Greenfield Police Department Sgt. Gary Schraw has filed a civil suit against Greenfield, the village’s civil service commission, and the chief of police in regard to his not being able to test a second time for the civil service exam for chief.
The need for the examinations arose due to Greenfield Police Chief Tim Hester’s impending retirement at the end of the year.
A complaint filed with the Highland County Clerk of Courts on Oct. 8 by Schraw’s attorney, Kathryn Hapner, alleges that the Greenfield Civil Service Commission administered an examination for police chief on June 18 and one for sergeant on June 19. Following the examinations, personal interviews were conducted with those who took the examinations, but after the interviews, the commission said that no candidate for chief had a “score sufficient to be considered passing.”
The complaint states that another exam was set for September with the commission publishing a list of suggested reference material for the exam. The complaint said the list was different from the one provided for the June 18 test, which opened the examination to those who had previously taken the police chief examination.
Schraw applied to take the examination, the complaint says, but then a new list of suggested reference materials was published, which was the same as the list previously published for the police chief examination, “thereby closing the test to candidates” who had taken the police chief examination on June 18.
The complaint claims that because of the modification of the list of materials and the subsequent exclusion of those who had taken the June 18 exam, the village, commission, and the chief “violated (Schraw’s) right to sit for the police chief promotional examination” set for September.
The document states that with the most-recently published list of reference material for the exam, the police chief exam became only open to those who had taken the sergeant’s exam, not those who had taken the police chief exam.
Jennifer Lowe and James Leeth, both patrol officers with the GPD, were the eligible candidates to take the police chief exam in September, the document says.
The complaint says that Hester was involved in scoring the personal interviews portion of the sergeant examinations. The document alleges that this was an unfair practice due to a personal and business relationship between Hester and Lowe, Lowe’s access to Hester’s office when the chief is not in and thereby her access to interview questions, and Leeth possibly also having access to those questions as he is Lowe’s partner on day shift.
“The inherently flawed nature of the testing and the interviewing procedures undertaken by the village, the commission, and Hester … have deprived (Schraw) of any reasonable opportunity to become chief of police of the village,” reads the complaint.
It is requested in the document that the test scores from all test dates “be set aside,” and that a new test be administered in which Hester would “have no part.”
A request for a temporary injunction was also filed last Thursday. It states that Schraw would “suffer irreparable harm” if the test scores were opened, published, or otherwise made known as Schraw would “have no way of objecting to the administration or scoring of the test and he will never even have the opportunity to have his name available to be placed on the list of candidates for promotion.”
A temporary restraining order was signed by Highland County Common Pleas Court Judge Rocky Coss and filed on Oct. 8. According to what Coss wrote, there was not time in the day to get all involved parties to the court for a hearing on the matter prior to the commission’s meeting last Thursday evening. Therefore, he issued the restraining order to prevent the opening of the test scores from the September examination until a hearing on the temporary injunction could be held.
That hearing is set for Monday, Oct. 19 at 3 p.m.
The village has not yet filed anything in regard to its position on the matter. Greenfield City Manager Ron Coffey said he was unable to comment on the pending civil suit.
Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.