Solet stays fired, Western Reserve board says

COLLINS Citing "errors" in the document, Western Reserve school board members voted unanim
Cory Frolik
May 24, 2010

COLLINS

Citing "errors" in the document, Western Reserve school board members voted unanimously this week to reject the report of an arbitrator in the mediation hearings of embattled superintendent Doug Solet.

Prepared by Sandusky attorney Victor Kademenos, the report concluded the school district presented no evidence to justify Solet's termination.

Board members rejected the report, noting it was fundamentally flawed, and they approved a resolution to end Solet's contract.

"We found the referee's opinion had numerous errors and was not an accurate representation of what was presented in testimony during the hearing process," said Cheryl Fannin, board member. "We strongly feel we had just cause for termination action."

Solet's attorney, Joe O'Malley, said it's outrageous that school officials so quickly dismissed the findings of a disinterested professional.

"They lost and now they ignore it," O'Malley said. "(Continuing to fight it) is a waste of the school district's tax dollars and it's a waste of the energy of the district and has the district on hold."

O'Malley suggested the school board dismissed the report simply because it didn't coincide with their preexisting beliefs about Solet. He said Solet will be filing a civil lawsuit against Western Reserve Schools in the next few weeks.

Solet was accused of sexually harassing a school bus driver by sending her text messages asking for nude photographs, making unwelcome advances and using his position of power to keep her from reporting his conduct.

Following an investigation by an outside human resources firm, which concluded Solet acted out of line, the school board decided on Feb. 27, 2008 to place Solet on unpaid suspension.

Solet fought the suspension and maintained his innocence.

He asked for an outside referee to weigh in with an impartial verdict.

Over six days of hearings, Kademenos said he found no evidence substantiating the sexual harassment allegations.

He also said the alleged victim's testimony was not credible and changed over time, and added that testimonies from other school employees indicated Solet's actions never were sexual in nature.

But school board members disagreed.

They claim Kademenos wrongly assumed the board relied only on the human resource firm's probe as a basis to terminate Solet.

They also claim Kademenos failed to acknowledge that other employees saw the sexual text messages Solet allegedly sent.

And they claim Kademenos was wrong when he said the bus driver's testimony shifted over time.

The resolution approving Solet's termination lists more than 30 "factual errors" in Kademenos' report.

O'Malley said the district had a chance to settle the dispute, allowing both Solet and the district to move on, but school officials refused to come to the table.

O'Malley said Solet's reputation has been tarnished by the experience, but he added that, at least now, Solet has a report showing his innocence.