Is a local school district wasting taxpayer dollar$ on court cases?

A local school district in the middle of yet another levy campaign is once again spending taxpayer dollars on legal fees.

The district is Nordonia Hills and 19 Action News has learned that they lost its case in the Ohio Court of Appeals.

The court says that Nordonia Hills was wrong in firing school bus driver Tina Haynal. She sued and won a $60,000 judgement from the school system in 1998. She got her job back but not for long.

"I have been harassed, discriminated, constantly reprimanded and they have made it an unbearable place to work," said Tina Haynal.

Tina believes that her second firing in 2005 was a payback for winning her lawsuit, and that the district, specifically Superintendent J. Wayne Blankenship orchestrated a campaign to set her up and fire her again.

Now the Ohio Court of Appeals agrees. Who knows what this trial and appeal cost. The 1998 case cost $200,000, this one more. This in a district facing a $2.9 million deficit, that just laid off 54 employees and failed to pass levy's in November, February, and May. 

"We're beginning to think that it's a way to just hit our pocketbook," said Nordonia parent Dan Cisek.

Nordonia parent Dan Cisek also believes the superintendent took a win at all cost approach when he appealed his daughters suspension. He won in court, but Blankenship forced the issue to the court of appeals. The district lost again.

When busing was cut in 2004 after another levy defeat parents and viewers breath was taken away by this scene. A girl, previously bused to school being forced to navigate a narrow underpass. The district has to act right. Blankenship dug his heels in again.

Because of the holiday we couldn't ask if Superintendent Blankenship will go to the Supreme Court on Tina's case. He's refused interviews with reporter Paul Orlousky for at least 5 years. In the past he's rationalized that the court costs are covered by insurance, paid for by taxpayers.

The district, by the way, has another levy on the ballot in August.



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