Levy Now the Focus in Medina Controversy

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MEDINA, Ohio-- The controversy over the Medina Schools superintendent's contract could now jeopardize a levy the district is trying to pass.

Dr. Randy Stepp is on administrative leave, but parents and residents are still angry.

Tuesday night's Medina school board meeting was shorter and the crowd was smaller than in recent weeks; but the passion was the same.  It is because of that passion that board members decided to let the public have a say in whether to put a levy on the ballot in May.

Just before the meeting, more than a dozen parents and residents demonstrated in front of Medina High School where the session was held.

"They have to go. We have to replace this school board and this superintendent with people who are financially responsible and won't take a cavalier approach to our tax dollars," said Medina resident Mark Kuhar.

The first item on the school board's agenda was to approve putting superintendent Dr. Randy Stepp on paid administrative leave while the state auditor looks into whether his contract is above board.  Many Medina residents are upset with his salary and benefits, even though he gave back an 83-thousand dollar bonus and merit pay raises.

"This was not an easy decision to make; but believe it is the proper decision to make at this time," said board president Dr. Karla Robinson.

"They want the pride back and so I do commend the board on the move they made. It's gonna hopefully start the healing process," said Medina Teachers Union President John Leatherman.

Monday, Dr. Stepp told FOX 8 that he denies doing anything wrong and everything he did was within contractual agreements with the school board.

There was also anger about the board's decision to spend $20,000 to hire a public relations firm to handle all of the calls, emails and media inquiries the controversy created.

"We needed to spend these funds because we could not manage the situation without it. I will not entertain any public comments this evening," said Robinson.

"If you had done your job you wouldn't have to pay $20,000 for help!" yelled a woman in the audience.

Public comments were not allowed at the meeting, but that did not stop some people from voicing their opinion.

"Doesn't the public have the right to speak on the very agenda items that you are voting on?" said one man.

Near the end of the meeting, the board also voted to allow the public to have input on whether to place a levy on the ballot in May.

"The need for that levy is so there. It is so in need for us students...regardless of the controversy that has occurred," said Andrew Shea, a student that sits on the board.

"I see a need for the levy, for the teachers and for the education of the students; but they're pending money wildly. I just don't see that this community is gonna pass a levy, when the board's spending money like it's going out of style," said 2006 Medina High School graduate Phil Hascher.

The meeting to allow the public to comment on the levy will be held next Tuesday evening.