Coleman speaks out

Jodi Coleman said she wanted to set the record straight. 

Coleman, transportation coordinator for Petermann, which provides bus transportation service to Groveport Madison Local Schools, appeared at the Oct. 8 Groveport Madison Board of Education meeting  to respond to comments made by Groveport Madison school board members John Kershner and Nathan Slonaker in the article, "GM school board in turmoil," which appeared in the Oct. 6 edition of the Southeast Messenger.

Coleman spoke in regards to allegations Kershner had engaged in telephone harassment towards her regarding her decision not to accept a job with the district.

Coleman differed with Kershner’s viewpoints, which he stated in the Oct. 6 article. She said that her family has not attended the same church as Kershner for two years and that the family had only an acquaintance with Kershner. She added Kershner previously had not been inside her home, to her knowledge, and that he had only been on the family’s porch during a couple of Halloweens. She mentioned he had once been on the property to place a campaign yard sign.

Kershner maintained it was not unusual for him to visit the Coleman home.

Coleman further stated she did not agree to a Sept. 26 meeting, as indicated by Kershner.

In regards to Slonaker’s questioning of why a police report filed by Coleman was time dated four hours after Kershner appeared at her home on Sept. 25, Coleman stated that she called the Columbus Police on Sept. 25 minutes after Kershner left her house, but the police did not arrive until hours later. She said she filed the police report because she felt threatened by the several phone calls she received from Kershner, as well as his unexpected visit to her home on Sept. 25.

Kershner had been attempting to contact Coleman to discuss her decision to not accept a job with the school district.

"I think his behavior is unacceptable for a public official," said Coleman.

On July 3, the board unanimously voted to hire Coleman at an annual salary of $43,046 to serve as the district’s coordinator of student transportation. She currently handles those duties as an employee of Petermann. But on Sept. 15 she said she verbally declined the job and formally turned down the job in a letter to Superintendent Scott McKenzie on Sept. 25.

At the Oct. 8 board meeting she suggested the $43,046 salary offered for the position would be "better spent on the education of the students" in the district.

At the meeting, Board President Dr. Naomi Sealey apologized to Coleman on behalf of the board. No other board member commented on the matter publicly at the meeting.

However, following the meeting, Slonaker e-mailed the Southeast Messenger to clarify his statements.
"I wish to clarify that I never once implied that Ms. Coleman has an interest in seeing anyone ‘publicly humiliated.’ I only meant to point out that certain individuals were using the unfortunate situation as such."

He noted his published quote, "These allegations are grossly exaggerated and used by certain individuals who have an interest in seeing Mr. Kershner publicly humiliated," did not mention Coleman.

"’These allegations’ was a reference to statements from Petermann (via their attorney) and Dr. Sealey. I apologize if it was unclear," wrote Slonaker.

Background

Sealey had asked Kershner to resign after the allegations arose stating the repeated calls he made to Coleman were inappropriate.

Kershner denied the allegations and said he had no intention of resigning.

"It’s totally baseless," said Kershner.

Jeffrey Mackey, an attorney for Groveport Madison Local Schools, said Oct. 1, based on his investigation, "…that Mr. Kershner did nothing criminal…I agree with the Columbus Police Department that no further action is necessary. According to the reporting officer there were no threats or intimidation reported by Ms. Coleman and the police department took no further action other than taking Ms. Coleman’s report."

In an interview Sept. 29, Kershner said "I have no desire to disturb her (Coleman)…I reached out to her in concern. My efforts to reach her were to simply let her know everything is okay."

On Oct. 9, Kershner further stated, "I was asked by the superintendent to set up a meeting with Coleman. I was never given any indication by her (Coleman) that she wanted me to stop calling. I have years worth of e-mails showing their was a family relationship and there are clearly other ulterior motives at play here. We as a board routinely have inflammatory things thrown at us. What matters most is how we react to them as a board."
 

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