Markling gets payday in Huron's Fred Fox probe

A lawyer whose report divided the school board and the community got paid $90,000 by the school district despite concerns about his invoices.
Jessica Cuffman
Mar 7, 2013

Click the links below to review the Markling invoices, summaries, notes and letter to Markling.

Attorney Matt Markling reduced some charges to Huron Schools for the investigation after another school attorney questioned details on his itemized statements, according to documents released by a Huron school board member.

But before any board members could ask the district's long-time attorney, Dane Gaschen, to review the last of the six invoices to the district for work rendered during the past year, the split board voted last month to pay the balance of his $90,000 bill.

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Markling submitted the bills in June, July, October, November and February, racking up thousands in taxpayer debt as one school board member — Kevin Asher — fought to keep from paying the original $50,000 bill for the Markling report.

The 50-page Markling Report divided the community and led to Superintendent Fred Fox's firing. The report questioned his relationship with a district vendor, expenses from a trip to Arizona and use of school time and computers to conduct an extramarital relationship.

Now, more than a year after launching the investigation, one part of the saga is nearing a climax with a Department of Education hearing officer’s recommendation regarding Fox's termination due on Monday. The report from hearing officer Harry Taich will recommend whether Fox should be fired or reinstated to his position.

Meanwhile, Asher continues to question the validity of the Markling Report, the invoices and the decisions that led to Marking's involvement. 

The Markling invoices include time billed for work he did to make sure he got paid. He also charged for work defending a lawsuit filed by Asher, without any apparent authorization from the board, and billed for time spent reading newspaper articles, editorials and letters to the editor about the Fox case.

The invoices, summaries and letters are linked below. 

Comments

Tsu Dho Nimh

Of course Asher continues to question Markling's involvement. Would we expect anything else? After all, he is a licensed attorney in Ohio...oh wait a minute, no he's not - never has been!

Justme...

So the board member who released these invoices which are not subject to a public records request because of Attorney/Client Prevelige, didn't want his name used in the article? Talk about gutless.

UgtaBkdnMe

Good point, Just me.. what's up with releasing documents that clearly say they aren't public record? I bet it was the Casherini twins !

nobodyfromnowhere

Just because some lawyer puts that on the top of a piece of paper doesn't make it privileged. It's a bill sent to a public agency for payment with public funds. It is not attorney work product, which is privileged. That makes it public.

Justme...

You are certainly entitled to your opinion, however the courts disagree with you. The amount of the bill is public record, but the courts agree that the detail is not. You and I (and the media) may not like that, but its the law like it or not.

Tsu Dho Nimh

A reliable source told me that these are subject to attorney client privilege and not subject to open records release. I feel pretty confident that Kevin Asher released the documents. This would be the same man who criticized Tim Sowecke for releasing documents to an agency that keeps the documents confidential. I said it on another post and I still believe that Fred Fox and friends were behind the release of the Markling Report to the public in hopes that they could yell "foul" and save Fred from the findings.

nobodyfromnowhere

As for the bills being privileged according to a court decision the BOE cannot be COMPELLED to release them. I had to read some boring case law to find that. How ever as best we know that is not what happened here. Here a party to the letters and discussion released the information. Also the client can partially or wholly waive the privilege and given the divisive circus that this whole thing has become it would probably be in the BOE's best interest to become as transparent as possible, especially when it comes to spending money. Hiding is only going to lead to more rumor and innuendo.

As for Fox and his friends releasing the Markling report, Sowecke stated in his motion to dismiss Fox's lawsuit that the report was released by the School District through the treasurer based upon faulty advice from their attorneys. See: http://www.sanduskyregister.com/... pages 9-12

When I first heard the rumblings about how this was being handled I said that it was going to be trouble no matter what. In situations like these how you handle it and how you conduct the investigation is as important, if not more so, as the findings of the investigation. If it even has the appearance of being tainted or mishandled that taint carries down to everything that happens afterward and that has happened here. This situation was mishandled by the BOE from the word go. In my experience with lawyers you get what you pay for and the BOE thought they were paying nothing. It has gotten messy, personal, decisive, and already very expensive. Irregardless of what Fox did or didn't do a truly professional above board investigation would have been accepted by a majority of the people and the current misery that the BOE, School District, and city as a whole find themselves mired in would have been avoided.

Huron_1969

Nobody..... nice to see Sold has a twin

UgtaBkdnMe

Yes, the Casherini twins !

nobodyfromnowhere

If you are implying that I am either Mr. Capporini or Mr. Asher I am not. Nor am I related to or friends with anybody involved with this debacle.

nobodyfromnowhere

Who is this "Sold" and how am I his twin?

Ακόμη Sold σχετ...

Hey there, twin !
Keep making sense.

Ακόμη Sold σχετ...

hahaha.. Good one !

Mum-of-One

I wonder what the cost of reviewing the invoices will be? Who will pay that bill?

old dog

I don't ever remember a circus being in town this long.
Right or wrong, it is time for it to pack up and move on.
The credibility of all involved has been severelly damaged and will not be forgotten by any of the taxpayers of Huron.
I am sure that the 2 local business owners have payed a price in this as well.

cockynurse

Nearly $100K because of an extramarital affair? Who's dumb-a decision was it to hire this guy? (talking about Markling here)

It would be cheaper to send Fox and his sweetie to the Bahamas several times a year than to pay for this dog and pony show....

The Hamburglar

I'd take her to watch the submarine races. She's foxy!

Huron_1969

Rode hard, put away wet !

mikel

whats the old adage? a sucker is born every minute! unfortunately, again, it is taxpayer money that was on the line.

Sit n Spin

The taxpayers shall & will have their day come election time. Let the purge & cleansing begin !

Huron_1969

But who in their right mind would want to be the next board member after all this?

Sit n Spin

You live in Huron....you know there are plenty of "egos" waiting in the wings to save the day !!!

Huron_1969

Yeah you're probably right..... I was thinking quality not quantity..... silly me

Ακόμη Sold σχετ...

You're both right.

Lil DAB

Markling "without any apparent authorization from the board, and billed for time spent reading newspaper articles, editorials and letters to the editor about the Fox case" ...gets paid by the split school board vote;$90K. You Huron district taxpayers should be furious!

UgtaBkdnMe

It does make me furious ! Because two board members wouldn't investigate the complaints they needed to hire an outside agency to look into it. Then when they get a $50,000 invoice, one of the two files an injunction to stop payment which led to another $40,000 expense.

Darkhorse

See what happens when someone volunteers to do free time for you.

Gardenman

This reminds me of the old saying that I think the circus magnet PT Barnum said "Take the money and run." I am sure Markling did just that. To think this all started when one Board member was at the Ohio School Boards meeting and Markling had a vendor stand and said "Alas, I will give you 10 hours of FREE legal services." Ahhhh, it was PT Barnum who said "There is a sucker born every minute." Looks like some on the HCS Board just proved that.

Frankly I am surprised the bill was not more. Maybe Markling thought not a great idea to be too greedy. As long as this is out there in the news that BOE questions the bill if even by some that in the end is what will damage Markling. They need positive people to find yet more suckers from other Boards of Education who will go the way of this Board went. If the message is not positive their business will most certainly be hurt.

This will come back over and over at the next levy campaign for HCS I am certain. In a small town like Huron the voters will not forget and most certainly not forgive.

The Hamburglar

I'm pretty sure Steve Miller said that, not PT Barnum.

HHGUY

The District hired him, paid him to develop this report but did not call him as a witness. Go figure. Next Fall renewal levy. Remember on top of this also paying B &. E, Fernbaugh at $170k a year, Fred will be back so will have to pay his attorneys, back pay and damages. Plus remember District expense is greater than income eating into surplus with no cost saves yet implemented. No way levy passes. Plus wait until we try to get insurance.

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