'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.  


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The change you speak of is probably not the change that is going to happen.

I would love to tell you what is going to happen next, but I think it will play better with no warning.

I hope 'fang' was good to you, Spinner !

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No one seems to remember the title of this article:

'Free' counsel to Huron schools turns costly

Of course the article didn't seem to follow the lead. After the appeal Attorney Markling will end up paying back the $90,000. A small 'win' for the Huron City Schools.


Gee, the Morning Journel's headline was "Court dismisses Kevin Asher lawsuit against Huron school board". I think that better describes what's going on. Looks like the Lawyer Extrodinaire isn't extraordinary. It's just the beginning of the end.

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Kevin Asher filed an INJUNCTION, not a lawsuit.
There's a slight difference, genius.

It is the beginning of the end, but not Fred Fox's end.


No need to get testy, I just quoted the headline. Bottom line is that Kevin's complaint, whatever you want to call it, was thrown out. If you want to read it, try 2/15/13 pC11 !

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In eleven years, Fred Fox took two paid sick days.

So far, in 6 months, Superintendent Fernbaugh has taken 7 sick days at $600 per day ($4,200 total).

You all think this is 'business as usual' ?

He should have been a contract employee and not eligible for sick days.
He is only paid when he works and shows up.

Once again.. It's not Fernbaugh's fault that he is being reimbursed $600 a day for sick days. How about him making $600 per day in the first place ?

You're all ok with this, right ?


Yes, I am. If this is what it takes to settle the issue, then so be it. It's not about money, it's about the integrity of the district and to hold people accountable for their actions. I'm not convince that the board pays him for sick days. Think I will contact the treasurer's office about this.

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Please do.
Then at least you would know one thing.


And if they do, oh well.

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'It's not about money, it's about the integrity of the district and to hold people accountable for their actions'.

And eventually the right people WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR ACTIONS !!!

Anyone condoning what this board has done has to have a whole lot of integrity. Let's throw some accusations out to the public and then let the accused attempt to answer them. You have no idea what has been testified to in the hearing. Under oathe your heros were not so heroic. You think it's ok to pay this 'retired' superintendent around at $600 and pay him to go to the Capital Conference ?

People like you are the real problem. Why don't you run for the board ? They need a few more acorns.


Of course I don't know what was stated under other and neither do you ! Unless you're Mr. Fox or Mr. Murray ! Hmmmm......

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Oh well ?
Like I said: acorns

Do you make $600 a day ? A week ?

Wake up and smell what your board is cooking.


What do you think Sandusky is paying Dr. Sanders ? Or what Edison paid Bill Pahl ? It's the going rate, fool ! Get over it ! BTW, I make $51.84 an hour with less education than the super so I don't think it is unreasonable. Personally, I wouldn't want his job !


The head maintainance guy makes approximately $300 a day, no degrees, and has far less responsibility. The super is paid fairly.

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I know what the other supers make and that will be the basis of the settlement that Fred Fox will be offered. It will be the average of all of Erie County since Fred Fox is about the lowest paid.

Fernbaugh held this moronic board hostage because no one else would take the job. No one wants to work for this board.

I do know what the 'under oath' testimony was. I have eyes and ears everywhere. I listen.. Even to you when you inflate your minimum wage salary.. lol.. $51.84 an hour. Who do you think you are ? John Caporini ? Pat Murray ?

You Gotta Be Kidding Me is a fitting name for you ! No one in their right mind would be okay with Fernbaugh making $600 a day.

I just got an email about Fernbaugh. Here is the list it included and I am just printing/posting it so don't shoot the messenger you people who find nothing wrong with the crazy way this 3-2 board does business:

1) He was FIRED by OSBA, (Ohio School Board's Association), for hostile work environment and among other things. Current Board did not do background checks, interviews at old districts, proper due diligence.

2) Counter sued the 2 complaints in Common Pleas Court and lost in summary judgements.

3) This was In Franklin County. You can look up records on line.

4) He gets $567 per day plus expenses. Annualized that is about $140000 a year.

5) His 'in the office' work day is 9 to 3:30. He considers his one hour travel time from Bowling Green to Huron to be within the 8 hr work day. We wouldn't want a superintendent that WANTED to live in our school district.

6) As a DEPUTY superintendent, he is NOT REQUIRED to attend personal developement sessions. The three stooges just need to say no.

7) During his 'career' here, he has been on extended vacations to Florida, California and Las Vegas.

8) He has missed about 7 days for Dr. Appts. He is very rarely in office.

9) He is 72 years old not 70.

Ok Tim Sowecke minions.. This is all factual information and my goal is to inform you, not in comparison to Fred Fox, but as just another example of the job the current 3-2 Huron Board of Education is doing. You're just fine with paying part time employees full time wages ? You're okay with Fernbaugh's sketchy past ? You don't mind paying more for your 'deputy superintendent' than you did for you 'real' superintendent ?

Anyone who can approve of the actions of the current Huron Board of Education is totally delusional and belongs somewhere that they can't hurt anyone.


You're right, I don't really care about anything you have mentioned. It's all your opinion and nothing more. I don't care who you know and what they shared with you, it's just their perspective and take on what was said. I do believe that the people present for the entire hearing would be the defendent, his attorney, the reps from the dept. of ed., the "judge", and ONE school board representative. Your info came from either the defendent or his attorney, which doesn't hold any credibility with me.

Check the going rate for INTERIM superintendents and you will see that $140,000 is typical. As for my wages, no inflation there. I have a specific skill with specialized training. An electrician for the UAW earns $35 - $40 an hour so why would it be unreasonable for someone like me to make a pretty penny? What does an engineer or accountant for Ford make?


According to the board office, he is not paid for vacation or personal days so be grateful that he is saving us money. At least he isn't taking vacation days on the sly or getting the board to finance it through the back door !


Bottom line, Fred Fox's actions led to all this

Sold, before you retaliate with your opinions, it would be great to let me speak mine without being over typed

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You can dismiss any portion of what I have presented to you, but in the end the facts will come out and you will see that I have been truthful all along. The truth is going to hurt as it is applied to the 3 Stooges.

The going rate for 72 year old superintendents who work part time is retirement. Like I said: Anyone who thinks this is 'business as usual' needs to check their priorities.

Fred Fox is ACCUSED of many things. ACCUSED being the key word. You have tried and convicted this innocent man, yet as this board continues to throw away money you are all good with that.

Sorry Mrs. Sowecke/Legando/Hastings.. The craft you're building will never fly.

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Type away 1969..

And Kidding Me.. Now you have at least stated ONE fact.. Wow.. They should throw you a parade !


Ah, so we agree that Fred 'stole' 2 vacation days and 3 board members approved the expenses. You've come a long way, baby !

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No Kidding You-
We agree that Fernbaugh doesn't get paid for his personal days.

Hey.. The record search was FREE MAN !


Of course public records are free, fool ! You didn't really think there was a charge did you ? As excited as you get over something being free, I would think you were an accountant.

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I always get a kick out of you acorns referring to what I post as opinions.

NO.. What you post is opinions.

I post facts. I don't care if you like them, but eventually you will need to accept them. No one else brings the facts here except TDN and now Kidding Me found one.

My opinion is that the whole board should resign and we should start over.
Now.. You have an opinion.


HEY SOLD you gave yourself away in one of your silly statements mr. lighthouse, pied piper aka Chris wechter


Sold you say you are posting "facts" that no one is supposed to be talking about. Doesn't that make you question the integrity of those who's side you are on?? And on top of which, they apparantly want you spilling this information, or they wouldn't keep feeding you. But remember, they are only telling you what they want you to know.

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Just You-
Listen.. I know all of the people involved. That is probably more than anyone else posting here can say. I know who the 'good' guys are. I know who the 'bad' guys are.

You have obviously picked the dark side. In the end there will be few winners in this situation, but at least there will be the clearing of a good man's name and an expos'e on the bad people. I want them to feel like Fred Fox has over the last year. I want people to see the truth and take it out on this band of 3 bad people. They caused this and they SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE !

You all want to say Fred Fox did this and Fred Fox did that, but ALL of your information is from a tainted source. Even the Register called the Markling report bogus. What part are you all missing ? If the Markling report is bogus and was leaked in order to defame Fred Fox, who is the victim here ?

I pick Fred Fox's side. I would rather be on the side of good than except what evil is promoting.

Dudley Do-Right

No opinions here .... facts from public information thru Buckeye Institute and Salary.com

These jobs don't require a master's degree. Some require a bachelor's degree, some require no degree.

Salary Days/Year Daily Pay Hrs/Day Hourly Rate

Engineer $84,473.00 260 $324.90 8 $40.61

Accountant $62,026.00 260 $238.56 8 $29.82

Sheriff $92,155.00 260 $354.44 8 $44.31

Huron Maint Supervisor $70,408.00 260 $270.80 8 $33.85

Huron Treasurer $94,125.00 260 $362.02 8 $45.25

Huron Postmaster $83,017.00 260 $319.30 8 $39.91

Huron PostCarrier $54,619.00 260 $210.07 8 $26.26

Huron Teacher $64,705.00 184 $351.66 7 $50.24

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Nice work, DUDley !
I think the teacher's salary may require a masters in order to be at that scale, but I can't say that as a fact..

But.. I could do a RECORDS SEARCH through the Huron City School's treasurer's office because that is FREE MAN..

Anyone here doing a records search that was FREE MAN would know that the figures I quoted on Fernbaugh's salary were low.

You got that ? It's FREE MAN !

And.. Did you get his 'sick days' that he brought from other districts ? Another $5,000 that our school system will end up paying for.

1969.. I'm supposed to blame Fred Fox for this mess because Tim Sowecke made confidential documents a matter of public record or none of you acorns would have even known what Fred Fox ALLEDGIDLY did. Nope.. I blame Tim Sowecke and so will the court.

You folks don't know where I get my info and you have no idea who I am. I don't know why it all matters to you ? Why do you think I'm like 6' 5" and own a dairy queen ? I'm not Chris. Bet on it. I am much more hooked up than Chris. You don't know. Maybe I am so deep that I get my info from the Sowecke family ? They obviously like to share ?


May not know for sure who you are in real life, but I have a pretty good guess

Given the way you have stuck by your man and can manipulate things.... I'm thinking you are Hillary Clinton