Huron school board moves to oust Fox

An angry crowd shouted protests Tuesday night as Huron School board members voted 3-2 to suspend superintendent Fred Fox and pursue termination proceedings against him.
Jessica Cuffman
Jun 20, 2012

An angry crowd shouted protests Tuesday night as Huron School board members voted 3-2 to suspend superintendent Fred Fox and pursue termination proceedings against him.

Fox was suspended without pay after the board reviewed an investigation into his alleged relationship with Kalahari Resorts CEO Todd Nelson. (Read more HERE.) The details of the investigation have not been released.

Last month, the board voted to send the investigation to the Ohio Ethics Commission for review. Tuesday's vote also sends the investigation to the Ohio Department of Education as termination proceedings against Fox move forward.

For full coverage of the heated school board meeting, pick up copy of Wednesday's Register.

Comments

Common_Cents

Well, I don't know what it is about.  That is what I am asking.

I am responding to information I have.  The register posted the email chain, and it says he paid for the trip.  Did he not?  What are you saying he did?  Got a discount because he knew the owner?  People do that ALL THE TIME.  I don't see how that negatively impacts the district.  

What I do see is the consistenly good ratings and financial status of the Huron schools.  That is a FACT.  So, as someone who is invested in well being of the school (via home ownership in town) that is my primary concern.  What is it he did to warrant getting fired?  I mean, you need to weigh the good vs the bad.  In my opinion, he has done a lot of good for the school system.  Do you disagree?  What exactly did he do that was so bad, really, when you think about it?  Who cares if he got a discount? (And good luck getting any good replacement if they are going to be hounded and fired for something as frivolous as that). 

I just don't understand - the school is doing well.  Why is the BOE so upset about a discounted trip?  Are they jealous or something?  It makes no sense to me.  

Tsu Dho Nimh

Common_Cents

Those of us in favor of the investigation are not questioning his right to a private golf trip.  What we do question is if he used his position in the school district to obtain discounted rates.  The one email from Kalahari apologizes for the high rate and compensates his group with free golf.  I'm guessing this gift retails close to $1,000 for 8 participants. When he used district email to make the arrangements, this became a fair question and needs to be turned over to the OEC.  It gives the appearance that Superintendent Fox was making the arrangements and not Fred Fox. Had he conducted personal business on his personal email, no one would have ever known. 

Common_Cents

Well, I guess we have to just disagree about whether or not what you describe is a fireable offense. I'm fine with investigating, but it seems like the BOE could have handled this better.  Spending $30-100k to look into this?  The cost-benefit does not add up.  Also, to me, it seems silly to terminate someone over that, maybe a reprimand or something, but not firing. Especially given the good performance of the school. 

He is on salary, so what is the difference if he is using his personal or work email?  I use my work email for personal things all the time.  It would be different if I was an hourly employee, but I am salaried and expected to be connected to email 24 hrs a day.  I imagine situation with superintendent is the same.  So, I don't think it is that bad a violation.  

Again, I just don't think firing what is seemingly an otherwise good school leader is accomplishing?  Take a look at the schools performance, it has been very good.  Do you disagree?  I want to keep it that way. I fear firing (not investigating, but firing) him for this would hurt the district in short and long term, and hurt Huron's ability to attract talented leaders to run our school in the future.

Open_Secret

Tsu Dho Nimh and Clementine, 

The email to me sound very casual. They address each other as Todd and Fred in a friendly correspondence. Sounds more like a friendship than a business relationship. No where in the email is his position as Superintendent stated. 

When you involve yourself in a career 24/7 at times your professional and personal paths are going to cross. As mentioned earlier he is available at all times and does not punch a clock. 

Also the email references a group of ABOUT 8, sounds like a "GUESStimate" to me on who was going. Mr. Fox is a smart man who knew that any email sent via school email could potentially be made public therefore, if he had something to hide, I think he would have used private email. 

Clementine, it seems, enjoys concoctions. Perhaps, those are best left in the kitchen. Unless what you are cooking up is a recipe that can be filed under "Libel".    

 

Lil DAB

A salaried (and even hourly) person using work email for sometimes personal use is permitted in most corporate settings. As long as it is not offensive material.

Also you won't see Huron teachers on here commenting. They are too busy deleting their internet and email history. When the investigation and lawsuits start, subpoenas for any indication of personal use of email - starting with the board members through the ranks of teachers, administrators, and even the cooks' accounts will be turned over and documented.

 

wiredmama222

If there is nothing wrong with this investigation, and the board has NOTHING to hide, why not release it?  It seems to me that they would be very transparent with this since they have "released" it to the Ethics committee. Now that makes it public record, does it not? 

They also have been spending taxpayer money on this without much background to the public or explanation of why or what they are doing.  Why is that???  What are they hiding?  They owe the public more than "we know the law" statements. 

How can they start 'termination" when they haven't formally charged him or let him explain anything?  This is really off kilter.  At least let the man answer his charges before the board and the public.  Isn't that what the law says"  you have a right to face your accusers" and to answer any and all charges??  This guy is being railroaded without due process.  Why is that? 

Does Huron have a big hole in the umbrella of justice over their heads that allows for this sort of thing???  If so, I am glad I don't live there.  This sounds way too much like a communist or Hitler state to me. 

Huron_1969

Incredible.... I open up the petition conversation to take a real action and no takers - just more opinions and speculation.

A petition would have to be fact based with none of the opinions, rhetoric or rumors that consume over 95% of this blog. The fact is these 3 board members have executed actions at an expense that could have been avoided and have not followed due process. The additional costs announced last night should not have been incurred and the tax payers have the right to officially object. It is the boards duty to report any suspecious activity to the ethics committee and I am fine with that. Once they filed the documentation with the ethics committee, they should be sitting tight and keeping quiet until the EC has completed their investigation and provied their recommended course of action.  But the 3 board members stepped over the line last night by taking premature actions into their own hands and they should be held accountable. 

The petition has nothing to do with whether or not Fred Fox violated any laws or ethics standards

My prediction is the tax paying citizens will not take any kind of measurable action and will sit back and complain while our goofed up system runs it course. After the lawyers get done with this, the cost will be much higher and the end results will be forever questionable. Huron is now mirroring it's own version of the Kim Nuesse saga

concerned huron...

Yes, there are people interested in starting the recall procedure.  How do we go about doing this?  Maybe create a facebook group called Huron School Board Recall, setting it up as a private group only to the residents of Huron.  This could help in figuring out if there are enough Huron residents that are interested in a recall.  Use the library as a meeting location. 

I do not know if an investigation was warranted, but that should have been left up to the Ohio Ethics Committtee and they would have investigated for free.  Is it true that since the investigation report was stated in last month's meeting minutes that that report is now a public document under the Sunshine Law?

 

LuckysaintClaire

It's kinda of funny what a difference a few miles makes.There is a a place where administrators bully,the rights of childern are violated and the Board sits there and does nothing.

Tsu Dho Nimh

Common_Cents

I agree that the offense seems to be minor but public employees are held to a stricter set of guidelines than the private sector. For example, it would be unethical (by law) for a current teacher in the Huron district to be part of this discussion board.  The rest of us can comment because of our freedom of speech.  It doesn't matter how good of a job that Mr. Fox has done, the ethics laws dictate that the board must report it for investigation.  Also, by turning it over to ODE, they will decide if what he did is a fireable offense, not the Huron BOE.  As I mentioned in a previous post, being convicted of passing bad checks will cost a teacher his/her license. I don't think the private sector would concern itself with this.  Joe Public may not be aware of the laws but Mr. Fox should have been.  He either was oblivious, which is not acceptable, or just chose to ignore it because he didn't think he would be caught.

I also want to include that our board members should be aware of the Sunshine Law and are expected to abide by it.

Tsu Dho Nimh

Open_Secret

It most likely was a personal relationship in the email.  However, once he conducted this personal conversation on business email, it became professional.  You are right in that he is on call 24/7 but his school account is for school business only.  The Ohio Education Association reminds its membership every year that they cannot defend a teacher from disciplinary actions if they use school email for personal use.  They also remind teachers that anything that they say in public that is negative toward their district can be disciplined and not to particpate in public forums such as this if it is regarding your own district.  These are just a few things that they are advised on.  Mr. Fox should know this.  He brought this on by not following the ethic laws.

Natti Light

 Really?  Some of you are going to sit here and justify the vilification of Fred Fox because he used his school email address to send an email that may or may not have been personal?  First of all, I fail to find a law that says doing this is illegal.  Second, the policy is "personal business", not sending a personal email.  Public employees have every right to send a personal email from their school email account.  It costs nothing to the taxpayer.  The policy is concerned with doing personal business through school accounts (for example, running your driver education business from the school, etc)

In addition, since this trip involved the administrative team from Huron, why is this considered personal?  You don't know, and neither do we, so again...shut your mouth.  There is no justification for this report not being made public.  None.  Nada!  

"Justice":  If you know there is so much more info we aren't being told, why don't you share it?  If you're not willing to share it, then please...shut your mouth.  By contributing to this forum and alluding to things that "might" have happened, you are doing nothing more than stirring the pot.  You are not the all seeing eye.  So again, shut your fat mouth until you have something remotely intelligent to contribute to the conversation.

This is nothing more than a witch hunt carried out by the H Team and a few loudmouths from the white trash "townie" crowd who hate having to do their jobs as dictated by someone else.

Votes have consequences folks.  I will personally dontate or help in any plans to get rid of this moron on the school board.  What this idiot is doing to Huron Schools makes me sick to my stomach.  If I were Todd Nelson, I would have shovels ready on Monday morning to tear your precious turf field out, regardless of the outcome of all of this.  Like it or not, right or wrong, your idiot hardware store owner has just killed your golden goose.  And you wonder why business wants nothing to do with public education??  I personally hope he builds a dome stadium and indoor field house for Perkins...just out of spite.

At the end of the day, liking Fred or not has nothing to do with this.  This is just wrong on all levels.  We all have faults, and I'm sure Fred has his.  But he has done nothing to warrant losing his job, that he has done remarkably well.

Julie R.

Sounds to me like they DID get the determination back from the Ohio Ethics Commission. Why else would they move to oust him?  

concerned huron...

If they did get the determination back from the Ohio Ethics Committee, why did the other 2 board members know nothing of the the Ethics Committee's findings?  It is in violation of the Sunshine Law if the majority of the board meets to discuss board business:

http://www.ohioschoolboards.org/files/sunshine.pdf

Jane Goodall

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained libelous or defamatory statements. Discussion Guidelines

Tsu Dho Nimh

Lil DAB

Most corporations don't care if email is used for personal use if it is not excessive or offensive.  Again I will say, these emails are most likely on a personal level.  BUT there are additional rules for public employees, contrary to what Natti Light seems to believe.  I personally know a person who was terminated because she checked on her Pampered Chef order during work hours and using district email.  Extreme?  Absolutely!  But this is the accountability public employees are held to.  Do  public employees bend the rules? Yes they do and quite often.  Does administration typically go searching for these violations? Not typically.  But if you are going to bend the rules, you better be prepared for the consequences if caught.  Mr. Fox handed over to his enemies the ammunition they need to bring him down.  I am just surprised how many people do not see that he made a stupid decision that may cost him his livelyhood.

Lil DAB

Tsu Dho Nimh, I believe you got my point. When the investigation blows open the emails of everyone on the school servers, what goes for one, will/should go for all. Who will draw lines between appropriate and excessive in regards to personal use ie Pampered Chef, Avon, Ebay and maybe even some "love" connections meant to be secret...?

Lil DAB

Thinking about the alleged innapropriateness....anyone with corporate organizations that handle ticket sales, organize events, etc may get a little freebie such as an invite to Cedar Point's Luminosity or 2 free tickets to a Cleveland Indians Game or a pass to Toledo Zoo. Past the admission, I would be spending my own money and so would you! If I am going above and beyond on my own time for the pleasure & benefit of my co workers as this superintendent did (and it is known they spent their own money) what is the big deal? He arranged something via work email because it is how it came about. From this comment section it is apparent to me he brought much more to the education community than what the school board professionals have contributed. (Aren't most board of directors usually made up of professional wanna-bes?)

Tsu Dho Nimh

Lil DAB

It will be interesting what they will do about the others. 

Here is something else to consider - how do the emails that were sent from Mr. Nelson to Mr. Fox regarding the waiving of the $60,500 permit fees figure into this scenario?  Why would Mr. Nelson bring this to Mr. Fox's attention?  Mr. Zimmerman's office is not tied to Mr. Fox so why would Mr. Nelson want to include him?  I wonder if Mr. Nelson had the curtiousy to let Mr. Zimmerman know that he was sharing their business with Mr. Fox?  This connection makes no sense to me.  Some might see this as Mr. Nelson wanting his friend to influence the township about waiving the fees. 

Natti Light

 Here is how you get fired for using school or public employee email to look at a Pampered Chef order:

1.  You do it during class time, not lunch or plan or before/after school.

2.  You do while you are "on the clock"...whatever that is in a non school setting.

3.  You have a boss who is looking for a reason to fire you, so he/she uses 1 or 2 from this list.  NO ONE gets fired simply for that.  Period.  Contrary to what your friend tells you.

If this items were not the case, I assure you that I would request that my email be deleted and I'd use my personal email for everything.  

Since Fred doesn't have a class schedule, he is free to send emails at his choosing as long as he is not grossly abusing the system...which it appears he is not.  This event at the Dells appears to have been set up for the administrators.......for....the....administrators......What part of this don't you understand?  How is that personal business?  If I set up a canoe trip on the Sandusky River for the administration, does that mean it's personal business?  I don't think so.

They are making excuses to get rid of him because no one has the stones to say why they really want to get rid of him.  It's a ridiculous joke, and makes Huron look incredibly stupid.

Tmm

Natti you appearently have the stones to tell people to shut their mouth.  Tell us...why does the 3 Board  members "really want to get rid of him"  what do you know that you would like to share?

Hmm

Tsu Dho Nihm - Nattie Light needs to read your last post!

car 54

     Hey Fox, tell Huron about the High School English teacher.  Class dismissed.

Tsu Dho Nimh

Natti, you are one of the few who are saying this is not personal but that it is a trip for school employees.  Your argument makes is worse for Fred Fox.  He accepted free golf for his group which clearly is a big NO NO according to the Ohio Revised Code.  He also accepted a discounted price for the room.  Please read the Ohio Ethics Commission link thoroughly and with an open mind and perhaps you will see why the school board needs to take action.  I have never said the man should be fired, I have simply maintained that Mr. Fox has put himself into a position that requires the board to put it into the hands of the proper authorities.

BTW, the person terminated did not work in the classroom.  This person worked in an office that is similar to the BOE office.  And you are right, someone wanted her gone and she unfortunately gave them what they needed by using the email for personal use, very much like Mr. Fox.

Natti Light

 Yeah.  I did read it.  And there is not much of merit there.  Tax abatements or other fee waivers are given so that businesses will return money in the form of donations, grants, etc to city organizations (usually but not limited to school systems).  For example, Kalahari can pay a $67000 tax payment, or receive an abatement after assuring the city that they will donate X amount of dollars in the form of computers, communications improvements, STADIUM RENOVATIONS, etc.  All perfectly legal, and all the practices of intelligent city managers and school officials.  Anyone who bemoans tax abatements has no clue how the system is greased to keep the wheels running.

That's how it works.  In what way does this have anything to do with getting a discount on a room for a one shot trip?  I seriously doubt that anyone would say "Ok, I'll get you a $100K tax abatement if you can set me up with a few rounds of golf".  For pete's sake, the man lives 10 minutes from 3 golf courses....do you really think he enjoys golf THAT much?  

And furthermore, do you really think a "luxury" vacation in Wisconsin is enough to set up tax abatements of this magnitude?  Get a grip.  If Todd Nelson offered me a free room at Kalahari next week, I'd probably pass on it.  Who in their right mind goes out of their way to hang out at a waterpark?  If Todd flew Fred and team to Naples for a week, I'd be concerned.  Look at reality people...nothing illegal or improper was done here.  You are letting a schmuck and personal vendettas lead you around by the nose.

Tmm

great points natti.  question though, what happens when an official uses his or her position to influence the decisions made on a tax abatement?  who were the 8 administrators that rec'd benefits?  what happens when a business in addition to promising to "return money in the form of donations, grants, etc to city organizations" also promises an individual a kickback?  Im sure there are a few taxpayers in Cuyahoga county that can answer that.

Tsu Dho Nimh

Tmm...maybe Natti would like to share that he/she is the English teacher!   LOL

Tsu Dho Nimh

Natti

People understand tax abatements and how communities and schools benefit by it.  The school board, not the superintendent, approves tax abatements.  The city council, not the city manager, approves tax abatements.  I could be wrong, but I do not believe that the school district receives any of the money that is collected throught building permits.  Assuming I am correct, how does the school district, especially the superintendent, factor into any agreement between Kalahari and the township zoning department?  As the kids would say, this was a conversation between A and B and the superintendent should C his way out ; )

Darwin's choice

Incredibly disappointing !  Huron_1969...I'll sign........

Natti Light

 Ok...I fixed my 2 spelling errors.  Hope you're happy.  Now back to class:

Why is this happening?  I'll tell you.  Try to keep up.

1.  Sowecke is a puppet.  He doesn't have the brains to conjure this up on his own.  As ridiculous as it sounds, I believe this has everything to do with the politics surrounding the beloved football program, and past grievances.  

2.  Sowecke is a moron.  Every time he opens his mouth, he proves that point.  No clarification needed there.

3.  There is a faction in the teachers' union that will always hate Fred Fox.  The union needed to be brought under check 12 years ago, and Fred did that.  And there are some very bitter people still griping about it.  The school is running more efficiently today because of it.  Get over it.  Fred could crap gold nuggets, and this small group of crazy, but vocal, people would complain that he didn't crap silver nuggets.  Do you remember the whole strike craziness?  Do you have any idea that there was a group of teachers that actually audibly groaned when they said an agreement was reached??  That is the mentality of some of these lunatics.  Very small group, but they were in control for quite some time.  Fortunately, most of these people are gone.  Did the administration handle the situation perfectly?  Heck no.  But neither did HEA/OEA and there is plenty of blame to go around on both sides.  Huron was under STATE CONTROL and in FISCAL EMERGENCY, and some in the union were griping about paying more for health care.  Give me a break.

4.  Sowecke is a moron.

5.  A few sacred cows were run out of the district.  Enough said.  They are gone, and test scores went up.  Further, when someone sits around and does nothing but trash talk and stir people up, they become known as a cancer.  And cancer spreads.  Just because people "liked" them doesn't mean they were good teachers or good for the district.

A man is the sum of his actions.  Look around and see what Huron has accomplished under his leadership.  Look at what the school has been through, and how it has recovered.  If this is worth running him out, then God help us all.  What kind of leader is going to want to walk into this mess?  If there is something that Mr. Hardware is holding back, then he needs to let it out there for all to know.  If not, he's only making Huron look more and more ridiculous.  Hope another SBC title is worth it Sowecke.

 

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