Residents say Goodsite situation is sad, 'absolute debacle'

Retired teacher: "Sue would be a great superintendent."
Cary Ashby
Aug 5, 2014


Norwalk resident Melissa James calls the situation in which the Norwalk City Schools assistant superintendent was turned down for the interim school chief's job she was offered "an absolute debacle."

"Sue (Goodsite) was offered the job. It was agreed upon by the (school) board that she would be offered the job," James said.

James said she has requested an explanation from the board members, "but three of them have not responded."

On July 29 during a special board meeting, John Lendrum, Kevin Cashen and Rob Ludwig supported hiring Huron resident Will Folger as the interim superintendent. Folger, who has 40 years of experience in education, retired Dec. 31 as the superintendent of Sheffield-Sheffield Lake City Schools after nine years on the job.

Board members Steve Linder and Ralph Ritzenthaler voted against hiring Folger. Linder has said his "no" vote was against the way the hiring situation happened. On the other hand, Ritzenthaler said Friday he already had decided to vote in favor of Goodsite getting the interim job and couldn't change his vote.

"Both of them have said, 'I don't know what happened' and I want to talk to the other board members, but they don't seem to be responding," James said. "They should have followed through with what the intent of the board was -- and that was to hire her (Goodsite)."

James, the executive director of the Huron County Chamber of Commerce, knows Goodsite through her job, but said in her interview with the Reflector she only was speaking as a member of the Norwalk community.

"I know Sue through her work on the education committee," James said. "I always felt she was dedicated, thought outside of the box and went that extra 2 miles -- not just 1 mile."

Linder and Ralph Ritzenthaler separately have confirmed Goodsite's assertion to the Reflector that the board originally intended to hire her as the interim superintendent and Folger as her assistant overseeing personnel. Goodsite has said she told Lendrum, the board president, she "had no problem whatsoever with that" situation.

"I was told I was being offered the superintendent's job," Goodsite said about her conversation with Lendrum, who made it "crystal clear" the job was an interim position. "Mr. Lendrum told me, 'Remember we are just looking at just one year.'"

Until the morning of the July 29 meeting, Goodsite said she was under the impression she had the interim job and then during a phone conversation with Lendrum, he told her "there had been a change." It's unclear what caused that supposed change of circumstances.

Lendrum has said it's not appropriate to comment on why certain candidates didn't get the job.

"I can't fault anyone for voting their conscience," he said after last week's 3-2 vote.

Scott Ford, former longtime president of the Norwalk Teachers Association, said he doesn't understand how the communication among board members broke down.

"That's sad; it really is," Ford said. "I feel bad for Mr. Folger. He's coming into it kinda blind. I just think the communication could have been and should have been better.

"Sue would be a great superintendent," added Ford, who is a retired teacher.

Dr. Dave Heidelberg, a Norwalk dentist in practice for 28 years, is just as outraged as James and Ford are about the situation. Heidelberg's three children graduated from Norwalk High School.

Heidelberg said he considers it "very sad" for part of the board to turn its back on Goodsite. He praised her talent, "caliber," dedication to Norwalk schools and earning her doctorate.

"She worked her way through the system," the dentist said. "This shows kids you can have a success in a small town like Norwalk."

In 2013, Goodsite retired from the school district after 35 years of service. A teacher for 11 years and an assistant principal for four, she was the Pleasant Elementary principal from 1993 through 2006.

In August 2013, Goodsite was re-hired as the assistant superintendent and curriculum and grants director -- a position she's held since 2011. She is under contract through the 2014-2015 school year.

"I think the school board turned its back on her and I think it sends a terrible message to the kids," Heidelberg said.

"I'm very disappointed with the board members who voted against her," added the dentist, who believes Goodsite was "the next logical person" to become superintendent.

James asserts that Goodsite has a potential gender discrimination case she could file.

"This is the most blatant display of discrimination I have ever seen," James said.



I would be very surprised if she gets any response from the other 3 board members since I would imagine that it is hard to talk with their heads so far up their own as*es!

happy time

I would also be surprised, especially if they fear any possible civil suit against them. If this isn't a case of discrimination, then they should give an explanation since there's nothing to hide.


Isn't it about time to remove this ?


Running a school is big job.. We elected people to do this for us. But to run a School System with a board like this..! I think it's time to have a "Recall". ! Is the Circus in town ?

shovelhead's picture

We elected the board. They make decisions regarding the schools. Go to a farm & beat another dead horse already.

CrankyBalls's picture

Can't argue the fact that WE elected them, but they really screwed the pooch this time.


You folks must live in a cocoon. This stuff happened to many that worked at Furniture , Janesville, Mayflower, etc. Welcome to the world Sue. Its not always nice.


I agree. The world is not nice. Unless there was something written on paper that said she got the job, here-say is just that. Everyone assumed she had the job and what happens when you assume? You make an A$$ out of U and ME. Suck it up and move on....


Agree !

jstus2001 I go again. If Mrs Goodsite was in fact the "the next logical person" for the job, then why was the board wasting their time and our tax dollars conducting interviews? If anything was wrong it seems maybe there was some talk between some members of the board that was not done at a meeting, which realistically is illegal.
Business is to be conducted AT the meeting, not the coffee shop or local bar. (JUST an example NOT saying THAT is where the talks took place...sheeeshhh....lighten up)


they still piss me off by asking people in for interviews when they already know they are not going to hire them

Richard Cranium

To All the School Board members: We the people elected YOU. Now answer us and tell us what happened. You owe us this explanation. You can choose who you feel is most qaulified for this job and thats fine. But you made this into a circus. Now please explain this to us. Very simple.

Sadly, they won't comment. Once they get elected they feel they no longer have to answer to the people. They become self serving.

Just remember this at election.


RC, you are right, They were elected by the do a job. NOW that they have done their job everyone PI**ES and moans. They DID their job by choosing the person they felt was BEST to do the job.
So pull up your big boy panties and get over it and move on.


If they were not planning to hire Sue as the superintendent, THEY SHOULD NOT HAVE OFFERED HER THE JOB IN THE FIRST PLACE. How the school board handled this situation really STINKS.

CrankyBalls's picture

Exactly! It was totally unprofessional, not to mention it's probably embarrassing for Sue. The school board has created one big mess. This isn't the ideal way to be starting a new school year.


We're still talking about the kids and how the school system here is so busy trying to be innovative they're shooting themselves in the foot every year right?

swiss family

I have to say, that although I do not agree with , or understand the reasoning behind retiring, then immediately coming back to the same position or a position higher than what you held when you were "working" ,I have to say that this does NOT surprise me at all from the school board. I have never trusted them, I think they have pulled some "fast ones" in the past that "we" have just let go,and this is just an "in your face" example of plowing right on over what they say they will do, compared to what they actually will do.

I had high hopes that "we" would finally be able to have some confidence in the school board again when the ex Police chief joined the ranks, I thought he was someone with integrity, and would sow the seed of that throughout the system.... that does not appear to be the case.... I still believe that when you retire you should retire from THAT JOB, and I also think it is time to retire most of the school board in my humble opinion


What's the problem with retiring from one job then taking another job. Sounds like a good idea to me!

eat my shorts's picture
eat my shorts

No matter how hard you try, you will never get swiss to understand the concept. To him it doesn't matter that a person may have been well educated and had a long successful career. Once a person retires, they need to make a change like to becoming a store clerk or flipping burgers. All of your education and experience should not be needed for the new job.

Swiss, sorry I read your comment since you keep begging me not to anymore. Were you not feeling good or something, because your comment was only about half of what we would normally expect to see from you?

swiss family

MODERATOR................. this sure sounds like words that are meant to pick a fight.... why are they not blocked?? if I said this to your golden boy Cliffy it would be taken down.. I guess it matters if you are willing to Kiss Joe's Butt or NOT...


and what makes you think that the former chief is a man of integrity? please don't say because he was a policeman

hor mone

I caint understand but let me give it a try. Board interviews 4 candidates for Supt. job. Male candidates sense that at least 3 board members are fools and withdraw from consideration. Leads to only female candidate Goodsite. The circa 1800 3 board members reluctantly endorse a women against their nature. She is told she will be Supt. Now Folgers gets wind of the situation and thinks I can put up with these idiots for a year for 100K+ or he could be a "good old boy" too and think they are great. The 3 derelicts get together and hatch the new plan. Can you imagine that illegal meeting likely fueled by red neck ego and god knows what. Congratulations to the 2 board members that were left out of that discussion. You were judged to be too legitimate and enlightened to be trusted to dump "the woman".
Just when Chris Castle is creating a positive vibe for Norwalk these jackasses set the town up for one more embarrassing fiasco.

Cliff Cannon

Admittedly, I suffer from " Bloggers curse " ( lack of information ) However, here is what I do know.

We have THE most efficiently ran school system in the county. So kudos to every last board member ( As well as to the departed Mrs. Broz ) for sharing your talents to make this happen.

Having said that. I understand as our fellow blogger " Contango " points out often " politics is a contact sport. " and those involved do not forget, like the rest of us,when 'things' do not go their way.

To wit : A few years ago. We had a wrestling coach/school leader by the name of Bob Duncan get voted out 3-2 as coach after leading his team to glory. Which did not sit well with the '2' ( or most of us) after all is success from the kids what we all are after,true ?

So if you told me. These 2 job hiring's are connected. I for one would not be surprised. Nor would I be disappointed. Because as quite a few fellow commentators noted : " That's life " ( as well as politics. ) Then I would add 'dung' happens. As well as, this school board is a civic treasure even when they disagree.

Further, this episode has raised my level of respect for Dr. Goodsite for despite her immense disappointment, she like Mr.Duncan before her, vows to work together with leadership to bring their best everyday to the kids of Norwalk. And if that ain't 'leadership,'at it's best, what is ?

I, like so many others, however am extremely disappointed in the reaction of Melissa James the executive director of the Huron County Chamber of Commerce.

Really Ms. James a gender based lawsuit ? Just because your own personal candidate did not get the job ? I ask: Isn't that the type of dung that has our country in such bad shape now ? Then go further. How do you answer your phone Ms.James at the chamber of commerce " Welcome to Norwalk the home of the sexist school board ? "

As we all know the 'loyal opposition' is an extremely important part of democracy. Yet, there is a way to do it too. And advocating suing our very broke school system over a very frivolous premise is about as wrong as you can get.

Rumor mill has Ms. James wanting fellow protesters in t'shirts at the next board meeting protesting this decision. That I can handle, because again protest is important.

Yet advocating a ridiculous law suit, that would hurt our entire city demands a different action. So here's hoping you resign. Because, Norwalk is starting to move again and the last thing we need is someone without the class of Dr. Goodsite or a lack of understanding of how politics works. Answering the phone at the chamber of commerce saying " Welcome to Norwalk the home of the sexist school board."

swiss family

Professor Cannon...if in fact we had the "most efficiently ran school system in the county" as you proclaim, we would NOT have just had to not only beg, but sneak in a 5 for 5 levy when there was nothing on the primary ballot, knowing full well that there would be a phenomenally low voter turnout and it would be the perfect time to slip it in there and get it passed with little opposition... correct????? If we had the "most efficiently ran school system in the county" I highly doubt that they would sell their old used computer systems to anyone by the TRUCK LOADS for $10.00 a truck load. so that the person taking them could rework them and make them into working systems and sell them for $100.00 each,now would we??? exactly who told you that we had the most efficiently ran school system in the county??? because maybe you should not believe everything you hear... should you????

I would not sell yourself short when you say you suffer from "Bloggers curse" because it seems like you have tapped into the main vein of the gossip aorta running through town, or who knows you might be the one who makes all of the gossip stories up.. do you??? You refer to the "departed " Mrs Broz.. I had no idea she had passed... and I am not sure it had made the paper as of yet, so maybe you should talk to JOE before you spread stories like that ...

My final point that I would like to point out to you Professor is that you repremand Ms James for following her heart... I think if she feels she needs to do what she needs to do, good for her.. I mean you feel the need to write your editorials, even though they make you look like a ninny, plus you put your picture on there too.... so what is the difference, BUT in the cutting of Ms James you say that she is suing 'OUR VERY BROKE SCHOOL SYSTEM"... but earlier you said we had the "most efficient ran school system in the county????? which is it?????