The Licking Heights school board held a special meeting May 24 to correct procedural mistakes in its regular March 17 meeting regarding the retirement and rehiring of a custodian and the district building and grounds superintendent.

The Licking Heights school board held a special meeting May 24 to correct procedural mistakes in its regular March 17 meeting regarding the retirement and rehiring of a custodian and the district building and grounds superintendent.

The board had accepted resignation letters from Allen Rogers, director of facilities management, and Ronald Nutter, custodian, but had not complied with a public notice and public hearing requirement required under Ohio law.

Treasurer Jennifer Vanover said that the school had been advised that it should hold a public hearing on the moves. Vanover said the public hearing would be held at the regular board meeting in July and then a special meeting will be held in August to complete the rehiring process.

Vanover said Ohio law provides an opportunity for the public to comment on situations where employees give formal notice of retirement, triggering pension benefits, but also continue at the same job, earning salary in addition to pension payments.

"It's because people are not thrilled with the whole retire-rehire scenario," Vanover said. "It allows the public the ability to (voice objections)."

Board members said they mostly supported the idea of retire-rehire but recognized the public view was often different.

"Let me paint a picture for you: What happens if we get to public hearing and we get a huge outcry of complaints?" said board member Richard Wand.

Superintendent Thomas Tucker said the policy was a good one.

"That's OK, but at the end of the day, I advise the board to accept or continue with the retire-rehire policy," Tucker said. "This just gives an opportunity to come and speak and express their opinions. That is OK, but it should not sway the board's vote to not allow someone to retire and rehire. It's just part of the democratic process."

Board member Chuck Seeright said the board should consider public response.

"We've always been pretty cognizant of public opinion," Seeright said. "How do we feel about a big public outcry? I'm all for rehiring Allen. I don't know the other gentleman but it's recommended we do it. How do we feel if we have 50 people out there screaming and yelling at us at the next public meeting about retire-rehire and double-dipping?"

Board president Matt Satterwhite said the board would consider the circumstances at the time.

"From what I know right now, I have no objection but there is a process here, and if a thousand people show up and there are facts we don't know, I can't say it's definite," Satterwhite said. "We didn't know we had to do this process until it was done. I think people have trouble separating the retirement system from what the district pays. They just see compensation overall and they don't understand it's two completely different systems."

Vanover said the notice and hearing requirements apply only to people being rehired in the same job from which they are retiring and not from similar situations where the retiring person goes to a different employer.

"But that's the situation that 90 percent of the public that has an issue with it, will have an issue with," Wand said. "When you go to a different job at a different district, nobody's going to care. Everyone understands that. It's no different than retiring from the military and getting a different job. When you retire from one job and take the very same job the next day, that's when the public is going to care."