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Employee suspended at TCS

Alissa Widman Neese • Jun 5, 2014 at 10:31 PM

Townsend Community School officials suspended an employee this past month for downloading confidential digital documents to his personal computer as a result of an employment dispute.

Stephen Nellett, an intervention specialist, apprehended the private information after school officials told him they weren't offering him a new contract for the upcoming school year.

The Register obtained emails and other documents Thursday confirming the matter through a public records request.

The documents Nellett apprehended include "answer keys to student examinations, 'study guides' prepared for such examinations, and other school documents," according to an affidavit he signed May 21.

He also embedded his personal email address into an online storage program the school uses, which would allow him to access other confidential school information, it said.

Nellett has been placed on paid leave, which concludes June 30, the last day of his contract, said Pete Bartkowiak, the school's director.

"We all agreed this was the best way to handle it," Bartkowiak said.

Any documents Nellett seized have since been deleted or destroyed, and they have not been distributed to anyone, according to the affidavit the Register obtained.

Nellett has been employed with Townsend Community School since it opened in 2011.

The school decided not to renew its contract after Nellett apparently performed poorly on his most recent evaluation, according to a May 4 letter, obtained by the Register.

In the letter, Nellett alleged Townsend Community School didn't follow proper state protocol to conduct the evaluation. He specifically highlighted the length of observation and the evaluation form school officials used.

The school's attorneys, however, said community schools are not required to follow state mandates for teacher evaluations, which exclusively apply to traditional public school districts. 

The Register has submitted a public records request to Townsend Community School treasurer John Coffman requesting Nellett's pay rate, as well as a copy of his most recent employee evaluation.

A copy of the documents obtained through the Register's records request is available on sanduskyregister.com.

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