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Status of Lorain Schools superintendent unclear

  • http-chronicle-northcoastnow-com-wp-content-uploads-2015-10-Graham-WEB

    Lorain Schools Superintendent Jeff Graham speaks during a visit to the Chronicle-Telegram in 2015.



LORAIN — School Board President Tony Dimacchia said that Superintendent Jeff Graham remains employed by the school district.

Dimacchia’s remarks Friday came after district CEO David Hardy emailed a news release Wednesday announcing that Graham was leaving the district — a statement that Graham himself disputed via text later Wednesday.

“He is still employed by Lorain City Schools,” Dimacchia said. “The only thing that has changed is his responsibilities. He has not resigned.”

The changeover this year from a school board-led district to a state-controlled district with a CEO means the board isn’t kept up to date with changes, but Dimacchia said from his understanding Graham was told to work from home roughly two weeks ago.

He continued to get paid, and in the weeks leading up to that directive, his time had been spent researching school lunch options at Hardy’s behest, according to Dimacchia.

“I guess it was to get him out of the way,” Dimacchia said. “They didn’t see eye-to-eye.”

Graham declined to comment Friday. Hardy, meanwhile, maintained that Wednesday’s announcement was prepared in tandem with Graham’s lawyer.

“I don’t respond to people’s opinions and whether or not it’s true is not the issue,” Hardy said Thursday. “Whether or not I want to validate or not validate Tony Dimacchia’s statement is the issue for me.”

Hardy said he hopes to have a pool of interim superintendents in place to consider in the next four to six weeks.

Dimacchia, however, said that unless Graham did something to warrant his ouster, the school district will remain on the hook for his salary through July 31, when his contract expires. That would mean paying Graham and an interim superintendent to serve in the same capacity at the same time, Dimacchia said.

Graham became Lorain Schools’ superintendent in August 2015, coming from the Parma Schools, which he also had led. He is paid $201,661 a year.

The poor educational performance of the district bounced it into state takeover under House Bill 70. The law gives the district a CEO with broad latitude to hire and fire, make changes and even turn public schools into charter schools if performance does not improve. To date, Youngstown and Lorain are the only school districts that have been taken over by the state.

Contact Bruce Walton at 329-7123 or bwalton@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @BruceWalton.

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