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Lorain Schools documents tell different story about principals

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    Lorain Schools CEO David Hardy gave a presentation to the public April 12 regarding the steps that are being taken by the district's administration.



LORAIN – Insurance paperwork obtained from Lorain Schools contradicts statements the district CEO made last week regarding the changing employment status of several former administrators who are now teachers.

According to the documents – dated Aug. 1 and obtained through a public records request – insurance coverage ended for Jay Keefer, Christine Miller, Sam Newsome and Debbie Pustulka on July 31. The documents, signed by People Office designee Juanita Senquiz, said coverage was ending because of a “layoff.”

Last week, district CEO David Hardy blamed “miscommunication” for those employees believing they would be without jobs this school year. The Chronicle ran a story prior to Hardy’s remarks in which Keefer and Pustulka confirmed they were considering litigation for not being offered teaching positions, as their tenure dictated.

“Those administrators were relieved of their roles because we were switching to turnaround principals, but they were always on the list to be potential teachers, so I think whatever might have been communicated before might have been inaccurate in the sense that they were not a part of the fabric of our organization,” Hardy said in the interview last week. “It’s just going to be in a different position.”

Hardy also said that those four automatically would revert to being teachers and members of the teachers’ union as of Aug. 1, the same day documents indicate their insurance coverage was canceled.

Hardy did not respond to a phone call Wednesday. He did send an email saying: “They are now teachers; they were released from their roles as administrators and transferred over to teachers.”

He did not respond to a further request for comment and neither did Keefer or Miller.

Newsome said he was going to “take the high road” regarding the situation and have no comment, which Pustulka echoed.

According to insurance documents dated Aug. 13, the four were receiving coverage again after being “reinstated.”

The four employees, who were building principals last school year before the positions were eliminated to make way for a new leadership structure, received letters from the district dated July 30 informing them their employment with the district was being terminated effective the next day.

The same administrators received a letter March 29 from Hardy telling them they would have teaching positions if they had the proper tenure with the district.

According to personnel files from the district, Pustulka, Miller and Newsome all have been with the district for 20 years or more. Keefer, who joined the district in 2011, has been an educator since 1981. All four are over the age of 50.

Classes started today for Lorain Schools. The four were able to return to the classrooms with Pustulka and Miller placed in elementary schools, while Newsome will be a business teacher at Lorain High School and Keefer will be a building substitute in the same school.

School board president Tony Dimacchia said he believes Hardy “is in way over his head and has no idea what he’s doing.”

“That kind of incompetence should warrant termination,” he said. “I read the letter and the letter was clear. That was not miscommunication. That was a display of complete arrogance in thinking that he can do whatever he wants, and he got caught.”

Dimacchia said the entire situation and the “excuse” of miscommunication shows a “lack of transparency and accountability.”

“The students of Lorain deserve better than a bunch of excuses or blatant lies as to why the people charged with the responsibility of providing a quality education continue to make critical mistakes that put their education at risk,” he said.

Contact Katie Nix at 440-329-7129 or Find her on Facebook and Twitter at @KatieHNix.

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