Tipp Board of Education terminates custodial staff member based on years of performance failures, violations


TIPP CITY — The Tipp City Board of Education unanimously approved the termination of custodial staff member Wanda Starner at a special meeting held Wednesday, Dec. 1 at the board of education office.

After a near 40-minute executive session regarding the dismissal of a public employee, the board of education returned to regular session to approve the termination of Starner.

“Ms. Starner has a history of performance failures that have lead to formal disciplinary action from 2017 to the present. Despite mutiple verbal and written warnings, Ms. Starner failed to have sustained corrective measures to adjust her performance to a level that supported continued employment,” Superintendent Mark Stefanik said.

According to Stefanik, Starner had received written notice of a termination hearing that included allegations of misconduct and performance failures, which was conducted by Dr. Lisa Tuttle-Huff on Nov. 19. At the hearing, Starner was offered an opportunity to defend or explain her position. At the end of the hearing, Tuttle-Huff recommended the termination of Starner, and Starner was notified of this at the meeting.

Failures in Starner’s performance included using the girl’s locker room office to sort her personal items and cleaning supplies despite being advised to discontinue doing so in 2017, on Jan. 23, 2019, and on Dec. 8, 2020. According to Stefanik, after each warning, Starner temporarily complied with the directive before continuing to defy it.

On Dec. 8, 2020, Starner was provided with a final warning letter that cited numerous violations of performance expectations, which included: failure to restock toilet paper, soap dispensers, paper towel dispensers; clean both male and female toilets; sweep the commons area; sweep and clean the mezzanine bleachers of food wrappers and bottles; and failure to properly store a cleaning vac machine and chemicals, which were left in the boy’s locker room instead of the designated safe location.

According to Stefanik, the above violations occurred when additional cleaning measures were in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, Starner was transferred to L.T. Ball Intermediate School and told that any further violations of professional obligations would result in termination.

On Oct. 29, 2021, Starner attended a meeting to discuss repeated performance concerns following her transfer to L.T. Ball. According to Stefanik, Starner was advised of her failure to re-fill paper towel holders and to appropriately clean restrooms and floors. Additionally, concerns were raised regarding bleach being left in toilet bowls and on counter tops that, according to teacher complaints, resulted in stained clothing from the bleach. Teacher complaints also stated that teachers were cleaning their own classrooms due to Starner ineffectively completing her job duties. She was also informed that her frequent and excessive conversations with other staff members were interfering with building operations day-to-day.

Following the Oct. 29 meeting, Starner failed to report to work on time. Around this time, Starner reported to work more than 15 minutes late and walked into the school with mud on her feet, tracking it throughout the school and into areas she was not assigned. According to Stefanik, the muddy footprints were discovered on Nov. 1, and there is video evidence to support the findings. The video also indicated that the only cleaning task that Starner accomplished that evening was emptying trash cans.

Starner also failed to document time away from work on Oct. 26 and 27, 2021.

Stefanik said that the performance failures in question violated board policies 4120.01, which is in regard to job descriptions, and 4210, which covers staff ethics.

“Because Ms. Starner was given multiple opportunities to improve her performance without sustained corrective action by her, Dr. Tuttle-Huff and I believe that termination of Ms. Starner’s employment is warranted,” Stefanik said.

According to the Ohio Revised Code section 3319.081, the board is authorized to terminate the employment of a non-teaching employee based upon violations of written rules and regulations as set forth by the board of education or for incompetency, inefficiency, dishonesty, drunkenness, immoral conduct, insubordination, discourteous treatment of the public, neglect of duty, or any other acts of misfeasance, malfeasance, or nonfeasance.

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