The Ohio Ethics Commission is investigating the Wellington Schools over alleged misconduct involving the employment of former business manager Tim Wulfhoop.
“This is an unethical, unlawful mess with players who need to be held accountable,” said board of education member Ayers Ratliff, who blew the whistle to state officials over what he views as illegal behavior in the hiring of Wulfhoop.
“Too many think the Wellington district is above the law. We have a tremendous mess on our plates and it will continue to grow without proper action,” he said during a board meeting Tuesday.
Wulfhoop headed the school system’s food service, transportation, maintenance, technology, and student data reporting operations from June 17, 2014, until April 7 of this year.
He was terminated after Ratliff informed the Ohio Department of Education in March that Wulfhoop did not have the license required by the state to fill the position.
Now the Wellington Schools are the target of probes by not just the ethics commission but also the ODE’s Office of Professional Misconduct and the Ohio State auditor’s office, Ratliff said in a prepared statement.
After Ratliff spoke, the school board retired to a behind-closed-doors session to discuss personnel matters for roughly 90 minutes.
After emerging, board member Daniel Rosecrans suggested hiring a third party to conduct an additional investigation into the Wulfhoop matter.
He later withdrew that motion without a vote, yet still insisted some form of inquiry must be carried out locally.
School board president Sally Stewart said she does not wish to spend thousands of dollars on such an investigation. Superintendent Dennis Mock, after the meeting, said he believes the district needs to wait and see what the state agencies determine before starting an in-house review.
There is more than one issue at play, Ratliff said.
First, Wulfhoop lacked a business manager license required by the state. Mock said the former employee only has a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
Second, Ratliff contends that another applicant for the job, then-food service director Diana Goody, was told by former superintendent John Nolan in 2014 that she could not apply for the business manager position because she did not hold the proper state license — which means the district was aware at the time of the Department of Education’s requirements.
Third, he further accuses school board member Lois Wulfhoop of “paving the way” for her husband to get the job. Nolan and board members decided far in advance that the newly-created position would go to Tim Wulfhoop, he told the Enterprise.
Lois Wulfhoop declined to respond to Ratliff’s allegations after Tuesday’s meeting.
Asked about Ratliff’s statements, Mock said the licensure problems arose before he was hired to head the school district.
When asked whether the licensure issue had been brought to attention since then, he would not comment.
Ratliff said he had begged Mock, treasurer Michael Pissini, former interim superintendent Stan Mounts, and former district treasurer Brad McCracken not to pay Wulfhoop because he feared it was illegal.
“I got this job because I wanted to help kids in the school district,” Ratliff said. “If I didn’t have transparency and stand up for what is right, I’m failing the community. As a board member, I apologize.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter. Jason Hawk contributed to this report.
Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise School board member Ayers Ratliff reveals in a public meeting Tuesday that the Wellington Schools are under investigation by several state agencies.