Northwestern superintendent on paid leave; parent calls investigation ‘witch hunt’

The Northwestern Local Schools superintendent was placed on administrative leave tonight following an investigation one parent called a “witch hunt.”

The Board of Education voted 3-1 to place Superintendent Jesse Steiner on paid leave. Board member Russell Steele voted against putting Steiner on leave.

They then appointed Lori Swafford acting superintendent. She is the principal of the Northwestern Jr./Sr. High School.

MORE-Northwestern investigating allegations against superintendent

The Board of Education read a statement to a room filled with upset parents. They said the investigation was finished, but would not reveal what they found.

“The board focused on Mr. Steiener’s alleged misconduct when interacting with others on the job and whether or not he was maintaining the high standards of professional conduct we expect from staff,” member Andy Gundolf said, speaking on behalf of the board. 

Steiner makes more than $125,000 a year, according to his personnel file. He was last at work Nov. 27, when he was told to stay off district property. Gundolf said the investigation was not of a sexual or criminal nature, but that the board could not elaborate further until Steiner was made aware of the allegations.

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Many people attended the regular board meeting Thursday at the Northwestern Elementary School library, including Steiner’s wife and two daughters.

“If they made a decision, let our superintendent know so we as a community can move on,” David Bischoff said.

Jay Skrabacz told the board during the public comment part of the meeting that he felt they were being unfair and called the investigation a “witch hunt.”

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“When you look at Mr. Steiner, he has done amazing things for this district. The kids love him. He reads to gradeschool kids on a weekly basis. He's here all the time," he said.

Steiner’s wife said they have not heard anything from the board during its investigation, and that once they hear from the board’s attorney they may speak about the incident.

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