Tomorrow Center Board hears from attorneys for former director

By Donna Carver

May 27, 2014

The Tomorrow Center Board of Directors heard from attorneys representing the former Tomorrow Center Director Michael Heath at their May 12, 2014 board meeting. David Axelrod, accompanied by Kathryn Decker from the law firm Shumaker, Loop and Kendrick, shared their thoughts on the findings of fact against Heath.

Heath is under investigation in regards to allegations that he profited from his position at the Tomorrow Center by awarding speech and occupational therapy services to his wife’s company. The Ohio State Auditor issued a finding for recovery against the Heaths in the amount of $53,239. This matter has been referred to the Ohio Ethics Commission.

Axelrod asked the board to conclude that “Heath did everything he could to comply with the statute.” He explained that the statute the board is dealing with “is to make sure that people don’t do things secretly to gain an advantage.”

He supplied the board with documentation that they say support their position.

“Michael, for all intents and purposes, complied with the statue,” said Axelrod. He continued, “If there is a violation it was a technical violation that did not prevent the purposes of the statute. He asserted that Heath most of the board members knew that the therapy provider was heath’s wife, the former Superintendent Robert Alexander was aware of the situation and nobody was concerned about it.” Axelrod stated that the services she provided is required by law, it is a service the students were entitled to, a service that students had gone without for over a year. “She (Valerie Heath) was the only one who responded to the ad for services and she provided them at a fair price,” said Axelrod. “She was well qualified and she did a really good job.”

He explained that he is hopeful that the Auditor will withdraw the finding. He asked the board to decide that the board got what it paid for and doesn’t need for the Heaths to give the money back. He stated that he is hopeful that if the board decides this, it will send a message to the Auditor’s office that this is not something that needs to be pursued.

The board noted that they will take some time to talk to their council and decide what their next steps will be.

In other business the board reviewed the five year financial plan. Treasurer Trevor Gummere explained that as long as the total operation distributions are less than total revenue, “things are fine. Fiscally, you are solid as can be,” stated Gummere.

The board approved a contract to provide transportation services for pupils. The board also approved contracts for Brandon Haycox and Dominique Adkins for home instruction.

Director Seckel shared that they are partnering with Mt. Gilead to offer a program called Real Money, Real World, a financial literacy component with their eight grade students. She noted that the Tomorrow Field Day/School Picnic will be held on May 30 and the last day for students will be June second.

The next Tomorrow Center Board meeting will be held on June 9, 2014 at 4:00 PM.