Johnstown Independent

JM board again seeks new leader

By

After what likely is one of the shortest superintendent tenure in the district's history, the Johnstown-Monroe Local School District again is taking applications through Jan. 9 for its next leader.

The board is moving forward to find a new full-time leader after firing interim superintendent Dr. Victor Cardenzana, a retired school superintendent, Nov. 26.

His effective hire date was just eight days prior: Nov. 18.

Cardenzana said his dismissal boiled down to incompatibility.

Board president Amy Ramey told ThisWeek it was over disconcerting information that was uncovered after he was hired. She said she couldn't share that information because of laws regarding personnel.

"There was information that came to the board that gave four of us great pause for concern," Ramey said.

Cardenzana, a retired superintendent with 29 years of public administrator experience, told ThisWeek operation styles didn't work.

"I've been a superintendent a long time," he said. "I knew what to do."

Cardenzana said he had issues with Ramey regarding a contract for the full-time superintendent search.

"She entered into a contract for the superintendent search without board approval," he said. "That's illegal."

Ramey said Cardenzana did contact the Ohio School Boards Association.

"We hadn't got to a dollar amount yet," she said. "We customized to do a search for our district. We did that quickly."

Ramey said the board approved the contract.

"I would never act on behalf of the board," she said. "That's never a board member's position to act on behalf of the board. The board approved the contract."

District treasurer Tammy Woods said the board approved the contract for the full-time superintendent search Nov. 26, the same day Cardenzana was given a 30-day notice.

He said he also corrected Ramey regarding disseminating information about handicapped students.

"You can't talk about handicap students or their condition to the public," he said. "A parent made a complaint about it. Several staff members were aware of it. I was not popular with the board president."

Ramey said she couldn't discuss that matter because of legalities.

Cardenzana said another school board member had called a meeting regarding a building program for the schools. He said a staff member had told him about it, and he was totally unaware of it.

"When I checked into it, I was told it was none of my business, and I shouldn't ask questions," he said.

A superintendent of schools, Cardenzana said, needs to know what's going on.

"The business of the schools was the building program," he said.

Ramey said the meeting in question wasn't a board meeting.

"It was a community coffee at someone's house," she said. "I believe there was only one board member there, and it wasn't me. A portion of the community is engaged in conversations about facilities. They're having coffees.

"In December, the board will be talking to them about what they've discussed and continue to move forward," she said. "The community can meet when they want."

Ramey said former interim superintendent Thomas Slater was doing a fabulous job.

"What happened to him was tragic to him, personally, and for the district," she said.

Slater experienced a blood clot on the brain and had emergency surgery in early September. He decided to step down as interim superintendent to focus on his recovery in mid-November.

Ramey said Slater had the district going in the right direction, and Cardenzana didn't seem to be going in the same direction.

"Several board members didn't understand their role as board members," Cardenzana said. "That's where we didn't see eye to eye. Johnstown-Monroe is a good district with great teachers, administrators and students. I was excited about being there. I enjoyed my short stay with them."

Woods said a 30-day termination clause was in Cardenzana's contract, so he's still employed through Dec. 26, technically.

Woods said the board approved legislation to make the superintendent inactive.

He was hired on a per-diem basis, making $330 per day, Woods said. He's retired through the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio and isn't receiving benefits through the J-M district.

Nelson McCray, superintendent of the Licking County Educational Service Center, is acting superintendent. He will serve in that role until Johnstown hires another superintendent.

Ramey said the superintendent screening process begins Jan. 14. She said the district's unrest has been difficult because it has affected students, and it shouldn't.

"The kids are what's important and why we're here," she said. "We make decisions based on what's best for our students."

School board member Ruth Ann Booher said she looks forward to a productive search for the next superintendent.

Former J-M superintendent Damien Bawn retired in February.

Comments