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Senior enrichment board had no intention of hearing community's concerns

By Melissa James • Jul 29, 2019 at 11:00 AM

The hot topic at the last senior enrichment board meeting was of the dismissal of executive director Roxanne Sandles. The community had concerns it demanded be addressed. The board had no intention of doing so. Most board members had nothing to say. One board member was disrespectful, smirking and snickering throughout the comment time.

The board’s last written evaluation in October 2017 of Ms. Sandles commended her job performance as nothing less than satisfactory. She received several outstanding and exemplary checks.

The bylaws mandate yearly evaluation of the director be conducted by the board. However, it failed to do so in 2018. In early 2019, the board requested Sandles’ employees write evaluations of the director. Then, when employees’ job descriptions were modified, they complained to the board and this board, instead of supporting the director, requested they submit another evaluation of her.

After the board took action based on those evaluations — which Ms. Sandles has yet to be permitted to review or refute. Two of the disgruntled employees were given promotions. Ludacris, at best.

This board, again, violated its bylaws by interfering with Ms. Sandles’ decisions regarding personnel assignments. The director of this program has control over personnel and day-to-day operations. Worse, the board president issued a directive that the meeting called for dismissal vote should be kept secret — a violation of the laws which govern not-for-profit organizations. These actions make it clear that several members of this board need to be replaced.

The damage done to this program doesn’t end with Ms. Sandles’ dismissal. The same smirking board member has failed to meet his fiduciary responsibility to the organization by discouraging investment in the center. Other board members have been equally counterproductive. A consultant’s analysis revealed that many board members didn’t support the new center and declined to assist in raising the funds for it.

One look at the current facility and the need for a new one is obvious. A review of the number served by Meals on Wheels and a glance of the current, ill-equipped, small kitchen and the need becomes clear. Yet, the current board’s disinterest and lack of support is shocking. Clearly, the board members don’t want to put forth the effort to make the new center happen.

The seniors of Huron County aren’t served by this board. They must see how it is conducting bad business. They must be aware of the lack of support for the future of the program so many seniors rely on. They must demand change. Now. The deadline with Fisher-Titus Medical Center for purchase of centrally located, profitable location fast approaches.

To the board members who fired Ms. Sandles without cause and who aren’t supportive of a new facility, resign. Do the right thing. Restore Ms. Sandles to her director’s position and allow a new, active board to lead the Enrichment Centers for Huron County program toward a bright future.


Melissa James of Norwalk is a former director for the Huron County Chamber of Commerce.

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