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Austintown schools probe faults Porter in run-in with Supt. Colaluca



Published: Wed, March 26, 2014 @ 12:06 a.m.

Documents: Porter bullied Colaluca, violated policies

By Kalea Hall

and ROBERT CONNELLY

news@vindy.com

AUSTINTOWN

An independent investigation into a public spat between Austintown schools Superintendent Vincent Colaluca and school board member Harold Porter found that Porter bullied Colaluca, violated board policies and had “conflicting business interests.”

On Tuesday, The Vindicator received the results of the investigation completed by HR On Call Inc. and documents related to the investigation through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The investigation was into allegations that Colaluca and Porter made against each other. Colaluca alleged Porter used verbal aggression and intimidation in emails, that Porter spread lies and rumors about Colaluca and that Porter made a threatening comment toward Colaluca after a board meeting.

Porter contended Colaluca publicly harassed him, discredited him and violated executive-session protocol.

“It is what it is,” Porter said about the investigation. “I’m just going to let it go at this point. I think if there were anything to it, they would do some action to me. My attorneys do have it. I’m sure we’ll have some kind of response next week.”

According to the investigation report, dated Feb. 21, 2014, HROC conducted interviews and analyzed the board of education’s policy and emails during its investigation. The dates of the interviews are not disclosed.

Board President Kathy Mock would not comment on the investigation.

“I just need everyone to follow our policy,” Colaluca said. “That goes from me down. Everyone has to follow board policy, state law and federal policy.”

A formal harassment complaint was filed after Porter reportedly went to another board member and made a threatening comment about Colaluca after an Oct. 22, 2013, board meeting.

Colaluca said in the school harassment complaint that Porter told the other board member he would like to “punch [Colaluca] in the face.”

However, Porter told police he said, “You better tell him to stop or I’m going off on him.”

In addition to that incident, Colaluca also noted harassment tactics by Porter beginning in May 2012. Those tactics included “verbal aggression and intimidation via electronic emails.”

An email correspondence between Colaluca and Porter began in May 2012 in regard to student bullying incidents. In one of those emails Porter sent to Colaluca and the board, he wrote, Colaluca “totally ignored a serious matter.”

He also wrote, “Even after this incident occurred I still defended you when people were contacting me asking if they can petition for your resignation.”

In the follow-up email, Colaluca asked the board where he stood with them and said he was approached by the Mahoning County Educational Service Center for the assistant superintendent position. He said that job would pay $106,000 a year, but said he did not want to leave Austintown.

In a September 2012 email, Porter first addressed a board member, then Colaluca, insisting on the superintendent’s resignation, and sent the email to the entire district staff.

On that same day, the board met and a petition demanding Colaluca’s resignation was circulated through the crowd of those attending. Porter’s signature was on the petition.

In an email dated May 9, 2012, to Tom Lenten, principal of Austintown Elementary School, Porter requested that his children be placed with a specific teacher. The investigation looked into Porter’s role as a board member while having Austintown businesses and a wife who is a teacher in the district and as a parent of five children attending Austintown schools.

Porter runs Austintown Bounce Inc. and is a partner in a T-shirt business and did business with the district in the past. Once Porter became a board member, he was restricted from doing business with the district under board policy. The report said a review of Porter’s business records show that most of his dealings with the district occurred before he became a board member or during the first few months he was a member in 2012. Porter reportedly was unhappy with not being able to do business with the district after he became a board member. Once the policy was made clear to Porter, district officials thought this became a nonissue.

The investigation also looked into the comments Porter made at an Oct. 22, 2013, board meeting when he referred to Colaluca as a “dictator” and called him out for wearing a Boardman shirt at a football game between Austintown Middle and Boardman Middle schools.

Colaluca told the board he felt bullied by Porter and that Porter had violated the board policy.

HROC found Porter violated board policy in May 2012 and in other incidents since “all of the powers of the board lie in its action as a group.”

The report also states Porter violated the board-staff communications policy and the board member code of ethics “by personally assuming unauthorized authority and criticizing Mr. Colaluca and other administrators publicly in his series of emails. His tone in these emails was unprofessional,” according to the report.

It also found the tone of the content in the emails sent by Porter was verbal bullying.

In regard to an email sent in September 2012 and his actions at a September 2012 board meeting, the investigation found Porter “committed a serious violation of the board member code of ethics” by sending an email to all district employees criticizing Colaluca and calling for his resignation.

The report also found “Porter’s critical comments” about Colaluca at the Oct. 22, 2013, board meeting were “inappropriate public criticisms of Colaluca in violation of the board member code of ethics policy.”

The investigation also concluded Colaluca accurately cited board policy at the Oct. 22 board meeting.

“Mr. Porter’s inappropriate behavior has been an ongoing intentional pattern which ... has created an intimidating, threatening and abusive work environment for Mr. Colaluca as an employee,” the report states.

When it comes to Porter’s allegations that Colaluca discredited him by stating he used his board position for personal gain, the investigation found “evidence provided indicates that Mr. Porter had conflicting business interests that were primarily in the January to June 2012 time frame and appear to have lessened since then.”

Porter also contended Colaluca violated executive session; however, the report found that Colaluca did not.


Comments

1HenryTheBear(23 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Austintown schools are becoming more inferior each and every year. District is run by a bunch of clowns, good luck getting your bond issue passed not doing very good on pr

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2AtownParent(562 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Colaluca should have taken that other job. No one wants him running, or should I say ruining, our school district any longer.

Suggest removal:

3rickking123(304 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Pass the levy!

Conflicts of interest or not.

Maybe some t shirts need to be printed up to help pass the levy?

Suggest removal:

4Silence_Dogood(1353 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

What a bunch of idiots you have out there in Austintown.

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5atowngrad(21 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Pass the levy?!?!?

Are you insane or just have too much money that you want to keep handing it to others. I'll take extra if you are handing it out.

Another $200+ per year increase in property taxes for most newer homes in a town will hurt ALOT of people right now.

The Racino isn't open yet and they want to push the levy through now? How much less of a burden will it be on the taxpayers when the Racino opens? But let's not wait to find out I guess.

I'm sure the District will say the old "buy one get one free" slogan again....and "use it or lose it" again to try and force peoples decisions.

The fact is that the District has a year to pass a levy and if they do not the money is reallocated to another school district for the next year. The original school district DOES NOT lose the money, they simply have to pass a levy first before they get their match from the State.

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6rickking123(304 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

To clarify:

Pass the levy! (Sarcasm)

Conflicts of interest or not. (Sarcasm)

Maybe some t shirts need to be printed up to help pass the levy? (Sarcasm)

I think at least one of the board members has given the citizens of Austintown all the information they need to determine how they should vote.

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7Atowncomm(14 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Several comments to make...

1. The bond issue has nothing to do with Mr. Porter's actions. His actions started as soon as he was elected.
2. The bond issue is not going to cost most people $200+ per year. The cost will be more like $100 to $120.
3. The new racino does not bring any money to the schools. ALL of the money from the racino goes to Austintown township only. So ask the trustees what they are planning to do with it!
4. The state commission is giving Austintown schools almost half of the construction amount.
5. The money offer does expire this August! That's the end of the 12 to 13 months districts have to secure their money for the project. Our money will go to another district if this fails.
6. If we vote this down, we will lose the money and can only hope some money will be available or we, the taxpayers, will be paying for everything again.

PLEASE get informed and stop making assumptions on incorrect information.

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8Hmmmmm(48 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Sounds as Mr Porter would be a good MCDD Board member,,, he seems to have all the qualifications needed.Listening Mahoning County Commissioners.

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9atowngrad(21 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

2. Yes at 4.1-mills it may be $100 to $125 per year for people with a $100,000 home. The $200+ per year tax increase would apply to residents with houses averaging $150,000 to $200,000....rounding figures up a little. So I guess we were both correct. Maybe I should have clarified that to most people in Austintown their taxes will go up closer to $200 per year..not all.

4. The State commission offers funding to ALL school districts when their number is drawn based on who is determined to require the funding the most, can pass a levy and who accept to enter into contract with the State. They are only giving Atown the +/- 50% of the cost because of their current evaluation rating was around 70% and the State recommends to build new when the rating is over 66% if memory serves correct. That number could change if the bond is not passed and another reevaluation is made.

5. Right, like I said if Atown does not pass the levy then the money will be reallocated to another district after a certain time period. If the bond does not pass, I believe the District enters what is called a lapse status and the money may then be available from the State if the District can prove that they can pass a levy in the future...the money is NOT gone forever.

If the taxpayers had to pay for everything in the future, how is that different than the new AMS?? We will be paying almost $12 million out of pocket anyways if this levy passes ourselves to renovate the gym, auditoriums, etc. which will not be covered by the State.

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10rickking123(304 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

If you want to give the authority to award millions of dollars worth of contracts to someone who thinks he should benefit from his position on the board, go ahead. But I know how I'm voting.

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11dawgalong(86 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Um, just curious, but it would seem that there are very few homeowners in Austintown that would see an increase in taxes over $100/yr. Except for Lexington, I wouldn't think any homeowner east of 46 would owe more than $90 more a year.

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12biggieshortlegs(28 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I knew this Porter Idiot when he worked as an EMT. He was an "A-hole" from "A-Town" then. It looks like he still is..........get rid of him before he does more damage to the school district........

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13HSG(130 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I think he should have accepted the mcesc job.

He probably should retire/ rehire first, however like the rest of the struthers homeboys + homegirls who 'work' for mcesc.

Our county superintendent, who apparently needs an assistant, still has time to be on the struthers football coaching staff!

Being a former struthers administrator is the key, around here anyways to unlimited wealth and and permanent employment. Just check the mcesc website and see how many employees are struthers retire /rehire administrators.

Viva struthers!

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14HSG(130 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Just tryin to find out, did I say STRUTHERS?

For a very small, oddly shaped, decidedly ordinary community, the adminstration sure gots a lot o juice, relative to the MSESC!

Anyone know why?

Jus sayin

maybe Austintown supt could splain it

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