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Insurer cans Huron Schools

Alissa Widman Neese • May 7, 2013 at 8:02 PM

So says Ohio School Plan, a group providing coverage to nearly 300 schools, which announced this past week it is dropping the district from its insurance plan July 1.

Representatives from Hylant Group, a third-party insurer representing the Ohio School Plan, met with district treasurer Mike Weis this past week to discuss the group's concerns, according to an email Weis sent to school board members the Register obtained through a public records request.

Open the PDF below to read the email and other emails related to the district's insurance.

The organization's reasons for dropping Huron Schools include:

•Threats of continued litigation and an inability to determine potential possible costs.

•Lack of board focus and direction.

•Inability to price due to the "turmoil."

Huron Schools is facing the aftermath of a 3-2 vote in April to fire superintendent Fred Fox, a climax after a year of investigation, termination and court proceedings costing the district more than $140,000. 

Fox's termination came on the heels of allegations he improperly submitted reimbursement requests for expenses after a trip to Arizona; maintained an inappropriate business relationship with a district vendor; and carried on an extramarital affair during school hours using school computers and his school email address.

Fox appealed the termination and is suing the three board members who voted to fire him for more than $175,000, in addition to his back pay. Board member Donna Green alleged defamation and filed a counterclaim shortly after, suing Fox for more than $25,000.

"As they continue to deal with all the matters at hand, additional litigation may arise," said Joe Seay, president of Hylant Administrative Services. "It gets to the point where we have a very difficult time, maybe an impossible time, setting prices, terms and conditions of an insurance policy. You can't predict how this is going to go."

Ohio School Plan has only dropped a district one other time in its 11 years of operation, Seay said.

"This is a big deal from our standpoint," he said.

Huron Schools is now hunting for a new insurer. School officials have arranged meetings with three companies and hope to select a new coverage plan by the June school board meeting.

Finding a new plan poses several problems, including possible high costs and a limited number of school insurers to pick from, Weis explained in his email. 

The Ohio School Plan cost the district about $38,000 per year, Weis said.

"Not sure what our course or action will be if we cannot get insurance," Weis said in the email the Register obtained.

It's still undetermined what coverage the Ohio School Plan will provide for current issues, according to the email. The district will receive a written notice with more details "after the various lawsuits are reviewed," the email said.

Board president Scott Slocum said he wasn't "totally surprised" the Ohio School Plan dropped Huron Schools, but he is confident the district will have another policy in place soon.

"Since the first litigation action taken by (board member Kevin Asher) last year, I knew the carrier might possibly take a good, hard look at our relationship," Slocum said. "That's what insurance carriers do."

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