Tempers flared Monday as Newbury Board of Education held up appointments for coaches for the district.

The issue revolves around the past financial statements from the Joint Newbury Recreation Board, whose members are jointly appointed by the school board and township trustees, and whether any money was misappropriated.

Board President Maggie Zock said she was delaying any appointments for two wrestling assistant coaches, an assistant baseball and basketball coaches and the varsity basketball coach until all the facts are known.

“We need to make an informed vote and it’s extremely difficult to get the information,” she said.

Board member Martin Sanders questioned whether there had been sufficient examination of those finances, noting that the Geauga County Prosecutor’s Office had conducted a forensic examination of the finances with no findings.

Newly appointed Treasurer Daniel Wilson said he saw no “red flags” after examining a ledger of the recreation board, noting only a $19 discrepancy. He said, however, he would need information beyond the ledger, but needs to reconcile it with bank statements.

Because of this Newbury Township Trustees are now in discussions over whether to pull its support for the recreation board and allow it to operate independently. Trustees are expected to address the issue this week.

But the question of whether trustees had made the decision was a point of contention between Mrs. Zock and Mr. Sanders.

Mrs. Zock said trustees had yet to decide whether to dissolve the recreation board, while Mr. Sanders said he had spoken to two trustees and the decision had already been made. Mr. Sanders said Tuesday that he was mistaken and trustees are still debating the issue.

That led to another dispute between the two as Mrs. Zock questioned whether Mr. Sander’s had the authority to call the board’s attorney for advice. Mrs. Zock said all requests for involving the board attorney should have come through the board president.

Mr. Sanders said he did ask Mrs. Zock to consult with the attorney, but she failed to act. “I did, you didn’t,” Mr. Sanders said.

He said he called to find out if the board faced any liability in the situation.

Mrs. Zock then admonished Mr. Sanders saying he cost the district money by acting alone. “The spending has gotten out of control here,” she said.

Mr. Sanders replied that it has and pointed to a $10,000 audit the board voted to conduct at the beginning of last year as an example of that spending. The audit failed to note any inaccuracies in the school’s books.

At one point, board member Kimya Matthews noted that the school board has been open and transparent in all of its dealings.

“You’re a bald-faced liar,” Mr. Sanders said to Mrs. Matthews. He would direct that accusation a second time toward Mrs. Matthews.

He said the board has needlessly held up the coaches’ appointments, which is only hurting the students.

Mr. Sanders said he took offense to accusations of impropriety with the finances of the recreation board, noting that he never handled money while serving as secretary for the group.

“This is affecting our students,” he said of the delay in appointing the coaches.

Mrs. Matthews said the minutes of the recreation board meetings were “inaccurate.”

Mrs. Zock said the coaches would be placed on the agenda for consideration once the ledger can be reconciled with the bank statements.

Until the coaching appointments are made, students will see open gym for a week, she said.

Mr. Sanders said Tuesday that his anger came from having served on the recreation board for 15 years and getting to know the people who had given their time, money and effort to provide activities for the township’s children.

He said he donates his payment for serving on the school board back to the school and other park board members have similarly made donations to the school and the community. He pointed out that none of the other school board members have given anything to the school or community.

“How dare they make an accusation against us,” Mr. Sanders said.

Joseph Koziol Jr. started his career in journalism in 1981. He joined the Solon Times in 1992 and covered the city of Solon for 10 years. An award winning reporter, Mr. Koziol has been covering Geauga County since 2012.

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