The local teachers union has accused the superintendent's husband of being an "uncredentialed employee" who is working in the role of a New London Local Schools teacher.
But Superintendent Carol Girton, Dennis Girton's wife, countered that he is not a full-time teacher. For the last three years, he has worked on an as-needed basis, conducting research for Model UN and coordinating the gifted program in music and arts.
Carol Girton said neither she nor her husband were told it was time for him to renew his FBI background check certification -- something that must be done every five years. He underwent the background check on Wednesday, and Carol Girton said as far as she's concerned, there's no more issue.
The superintendent said she first heard about the union's accusation during Tuesday night's board meeting. She added the board is in the middle of negotiations with the New London teachers' union and the union for non-classified staff.
Carol Girton said if someone had told her that Dennis' FBI background check was up for renewal, he would have gotten it taken care of and there wouldn't have been an issue.
"No one had the courtesy to tell me that," Carol Girton said.
Dennis Girton works on an as-needed basis, making $80 per day, the superintendent said. He has been with the district for three years.
The New London Education Association is "deeply concerned about the presence of an uncredentialed employee who is working in the role of a teacher in this district," according to a statement that was read by union member Mark Bucher during Tuesday's school board meeting and submitted to the Reflector.
The statement goes on to note that Girton has a permanent teaching certificate issued in 1981 to teach music in grades seven to 12 and another permanent certificate issued in 1983 to teach music in grades kindergarten through 12.
"However, the status of these licenses is shown 'inactive,'" according to the statement. "According to one of our attorneys from the Ohio Education Association (OEA), it is a violation of state law to pay someone to teach who doesn't have a license. This was confirmed by a staff member in the department of education's licensure department. In a state audit, a finding for recovery would likely be made, and the money earned would have to be refunded to the district. Why is the district employing and paying an individual who does not have an active license to teach in violation of state law?
"We believe that it is in the best interest of the school district, the employees and the taxpayers to have someone from outside the district closely examine how this district is being run on a day-to-day basis."
The district plans to do that.
While answering a question from an audience member at Tuesday's meeting, board president Bill Givens said he wants the school to have the state do a complete performance audit of the entire school, so the district's financial picture can be improved.
Earlier in the meeting, treasurer Susan Guthrie said the five-year forecast approved by the board shows the school will continue to be in a deficit-spending situation, as are many districts.
Following a closed-door session Tuesday, board members delayed making a decision on a measure to hire Girton "to do research and be an adviser to the Model United Nations class and plan activities for students gifted in the arts under the supervision of the gifted supervisor."