The resignations were triggered by former board member Judy Maldonado being allowed to present her son with a diploma on stage during graduation ceremonies last week. Finney said then-board member David Underwood had been rejected when he made the same request in 2010, and she felt allowing Maldonado — now a Lorain County Educational Service Center board member — to participate was favoritism.
Finney, who took office in 2008, said Monday she also objected to Board President Eddie Corcino’s handling of the matter. In a March 12 email to Finney, Corcino proposed holding a “lottery” in which Maldonado and nine other parents or guardians would be selected to award diplomas to graduates on stage.
“This could be part of a new tradition for graduation ceremonies that students and parents could get excited about and the lottery option is the best way to handle it and keep it fair,” Corcino wrote. “This would also allow us to mask Judy’s request and still show her some respect as a former board member and county board member.”
When Finney objected saying it was unfair to other parents, Corcino wrote in subsequent emails that it was a “dumb idea” and “it questions my ethics.” So Finney, who resigned Friday, said she was shocked when Maldonado appeared on stage.
Finney said Corcino and board members Richard Marcucci and Melissa Newsome blindsided her and Newman who was also unaware that Maldonado would participate. “I was angry and I felt betrayed,” said Finney, whose term expires at the end of 2015.
Finney said the incident was part of a pattern. Finney said Corcino, Marcucci and Newsome frequently “rubberstamp” issues and Finney said she worried that she could be held legally liable as a board member if illegal or unethical conduct occurred in the future. “How can I trust anything that they tell me?” she asked.
Newman — a board member from 2004-05 before being defeated and retaking office in 2008 — also questioned the ethics of Corcino, Marcucci and Newsome. In her Monday resignation letter, which she said she delivered at Monday’s board meeting, Newman wrote that she was, “100 percent confident that this board has no idea of the (Ohio) Sunshine Law.” The meeting was canceled due to Newsome’s absence making the board unable to have the three members necessary to form a quorum.
Newman said after the meeting that the board is planning to obtain a $350,000 loan for the district that was never mentioned in a draft meeting agenda she received. She said new treasurer Sean Nuccio had said in a May 10, five-year financial forecast that the district would be “strong” until 2016.
“I’m sorry I had to leave the taxpayers like this, but I have to look out for myself,” said Newman, whose term expires at the end of 2015. “I am not going to be charged for wrongdoing like I feel they are doing.”
Corcino, who in a March 16 letter to the board said he was resigning when his term ends Dec. 31, said Monday that the loan was for refinancing. Corcino said the board has 30 days to replace Finney and Newman. Regarding their allegations, Corcino said he had done nothing wrong.
“I’m always looking out for the kids’ best interests and the community itself,” he said. “I can sleep at night.”
Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or firstname.lastname@example.org.