State probes old West Carrollton school dispute

The grass fields between I-75 and West Carrollton’s stadium were the subject of a lawsuit settled earlier this decade. JEREMY KELLEY/STAFF
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The grass fields between I-75 and West Carrollton’s stadium were the subject of a lawsuit settled earlier this decade. JEREMY KELLEY/STAFF

The state auditor’s office is investigating whether West Carrollton City Schools acted improperly during construction of practice soccer fields in 2012, a project that led to a lawsuit and eventual legal settlement.

The probe has been going on for at least two months, and auditor’s spokesman Ben Marrison said in an e-mail, “We cannot comment on the investigation or provide records related to the investigation because it is ongoing.”

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West Carrollton school officials confirmed that they paid $22,444 in project costs in 2012 that were the responsibility of the Dayton Dutch Lions pro soccer team. West Carrollton Treasurer Ryan Slone said that was done to get the stalled project on school property completed. School officials provided invoices and copies of checks totaling $22,500 showing that the Dutch Lions later reimbursed the district.

Slone and Superintendent Rusty Clifford said the school district did nothing wrong.

“We are allowed to pay bills for what happens on our property,” Slone said.

According to filings in the old lawsuit, the Dutch Lions agreed to lease land adjacent to West Carrollton High School from the school district, and DDL contracted with Jess Construction for $68,000 to prepare the fields.

But once the district helped finish the project, there was a dispute over the quality of the fields.

Explore RELATED: Soccer team sues over field quality

The soccer team sued Jess Construction in 2013, saying sprinkler system problems had left “deep indentations” in the field, making it unsafe.

Jess Construction in turn sued the school district, claiming that the schools’ business manager, acting as the approved agent for DDL, directed school officials, not the contractor, to install that sprinkler system.

The school district denied that claim in its answer to the lawsuit. But three months later, the lawsuit was dismissed because a legal settlement was reached, according to court records. That settlement required Jess Construction to pay the Dutch Lions $25,000, and required the school district to pay the Dutch Lions $15,000.

“It impacted our kids and (the Dutch Lions’) kids,” Clifford said. “We weren’t even involved in the contract. It happened to be our fields. We were almost done with the project, we paid to get it done and we got reimbursed.”

Ric Campbell, club director of the Dayton Dutch Lions, said that current DDL ownership and management were not in those roles at the time of the lawsuit. He said the Dutch Lions currently have a strong working relationship with West Carrollton schools, and the fields in question are in good condition today, used by both DDL and school teams.

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