'Free' counsel to Huron schools turns costly

Judge dismisses suit that stalled school district's payment to attorney in Fox probe.
Jessica Cuffman
Feb 17, 2013

 

An attorney’s promise to provide 10 free hours of service has turned into a $90,000 bill for Huron Schools.  
Erie County Common Pleas Court Judge Roger Binette this week dismissed a lawsuit that had kept Huron Schools from paying attorney Matt Markling for his work on the Fred Fox investigation.  
Early last year, the board voted 3-2 to hire Markling to investigate Fox’s alleged misdeeds, including his interactions with a district vendor and an extramarital affair on school time.  
After interviewing a number of district employees, Markling issued a 50-page report that concluded the board had substantial reason to fire Fox.   
Markling had told board members his first 10 hours of work would be free, and he would send a bill for any additional work. He kept his word — he submitted a $50,000 bill in June, followed by a $10,000 bill in July, $12,000 in October, $5,300 in November and $11,400 this past week. 
The Fox fiasco has effectively divided the school board, with the majority — Donna Green, Scott Slocum and Tim Sowecke — voting in June to fire Fox. 
The other two members, Kevin Asher 
and John Caporini, voted against the firing. 
The board ultimately suspended him without pay, pending the outcome of termination proceedings overseen by the Ohio Department of Education.   
Asher, however, also filed the lawsuit to keep the school district from paying Markling, but Binette quashed those efforts this week.  
Huron Schools treasurer Mike Weis said the district is mailing a $50,000 check to Markling. The board will then have to approve, or not, the additional $40,000 in expenses, since the district’s insurance company won’t foot the bill.
State education officials have already conducted termination hearings against Fox, but a hearing officer has yet to issue a recommendation to either fire or retain Fox. The board does not have to follow the advice. 
The days of hearings, held at Sawmill Creek, were closed to the public and spaced out over a period of months.  
The hearings addressed 23 alleged wrongdoings on Fox’s part, including three major allegations: Fox had an improper business relationship with a district vendor; he improperly sought reimbursements for a trip to Arizona; and he was involved in an extramarital affair on school time.
This past week, Binette also issued a key ruling in a defamation lawsuit Fox filed against Sowecke.
Fox alleges Sowecke delivered the Markling report to the Ohio Ethics Commission to intentionally make the document a public record, thus defaming the superintendent. In court documents, Sowecke’s attorneys said any material provided to the ethics commission would have been privileged and exempt from public disclosure. As such, Sowecke would be immune from a defamation lawsuit.
While Binette seemed to agree, there are still too many unanswered questions to simply dismiss the case.  
 

Comments

Tsu Dho Nimh

Ugta...they returned my post but thank you for your support.

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You are getting censored, too ?

Tsu Dho Nimh

Evidentally someone was offended that I would state that three board members would approve rental cars for recreation.

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LIKE.. lol

Retiree

Since there are people on this blog that have knowledge of everything that goes on in executive session. What about all the money that has come up missing from the sale of tickets at sporting events and food consession? The school treasure acknowledged he was aware of this problem.

Sold: You made the statement, "when Fox gets his job back". Do you actually feel there will ever be another levy passed in Huron again, if Fox is reinstated?

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Retiree-
Don't know anything about the missing money, but that would all be a question for the athletic director/assistant principal/principal in that order.

As far as you linking Fred Fox to a levy.. Fred Fox got the school to a point where no levy will be needed for a while. 8 million dollar surplus = no levy.

Do you seriously believe a levy will ever pass with the current board of education in place ?

Levies are passed when the school is symbotic with the public. This board is completely out of touch with Huron.

Fred Fox is going to be cleared of all charges. To me that means he did nothing wrong. To those that believe because an innocent man is charged with doing something that he is automatically guilty.. I beg to differ.

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I got to the Tavern late..
The chubby chick in spandex was not TDN !
I can't prove the guy talking to her was not Huron69, though.
Are you sure she had 2 teeth, Spinner ? I can only vouch for one..

Sit n Spin

Maybe it was wiredmama :D Yes, there were 2 tooths and you know you have the marks to prove it ! Hahaha !

Huron_1969

The lady with the oxygen tank?

Huron_1969

;-)

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hahahaha..
That's not tooth marks.. Those are 'defensive' wounds from posting here... lol

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I have been wanting to explain something for a while.

One of the first articles we all commented on was the one where there was an audio tape of Fred Fox's attorney asking for a list of the charges against Fred Fox.

Attorney Markling would not talk to Fred Fox if Fred Fox didn't have an attorney. Markling also said he would only talk to Fred Fox if Fred Fox would admit to his guilt on all charges.

Fred Fox went to Scott Slocum and asked for a list of his charges and Scott Slocum told him he wouldn't talk to him if he, (Fred Fox), didn't have an attorney.

At that point, Fred Fox got an attorney.

Some of you have said that if Fred Fox would have just left quietly this whole thing would be over. Fred Fox didn't ask for this. Nothing Fred Fox did, or did not do, merited this witch hunt.

Fred Fox tried to handle it quietly and the board forced him to get an attorney and fight for his job and his good name.

Fred Fox did nothing out of the ordinary for a Huron City Schools employee. Why is he being treated differently ?

Retiree

Wait a minute. Let me put this as plain as possible. You know nothing about any money missing from the ticket sales at sporting events or the consession stands. Yet you know about everything else that takes place in exectutive sessions. Has someone got caught with their hand in the cookie jar again and the "order to protect" these people been ordered? The treasure knew about this, who else does and why is it being kept a secret?Your treasure seems to know quite abit about everything yet does not disclose anything until questioned about it. You people,in Huron, are getting robbed and do not even know it. The truth "is being swept under the rug" from the public. An investigation needs to happen right now. Wake up Huron, your paying tax dollars for, toolgate, busgate, ticketgate and now consessiongate along with the questional behavior of your now defunk superintendent. Sounds like a mini MetroParks Greenway Project.

UgtaBkdnMe

Retiree

Is this a new problem or did it happen under the Fox reign. You've got me interested!!!!

Julie R.

"You people in Huron are getting robbed and don't even know it."

You can say that again! Forged power of attorneys, forged Wills, fraudulent transfers of property, internal criminal changes to an elderly, incompetent person's contracts........all from HURON with the exception of an attorney from Eeerie County's favorite Lorain County law firm. Even the Erie County auditor that authorized a fraudulent transfer of property was a Huronite!

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Oh Julie R..
I am personally sorry for what happened to you.
This is about a group of people trying to wreck another man's life. You of all people know what it feels like.

Tsu Dho Nimh

What is going on with reporting comments? Retiree did not mention any names or which sport was connected to the allegation.

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How do you tie Fred Fox to missing money at a basketball game while he is under suspension ?

Retiree-
Listen.. I have not addressed how I feel about the treasurer. TDN and I are both in agreement that something is not right in the treasurer's office. I don't believe he is stealing, but just like reimbursing Fred Fox improperly.. Fred Fox does not reimburse himself..

I do not know what's going on with the 'missing' funds, but I'm sure someone is investigating it. Obviously someone knows about it or you wouldn't know about it.

This is, as I have already posted, a question for the athletic director/vice principal/principal... In that order. (And.. In case you don't know.. There are school employees who handle that money). And by 'that money', I am talking about the gate.. not the food. The food is sold by some booster organization and has nothing to do with school employees.

Tsu Dho Nimh

How do you know Retiree was referring to a basketball game? So what is the scoop? I am an inquiring mind : )

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Retiree knows more than I do about this one... lol

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Insert football/vollyball/etc.. I don't know what retiree is referring to.

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During the board meeting Mike Weiss, (treasurer), received a text message from Attorney Markling asking him when he could pick up the $40,000 check that was just approved by the board.

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The Huron Board of Education has never discussed the personal use of email with the 'new' superintendent. If this is such 'an issue' don't you think someone should have brought it up ?

Tsu Dho Nimh

How would you know what was discussed? Are you on the board? I would think the board president would be having this discussion with the 'new' guy, not the entire board.

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Sorry TDN..
He was never told anything about personal email use.
Not by Scott Slocum or any other board member.
I don't need to tell you how I know, but at some point you will find out that EVERYTHING I tell you is true.

Justme...

Gee Sold, do you think maybe there's a written policy somewhere?

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In 11 years Fred Fox used 2 sick days.
In 6 months the 'new' superintendent has used 7.

UgtaBkdnMe

And in March 2011 Freddy had two vacation days that weren't docked, courtesy of 3 board members who cheated the taxpayers. I don't think our current super receives pay for the days he doesn't work.

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I don't think being the key phrase..

He gets paid. He actually goes on 'professional development' days to get educated at the age of about 70. Huron's board pays this guy to be trained ? At his age he should know it all by now ?

Justme...

There are lots of changes going on right now in Ohio. I would think all superintendents need to be trained, regardless of how old they are. As for the time off, I'm sure Fred took vacation days throughout the years. Its not like the guy never took a day off. Are you people monitoring everyone's time off, or just the new Super? You all are sounding quite desparate.

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