M-U HS counselor on paid leave

Shaw on leave for alleged workplace misconduct

By Melanie Yingst - Miami Valley Today

WEST MILTON — A Milton-Union High School guidance counselor has been on paid administrative leave since Oct. 24 pending an investigation of alleged misconduct in the workplace.

In a letter from Milton-Union Exempted Village Schools Superintendent Dr. Brad Ritchey, Paula Shaw, 57, of Troy, was notified she was “placed on administrative leave with pay, effective immediately, pending further investigation into matters relating to your employment and your conduct in the workplace.”

Shaw currently has a continuing contract with the district and her current salary is $74,962 per year, according to the district’s treasurer Kay Altenburger.

“Shaw’s daily rate per contract is $409.63; however, because schools have ‘stretch pay’ so that employees can be paid throughout the summer, she has been paid $366.95 per day for each day she has been on leave,” Altenburger said in an email on Friday.

Shaw has been on leave for 55 days and has been paid $20,691.55, which includes $509.50 of a stipend as adviser for the Bulldog Pride student group, according to Altenburger.

Attorney Jose Lopez confirmed he was representing Shaw and they “were waiting the next development.”

On Thursday, Dr. Ritchey said, “Unfortunately, we can not comment on an ongoing personnel matter.”

Board President Doug Thompson also stated he was unable to comment on personnel issues.

According to public records obtained by the Miami Valley Today, the Montgomery County Educational Service Center conducted an independent review of the allegations regarding Shaw’s conduct at the high school.

The investigation was conducted by Marion Stout, the director of human resources at the Montgomery County ESC. Stout was the former human resource director at Miami County ESC and Troy City Schools. The investigation report was dated Dec. 18, 2019, when it was presented to district officials.

“After initial meetings with the witnesses, it appeared that there were five issues at hand with Paula Shaw: leaving students unattended, giving students credit for work they did not complete in Odysseyware, not depositing money per district guidelines, making a disparaging comment to a student about a district drug policy and writing a paper for a student,” according to the investigation report.

Shaw was interviewed by Stout on Dec. 4 along with Ohio Education Association representative George Bosivich, attorney Lopez and high school social studies teacher and Milton-Union Teacher’s Union President Mary August.

One issue out of the five was found to have the most merit pertained to Shaw assisting a student with a late writing assignment for an AP literature class. The student was interviewed by Stout with a parent present. It was noted later that the student refused to sign the statement that was made to Stout. The refusal to sign the statement was relayed by Principal Jessica Mumau to Stout on Dec. 10.

“With regard to (redacted), it is my opinion that (Shaw) did write (redacted) paper for (redacted) AP literature class. First of all (redacted) admitted that (Shaw) wrote the paper. Second, (redacted) was supposed to do the assignment over the summer and chose not do do so, and appeared to have accepted the consequences of not turning it in until Paula talked with (redacted) about it. (Redacted) was not highly motivated to get the paper finished. (Redacted) also indicated to me that (redacted) did not know what Paula was typing. If (redacted) and Paula discussed the material and she described what (redacted) said, I would think (redacted) knew what she was typing.”

In Stout’s report, including interviews with students and staff, Stout found there was no merit in the “disparaging” comment regarding the district’s drug policy to a student.

In regard to leaving students unattended, Stout also found there was only one incident of note that a former male student and a current female student, whom Shaw pulled out of class for the visit, were left alone and unattended in her office to which Shaw denied. Shaw said the door was ajar and she looked in and listened while they were in her office.

Stout also found there were not clear set guidelines for Odysseyware, a credit recovery program, in place. The report stated there was not enough evidence “to find that credit had been given for work not completed as counselors felt they had the appropriate discretion. Both Shaw and (guidance office staff) used the same log in information to make corrections and both did not follow the process for enrolling students in Odysseyware, although Shaw had more instances where the process was not followed.”

It was noted Principal Mumau was surprised to find out the number of students enrolled in the credit recovery software system that she had no knowledge of. Several areas of the process for student’s work with Odysseyware were unclear to which Stout recommended expectations were to be made more clear.

In regards to money found in Shaw’s office after she was placed on leave, Shaw said she had no time to make the deposits because she was so busy and would leave work after 5 p.m. after banks were closed. According to the report, the following was found in Shaw’s office: $330 in a white envelope marked Oct. 5 JV game vs. Waynesville; $335.50 in a white envelope from Sept. 7, JV game with Oakwood; a Huntington Bank bag with $387.55 with no paperwork and $60. Shaw said she didn’t remember what the money was for in the bank bag and she had not completed the paperwork. Shaw said she knew there was a policy regarding public fund deposits, but wasn’t sure of the specifics.

In regard to a check to be made out to the Children’s Hospital/Children’s Miracle Network for $1,525.05 found in her desk, Shaw said she had issues with the first fundraiser that was sent to Bowling Green. Bowling Green told Shaw they didn’t get it. Paula requested the office reissue another check and told office staff she had shredded the original, despite the first check found in her drawer after she was placed on leave. Shaw said she mistakenly thought she had shredded it.

The next scheduled board meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18 at the school’s media room. The date is due to the President’s Day holiday. According to Ohio Revised Code, school districts must give the media 24 hours notice of any special meeting for any and all action taken by the board.

A community meeting led by parents and residents is planned at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 27, at the West Milton Senior Center located at 435 W. Hamilton St., West Milton. Resident Bill Clausing is a point of contact for the meeting and can be reached at bandmancwc@aol.com.

Shaw on leave for alleged workplace misconduct

By Melanie Yingst

Miami Valley Today

Reach Melanie Yingst at myingst@aimmediamidwest.com

©2020 Miami Valley Sunday News; all rights reserved.

Reach Melanie Yingst at myingst@aimmediamidwest.com

©2020 Miami Valley Sunday News; all rights reserved.