Friday, January 18, 2013

A thank-you to readers

Four years ago was launched to respond to inaccuracies in the media’s coverage of the John Freshwater and Mount Vernon Board of Education controversy.

During the intervening years, I’ve striven to provide alternative news coverage of the ongoing story. 

To all of my readers, thank you for your interest in this project. 

I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of you. I appreciate the encouragement and thanks that you have offered.

Recently, I’ve obtained a job that requires moving out of the country. This change combined with pursuing other writing projects means that I will no longer be providing in-depth coverage of the Freshwater controversy.

I will, however, like many of you, continue to follow the story as the case continues its way through the court system.


Sam Stickle

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

MVCS superintendent to retire in June

During Monday’s meeting, the Mount Vernon Board of Education approved the retirement of Steve Short, superintendent of schools, effective June 30, 2013.

In a Jan. 11 letter to the board, Short cited changes in the state retirement system as influencing his decision to retire this year:
Dear Members of the Board of Education,
This is a community that is special to me. We have great staffs, students and administrators. It has been a pleasure to work in this District for 29 of my 31 years in education. 
The change of the State Teachers’ Retirement System benefit packages have impacted my decision on when to retire. I will be retiring effective at the end of the day on June 30, 2013. 
Thank you for your support and encouragement. 
Stephen J. Short
According to a Mount Vernon News article, Short’s current salary is $122,000 per year. His retirement will come a year before his contract was set to expire.

Short became superintendent in January 2008. Prior to that, he served a brief period as interim superintendent. He also served in other positions with the district.

The board’s 2009, 2010 and 2011 written evaluations of Short’s performance as superintendent show mostly positive remarks and ratings.

A notable exception had to do with personnel management. In the 2010 performance review, four out of five board members rated Short as needing improvement in the category of maintaining “high, clear and fair standards of performance for all personnel.” 

One board member commented in the review: “I believe Steve, as a person, wants to be fair and consistent. However, the system for which he is responsible lacks consistency, thoroughness, and timeliness.”

The review cited the “handling of John Freshwater and recent administrators’ performance” as “evidence of weakness in this area.”

Short’s retirement was first announced by the district in a Dec. 20 press release. Both the News and ran the press release as a news story that same day.

In the press release, Dr. Margie Bennett, president of the board, expressed her appreciation for Short’s years of service with the district:

“We are deeply saddened by Mr. Short’s decision to retire. He has always been a strong proponent of this community and deeply cares about our students and employees. I have the greatest respect for Mr. Short; his decisions evidence wisdom and compassion. He will be sorely missed.”

Additional information:

Press release: Mount Vernon City Schools Superintendent Steve Short to Retire (PDF)

Jan. 11, 2013 letter from Short to board (PDF)

2009 performance evaluation of Short (PDF)

2010 performance evaluation of Short (PDF)

2011 performance evaluation of Short (PDF)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ohio Supreme Court denies school board motion

The Mount Vernon Board of Education lost a last-ditch effort to keep significant portions of John Freshwater’s appeal from being heard by the Ohio Supreme Court.

The court on Wednesday denied the board’s “motion to strike propositions of law 1 & 2, appendix pages 49 & 55-56, and supplement pages 103-116 from [Freshwater’s] merit brief.”

The decision by the court means that all of the issues presented in the merit brief will be considered, the text of the First Amendment will remain in the merit brief and the newly introduced evidence, discrediting a board witness, will be considered.

Additional information