The Johnstown-Monroe Board of Education Monday, May 11, voted to nonrenew high school Principal Michael Heath's contract that expires June 30.

The Johnstown-Monroe Board of Education Monday, May 11, voted to nonrenew high school Principal Michael Heath's contract that expires June 30.

The board authorized Treasurer Tammy Woods to provide Heath with written notice by June 1 of the board's intent not to re-employ him.

Heath was hired as principal July 15, 2013, under a two-year contract at a salary of $75,000 annually plus benefits. He replaced Kim Jakeway who retired.

Superintendent Dale Dickson said he couldn't comment about personnel matters such as the one involving the nonrenewal.

Heath's tenure in Johnstown-Monroe had been clouded by ongoing litigation related to his previous employment.

He was indicted by a Morrow County grand jury, accused of illegally authorizing a contract for his wife while he was director of Edison's Tomorrow Center Community School a few years ago.

Heath, 48, has been charged with one count of having an unlawful interest in a public contract, a fourth-degree felony.

He pleaded not guilty in Morrow County Common Pleas Court.

According to a state audit, the Tomorrow Center's board authorized bidding for speech-therapy services in May 2011.

Heath hired Brickner's Inc. on Feb. 27, 2012, and the president of Brickner's was Heath's wife, Val. The contract was signed by both husband, in behalf of the school, and wife, in behalf of the company.

The audit also showed the school's first payment to Brickner's occurred in January 2012, one month before the board awarded the contract.

In addition, no documentation showed a competitive-bidding process had occurred, according to the audit.

In April 2014, the state auditor ordered Heath and his wife to repay the Tomorrow Center $53,239 after determining he had entered an illegal contract with the business when he was employed by the Mount Gilead school district, which oversees the Tomorrow Center. That's the amount the Tomorrow Center paid to Brickner's over 18 months.

The Mount Gilead district treasurer in spring 2013 discovered the violation, according to a press release from Mount Gilead Superintendent Jeff Thompson last spring.

Heath has declined to comment, on the advice of his attorney, saying only that his side of the story "is not being shown right now" and that "there is a petition signed by parents students and community members in favor of renewing my contract; however, the board chose to ignore it."

Dickson said the district would post the opening for the principal position this week and accept applications through the end of May.

He said it's the responsibility of the superintendent to conduct personnel searches and make recommendations to the school board.

"An internal committee will be established to review applications and to conduct interviews," Dickson said.

"As part of the process of developing my recommendation, the final two candidates will meet with the board and me for a final screening."

The final selection and board approval tentatively is expected by June 22.