Former Epworth preschool principal Jane Lyon says she was fired after questions were raised about why the church was transferring money from the school’s budget.

OTTAWA HILLS, Ohio – While parents Epworth Preschool Students are worried about the future of their children’s education as the school closed suddenly late last week, a former school principal has accused the church of firing after she questioned possible financial improprieties at Epworth United Methodist Church.

Jane Lyon said she was fired last Thursday after she questioned why $47,000 was transferred from the school’s early childhood education budget.

“As a parent and preschool teacher, I don’t know why I was fired,” Lyons said in an emailed statement. “I feel for the children and their families. I know I shouldn’t comment, but when church leadership slanders me and the school, I have to defend both.

“Since the school’s long-standing governing board was disbanded by the church leadership last August, the pre-school has not received any recommendations to fix any aspect of the school. Contacts over the past year have focused on accounting for parents’ tuition deposits that are missing from the church’s records.’

Officials at the Ottawa Hills church called the alleged misappropriation “completely false” in a statement Tuesday night and said no anomalies or discrepancies were found in financial statements, including the preschool’s, which are audited annually by a Maumee accounting firm. Reiner, Fuss, Kruse, and Irwin.

Church officials announced in an email Thursday that Mary Rostie, the church’s director of children and family ministries, will serve as interim director.

Parents arrived at the preschool to drop off their children on Friday, only to find the school closed. The parents said that neither the church administration nor the preschool administration informed them of the closure.

Another email from the church on Sunday evening announced that the preschool would be closed March 13-17 “due to actions beyond Eworth UMC’s control, including staff shortages.”

The closure is in addition to the previously scheduled March 20-24 spring break with a return to class on March 27. Church officials provided this explanation in an email:

“We believe that the safety of your children is of the utmost importance, and it is imperative for us to comply with state regulations. The church had no intention of closing the school and certainly will not raise tuition at this time.”

Epworth Preschool parents are seeking more concrete answers about Lyon’s cancellation and the school’s sudden closure. Christina Gandol’s father said Lyon’s termination makes no sense.

“We don’t know if we’re going to go back to school or not. We don’t know if our kids are going to graduate,” Gandol said. “Everyone wants to know why we are upset about this. They took away part of our children.”

Former Epworth preschool teacher Maria June said the church misreported Lyon’s firing and resigned in response.

“If they’re going to do a new alignment and want a new principal, they can do that,” she said. “But they need to get that out to families, and families need to know what they’re signing up for.”

WTOL 11 reached out to Epworth Preschool for comment Tuesday. No one immediately responded to our request.

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