Nordonia Hills — The Ohio Elections Commission ruled today that School Superintendent Joe Clark violated state law when he asked district employees to donate to a potential levy campaign, but decided not to impose a penalty.
“There was a violation, but [there was] good cause not to impose a fine or further prosecution,” said Commission Executive Director Philip Richter.
Clark did not immediately return a call for comment.
A complaint was filed with the commission Dec. 5 by John Brachna, chairman of the Citizens for Strong Nordonia Hills Schools, a PAC that campaigned against the Nov. 6 levy. The complaint alleged Clark misused his position as superintendent by asking employees to donate to a political group.
“It’s a sad day for our school district because nobody wins, including our children,” he said. “We need Dr. Clark to do what we pay him to do, lead our district’s educational efforts.”
The issue stemmed from a Nov. 9 email Clark sent to district employees asking that they donate to Friends of Nordonia Schools, a political action committee that campaigned for a 3-mill operating levy voters rejected three days earlier. Clark wrote that the campaign had drained the PACs coffers and it would need more funding for another levy attempt as early as November this year.
Richter said the fact that Clark sent employees a Nov. 14 email retracting and apologizing for the initial email after he learned his request had been improper was a factor in the commission’s decision. He said Clark’s cooperation with the commission, including his response to the complaint and his appearance at the commission’s review, were also taken into account.
“From our perspective, the matter is resolved,” he said.
For more on this story, see the Jan. 30 issue of the News Leader.