Aug. 07--HAMILTON -- The former Monroe Local School District treasurer is seeking dismissal of a lawsuit that blames her for part of the district's financial woes.
Kelley Thorpe, the former Monroe treasure, and bond holder Ohio Casualty Insurance Company recently filed motions to dismiss the lawsuit the school district lodged against them earlier this summer in Butler County Common Pleas Court. The lawsuit alleges Thorpe impermissably used bond money to pay the district's regular bills, between 2008 and 2011. The district's accounting firm was also named in the suit.
Thorpe's attorney Dennis Pergram, who also wrote the dismissal motion for the insurance company, wrote that the school district's lawsuit states the practice of borrowing from the bond fund to pay bills has been going on since 2005, Thorpe worked for the district from 2007 through July 2011.
"The board states that the auditor of the state has placed the board on fiscal emergency status. Is that because Ms. Thorpe, under the watchful eye of the board's auditors, continued the district's practice of paying its legitimate expenses? Of course not!," Pergram wrote. "The complaint in this action is nothing other than a poorly-disguised attempt to find a scapegoat for the board being placed on fiscal emergency status."
Voters on Tuesday will be asked to approve a 7.05-mill emergency property tax levy, to help alleviate a $2.2 million operating deficit and pay a $3.1 million bond retirement debt. The district's lawsuit claims the $3.1 million was taken out of the bond fund between 2005 and 2011 to pay bills.
Pergram also claims an employer such as a school board is not allowed to sue their employees. He said professional malpractice claims, which the lawsuit alleges occurred, involve independent contractors, not employees whom the employer controls, unless the person was acting in bad faith. No one has claimed Thorpe took any money.
Ohio Casualty provided Thorpe's required surety bond for faithful performance of her duty as the board's treasurer. The lawsuit demands the bond be paid to the school district to satisfy damages it has suffered.
"The board is attempting to treat Ohio Casualty as a malpractice carrier for Ms. Thorpe as its claim against Ms. Thorpe is for malpractice," Pergram wrote. "Ohio Casualty issued a bond, not malpractice insurance."
Thorpe is currently the treasurer for the Middletown school district.
Monroe is asking for in excess of $25,000. The school district's attorney could not be reached for comment.
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