Hearing records sealed in probe

SALEM -- The city board of education is turning over to the Columbiana County Prosecutor's Office transcripts of hearings on whether a treasurer's office employee should be fired, so they will not be made public for now.
Prosecutor Robert Herron's office told the school district's attorney, Fred Compton of Akron, that it wanted the hearing transcripts, schools Superintendent Dr. Dave Brobeck said today.
The prosecutor's office is probing possible criminal activity that occurred in the treasurer's office in 2002.
Sealed during probe
Had Herron's office not sought the transcripts, they would have been public documents. Now they are considered part of an ongoing criminal probe and can be sealed until the investigation concludes.
Herron was unavailable today to comment.
The transcripts resulted from several private hearings the school board conducted earlier this year. The sessions were prompted by Brobeck's recommendation that Annette Howard, an assistant treasurer, be fired.
Improper conduct alleged
Brobeck had accused Howard, a 14-year school employee, of improper conduct. One of Brobeck's allegations was that Howard participated in and then covered up then-treasurer Ted Cougras' March 2002 purchase of $781 worth of office equipment that was delivered to his Poland home.
Cougras resigned in December 2002 just as the criminal probe was launched.
Howard denied any wrongdoing. After 20 hours of hearings held over several days, the school board agreed. On Feb. 9 the panel rejected Brobeck's firing recommendation.
Howard, who had been on paid leave for more than a year, has returned to work.