Bryan City Schools is appealing to the Ohio Supreme Court to overturn an Ohio Personnel Board civil ruling twice upheld in court to reinstate the employment of Assistant Treasurer Janet Hageman.
BCS has only submitted the case to be reviewed; it may or may not be taken up by Ohio’s Supreme Court.
In 2014, Hageman reported the 2012 purchase of a $1,351 laptop, printer and protection program by BCS Treasurer Rob Rosswurm with his own funds for his daughter, who did not attend BCS, using the district’s tax-free purchasing program. The cost of the sales tax was reimbursed two years later.
Hageman brought attention of the purchase to district officials including Superintendent Diana Savage, school board members and eventually the Ohio State Auditor’s Office and the Williams County Sheriff’s Department, the latter of which built a case around the information.
Hageman was terminated by the district in May 2016, but was later granted reinstatement by the Ohio State Personnel Board in February 2017. That decision was upheld by the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas in September 2017 and again by the Franklin County Court of Appeals, 10th Appellate District, in early 2019.
Each found Hageman had been fired for engaging in protected whistle-blower activity.
Prior to her termination, Hageman was the subject of district disciplinary action, including suspension. In one instance, the district said that she spoke disparagingly of a treasurer’s office employee. In another instance, the district said she created a “disruptive work environment, displaying unprofessional behavior and dishonesty.” Those allegations have been waived, according to documentation included in Hageman’s personnel file by the Ohio Association of School Business Officials.
Since the OSPB’s decision, the district has appealed the whistle-blower designation multiple times, citing a lack of “reliable, probative and substantial evidence.”
According to a document provided by Bryan City Schools to The Bryan Times via a Freedom of Information Act request, the district has spent more than $95,000 on the case as of early March 2019 and prior to filing the latest appeal. The document includes the district’s legal expenses with its team at Ennis Britton Co., LPA, over a five-year period and was heavily redacted, citing attorney-client privilege. Descriptions of each expense were omitted, with Ennis Britton Co., LPA, highlighting those which it indicated were related to the case.
On Monday, Savage declined to comment on the matter.
Hageman responded to a request for comment via email.
She said her original theft/fraud complaint against Rosswurm was filed with the Ohio State Auditor’s Fraud Line the on the same day Savage filed theft charges against a former principal who was charged in court and asked to resign, though that information cannot be confirmed.
“In doing so, I followed all state laws and the Bryan City School District board policy, which was required of me and all employees of Bryan City School District by the school’s board of education,” said Hageman.
She also indicated her disappointment that no charges have been filed against Rosswurm.
Hageman further indicated she had no disciplinary items in her personnel file prior to the aforementioned items, which she alleges began not long after a meeting with Rosswurm, and later Savage, at which time she says she informed them of her actions in turning Rosswurm in.
Throughout the judicial process, BCS has stood by its disciplinary actions as legitimate.
“The school has now lost three times at every stage of litigation and continues to waste taxpayer dollars by now appealing my case to the Ohio Supreme Court,” said Hageman. “This money should be spent on the education of Bryan City Schools’ students, not protecting an employee who broke the law.”