Beachwood Theater Camp’s founder and 40-year director will potentially receive a $15,000 settlement from the city of Beachwood after she was let go and the camp was canceled because of personnel and logistical issues, according to the city’s community services director and mayor. She has been rehired to lead the camp for one final session this summer.
June Scharf, public relations consultant for the city of Beachwood, confirmed the settlement amount to the Cleveland Jewish News May 10. She said Jill Koslen-Freireich’s settlement will require approval of Beachwood City Council at its May 16 meeting because the amount exceeds the mayor’s $1,500 limit to spend without council approval.
In addition to the $15,000, the settlement would provide a reimbursement of up to $5,000 for related medical expenses, Scharf confirmed to the CJN May 11.
The plan, Scharf said, is to submit the settlement for reimbursement to the city’s insurance agency, USI Insurance Services in Cleveland.
Koslen-Freireich’s lawyer, Lindsey Self of the Haber Group in Beachwood, negotiated the settlement and Koslen-Freireich’s new contract to lead the camp, which is supposed to start June 13.
Four days after Koslen-Freireich was dismissed on April 19, Beachwood Mayor Justin Berns posted a letter on the city’s website and emailed it to residents explaining his support of community services director Derek Schroeder’s decision to cancel the camp.
Koslen-Freireich had told the CJN that letter was “defamatory.”
“I’m happy that the city found a way to move forward, and with this agreement signed by Ms. Koslen-Freireich, we are positioned to provide a theater camp experience for children to enjoy,” Berns said in a May 10 news release.
Koslen-Freireich told the CJN on May 10, “I’m in it for the kids and always have been.”
Her lawyer sent a statement to the CJN on May 10 as well.
“Jill has been extremely appreciative of the outpouring of support from the Beachwood community,” Self wrote. “She is pleased that it appears that the parties have resolved their differences, which will allow Jill to return for one final season. She can’t wait to get started and make this the best one yet.”
Council president Alec Isaacson read a statement at the May 2 council meeting on behalf of council that “every member of this council believes that drama camp should be reinstated. … The decision to cancel drama camp is 100% his (Berns’) to make and it’s a decision that city council cannot override.”
Public outcry and pleadings from city council members, campers, staff, alumni, parents and grandparents led Berns to reverse course and he reached out to Koslen-Freireich with an offer of a contract.
Isaacson said he was pleased with the outcome in an emailed statement to the CJN May 10.
“I’m very glad that Mayor Berns decided to reinstate drama camp and rehire Jill Koslen-Freireich to direct this season,” Isaacson wrote. “I saw that drama camp was too important and special to interrupt, even for only one season, and it was clear that the community wanted the mayor to keep drama camp open this summer. It was good to see the mayor, Ms. Koslen-Freireich and her lawyer working together so that she would feel comfortable coming back for this summer. While I wish that this hadn’t happened in the first place, I’m glad we’ve reached the point where we can focus on giving Beachwood’s drama camp kids the summertime experience they’ve been waiting for all year.”
Councilman Mike Burkons, who was vocal in his opposition to canceling camp and firing its director at the May 2 council meeting sent a statement to the CJN May 11.
“This entire embarrassing episode was a self-inflicted wound that should have never happened,” Burkons wrote. “Council should insist that the city issue a formal apology to Jill, the staff she had lined up and the 53 families that had children enrolled, for publicly blaming their initial decision to cancel the camp on alleged failings of Jill, which have now been proven to be misleading and illegitimate, regardless of whether it is required by the settlement.”
Koslen-Freireich had until May 8 to assemble a staff, a task she said she fulfilled in a May 5 email to Berns.
Parents were notified in an email from the city May 10 of the latest development.