Norwalk unhires and then rehires Folger as school chief

Folger's contract worth $110,000.
Cary Ashby
Aug 15, 2014

 

Retired teacher and former Norwalk City Schools board member Bob Germond accused three of the current board members of having an agenda.

Germond was referring to the recent controversy surrounding assistant Superintendent Sue Goodsite in which the board turned her down for the interim school chief's job shortly after board president John Lendrum reportedly told her it was hers. Goodsite is under contract through the 2014-2015 school year as the assistant superintendent and director of curriculum and grants. She didn't attend Tuesday's regular monthly meeting.

The board unanimously voted Tuesday to nullify the actions of the July 29 special board meeting in which there was a 3-2 vote to hire Will Folger as the interim superintendent. Lendrum said there were "potential irregularities" -- specifically that the announcement of the July 29 meeting didn't indicate it was for the employment of public employees and after the district counsel looked over the situation, determined it wasn't "good practice."

However, the board voted 3-2 Tuesday to retroactively hire Folger on a one-year contract, which runs from Aug. 1 through June 30. Folger's contract is worth $110,000. Board members Steve Linder and Ralph Ritzenthaler voted against hiring Folger, echoing their votes during the special meeting. There was no discussion before the vote.

The same 3-2 vote also granted Goodsite five additional days for assisting Folger during the "new superintendent transition" and the hiring of Jeff Braumberger as the district technology coordinator. Those personnel matters also were part of the July 29 meeting. Braumberger's two-year contract is effective starting Aug. 1.

Linder made a late addition to the agenda Tuesday to have Goodsite hired as the interim superintendent and Folger as her assistant. At the beginning of the meeting, Lendrum said he wanted to "remind everyone" Folger didn't have an application that came through North Point Educational Service Center as the other candidates did.

"His application was handed to the board by Dennis Doughty," Linder said, referring to the man who retired July 31 after five years as the superintendent and 38 years in local education.

"He (Folger) had no references," added Linder, who said he didn't have time to research Folger or come up with any questions for him.

Linder's motion ultimately failed 3-2, with Lendrum and board members Kevin Cashen and Rob Ludwig making up the majority. Lendrum glanced at Linder during the possible time of discussion, prompting Linder to say: "I've said my peace."

Germond, of Hasbrock Road, addressed Lendrum, Cashen and Ludwig during the public participation segment. He accused the trio of setting the district back 20 years and called the Goodsite situation the most gutless and despicable thing he's ever seen.

"This is nothing more than a 3-2 board. Period," Germond said. "You're not here for the children. You have an agenda. ... You've lost a lot of credibility."

The retired teacher then alleged that teachers in the district can't trust Lendrum, Cashen or Ludwig because of the Goodsite situation.

"And neither do I," Germond added. "They've lost their confidence in you."

Lendrum and Ludwig declined to comment after the meeting.

"It would be appropriate for me to explain my vote for Mr. Folger and it is based on his experience, qualifications and skill sets to perform the duties of interim superintendent and this allows Dr. Goodsite to continue her necessary work in curriculum and testing," Cashen said.

Barb Widman, the executive secretary to the superintendent, told the Reflector before Tuesday's meeting she has enjoyed working with Folger. Widman has worked with four superintendents, including Folger.

"It's been great," she said. "They made the right decision. He's got a great background -- one that's going to help us tremendously."

Widman attended the meeting and said she couldn't have the board torn apart. She also came to the defense of Cashen, Lendrum and Ludwig.

"There's nobody more ethical than these three board members and I've been here for 14 years," Widman said. "I probably shouldn't participate in public participation, but I can't sit idly by."

She reaffirmed her support of Folger, whom she believes has the qualifications the district needs.

"I like Sue," Widman said, referring to Goodsite, but said there's "no comparison" between Folger and Goodsite.

Comments

earlduck

this board interviewed a large number of candidates with no intention at all to hire any of them,the plan hire Goodsite,the change in plan hire Doughty's friend.
why would Germond and Moore think hiring Goodsite would have shown integrity,why bring in people from all over the state if you already know who you're going to hire.
the whole process is a lie and Linder is no better for going along with it

keystone

Linder did not go along with it. He voted against the hiring of Folger and also questioned why he didn't know they were interviewing Folger for the supt. position.

Linder also questioned why the process wasn't the same for Folger as it was for the other candidates.

thirtysomething

earl, I'm guessing that there is a requirement to post the Super job publicly, then hold interviews from that pool of applicants. Not sure what the policy is specifically though.
Bottom line is that Lendrum should've NEVER called Sue and told her that the job was hers. He should've kept his mouth shut and waited until the meeting the following week. Much of this would've been avoided if he'd waited.

Good 2 B Me

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

Good 2 B Me

Apparently me thinking that Folger is a Joke is offensive statement. Oddly, it is made from past experience with him while he was ruling the Huron Schools. I guess the truth is not allowed on this page.

JIMBO2

So now instead of using funds to educate the children of Norwalk, they will be allocated to pay off a lawsuit....awesome job by the school board.

Cliff Cannon

@JIMBO2 : Help me here please. On this topic of a lawsuit. I haven't read a single comment from Dr. Goodsite regarding suing the school system over her disappointment at not getting the job, have you ?

Granted, I do not know Dr. Goodsite socially,so perhaps she is in fact the source of this rumor. However, I must ask what are the grounds ? I understand she is female. Yet, does that automatically qualify for a frivolous lawsuit ? I mean seriously, have we Americans fallen so far morally that because we don't get everything we want--- we look for some way,some how to sue ? ( Scary to contemplate isn't it ? )

Like everyone else in Norwalk I read where Melissa James the head of the Huron County Chamber of Commerce desires a gender based lawsuit. Does that disgust you as much as it does me ? I mean seriously, the head of the chamber of commerce who should be promoting harmony and all that is good about our city as well as our area.


Want's a frivolous, costly, useless lawsuit against our cash strapped school system, because her personal candidate didn't get the job. That just makes me want to puke. ( What does it do for you ? )


Personally, I am all for the 'loyal opposition ' for a free society needs that badly to survive and thrive. Yet, there are ways to do it that are classy and this not one of them. So here's hoping Ms. James resigns.

In conclusion, Dr. Goodsite has a good reputation as a teacher who cares about children. Here's hoping she doesn't take bad advice ( in my viewpoint) and frivolously sue our school system,for that would be the worst way possible to end such a fine career, would it not ? After all, right now she 'teaching' everyone how to handle disappointment with class. If she sues, what then would her legacy to 'teaching' be ?

other.PP

@ Cliff, I don't exactly think it's fair for you to be stating that if Dr. Goodsite were to sue it would be a frivolous case. I would think we could all agree that she would never sue the district without a very solid case. I think it says a lot that in spite of everything, she is still going to fulfill her contract. I have no doubt that the district's well being is her first priority.

To me, this is all about how the situation was handled. In my opinion the situation seems a bit scandalous, and I'm sure that I'm not alone. With scandal comes trust issues, and I do believe voters will remember. You make a good point about how running for a school board position isn't that popular, but you never know when people will heed the call.

The bottom line is that the most qualified candidate should get the job. When Dr. Goodsite was informed she got the job, it meant that she was the most qualified person. So what exactly separates Mr. Folger from Dr. Goodsite to get the job after she was already declared to be the best choice? It must pay to have friends in the right places. How else do you skip the application process and have your resume hand delivered by the former superintendent at the last minute?

Hopefully Dr. Goodsite and Mr. Folger will be able to do their jobs without this hiring situation acting as a distraction.

Cliff Cannon

@ other.PP : " To me, this is all about how the situation was handled " No doubt. I do not think for a single any minute anyone, be they involved or be they bystanders like ourselves do not wish this situation was handled better.

Hopefully what will come out of this that folks will take more active role's in serving our school system, offering civil opinions before crucial decision's, not second guess's after, most of all to those who do attend school board meetings in the future.Please do yourselves a favor and reread this article for I believe the ,ah, "gentlemen " in the story --- clearly showed how NOT TO ACT--- in a public forum.


As for Dr.Goodsite. Believe it or not. I feel this is a golden opportunity for her. Because let's face it. To most of us our leaders in any field are as a rule faces & names to us, would you agree ?

Well now Dr.Goodsite has a chance to clearly show the public who she is. Because she goes in everyday does her job as she always has----to the best of her ability's---despite her enormous disappointment and I think the public respect level for her goes through the roof.

Obviously, if she sues the school system over her disappointment. She not only loses that increased admiration, she also ends her career wrapped in strife and what teacher of the young would want that to be their last lesson ?

ISPSP

I don't believe she will sue the BOE. To sue would go against her ethics. Her only goal is and always has been to advance Norwalk City Schools and the education of the students.

hambone

Cliffy, first time I've seen you way off base!

Cliff Cannon

Really 'hambone' this is the first time, you've saw me way off base ?
My dad used to tell me regarding some of my idea's. That I was so full of dung,I could be the Christmas goose. :)


So maybe I am again. Besides suffering from 'bloggers curse ' ( lack of information) makes anyone not in the inner circle of the discussion prone to make mistakes, true ?


No matter. Here's hoping, once again, this ordeal can be resolved with the ultimate winners being the one's who deserve to win--- the children of Norwalk.

Great day to you

hambone

Usually the "dung" is removed before goose is served, good day to you also.

other.PP

They can nullify and rehire Folger as many times as they want, but it's not going to save their a$$es with the voters. Lendrum, Cashen, and Ludwig might as well start counting down until they're voted out. This is a sad time for the Norwalk school district.

Cliff Cannon

@other.PP : Just a couple of questions for the sake of conversation, if you don't mind.

Here's my starting point's. Norwalk's board of education has THE lowest cost per student of any B.O.E. in the county. So number one is hard to beat,true ? So why would we the voters look elsewhere, simply because Dr. Goodsite didn't get the supt. job?

Further, decision's we don't like are constantly made in the school system, true ? Think about just how many you don't like off the top of your head. ( It's a bunch,isn't it ? ) Yet, unless anyone goes to the board before that decision is made to express an opinion, our complaint's are no more than merely second guessing the quarterback's,are they not ?


To wit : A couple of years ago. Our highly successful wrestling coach as well as third in command administrator Bob Duncan was fired as wrestling coach, was he not ? And did anyone doubt for a second that his firing was not the result of a long running vendetta by some board members ?


Yet, it didn't raise near the stink, this decision has and leads to this question: Why ? Don't both decisions appear strikingly similar ? Including Dr. Goodsites ( like Mr. Duncan before her) very classy way of handling her grave disappointment----by promising to do what is best for the kids of Norwalk. After all if that doesn't raise your respect level for her,what would?

Which ----finally--- leads to this question: What makes you so sure the three who voted not to hire Dr.Goodsite, will get voted out ? For I believe your forgetting a really crucial fact here. Almost no one runs for school board and I believe that is for a simple reason----who want's to be second guessed, constantly---- as well as insulted for nearly everything they do ?

Whoopball

I generally agree with your comments, particularly the positive ones. We need more of those. I would like to bring up a point though. Is investing the least per student in the county really a good thing? If we assume a student is what he or she is and the schools have no influence, then yes let's not spend a penny more than we have to, but I believe education can have a profound effect on one's quality of life. I believe as a citizen we have an obligation to pay for the education of the next generation. Perhaps if we spent a little more we could reduce substance abuse and unemployment.

Cliff Cannon

Whoopball : " Perhaps if we spent a little more we could reduce substance abuse and unemployment "

Don't I feel like the batter who get's called out on strikes ( stupid that is ) Of course, the 2 pages notes from a B.O.E. informational meeting I had are now gone. So here is what I remember and have praised ever since.

It is the efficient way the schools are ran that make our B.O.E. so impressive. Now obviously, some can come on here and quote verbatim as well as at length of the good scores our system get's from the state. Then in turn they could probably name all the kids who perform so well at competitions in nearly every field one can name. While I read of our accomplishments,admittedly I can do neither.

Still what I know is that our system does more ( my viewpoint) for less than any other system in the county and that is a marvelous reflection on each and every member of our system.

As for spending more to reduce unemployment & substance abuse. I for one am not sure that would work. Here's why : Compare our costs & spending per student with virtually any city in America with a population of over 100,000 and I will bet a dinner at our exciting new Italian restaurant. That their spending is much higher and their results vis a via substance abuse,unemployment are much worse than ours.

Perhaps, my comparisions are misguided. However, your statement was not. It was extremely profound and again like any batter who get's called out for missing a good pitch---- I feel dumb.

Great day to you

Interesting

^

Whoopball

*

AnAmerican

I agree it reeks of the good ol' boy system but Goodsite didn't officially get hired or sign a contract, this happens all the time.

Vote them out, including Linder and Ritzenthaler as they with the other three promoted and shoved the 5 for 5 down our throats. Wait until property owners see their tax bill in January.

keystone

If you check the records, Linder and Ritzenthaler pushed for the earned income tax levy. They only voted for the 5 for 5 to make it LOOK like the board was unified. Both of the board members made it known all along that they were in favor of the EIT.

sport24728

Let me guess, you're retired from your job so the EIT would've benefited you greatly?

keystone

sport...No I'm not retired but the EIT would have benefited me if and when I do retire. I would have been paying more taxes under the EIT than under the 5 for 5. I just felt that the EIT would have benefited the many in Norwalk that were unemployed.

sport24728

Fair enough. I only asked because most of the people that I've talked to who favored the EIT, were already retired.

AnAmerican

5 for 5 or EIT, neither one is acceptable until all the fat is trimmed, specifically redundant admin.

Windy

Why wouldn't Folger need to submit his application through the proper channels like all the other candidates? Why didn't he have any references? Why would anyone hire a person, especially to fill such an important position, without first checking their references?

Something REALLY STINKS here . . . .

Richard Cranium

Here is a break down on why people are upset and digusted with these three members:

There was an application process and hiring process. Initially Sue Goodsite was the person selected to be hired. In fact, she was told she was being hired. Then the former super turns in his buddy's incomplete application, who is Folger, and skirts the entire hiring process. The three members of the board, get on board with the former super and hire him and tell Goodsite that they changed their mind. Remember, these three did not discuss this with the other two board members.

So the community is up in arms over this circus and questions the three board members. The board members refuse to answer questions and say they need to consult with their attorneys. So did they do something illegal? Why can't they answer questions without their legal counsel? If there is nothing to hide then why do they need to involve their legal counsel?

Great example for the school board members to set for the students.

AnAmerican

Agreed. Good ol' boy system? Disappointing to say the least.

teiwaz

I'm pretty sure this goes beyond 'vote the bums out next time.' There are going to be ethical/legal issues raised here regarding the improprieties in this search process.

At the very least, a recall process for those board members who subverted the search process is in order. In these types of situations involving public education and other uses of public funds, you can't play fast and loose with selection/procurement processes.

The state attorney general needs to be alerted about this.

earlduck

the real truth is that most citizens could care less who is on the school board or superintendent,me included.
but if you have ever had someone that you cared about called in for an interview and even a second interview to later realize they had been just used as a token number before the person the employer knew would get the job in the first place was hired,then you would understand what a lack of integrity all five of these people have

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