Mental health council settles with ex-chief executive for $212,000

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The Geauga County Board of Mental Health and Restorative Services has agreed to pay its former executive director $212,523.86 to settle all claims regarding his employment.

The Geauga County Board of Mental Health and Restorative Services has agreed to pay its former executive director $212,523.86 to settle all claims regarding his employment.

Under the release of all claims and demands, the final version of which was received by Geauga MapleLeaf County on August 3 in response to an ongoing public records request, Jim Adams, longtime Executive Director of the Board of mental health, will receive $77,854 to settle emotional harm claims. He will receive an identical amount as compensation for presumed lost future wages and $41,816 as payment for accrued and compensable sick leave and vacation.

Attorneys for Adams, McCarthy, Lebit, Crystal & Liffman Co., will receive a lump sum of $15,000, representing attorneys’ fees and expenses.

As part of the settlement, both parties agreed not to make any derogatory statements about the other’s business or character.

On Tuesday, board chairman Steve Oluic said he intends for the board to move forward and overcome any obstacles of the past.

“We reached an agreement with Jim and it was amicable. Both parties, both parties were happy with the results,” said Oluic, who was elected chairman of the board on July 1. He declined to comment further on the specific terms of the agreement.

Oluic also said that although he was not part of the mediation, he was told it was amicable between the parties and that board members unanimously approved the deal.

“Jim and his team were also happy with it,” he added.

Additionally, Oluic noted that the county’s insurance company will reimburse $20,000 of the total settlement.

“This matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of both parties,” Adams’ attorney Jack Moran told the Maple Leaf. “Please see the Board of Directors’ announcement regarding the retirement of Mr. Adams.”

In May, Moran warned members of the GCBMHRS that the county could face a costly, risky and “completely unnecessary” legal battle if the board terminates Adams. He claimed that the council’s conduct constituted possible age discrimination and First Amendment retaliation.

Moran said the board’s decision to place Adams on administrative leave and offer him a three-month severance package has already done damage.

The only written instance of disciplinary action on Adams’ employment file is the one he received on November 17, 2021, when he received a formal reprimand from the board of directors for writing a book, publishing the same year, titled “Preventing, Responding to, and Recovering from School Shootings and Other Traumatic Events.

As part of the settlement agreement, Adams was allowed to file a response to the board’s written reprimand regarding the writing and publication of his book. In his response, Adams said the council had no authority “to impose limits on what council staff members could or could not do regarding their hours of rest, including writing a book. “. He added that his position was based on inquiries with the Geauga County District Attorney’s Office.

He also noted that board members voted to remove the entire section of his employment contract regarding his book.

“The board took no action in the contract, or by resolution, that would indicate to me that I was not authorized to write the manuscript,” Adams said in his response. “The mere fact that a statement is made during a meeting of the board or a meeting of a committee by one or more members of the board does not constitute a majority opinion of the board or a call for action or specific inaction on my part or by council staff.”

Adams has been nationally recognized for his work in response to the Chardon High School shooting in 2012 and his development of a trauma response model that could be used in any school district, according to a statement from press release by the Mental Health Board announcing Adams’ retirement.

The board also acknowledged that Adams had been chosen as one of two Ohioans to serve on the National Mental Health Outcomes Development Committee, through Harvard University, while at the same time developing a mental health care system in Geauga.

During his 34-year career, Adams had also grown the council’s budget from $800,000 to over $7 million. It also increased the number of branches served from four to nine and the number of people receiving services from less than 500 to over 12,000, with more than 100 different services.

After the mental health board placed Adams on paid administrative leave in May, it appointed deputy director Amie Martin-D’Arienzo as acting director. She would later resign from her job to return to her old position after successfully negotiating a $70,000 salary with a flexible schedule.

The board appointed Leila Vidmar as interim manager until the search for Adams’ replacement could be completed. Oluic said he expects discussion of this research process to take place at the board meeting in September.

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