Former aide questions SCS procedures

By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — The procedures used when more than 70 classified aides and IT department staff contracts were non-renewed in May — and which aides have been rehired by the Sidney City Schools — was questioned during Monday night’s board of education meeting.

Tracey Landrum, who was one of the reduction in force (RIF) aides, addressed Board President Bob Smith during the public participation portion of the meeting.

“At the May 18, 2020, board meeting, approximately 70 classified aides were illegally terminated, due to Reduction in Force. Continuing contract status and seniority were totally ignored, and was a violation of both Ohio Revised Code 3319.72, the BOE shall suspend contracts, not terminate, in accordance with the recommendation of the superintendent, give preference first to employees under continuing contract and then to employees on the basis of seniority. Any non-teaching employee whose continuing contract is suspended shall have the right of restoration to continuing service status by the BOE that suspended that contract in order of seniority of service, if and when a non-teaching position for which the employee is qualified becomes vacated or is created. Board policy #4131 has the same language,” said Landrum.

Superintendent Bob Humble, when asked about Landrum’s comments about the aides being terminated, said their contracts were non-renewed by the board of education, which is different than terminating them. He added the Ohio Revised Code Landrum referred to was for local districts and exempted school districts.

“Principals were told to rate all terminated aides, and the highest rated aides were then called back and given one-year contracts, replacing many of these aides that had continuing contract, and were special needs aides – oftentimes replaced by aides who had no experience with special needs students,” Landrum told the board.

Humble said principals did rate the aides on four qualifications: Attendance, job performance, professionalism and adaptability. He said the rankings were used when rehiring aides for the 2020-21 school year.

City school districts, said Humble, operate under different guidelines than the local districts or exempted school districts. Those guidelines call for classified aides to be given one-year contracts, which are non-renewed at the end of each school year. Humble said those procedures had changed prior to his being hired as superintendent. The district will resume the practice of giving aides one-year contracts, which will be non-renewed annually.

Landrum also questioned why no minority aides were rehired.

“Consider this fact: SCS has a minority enrollment of approximately 21%, yet everyone of the minority aides was Riffed (with continuing contract), leaving our school district with 0 (zero) minority aides.”

Humble said after the meeting that race played no part in the rehiring process.

Landrum told Smith she had asked to be notified if an aide position was available. She said she wasn’t notified when a position was available.

Humble said from now on, job postings will be done on the district’s Facebook page.

Smith told Landrum if she still has concerns she should contact Humble. If nothing happens, he said, she should bring her concerns back to the board.

At the end of the 2019-20 school year, the district had 72 aides. At this time, it has 51 full-time and part-time aides for the 2020-21 school year.

Two aides were hired at Monday’s meeting — Kristen Bowersock, low incident aide, $15.69 per hour, and Jalynn Mead, high incident aide, $13.69 per hour — and both are new to the district. Humble said the two plus Landrum were the only people who had applied for the positions, which are part-time and do not include insurance.

Humble said the one aide position is for a cafeteria monitor and no experience was necessary. The other aide has two years of experience in a preschool setting.

Also hired was Vartek for IT support services for 12 months at a cost of $112,240. Humble said the company was hired because of the skills needed for the direction the district is heading. He said the former IT staff members didn’t have those skills.

By Melanie Speicher

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.