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
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

Still Sold

Where have you been, Nobody ?
Needed you here about a year ago !
Great posts filled with facts !

nobodyfromnowhere

I was nowhere. :)

UgtaBkdnMe

In your head, he's one of your multiple personalities !

Truth or Fiction

So let me get this straight. Three board members out of five formed a voting block to hire an attorney who said he would give them some free time if they hired him to investigate the superintendent. WHY?

The attorney conducts his investigation, provides information that the three board members use to suspend the Superintendent. The minority board members vote NO and all but call it a witch hunt. I think they might have even called it a witch hunt! The attorney then submits a bill for $90,000 and again the voting block wins out and the gets his pay. WHY? It might have made sense to tie his pay to the findings of the State.

In addition, the BOE has to hire an interim superintendent at $100k(+), while the suspended superintendent continues to receive his pay. Didn't someone look at the cost to the district?

Now a neutral State agency does an investigation and says that the BOE was wrong in its actions against the superintendent and that he should be reinstated.

I'm sorry, it sounds like a bad soap opera.

whopper2011

Sounds like the State Referee is as crooked and immoral as Fox, if he thinks that Fox should get his job reinstated.

OccamsShavingCream

I would just like the city of Huron to know that I am available for shoddy legal work and I don't charge anywhere near $90,000.

HHGUY

How can 2719 pages of testimony be wrong? The cool thing here is that all this testimony cannot be changed. So if there are further legal proceedings, it is what it is. Why can’t you all see that Fox was railroaded? The decision 100% vindicated Fox. Read the decision again, and again if need be. SOWecke said in the Board meeting on May 22 that “he was proud of the actions that the 3 stooges have taken”. This decision and all the sworn testimony does not bode well for the $2.8 mil lawsuit against him. I think that Hastings-Green and Slocum will be added to that suit. I also think that based on the 100% vindication that the Insurance carrier will pull out. So that means – SOWecke, Hastings-Green and Slocum will be stuck to defend themselves on their own. Big money. Now we are getting into the “Murray Playground”. Ace Hardware is gone. And yes – if affairs are the criteria for employment at Huron Schools, as suggested, many others should be gone, including the Coach mentioned above.

UgtaBkdnMe

The coach in question had his supposed affair around ten years ago, yes? It is too late to go back and address that. When I read the report I don't see where Fox is exonerated. The problem is that the board didn't have policies to state the obvious - thou shalt not approve unauthorized expenses, thou shalt not use school equipment to conduct personal business, thou shalt not diddle during school time. Most school districts have policies in place but the good old boys (and girls) of the past didn't take the time. Pretty sure that if Fred behaved this way in any other district in the area, there would be board policies and he'd be toast !

nobodyfromnowhere

HHGuy is right. The referee stated that the Board failed to prove a single charge, let alone that it would have risen to just and good cause. This was a complete victory for Fox.

HHGUY

Ugta - obviously you have not read the Huron Policy Manual. Suggest before you speak off the top of your head - you do that. Clearly the manual was a piece of the evidence the referee used. You clearly need to go back and read the decision. Obviously you did not or your head is too thick.

Still Sold

HHGUY-
You hit the nail on UGTA's thick head.

No matter what.. Just because someone walks with the coach's wife it makes Fred Fox a bad guy even though he has been found completely innocent. People who think SOWecke did such a bang up job should start taking up a collection for his defense fund.

UgtaBkdnMe

Duh, Sold - there is no policy about using computers for personal use. That's why the referee thinks we can't hold him accountable. Maybe the board should add that to the district policy along with keep your privates in your own pants and out of others during school hours. There's a thought !

Truth and Justice

TDN You sure have a funny sense of right and wrong. Did you read the report? It sure doesn't seem you did. I hope you aren't an educator, for I pity the education our children are receiving. The "ugly mess" you talk about is all related to your 3 Stooges. If an outside person can see this, you better take off the blinders. To try to blame Asher and Caporini shows your ignorance. I lost count how many times they said let the Board get together with their school attorneys and let Brickler and Eckler decide which way the investigation should go. They never said to use Brickler and Eckler, but do the "right" thing to allow Mr. Fox his due process. I have followed this entire scenario in a more objective manner and you conveniently forget and distort the truth You twist their words to provide a diversion for your favored three. I have followed all your posts and you were so far off on everything you said especially the Arizona trip that I don't know how anyone can respect what you say.

Get off the "good 'ole boys" cliche. It shows that you are not from this community, as you once stated since you don't know the inner workings of this community. The Huron community is made up of many fine people who know how to explain the truth. Get off your high horse and read the report. You may have to tell the 3 stooges that you are running out of script. If you don't know what to say, see if you can ask for the many pages of testimony that this arbitrator went through to arrive at the truth.

Your last paragraph is the only portion of your "razzle-dazzle" that makes any sense. Let the 3 stooges who created this mess go their merry way and let the deputy superintendent move on. With all due respect to the deputy superintendent he doesn't need to be dragged through this.

whazup

Do you believe that Fred did nothing wrong? There are a lot of people out their who are pretty upset about his affair during school and sending emails on his school account to arrange them. You come across as angry. How can anyones comments on these blogs be a diversion. Do you really think that the comments impacted Fred's due process?

Still Sold

Truth and Justice-
Do not baffle these people with facts.

Tsu Dho Nimh

Truth...Quite a few people have shared the same opinions as mine but for some reason I am the one that bothers you. Interesting. I do not believe I have ever suggested that I am not from the community. I have been paying income taxes and property taxes most of my adult life so apparently the city thinks I am part of the community...lol. Don't worry about your childrens' safety and well being, but being a teacher does sound like more fun than what I do. I'm not allowed to use the computer at work for personal business and certainly not allowed to carry on a love life on the clock. Thank you for the compliment. I had no idea the my posts were providing a diversrion. Awesome!

UgtaBkdnMe

Sounds like someone finds you intimidating !

Julie R.

Sounds like the referee for the Ohio Board of Education reinstates just about everybody.

http://www.thecourier.com/Issues...

OccamsShavingCream

Does Kalahari retain some kind of naming rights for the football field? I Hate You and You Smell Field at Huron Memorial Stadium is a mouthful.

Still Sold

How about:
YouHadAnAffair First Field ?

Gardenman

What about attorney Markley in all this? It appears they per their own admission an incomplete investigation. For that incomplete work HCS paid over $90,000? Seems as the smoke begins to clear in all this that a complaint against Markley should be brought before the State Bar of Ohio.

It appears everyone else is in the pool sueing this one and that one so why let the attorney Markley miss all the fun.....he can be the next one investgated.

Imataloss

All it takes is a Huron Taxpayer to filed with the State Supreme Court - it doesn't have to be the school district.

Still Sold

As I've said about 300 times in the past year: Markling did a totally lopsided report and included nothing anyone ever said positive about Fred Fox. Three Huron Board members wanted the report and wanted it as presented. I would like to cast a vote that the 3 Stooges pay the district back for the report since it was totally erroneous.

Hoss McGee

I thought when all this was going down. Wasn't the bus garage guy's name being brought up?

Justme...

"Further, the additional alleged threat of disclosing Board member Slocum's prior work record, which work record totally supported Mr, Slocum, was made by some other individual and not by the Superintendent." How is it an "alleged" threat if Slocum had to produce his work record to prove it wrong? Wow, looks like Fred's the victim here. He has a lot of people willing to do his dirty work. Well, the guy apparantly did nothing wrong. As long as you have a couple board members in your pocket, you can do what you want. Just produce one person willing to corroborate what you say and you will be believed. Oh and kids, go ahead and use school email to send sexually explicit messages. Apparantly there is nothing wrong with that either. I don't think these three have much of a choice without vocal support from the public. They cannot continue to stick their necks out without it. And to those who think they fought the good fight but should step down...if they step down, the two remaining get to appoint replacements and I think there are only about 5 people out there who think that's a good idea. Better for them to run and either win or lose.

Tsu Dho Nimh

How did the referee come to this conclusion? I went back and looked at Fox's suit against Sowecke and he most definitely brings up Mr. Slocum's work record. Even says that "When the circumstances become known, all will agree that Slocum is unfit to serve in any public office or in any trust capacity." Sounds like he intended to disclose something.

Informed

Gee, the school district is thriving under the current temporary superintendent as well. Maybe it has very little to do with who is superintendent and more to do with the actual classrooms.
The emails alone are enough for me as a taxpayer to not want him there. It is unprofessional, unethical, and disrespectful to the community and all the employees of the district. Not to mention it is tantamount to stealing to be off having an affair or emailing about it when one should be working.
This whole thing makes me sick. I only pray that the Ohio Ethics Commission reprimands him in some way to restore my faith in not only the system, but the moral compass of the education profession.

Informed

Gee, ask Tanny Vonthron if his actions weren't detrimental to the school district. That poor woman had to deal with everyone thinking she was his mistress because of his lies and actions. I think she should sue him for that alone.

Retiree

As I stated before "an arbitrator's ruling is binding". The state referee's decision means nothing. It is his personal opinion. He knows nothing about all the corruption that has taken place within Huron's Schools over the years.(the affair,toolgate,busgate,ticketgate,etc) He was intimidated by the defence attorney's name and relatives in high places. You do me a favor and I will not forget. That is what attorneys and judges live by,if it's right or wrong

Ms. Vonthron and Mr. Rup are credible people and by the referee's statements,I challenge his credibility. The person that makes the
statements that "Ace Hardware will not be there" shows the type of individuals that support Fox. Why are you throwing out threats and intimadations? Do you think you are a tough guy. Who you call the "three stooges" let the taxpayer's of Huron know exactly what was going on within a corrupt system. If only the pass board members would have been upfront with the Huron taxpayer and let them know everything that was "swept under the rug", in years pass, it would never have gotten to this point. I know the people of Huron will unite and the board's decision will be justified. I know a lot of people in Huron and the three board member's have many taxpayers supporting them.(teachers, bus drivers,etc.) Whatever does happen in the future just remember,"white collar crime has reared its ugly head and come out smelling like a rose".

Still Sold

Retiree-
Actually it is you who know nothing except 'snippets'.

I have spent too much time attempting to 'school' you to the facts. You're not even from Huron, yet you keep fanning the fire ?

Exonerated. Say it slowly so it sinks in.

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