UPDATE: State referee says Fred Fox should be reinstated with full pay

Read the referee's report here from a state department of education hearing officer who delivered a 53-page report this morning that appears to exonerate fired Huron Schools superintendent Fred Fox.
Alissa Widman Neese
Mar 11, 2013

Click here to read the referee's report.

The Huron school board wrongfully fired superintendent Fred Fox, according to an Ohio Department of Education hearing officer.

Board members received a report Monday recommending they reinstate Fox with full back pay, a move that could cost the district $100,000 or more if approved.

School officials refused to release the report, contending it was not a public record, but Fox's attorney, Patrick Murray, provided the Register a copy.

In the 53-page report, state hearing officer Harry Taich said the school board failed to provide "substantial, reliable and probative evidence" to terminate Fox last year.

"In my opinion, after hearing all of the testimony in this matter, it was quite apparent to this referee that personal feelings appeared to replace sound judgment," Taich stated in the report.

In June, the board voted 3-2 to fire Fox for his alleged misdeeds, including an improper business relationship with a district vendor, improperly seeking reimbursements for a trip to Arizona and an extramarital affair on school time.

The board contended the behavior was detrimental to Huron Schools, but Taich said this wasn't the case.

"The district failed to establish by credible evidence that Mr. Fox's inappropriate relationship with the other school district principal hampered his effectiveness as a superintendent," the report stated. "On the contrary, the overwhelming evidence did establish that the district has thrived under his leadership."

The board is expected to take action on Fox's termination at its monthly meeting next week. An executive session to review the state's recommendation is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, with no action planned until the regular board meeting three days later.

Board members Kevin Asher and John Caporini, who voted against Fox's firing, said at last month's meeting they would vote in favor of the state's recommendation — no matter what it said.

After reading Taich's report, Asher said he hopes the entire board will do the same and "move on." He encouraged community members to attend Tuesday's meeting to voice their opinions on the matter.

"We have budget issues, negotiations with our classified staff union and more important things to be worrying about than this nonsense," Asher said. "This has taken a year away from us doing the job we were elected to do. We need to get back to the business of this school."

Board president Scott Slocum and board member Tim Sowecke did not return calls seeking comment Monday.

Register reporter Jessica Cuffman contributed to this story.

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Want to go?

What: Huron school board meeting

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 19

Where: Shawnee Elementary School cafeteria

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Fox timeline

•February 2012 — Board meets with attorney Matt Markling to discuss allegations made against superintendent Fred Fox, including an improper business relationship with a district vendor, improperly sought reimbursements for a trip to Arizona and an extramarital affair on school time.

•May — Markling delivers 50-page report to board.

•June 19 — Board suspends Fred Fox and votes to start termination proceedings against him.

•June 20 — Markling report is released as a public record.

•June 28 — Board member Kevin Asher files lawsuit to keep board from paying Markling bill.

•Sept. 6 — Fox's attorney, Patrick Murray, answers 23 allegations against Fox that the board says warrants his termination.

•Sept. 12 — Fox files a lawsuit against board member Tim Sowecke, alleging defamation and libel and demanding more than $2.5 million in damages.

•January 2013 — Fox's closed-door termination hearings end.

•Feb. 13 — Asher's lawsuit is dismissed.

•Feb. 18 — Board approves paying full amount of $90,000 Markling bill.

•March 11 — Ohio Department of Education's hearing officer recommends reinstating Fox with full back pay.

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Click here for the ePaper or buy a Register at a newsstand near you to learn what's next for Fred Fox and the Huron school board. Check back here at sanduskyregister.com for updates as they become available. 

Comments

james4

time for them all to go...Huron, clean your house NOW!

Retiree

O.J.Simpson, Casey Anthoney and now Fox. The people of Huron now know what is ment by "white collar crime". Don't feel bad Huron, if your school board is credible they will still get rid of him. After all Huron, there are still questions about the affair on taxpayer's dollars, sale of the bus for a dollar, toolgate, the purchase of tools in quantity of three, the sheriff's report, the camera's turned off and the tape missing. The Huron taxpayer should be demanding the truth on these matters. Don't worry Huron, that was only a recommendation by an neutral party not an arbitrator. That was only one persons recommendation that means nothing. I still would like to know when there is going to be a "garage sale" at the Huron bus garage. Looking foward to that. Talk to you later.

There you go again

Agreed. But how can Huron demand the truth?! What can be done when some arbitrator says Fox shouldn't be fired even though Fred himself admitted to his daliances? Makes no sense but Huron should not accept this behavior of the head of their schools!

sanduskyregiste...

bingo. here is what should take place, lets end this. settlement, pay him back pay, rest of his contract, get him off our plate, we replace BOE members in due time. figure out how you're going to cut money to pay off this rediculous debt you created thru this mess which will be about a million bucks. and figure out how you're going to go another 5 years w/o asking for a levy. because the vote is NO.

nobodyfromnowhere

They get rid of him then their insurance company gets rid of the District and they are on the hook for all cost which will surely run into the high five figures at least. This decision came out very strongly on the side of Fox and even high lighted more how badly the situation was handled by the board and their pathetic $90,000 excuse for an investigation. The errors and omissions seem even more deliberate after reading this decision. The board would be very wise to quickly seek a negotiated settlement with Mr. Fox something I'm sure their insurance company will be STRONGLY advocating after today.

Still Sold

Well said Nobody !

RUKidding

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

Huron_1969

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

Darwin's choice

Prove any of them........you bunch of hens cackling can whine all you'd like about all the "hearsay" evidence that's not there.....

Huron_1969

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

Still Sold

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

sanduskyregiste...

me too, but more intersested in the first one. was it the coach to the BOE member, or the BOE member to the coach. if the BOE went at the coach aggressively, then fire back is deserved. another thing if it is the FB coach. the BOE members will be gone before he ever would! guarentee that!

Still Sold

Great post, RUKidding !

Tmm

I've kept my comments about this fiasco to myself for quite some time...all the while waiting for this day to come. A big part of me feels that fox should be reinstated. There is also a part of me that says wait this is an opinion made by an individual that isn't from here and can't possibly know the dynamics of this entire situation...either way what's been done is done. I'm glad I don't have really any skin in this because regardless of what is decided...whether to reinstate fox or not...this fiasco is far from over.
All I can say is I would hate to be a teacher in the HCS system. I'll be eating crow tonight.

Tsu Dho Nimh

My first thought when I read the headline was those poor teachers who spoke against him. Also feel for the bus garage employees. I think the "era of kindness" will go back to the way it was.

Still Sold

You haven't been shy about sharing your opinion, Tmmm. Glad you're allowed to have one in this country where you are innocent until proven guilty.

I beg to differ, though. The 'referee' now knows a lot more about the dynamics than most of us will ever. 2700 pages ! Sheesh !

Have enjoyed sparring with you.

UgtaBkdnMe

“The evidence in this cases overwhelmingly established that this district is in very good shape in all areas that permit measurement of a successful school district,” Taich wrote. “The superintendent’s leadership abilities must be given serious credit for this success. The district has prospered in many areas under his control over the last several years. The evidence failed to establish that the board considered Mr. Fox’s prior evalutions, achievements and the abilities he utilized in working with staff and community business partners, prior to making its decision.”

So basically, if your school district is doing well you can steal money, steal vacation days, and have an affair while the taxpayers time. NICE !

Huron_1969

Just like politics

Still Sold

Exonerated. Say it slowly so it sinks in.

Darwin's choice

....it said so on the internet.....you can't post anything that's not true..... "Bonjour" huron school board !

Still Sold

hahaha.. and TDN's a French model.

Perkahontas

Does he even want the job back? Couldn't he become superintendent in another district with a Kahlahari owned resort in it?

Tsu Dho Nimh

I am disappointed that ODE would rule this way, but they did and I guess I will have to accept that. I have viewed so many disciplinary actions taken against educators on the Ohio.gov site that are minor compared to the things that Fred Fox did. I still contend that investigating the allegations against him was the right thing to do and believe that because two members refused to do anything, the other three were forced to take more drastic action. I am sure from ODE's perspective, they over-reacted. But as Tmm.. shared, ODE does not know the dynamics or the history of this town. The ugly mess would have been avoided if the two good 'ole boys would have been willing to address Mr. Fox and willing to give him a 3-4 week suspension, similiar to what happened to the treasurer in Sandusky. I have zero respect for Mr. Asher or Mr. Caporini.

If I were the other three board members, I would resign immediately and not be part of the vote. If they vote to terminate, it will just cost the district money that it just doesn't have and the community has suffered enough. I think that they are good people who just expected that the top leader of school district be a modal to our children. I would not in good conscience be able to agree to keep Mr. Fox as the superintendent. Looks like the good 'ole boys won this one and when it comes to moral responsibility, anything goes.

Darwin's choice

Have you really looked at the "top leader of our school district" that the board hired in his place? Who's moral compass is off-kilter?

Huron_1969

Atta-boy, defend yourself by pointing in a different direction

Tsu Dho Nimh

He is just a temporary employee. His actions have not caused any harm or brought embarassment to this community.

nobodyfromnowhere

Nor did Fox's. It was the majority on the board who allowed "personal feelings" to "replace sound judgement" and caused thus far approx $600,000 in financial harm to the schools brought embarrassment to the community.

Still Sold

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

sash

Apparently I am too old and/or too old fashioned. The extramarital affair would have been enough for me. The affair didn't hamper his effectiveness? Maybe not in dollars and cents, but being a leader in a school district means setting an example. Maybe the next employment contract should spell out in big letters that the superintendent needs to be an example to employees and students alkie in their behavior. Moral turpitude really isn't a dirty word.

good old boy

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Off-topic comments.

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