PERRYSBURG — A board of education member accused of taking confidential documents in an executive session is asking for an apology and denying she did anything wrong.
A proposed vote on rescinding a new special labor committee, that excludes school board member Kelly Ewbank, did not receive a second at the regular school board Tuesday working group meeting.
At the previous board meeting the new committee was created as a response to Ewbank allegedly leaving the executive session of March 2 with confidential documents.
Information discussed during an executive session is confidential. In this case, the documents reportedly removed pertained to labor union discussions that are ongoing. It was determined by the board through review of security video footage that when Ewbank left the meeting early, she took the missing documents with her.
“I move to rescind the motion made by Sue Larimar on March 15 for a special board labor committee. I need a second,” board member Kelly Ewbank said.
The request for a motion was followed by silence from the board.
The motion died for lack a second to proceed with a vote.
“OK. I will review the information I get from the public records request and make the necessary next steps,” Ewbank said.
Earlier in the meeting Ewbank denied taking the documents and violating any matters of code or policy. She further claimed that her rights for due process were denied.
She is also requesting a public apology.
“Because of the silence I made a public (records) request from Ray Pohlman, board president; Tom Hosler, superintendent; and Sue Larimer, board member. These requests were made on the Ohio Public Records act. I have not received the information. You were wrong about the law. You were wrong about what occurred. I did not take the documents,” Ewbank said. “You have falsely accused me of violating a criminal statute and removed me from a committee without due process.”
The public records request made by Ewbank on March 19 includes correspondence related to the taking of the confidential documents and the investigation, between board members, the superintendent and the treasurer.
After the motion died, Hosler gave an update on the status of the public records request.
“We are processing that right now. We received the request Friday afternoon right before break, so there wasn’t staff here to pull the analysis and do those things,” Hosler said.
Public information requests have a number of requirements. Information in a public records request that is confidential must be redacted.
The classic example for schools is the release of medical information, but in this case the request is more complicated.
Those public information requests must also allow for a reasonable time for processing.
“It’s a little bit tricky, because you are a board member,” Hosler said.
“The other challenge is that you are requesting a public record, but within that request you also said that you are a board member, so that’s really created two buckets of information. As a member of the public you are entitled to these items, which is spelled out in the law and as a board member you are also entitled to things which aren’t available to the public. So we’re trying to work through the attorneys to determine which of those confidential communications between the board, as a whole, and individuals with attorneys,” Hosler said. “It’s really two different requests we’re trying to process.”
Hosler further explained that information shared with attorneys is privileged.
The Tuesday working group concluded with an executive session, part of which was to be about the same union contract related to the missing documents.
Board President Ray Pohlman said that the meeting would include the full board, because it was not going to include new information, which he did confirm in a later interview.
“Today, she was welcome with open arms. We want her input,” Pohlman said.