankney, who is board president, sent an email Tuesday in response to Monday night’s vote.
“Regarding last night’s meeting and the two board members who abstained in a vote to accept several resignations, I would like to point out several problems with their position,” said Ankney.
“Their abstention was, in general, a breach of good faith in their duties as a board member. The abstention vote usually occurs when there is a personal conflict of interest that would jeopardize the legitimacy of the vote should they participate in that action. In this particular case, I am not aware of any personal connection to any of the people resigning,” said Ankney. “The two members were voted into office to make choices, easy and hard, and vote accordingly. With a lack of a known conflict of interest, I believe they should have registered a vote. I should point out though that no member is required to vote and they have the right to make their own decision, as they did.
“Their reasoning for the abstention votes is troubling in the sense that they disapprove of an administrative process that was handled correctly,” Ankney continued. “On top of that, I believe they lack the background to sit in judgment of that particular process and have let their personal feelings and outside contacts influence their decision. It is very clear in the ORC that the superintendent is charged with the daily operations of the district. It is also clear that the board does not have that same authority.
“There is a conflict built into the system by the State ORC in the sense that while the superintendent runs the operations and handles all personnel issues except those pertaining to the treasurer and the treasurer’s staff, the board is required to vote on those same personnel actions. So, while we get to vote and have an opportunity to create unnecessary conflict like we did last night, in the end the superintendent will have the ultimate say on any personnel action.
“These board members are very good people and are doing a great job for the community but this time I believe they took a position that is not theirs to take,” concluded Ankney.
The board approved the hiring of Cheryl Crissinger as a cook on a one-year contract at $13.11 per hour; substitute teachers Jennifer Stradling and Alex Blosser at $90 per day; Christa Morris, substitute aide, $11.34 per hour; Lezlie Sullenberer, substitute custodian, $13.59 per hour; Joe Spangler, SMS wrestling coach, $3,550; and Thomas Foster-Wheeler, supplemental athletic event staff for OHSAA events.
A donation of $2,500 from the Troy Foundation for the school district’s music program was accepted. The donation was made on behalf of the Oskar and Charlotte Buschmann Fund.
The board’s next meeting will be held Monday, Dec. 18, at 6 p.m. at the board office.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.
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