Huron board restores Fox's pay; suspension stands

Embattled Huron Schools superindendent Fred Fox will be on paid leave as the investigation into his alleged misconduct continues.
Melissa Topey
Jun 25, 2012

Embattled Huron Schools superindendent Fred Fox will be on paid leave as the investigation into his alleged misconduct continues.

Fox was suspended without pay June 19 after a 3-2 vote by the Huron school board, which based its decision largely on a 50-page investigative report by the law firm McGown & Markling. (To review the report, click HERE.)

“Under advisement of legal counsel, suspending him without pay was not the best decision to preserve his rights to due process," board president Scott Slocum said Monday night. "We are backing up and trying to do right."

The board still intends to move foward with termination proceedings.

For more on what happened at Monday night's board meeting, pick up a copy of Tuesday's Register.

 

Comments

Pip

 Does anyone know what the status of McNulty's job is? 

 

rickross

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained personal attacks. Discussion Guidelines

Julie R.

4 Top Comments are now all four stories on Fox.

streak

 Huron got a great new principal and it is a huge loss for Sandusky school system.

 

Retiree

@Breath of life: Thanks but no thanks for offering me the job. I do hope that this problem gets resolved as quick as possible for the sake of your school children. There is a lot of talk and rumors circulating about your superintedent and his mistress. I sure wish it would stop. The people involved and their families need time to heal. Did the two involved think they would never get caught? Your school board is on the right track in the direction they are going. Soon there will be one more big write up, the fighting between the groups will start up again, then things will settle down. I personall feel your superintendent is toast. Good luck and good-by

fudge pies

did anyone read mr asher's letter on the BOE minutes from last night.   possible twist of fate, as this entire probe was done illegally it appears.  as ive said many times over,  the report does open up some questions, but the report doesnt have a chance in hell in the court of law.  too many opinions, and hearsay. 

Informed

Yes, and Sowecke already denied what Asher said.  That is nothing but he said, he said.  It's not proof, unlike Fox's emails.  It is my opinion that Asher is just trying to cover his butt in terms of his voting no for the investigation, for turning things over to the OEC, and for suspending Fox.  He is trying to justify his inital support of Fox.

fudge pies

"informed says" Yes, and Sowecke already denied what Asher said. That is nothing but he said, he said. It's not proof, unlike Fox's emails. It is my opinion that Asher is just trying to cover his butt in terms of his voting no for the investigation, for turning things over to the OEC, and for suspending Fox. He is trying to justify his inital support of Fox.

 

 

There is so much though in his letter, that if you go back and research the minutes is correct.    Why wasn't Fox,  the treasurer nor Nelson  interviewed? 

understand a lawyers role !  whomever is footing the bill he's going to base his report on.  If they wanted Fox to stay, his report would show it.   If they want him out, his report will show it.  

 

far as the emails?  Did we get all of them or just the ones they wanted to show us?    

 

 

Informed

The fact that these emails exist at all is enough to fire him!  It doesn't matter if there are more or not.  It doesn't change the fact that he engaged in a personal relationship with school email on school time.

worddrow811

@small town, I just finished reading it and the question that came to my mind is "who has the most to gain by getting rid of Fred Fox?" Clearly, there are a group of unknown individuals who are trying to MANIPULATE a situation that has presented itself to the community. It reminds me of the secret individuals who rushed through Urban renewal, changing the name of Liberty Drive and the list goes on.

If this witchhunt was on the up and up, there is no need for desperation, in my opinion. The truth speaks for itself and will come out eventually, as the truth, in the end, can never be manipulated.

I will say that my gut tells me that fred was acting out and it may be as simple as he wanted a divorce and couldn't bring himself to ask for it. I have no inside knowledge nor do I know the parties involved and this is a disclaimor to that effect.

 

Informed

Oh, and Asher still thinks that Fox's affair can't be proven!  OMG!!  Read the emails for crying out loud.  If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it's a duck. 

Also, Fox received complimentary rounds of golf for himself and his buddies.  Did everyone else at the resort during that time period receive the same?  Sounds to me like that was a "gift".  Fox cannot accept such gifts.

I'm sorry, it is clear to me that because Fox and Nelson are friends, Fox was "taken care of", which is in violation of ethics for someone in his position.

And don't forget the Blodgett situation.  If that doesn't stink to high heaven, I don't know what does.

The whole truth, unfortunately, will never come out.  You are naive to think it will.

Darwin's choice

At the end of the day, some commentors at the Board meeting stating " it doesn't matter what it costs, it's worth it " and " I don't care if it costs a million dollars.........."  just don't get it !  What concerns me is the way the board is throwing money away. Just how much is it going to take? When is everyone going to be "satisfied"? When the school system is broke?  The Treasurers cryptic comment about having a 5 million dollar insurance policy is chilling. Is it enough?  Tread lightly!  This is a slippery slope..... 

TaxRaider

Darwin

If it costs too much, we should ignore it?

TaxRaider

Reporting the aligations to the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Ethics Committee would result in an unbiased investigation at minimal cost and would satisfy what the district is required to do.

Look at law suites filed against school districts, rarely does a jury award large sums of money against school districts.  Typically the jury wants to punish the district but is always concerned about taking money away from the classroom and the children.  Districts carry errors and omissions insurance policies to cover these types of situations, the treasurer indicated Huron's policy will cover up to $5 million.  I bet they also carry stop gap insurance to pick up from there. 

 

fudge pies

Tax Raider, reporting to any of those is ok, but its not ok using that lawyers report to do it.  hand over every single email,  hand over every single receipt.   i dont think in either case they're interested in the arizona trip nor the relationship / affair.   i think they would be looking at the kalahari thing.  do you agree?

 

Informed

 Of course they would be interested in the affair--it was conducted on school time using school email when he was being paid to work.  That is paramount to stealing.

TaxRaider

Small Town..I think ODE and the OEC will want everything and will draw their own conclusions.  I think they will be interested in the Arizona trip, I understand the Board wanted to pay for the entire trip from March 1 - March 5 and wanted to pay for the plane ticket as well.  Why didn't they simply reimburse Fred Fox for the plane ticket?  This is the error of the treasurer, how did he let this one go through?  And Fred Fox knows how important it is to be transparent, the intent may not be criminal but it certainly is stupid.  I also believe the relationship/affair will be of interest to ODE and OEC from the point of when and how it was carried on and the disruption it may have caused.  Educators have been disciplined, which includes loosing their license, for participating in wet t-shirt contest and sharing pictures on facebook.  One educator had his license pulled because years ago he was in porn movies prior to becoming a teacher.  The reduced price Kalahari stay with potential free golf is going to be very difficult to explain and again, a stupid situation.  Fred Fox really did an injustice to all of his administrators who went along on the outing.  They should have made sure they ALL had receipts showing they paid for the room and the golf separately and the room charges must be fair market value (no more of a discount than the general public would receive).  It is Fred Fox's responsibility as the superintendent to make sure everyone knows and understands the laws.  I believe the OEC really picked up its power in 2008 and District's everywhere have been hammering the impact on teacher's behavior in the past few years.

If I were a betting man, I would bet ..... for the Arizona trip a letter of admonishment will be issued, for the relationship/affair license suspended, and for the Kalahari trip license revoked. 

Tsu Dho Nimh

Haven't heard from Donutshopwannabee in a while.  I was wanting to ask him if it's true that Mr. Fox is best friends with Chris Wechter.  Wannabee sure knows alot about that golf trip...just sayin'!

Informed

 Many of us knew previous to all of this that Fox and Wechter are close friends.

Darwin's choice

Tax raider......do you have any idea of the potential costs of litigation/damages? My comment is not to quantify the dollars and cents , but to think of the way this board has jumped off the cliff.  They have already gotten a "do-over" with the suspension of Mr. Fox, which may or may not have financial implications down the line.  The bottom line is "look before you leap".   Is the 50 thousand spent to date OK with you?  As a taxpayer, I'm concerned.  No where did I say to ignore anything because of potential cost, but the general "cut off our nose to spite our face" mentality is concerning.

TaxRaider

Darwin ... I am well aware of the cost of litigation and potential damages.  That is why the Board has errors and omissions insurance.  Board members all over are made up of community members who often make procedural errors, again this is why error and omissions policies exist and their personal properties are protected from thier actions as a board member.  Mr Fox was originally suspended without pay and on Monday they changed that to with pay.  Mr. Fox has not had any pay withheld from him so he did not suffer any harm. I don't believe there was an infraction of the Sunshine law as some folks have indicated, but if they did break the Sunshine law the penalty is a max of $500 and correct the problem.  The problem was corrected. 

As a tax payer, I don't want the District to spend any more money than is necessary, and as a parent of children in Huron,  I don't want money taken away from the classroom to support poor decisions of adults; not the BOE's poor decisions and not Fred Fox's poor decisions. 

I agree the Board has jumped over the cliff because they can't be objective, they are not able to put aside personal feelings or agendas and do the right thing.  I understand the whistleblowers were not comfortable with speaking to the BOE members simply because of their positions, I also understand why they did not want to speak to the law firm the BOE retains, since this group of lawyers have a strong relationship with BOE members and top administration. Mr. Sowecke indicated the whistleblowers are apart of the administrative team, which tells me they don't have a union to back them and sticking their necks out is very  risky.  So, I understand why an independant law firm was used, and as the lady said at the meeting Monday night .... Huron is not that important for a fairly large firm out of Akron to risk their reputation and connection to other school districts to push a personal agenda of Mr. Sowecke. The law firm also donated 179 hours of time to this investigation at no charge, so the bill could be nearly $40,000 more.

Tsu Dho Nimh

Informed...I know that relationship exists.  Wannabee knows who he is : )

areder

Mayflies are pretty much done now time for the lawyers to descend on Huron.

 

worddrow811

I recall that Kevin studied to be a lawyer but went into the family business instead. Does anyone know if this was the case? His letter was very legal sounding and well-written.

Silvia

 

 

local observer

 Folks, I know everyone is hung up on the affair and the emails and they are a problem, a big one, for Mr. Fox since he carried it on during what is supposed to be work time and used district equipment in the process but, the real problem for Mr. Fox is 13.0pt;color:#363630;background:white">Kalahari.

The freebies and discounts from Kalahari are criminal violations with each instance carrying a maximum penalty of six months in jail.  From the sounds of it, Mr. Fox could easily be facing years in jail if convicted.

Please see for yourself at:

http://www.ethics.ohio.gov/EducationandPublicInfo_IS7

You can sue anybody for anything but can you win?  If Mr. Fox has good legal counsel, they’ll be looking for any procedural errors to use as leverage to negotiate a settlement with Board and then turn their full attention to defending him in front of the Ohio Ethics Commission.

Mr. Fox has not been wronged!  The Board may not have followed an ideal course in this matter but they have every right to oversee the actions of their employees and take disciplinary action (including termination) if merited.  Mr. Fox’s behavior and arrogance brought on this situation.

My guess is in the end the Board will not be sued by anybody.  It appears what the majority has done thus far is completely within their rights and they have taken good faith steps to remedy any errors.  Ask yourself, if you were a juror in a potential case of Fox vs. Board of Ed. over this matter would you find in his favor or award him anything?  

The stances of Mr. Caporini and Mr. Asher are very curious.  It appears at first they wanted to ignore these issues and now it appears they don’t want to admit the other members of the Board were right to pursue them.  The community should keep pressing them to explain their stances because the message they are sending is that they don’t seem to care if one of their employees is abusing and misusing their office.  If the apparent mindset of these two carries the day, this type of thing will happen again in the future.

TaxRaider

Local observer .... if we were playing Family Feud, I'd be jumping up and down yelling Good Answer!  Good Answer!

Common_Cents

Actually, I think I understand the stances of Caporini and Asher after reading Mr. Asher's letter.  The situation of how Mr. Soeweke hired this law firm is the curious one to me.  It appears that he TOLD the BOE initially that he met them at a conference, but he then retracted that statement the other night.  However, that does not change the fact that they were brought in under the assumption of being present and having met at the conference, and they weren't.  The fact that the report incorrectly states that the Board unanimously voted to start the investigation also calls the integrity of the report/law firm into question, as does their refusal to interview treasurer, super, and Mr. Nelson.  As does their unwillingness to record interviews and/or provide transcripts. 

It seems to me that Mr. Asher and Mr. Caporini suspected everything was not above board with this firm, and simply wanted to handle the investigation in house.  This would have saved the tax payers money, as they could have actually, you know, spoken with the people involved in the allegations and then the entire board could have voted to either send it to the ethics committee for review.  Not to mention that the whole thing would likely not have blown up in public, giving the entire town a black eye, including saving the families of the school officials, who are definitely one of the victims here.

It seems to me that the other 3 BOE were intent on getting this into the public, and couldn't be talked down.  It's a shame, b/c in the end I think that will end up hurting the schools as much as antyhing else.  Being an effective public leader requires foresight, and I think the BOE did not show much here.  I am starting to think Mr. Asher and Mr. Caporini had the right idea, as handling it privately would have likely still got things to the ethics commission, without this public hoopla, and while possibly saving the relationship w/ Kalahari as well.

HeatinHuron

WHAT? Having an in house investigation is what Asher and Caporini wanted...are you kidding me?  They wanted this sweeped under the rug as fast as possible..this would have gotten no futher, it would have been put in their file..the trash ben!!!!! The "good ol boy network"   Man you guys gatta wake up!!!! A crime has been committed and your worried about how the board went about exposing it?   No school board should or would tolorate such behavior from their super..Fox created this mess..not the board!!

donutshopguy

 Common Cents,

I look at the direction Mr. Asher and Mr. Caporini wanted the investigation to go from a different viewpoint.

Mr. Asher and Mr. Caporini are old established family names in the community.  The old established way of handling these situations in Huron was to sweep the unsavory situation under the rug.  Similar to the numerous sorted affairs between teachers and teachers. Let alone teachers and students.

I believe the three new board members wanted to get away from the normal way things are handled. They decided on a new route to handle these situations.

The majority of the board made the decision. 

Sometime change is scary to those entrenched in their ways.

 

 

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