Bad blood boils over in Bellevue

BELLEVUE Two Bellevue school board members don't want the past showing up on their doorsteps again.
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

BELLEVUE

Two Bellevue school board members don't want the past showing up on their doorsteps again.

That's why one of them filed a protection order Monday against former Bellevue schools Superintendent Jim Lahoski.

Lahoski resigned last year after a decade in the district because he believed the newly elected school board had an agenda "other than what's in the best interest of the children" and wanted him to leave.

After Lahoski left his post, taking the superintendent position at the Tiffin-based North Central Ohio Educational Service Center, school board Vice President Martin Shelley and President James Linder thought "the worst was over."

But last weekend, Lahoski showed up at their doorsteps, wanting to talk about Bellevue school issues. Both Shelley and Linder called the Sandusky County Sheriff's office to report confrontations they had with the former superintendent.

According to the temporary protection order, Linder said that on Sunday morning Lahoski called him, "ranting and raving about school issues then started on me personally ... he drove (to) my house, stormed around my garage, pounded on my front door. My wife started crying and wouldn't let me go outside so I talked to him through an upstairs window. He was very irritated and argumentative."

Linder told Lahoski to leave his home in the 700 block of County Road 308. After a few menacing words, the report said, the former Bellevue superintendent got in his truck and left.

The sheriff report said deputies contacted Lahoski after the incident, and Lahoski agreed with Linder's version of what happened and said there would be no further problems.

At about 7:30 a.m. Monday morning, Lahoski drove to Shelley's business at the 2100 block of County Road 292 and attempted to speak with him.

"I don't really know what his issue was," Shelley said, explaining that he refused to talk with Lahoski and asked him to leave. "I didn't give him the time of day ... As far as I'm concerned, it's done and over with."

Shelley reported to deputies Lahoski left without further disruption.

"It's just kind of nutty," he said. "I don't know what's going on with the guy."

Lahoski, reached by phone at work, said he was advised not to comment and referred questions to his attorney.

Lahoski's attorney, John Meyers, said he will represent Lahoski and is investigating the accusations.

"I know him personally and these allegations seem out of character," Meyers said. "I will vigorously protect his legal rights."

Meyers explained the restraining order is temporary and approved by a magistrate without hearing both sides of the story.

"There has been no judicial assessment of the truthfulness of Mr. Linder's allegations," he said, declining further comment about his client's actions.

Linder also declined comment.

In late 2005, Citizens for Change, a local citizens group, accused Lahoski of allowing a "climate of fear" and used intimidation tactics to keep order in the schools. The first part of 2006 after new school board members took the helm was fraught with tension. Animosity among Lahoski, Shelley, Linder and Citizens for Change was manifested in heated exchanges at board meetings.

By the time Lahoski resigned in July 2006, communication between he and board members had deteriorated.

"One thing I said is that I didn't think I could function well with this group," Lahoski said at that time, singling out Shelley and Linder as those who particularly didn't like him. "I tried, and it was going nowhere."

Shelley said things quieted down since Lahoski left and he was surprised to have these issues resurface.

A hearing is set for July 5, during which Sandusky County Magistrate David Dorobek will determine if the restraining order should be continued, dismissed or modified.