School board wrestles ghost of Fred Fox

Caporini suggests board keep 'eyes open' for potential settlement in legal battles over termination.
Alissa Widman Neese
May 24, 2013

About a month into the Huron Schools legal battle, at least one board member believes a cost-effective compromise could be the best solution.

In an unexpected move Tuesday, board member John Caporini made a motion suggesting the district "seek a global settlement regarding the Fred Fox situation." The item, which board member Kevin Asher seconded, was not listed on the agenda. It was discussed as "other business" at the end of the meeting.

The financial integrity of Huron Schools sparked the motion, Caporini said Thursday.

"We need to move on and try to settle this," he said. "We don't need to go in with blinders on for a fight to the death, because the district will be the one to suffer. We need to keep our mind and eyes open."

Huron Schools is facing the aftermath of firing former superintendent Fred Fox in April. The decision came after more than a year of heated meetings and court proceedings costing the district more than $140,000. Caporini and Asher voted against Fox's firing.

Fox appealed the termination and is suing the three board members who voted to fire him: Donna Green, Tim Sowecke and Scott Slocum. He's seeking more than $175,000, in addition to back pay. Green alleged defamation and promptly filed a counterclaim, suing Fox for more than $25,000.

Caporini ultimately withdrew Tuesday's motion, however, after a lengthy discussion with board members. Just starting a conversation was enough progress for him, he said.

Slocum, the board's president, said Caporini should have first contacted the district's attorneys, and possibly Fox's attorney, before making the motion. Slocum and Sowecke said settlements could already be part of legal discussion. Slocum also said discussions of pending legal matters may be more appropriate for a closed-door meeting.

"I don't know if we're ready to use the word 'settlement' right now," Slocum said. "But we're open to all possibilities to try to move the district forward. I think we're on the same page with that."

As the district's finances continue to spiral downward, Caporini said a resolution can't come soon enough.

Treasurer Mike Weis presented an updated five-year financial forecast Tuesday to board members, projecting Huron Schools is set to spend all its reserve cash by 2015. The district is forecasting a deficit each year, ranging from $1.3 million in the current school year to $5.1 million in the 2016-17 school year. Its budget is about $15 million.

Several variables, including state funding changes, could alter the forecast, Weis said. Regardless, the district must place a new emergency operating levy on the budget within three years, possibly as early as November 2015.

"If we're going to ask taxpayers for help and they see all this turmoil, what do you think their response is going to be?" Caporini said. "I'm not naive. I know it will take time, but we have to at least make an effort to get this thing resolved for the taxpayers of Huron."

In the meantime, the board is in the process of certifying a five-year, 5.9-mill renewal operating levy for the November ballot. The levy generates about $900,000 a year for the district, costing the owner of a $100,000 home about $111, according to the Erie County auditor. If approved, it would not increase taxes from the total amount currently paid, which is about $1,520 each year.

Board president Scott Slocum did not return a phone message Thursday seeking comment.

 

Comments

underthebridge

How about they wait until the Ethics Commission makes their decision.

Mr Kilbourne

Get rid of this board altogether, they clearly have strong personal agendas and not the District's best interest. They remind us of wall street bankers / congress - pillage, spend, and leave a path of debt and destruction for us all to deal with.

Darwin's choice

Agree!!

Justme...

The "path of debt and destruction" you speak of has been greatly exaggerated by those who care more about Fox than they do the district. The way I see it, with the cut they were able to make earlier this week, the "fiasco" has paid for itself.

Mr Kilbourne

I don't care about Fred Fox, or the board. My only interest lies with the school district and the quality of education for the students. Don't politicize my comment or infer I am taking sides. They've spent $150,000 so far, and possibly another $175,000. So if I misused the statement "a path of debt and destruction" to describe WASTING $300,000 in tax dollars, excuse me.

Justme...

The last I heard, it was $140, not $150. Its a shame it had to be even 1 dollar. But at this point there is no debt or destruction because of this. That was my point - exaggerating serves no purpose except to make the situation seem worse than it is. And who does that serve?

Swiftshot

Huron system was the place to send your kids. All it took was a couple of people to rock the boat to sink the ship. Good job I say sarcastically

RUKidding

I couldn't agree more with this statement. I always heard how amazing this school system was. I surely haven't seen it though.

J Cooper

Lesson learned, "do" your girlfriend on the taxpayer's dime and receive a pay off for your trouble. Got to love our legal system.

Julie R.

Not funny ........... but I laughed, anyway.

Informed

The school system is better with Fox gone.

NotYourAverageF...

When our children where both going into 1st grade. We had the choice of either the Berlin Milan dist or Huron dist. Based on family history dealing with Fred Fox & the way he treats district employees including teachers, we chose Berlin Milan 100% based on those dealings with Fred Fox.

Truth or Fiction

Mr. Kilbourne’s personal opinion frames the entire controversy. A majority of the Board took action that put the district in jeopardy. It is obvious that the Board had the votes not to renew Mr. Fox’s contract so why put the district in jeopardy? This is a prime example of poor planning and poor management. The end result is that the students pay for the incompetence of others.

got.integrity

Truth,
If you ran a business and had knowledge that an employee was acting in a manner that was putting your company at risk and spending money improperly would you keep them around until the contract ended? I doubt it! As a tax payer the last thing I want to hear is that the BOE let him continue to hook up with his honey at conferences spending tax payer dollars on the hotel, mileage, meals and registration fees. Either way the man was costing us money. I would rather it be fighting him in court rather than paying for his rock star lifestyle.
The majority of the board was looking out for the district's finances unlike Fred, the 2 other board members and the treasurer that approved the spending!! One gone...3 to go.

Tsu Dho Nimh

Here is the problem with waiting to non-renew Mr. Fox: Asher, Bulea, and Caporini let Fox do whatever he wanted. Green and Slocum were out numbered. There will be three seats open on the board this November and we don't know what the 2015 board will look like. It is pretty certain that Asher and Caporini would never vote to non-renew him. Let someone like Bulea back on the board, it would be a free-for-all, again!

Swiftshot

Truth b told, the kids are the ones that are going to suffer in the end.

srblogger

kids are always the ones that suffer from the adult world. kids 20 years from now will suffer more then kids do today.

i will support the renewal, because that was coming regardless. a new addition monies, we will wait and see.

donutshopguy

Someone please explain how the kids will suffer? Will there be less teachers due to this situation? Will the teachers, teach less?

If you are involved in your child's education they won't even notice this blip on the radar screen.

And, by the way, what is a "global" settlement? Has this effected the overall balance of the world?

Tsu Dho Nimh

In my opinion, Caporini wants to settle with Fox so his good buddy can walk away with something. The OEC has been spending a lot of time on the investigation and will be back again for another round. If Fox was innocent, he would have been cleared by now. Caporini and Asher know that Fox will be toast when the OEC is done and won't have a leg to stand on if his lawsuit hits the court room.

Swiftshot

It takes money to run the school system. Kalahari was the number 1 contributor, legal fees, pay off settlement. I don't know hmm. Wow, it's not real hard to figure out.

donutshopguy

Swift,

Kalahari is obligated to pay their taxes no matter the decision on Fred Fox. Do you really believe a few hundred thousand of dollars will sink the system? That's naive.

Informed

You cannot just not renew his contract without cause. Given the cause would be the same things they have terminated him for at present, my feeling is Fox would have sued even then. The man is a power-hungry egomaniac.

Tsu Dho Nimh

Todd Nelson isn't the generous contributor that some people want to make him out to be. Kalahari has saved a lot in taxes and the school district receives money because of that. Kalahari also benefitted from Kalahari Field. It is a business and it was a good business deal for them.

Swiftshot

It's a domino affect. I suppose when the parents of the kids have to pay for sports and less technology is able to be purchased you will look back on this conversation.

Retiree

No settlement for Fox. Why would you give him money for committing a crime,stealing taxpayers money. That is admitting you were wrong. His posse wants a settlement now because the bills are starting to pile up with no money to pay them. All the lies that his group spread on these blogs and around Huron. The slanderous remarks against the three board members,selling a school bus for a dollar,stealing of tools, perjury under oath and all the other crimes Fox and his posse committed. As a taxpayer of Huron, I want these questions answered in a court. No way would I settle with Fox and his "bottom feeder". The problem is in this corrupt world, the attorneys will find a way where they will benefit the most. At taxpayers expense.

got.integrity

I couldn't agree more! We've gone this far, let's keep moving ahead and get the truth out publically to replace the BS Fred's high school buddies have been spreading around.

got.integrity

sorry duplicate entry - I double saved...

Truth or Fiction

Five points:
1)State found no wrongdoing.
2)A superintendent does not have tenure and could be let go by a non-renewal of contract. Ohio is still an “Employment at Will” state. Sorry Got.integrity - your post was FICTION.
3)I don’t live in your district but people who do have informed me that this is a feud (pay-back) involving football, families, teachers, staff and as Doc Holiday stated in Tombstone – “Oh no, it’s a reckoning!”
4)I don’t condone impropriety but doesn’t Huron have other employees that you wouldn’t want left alone with your significant other.
5)Students will be affected as teachers will be let go to cut cost (a direct result of the 140+K) which increases class size and reduces subjects taught.

got.integrity

Really truth? My statements are fiction-Says who your "informed people." Just wait because as Tso said the Ethics Commission is still working hard on Fred's version of the truth. The OEC would not waste their time dealing with a reckoning!" Where there is smoke there is fire!

donutshopguy

If I understand correctly Mr. Fox's drinking and philandering buddy has had his job cut from the school system. With the savings on salary , benefits and the reductions of lawsuits against Mr. Fox's minion the school system should about break even of this fiasco in a couple years.

With Mr. Fox no longer in charge the school system should eliminate a few more of his henchmen. Hey, this might turn into a savings rather than a loss.

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