UPDATED: Only Months Before Scrutiny Began, Karen Prasser Received Excellent Review
Karen Prasser's two performance reviews on file in Solon City Hall, while not perfect, paint the picture of an employee who city leaders felt had reshaped the Solon Center for the Arts in a positive way.
UPDATE: Solon Patch has obtained a copy of another performance review for Karen Prasser.
This review, conducted by Mayor Susan Drucker for Prasser's performance from January until December 2011, shows that as of early 2012 Prasser was viewed by the administration as an excellent employee who used her talents -- and the help of the Friends nonprofit group -- to take the Solon Center for the Arts to new heights.
That was only a few months before Prasser came under scrutiny from city officials about her management of the center and the fact that Prasser's secretary was managing the books for a nonprofit group that fundraised for the center's programs. That sort of mingling of government and private money was against rules, according to a May 2012 memo from Finance Director Dennis Kennedy.
The scrutiny ended in September when Prasser wrote a long, impassioned letter to save her job. She resigned with a one-sentence letter a few days later.
In the latest performance review, Drucker writes about Prasser: "Your initiation of corporate sponsors is a creative way to help your revenues while promoting Solon businesses. Also continue working with the Friends as you come up with new ideas to raise funds and draw attention to the center."
Click the PDFs to the right to read three of Prasser's performance reviews, including the latest one.
Karen Prasser, the former executive director of the Solon Center for the Arts, is under scrutiny by city investigators for the way she managed employee time cards and the department's perhaps too-close financial relationship with the non-profit Friends of the Solon Center for the Arts group.
But two performance reviews conducted by Prasser's bosses during her time as executive director painted a positive picture of an employee who transformed the arts center's programs through hard work and dedication. The reviews are public records, and were obtained by Solon Patch through request of the city.
The reviews of Prasser, conducted in 2004 and 2011, are the only ones on file with the Solon human resources department, according to the city.
What the reviews provide are a snapshot of what Prasser's bosses thought about her performance at those times. They do not illuminate what happened since that could have ultimately led to her resignation in September and the subsequent announcement that the arts center was under investigation.
While the city has not commented on whether Prasser's resignation and the investigation are linked, a report in the Chagrin Solon Sun said that city officials had some issues with Prasser's management prior to her resignation.
There is some constructive criticism in the reviews, mostly along the lines of communicating better with city council and not becoming frustrated when initiatives don't work out. But both reviews are largely positive.
The 2011 review, conducted by Mayor Susan Drucker, focused on Prasser's performance in 2010. The 2004 review was conducted by Recreation Director Don Holub.
In the 2011, Drucker writes: "Karen has developed the Solon Center for the Arts into a high quality perfomering arts studio. Karen shoots for the stars with everything she tries to accomplish."
Drucker also writes positively about the Friends of the Solon Center for the Arts organization, calling the group "a great resource for the arts center."
Click the PDFs to the right of this article to read the performance reviews.