November 28, 2014


Fairview Schools reaches $150,000 settlement with former Oberlin superintendent

Geoff Andrews

Geoff Andrews

The Fairview Park school board has agreed to a $150,000 settlement to resolve pending litigation between the district and a former Oberlin Schools superintendent.

Geoff Andrews, who worked in Oberlin from March 2006 to July 2011, signed an employment contract earlier this year to lead the western Cuyahoga County school district.

However, before Andrews, who was the sole candidate interviewed, could start the job, the offer was rescinded by the board after school officials said they learned there may have been a discrepancy in how and when Andrews left his most recent job at the Western Academy of Beijing in China.

When Andrews applied in March, he listed his current job as the director the Beijing School. However, he lost that position in August 2013. That timeline did not match the information Andrews submitted to the Ohio School Boards Association when applying for the Fairview Park position.

Rescinding the offer put the district in a precarious position. After consulting a lawyer, it was decided that the best course was to settle out of court, according to a statement the board placed on the district’s website.

“After an extensive mediation conducted by Jack Beuttner, former director of field operations for the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the board has reached an agreement that is fair to all parties and, most importantly, allows our district to move past this unfortunate incident and turn the page to a new chapter for our district,” the statement said. “This settlement — which includes a single payment of $150,000, enables the district to avoid potentially costly and protracted litigation — and all the time and disruption that typically accompanies such litigation.

“We also are pleased to note that Ohio School Boards Association recognized its role in the circumstances that allowed Mr. Andrews to emerge as our sole finalist for the superintendent position and is contributing to the settlement costs.”

Andrews has not publicly spoken since sending the community a letter when it was believed he would be the next superintendent.

The full nine-page settlement posted to the district’s website details how the district got to the point where it no longer wanted Andrews as its leader.

Andrews left the Western Academy of Beijing, according to the settlement agreement, after the Chinese school went through a board shakeup with new members coming on board around August 2012.

The settlement paperwork said that at that time, the relationship between Andrews and the school changed. By August 2013, it was agreed that Andrews would be placed on “Garden Leave,” allowing him to continue receiving pay and benefits for a year. The school was the one to make a statement on its website denoting Andrews’ removal as the director the school.

“After executing the WAB Confidential Agreement, Mr. Andrews and his family continued to reside in Beijing and his daughter continued as a student at WAB,” the settlement said.

Andrews began looking for jobs in Ohio in October 2013. He applied for the Fairview Park job in February. He offered six references, including those he worked for in Oberlin and at WAB, as well as current Oberlin Superintendent John Schroth and Oberlin City Manager Eric Norenberg.

The OSBA online application system only accepted five names. The reference letter of the former board chair of the Beijing school was never forwarded to the Fairview Park board.

The letter included information explaining Andrews’ dismissal at WAB.

“We were lucky to recruit him to WAB, and his early departure is testimony for a failure of governance at the school and on the part of the new chair, not in Geoff’s abilities or leadership,” wrote Chris Alberti in the WAB letter that wasn’t forwarded. “Geoff took on two tough assignments and ‘sacred cows’ at the Board’s request — major fundraising and reform of our inferior Chinese language and studies program — and he paid the price when he found that he did not have his chair and the board behind him.”

When interviewed April 2, Andrews thought the board had received and read all of the recommendations. There was no discussion about the China job. Andrews was offered the superintendent’s position within two days, largely based on the OSBA claiming he was the right person for the job and he was interviewing for other positions.

The disagreement over the resume discrepancy surfaced in June.

The six-figure settlement prohibits Andrews from any further litigation against Fairview Park Schools.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.

  • oldruss

    “When Andrews applied in March, (2014) he listed his current job as the director the Beijing School. However, he lost that position in August 2013. That timeline did not match the information Andrews submitted to the Ohio School Boards Association when applying for the Fairview Park position.”

    I have always thought that lying on an employment application was grounds either to not be hired in the first place, or grounds for dismissal. Why is the school board paying Andrews? I’m pretty sure it is doing so because the Board’s insurance carrier told the Board, either pay the settlement, or risk losing coverage including the insurance company’s attorney.

    • Pablo Jones

      More likely the contracts they use never included a clause for termination based on a background check and verification of his employment history. Because it didn’t include that and they didn’t actually verify his employment is why they have to pay. Once they signed the contract they were obligated to follow it or reach a settlement to buy him out.

      • oldruss

        And if that contract, assuming that there, in fact, was a contract, was it not voided by the fraudulent inducement by Andrews?

        • Pablo Jones

          For a superintendent position it would be highly unlikely for there not to be a contract.

          In this case his false employment history would only void the contract if there was a clause in there for it. What I am assuming the contract said was something along the lines of…He will start on such and such date and last X number of years, he will make X amount of money and have Y benefits. His duties will include….”

          By the district not hiring him they will be in violation of the contract. Their only recourse is to keep him as superintendent, settle with him to break the contract (which they did), or take him to court. If they take him to court he will say I gave you my information it was up to you to do their due diligence and verify it before giving me a job offer. Once the offer was made the contract is all that matters.

          Hopefully people learn from this and put those clauses in future contracts.

          • townie

            I thought I read that he wrote his own contract, so of course a clause like that wouldn’t be in there! Or am I mistaken?

          • woodstock

            From the article, it appears that while he was relieved of his duties due to a change of administration in Beijing, he continued to receive a salary and benefits while living there after that time, so technically it would appear that he was still employed by them.

  • Chan

    So what is the lesson here people???? Lie to get the job and then threaten to sue when your caught!

  • citizen

    same thing that was done in firelands school district ….right G.O.

  • Sis Delish

    Aren’t Educators supposed to be Smarter than the Rest of the Population?

    • citizen

      they think they are but some of them get caught…

    • Yozhik

      Smarter? He is now starting his second year of not working, while receiving a six-figure salary. I’d say that qualifies as smarter than the rest of the population.

  • golfingirl

    And they wonder why voters question the need for school levies and accountability for taxpayer money.

    This guy was a liar, treat him as such!

  • John Davidson

    So a person gets paid $150,000 for not telling the truth. Another great example to our youth. Probably tax free money also.

  • townie

    whew! just read his official statement of what happened, so carefully crafted ….Ummm, how does that saying go?…….”what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive” No kidding.