Groveport Madison school board censures one of its members


By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor

The Groveport Madison Board of Education voted 4-1 to censure fellow board member Kathleen Walsh.

The board took the censure action (Walsh was the lone dissenting vote) at its July 19 meeting alleging Walsh violated her legal duty to maintain the confidentiality of discussions held by the board while in closed executive session. The board advised Walsh that, if a further breach of confidentiality occurs, it could result in a referral to the Ohio Ethics Commission for investigation.

The censure of an elected official is a formal statement of disapproval or denouncement by other members of a political body. It does not remove the elected official from their position.

Board’s viewpoint
“Board member Walsh publicly began to speak about a specific employee we’re currently in contract negotiations with through legal counsel,” said Board President LaToya Dowdell-Burger. “That matter has been the subject of several prior executive session discussions with our legal counsel. Unilaterally disclosing such confidential information poses a clear and present danger of a lawsuit and the resulting financial liability to our board and the school district. Violation of executive session violates a board member’s fiduciary duty of loyalty to the taxpayers who elected us and the school district as a whole.”

When asked where and when did Walsh share the confidential information, and with whom, Dowdell-Burger said, “Board member Walsh violated legal confidentiality requirements when she began speaking publicly about specific legal courses of action concerning the specific employee (by name) in question, not the position.”

Dowdell-Burger said the board has had “multiple discussions” with Walsh about the importance of maintaining decorum and professionalism at board meetings.

“My colleagues and I have worked at great lengths to be as inclusive as possible,” said Dowdell-Burger. “But violating confidentiality in pursuit of a personal agenda crosses the line. I respect and appreciate that each board member brings a unique point of view to this work. However, we must keep personal agendas in check when convening as a full board, especially when adjudicating employment actions with pending legal considerations.”

Dowdell-Burger added that, if a board member has an opinion on board hiring policies that falls within the district’s ongoing policy transition process, maintaining legal confidentiality is “non-negotiable.”

Walsh’s viewpoint
“I did not violate Ohio laws or break the confidentiality of executive session,” said Walsh. “Clarification on past board meeting actions, job descriptions and contracts when voting for approval are open for discussion and are public records. We now have two administrators contracted to work less than the standard 260 days for six figures. I do not approve of this new trend.”

Walsh believes board members are obligated to prioritize transparency and ensure that the public is well-informed about the decisions being made.

“By actively seeking clarification and addressing any concerns or uncertainties, I can uphold my duty to make informed decisions that serve the best interests of the community,” said Walsh. “This commitment to transparency and informed decision making is my top priority. My fellow board members voting to go into executive session without stating a purpose was in violation of the Sunshine Law and raised concerns with me about potential secrecy and the exclusion of public involvement. This lack of transparency undermines the trust and accountability that I believe should be upheld in the decision-making process and I encourage the public to inquire about the reasons for this violation.”

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  1. I believe Mrs. Walsh’s viewpoint is solid. I concur with her. I believe all decisions made by board members or administrative team must be transparency and available to tax payers.


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