A shouting match between two Wellington board of education members erupted Tuesday over the prospect of forming a legal issues committee.
Board president Joe Calfo began yelling when fellow member Ayers Ratliff complained he is being “quarantined” from existing legal problems.
The district is facing a lawsuit filed by former curriculum director Christopher Kamenski in U.S. District Court.
The disgruntled former employee claims he was harassed by superintendent John Nolan and his requests for board intervention were ignored.
Ratliff has been outspoken supporter of Kamenski since the curriculum director resigned last June. Now he said he is being ostracized by the rest of the board.
An email from Calfo to elected officials said Ratliff should be quarantined from any discussions involving that case.
“Obviously, the defense of this matter cannot be discussed in front of board member Ayers Ratliff, who supports Kamenski,” Ratliff read from the email at Tuesday’s meeting.
Calfo said Ratliff puts the district’s defense at risk because he’s been in constant communication with the plaintiff.
“That is a violation of attorney-client privilege,” Calfo told the Enterprise. “He’ll argue that it’s not but I’ll argue that is.”
When Ratliff denied the claims, he got a quick response from the board president.
“You’re a liar,” Calfo yelled.
Calfo said Ratliff admitted in arbitration that he was helping Kamenski build his case.
Fellow board member Jacquie Dovin said Ratliff has repeatedly shared items with the public that were discussed in executive session.
The Open Meetings Act does not bar an official from sharing details of an executive session with the public, according to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the 2014 Ohio Sunshine Law Manual.
However, other sections of state law say that when a clearly confidential matter is discussed — which almost certainly includes attorney-client privilege — that information is protected.
Ratliff said he refused to be excluded from the issue.
“I don’t care what you say,” he said. “You guys treated Chris Kamenski like dirt, like crap.”
Another claim in Kamenski’s suit is that someone from the Wellington board wrote a disparaging letter to his new employers at the Mason School District.
Ratliff said he believes Calfo is behind the letter. Calfo said that is a “bold-faced lie.”
The board voted to place Calfo and fellow member Lois Wulfhoop on the legal committee.
Placing Calfo in that spot is a bad idea and a possible conflict of interest, Ratliff said, because Kamenski’s suit includes the board president.
The legal committee will serve the board like any other, such as the building and grounds and curriculum committees, Calfo said.
Wulfhoop and Calfo will meet with Nolan and the district’s attorneys on a monthly basis to discuss the Kamenski case and any other legal issues the district may face.
Caitlyn Wasmundt may be reached at 440-647-3171 or on Twitter @LC_CaitW.