Arbitrator: Solet firing unjustified

COLLINS Doug Solet has claimed he's innocent since he was accused of violating Western Reserve's sex
Cory Frolik
May 24, 2010

COLLINS

Doug Solet has claimed he's innocent since he was accused of violating Western Reserve's sexual harassment policy in early 2008.

Now the embattled Western Reserve superintendent has an outside arbitrator suggesting he's right.

Citing unsubstantiated claims, inconsistent testimony and dubious witness credibility, attorney Victor Kademenos concluded the Western Reserve school board was wrong to fire Solet for unprofessional and inappropriate conduct.

"(T)he school board has not met their burden of proof, and this hearing officer finds that Mr. Solet's termination was not for good and just cause," states referee Kademenos' findings of fact.

A 30-something female bus driver accused Solet of sending her text messages asking for naked photos and others of her masturbating, a Huron County Sheriff's Office report states.

The employee also claimed he made unwelcome sexual advances and used his authority to manipulate her.

A probe conducted by an outside human resource agency concluded the employee's claims could not be substantiated, but two other female employees gave credence to her story by stating Solet asked them out for drinks.

The probe provided the board with the justification to fire Solet.

Through his investigation, Kademenos said he learned there was no evidence supporting the accusations of sexual harassment lodged against Solet.

School board member Cheryl Fannin said the board will consider the arbitrator's recommendation at the next meeting and decide where to go from there.

"We're certainly disappointed in the decision of the referee, but because the board has not yet met to determine whether to accept or reject the recommendation it's inappropriate to comment," Fannin said.

Kademenos said interviews with the pair of employees determined the women did not believe Solet's actions toward them constituted sexual harassment.

"This referee finds that neither woman ... ever filed a written harassment complaint, never verbally complained of sexual harassment, and in fact their testimony during the hearing was that they did not feel his conduct rose to a level of sexual harassment," the report states.

The report notes the requests to grab a drink were not clearly made with a sexual motive.

Unlike the bus driver's testimony, which changed over time, Solet's story remained consistent since the beginning, the report states.

Not one of the text messages the bus driver claimed she received from Solet could be produced, the report states. The woman claims she deleted them.

The owner of the human resource agency hired to investigate the matter told Kademenos he did not find the bus driver's testimony credible.

The report also states the school board recently tried to argue its motivation to fire Solet was his willful and persistent violation of board policy, which conflicts with the board's original justification of the personnel move.

Kademenos and Solet's attorney did not return phone calls Wednesday.