Recently, I was accused by Sylvania Councilman Doug Haynam as being someone who does “not like public schools” and wanted to defeat a levy (even going as far as saying that I was the one responsible for defeating the Sylvania School levy) but nothing could be further from the truth.
Normally it takes a lot for a governmental entity to make the case for me to vote yes on a levy. I have voted in support of a new levies in the past as well as voting yes on renewals. But I have also voted down my fair share of levies and renewals also.
This particular case, I was in an interesting situation given it was an instance where I was not looking for an issue-it was sent to me. But once I realized what was going on, I realized how egregious it was and I could not let it pass. I have been pretty quiet since moving from Toledo to Sylvania and would be content remaining quiet but it is our duty to make the district accountable when one sees such an abuse - not just a school system, but any governmental entity.
Doug said that the issue was nothing and the cost to the district was hardly anything, but if you look at the e-mails and the resources used that I posted, there is easily several hours of staff time during work time going into these e-mails involving at least 2 staff. This is different from an accidental e-mail or something small here and there - this is a decent amount of school time spent on just the items I found. And as another commenter on the Facebook thread above mentioned, “these laws were designed to keep governmental entities from using tax dollars to lobby for more tax dollars.” That is exactly the intent that the district broke with this situation and this is why it is a serious offense in the state of Ohio to do such a thing.
The district determining punishment is a conflict of interest, as I mentioned in the Ohio Watchdog story it would be the same as a fox wanting to reprimand other foxes for raiding the hen house. Yeah, that would be a serious punishment. Unfortunately, the entity that can best reprimand or determine the abuse is the state auditor which is why I filed the complaint there. They can best judge the extent and solutions to the problem. While I will try to look at what I can see, they have processes and background knowledge which would make their investigation more efficient.
Regardless, those like Doug are just plain wrong. You are on a slippery slope if you have a sliding scale of how much a governmental employee can campaign on the public time to warrant a reprimand, especially for something so well documented and something serious in its consequences. It borders on knowing infringement, just like purposefully driving drunk (the same class of offense). This is not just the school district. If I had evidence of someone doing the same thing on county time or city time, I would post it too.
Teachers and employees have been fired for posting items on their own Facebook accounts using their free speech, running outside businesses during work time, so some choose to deal with offenses like this more seriously than others. It may be reasonable to be more forgiving if one person got too excited, but there needs to be some serious consequences if this is a major problem prevalent throughout the district because then the training will be laughable.
The most disappointing thing about this is that I expected more. It is the same disappointment when someone you looked up to came out with a skeleton in the closet. In the same vein, my opinion of the district is not the same.