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

Huron_1969

How many alias's do you have?

Tsu Dho Nimh

Good question...Sold, HHGuy, Truth and Justice just to name a few.

Huron_1969

If it walks like a Fox, talks like Fox, it's a Cheetah

nobodyfromnowhere

While the referee's decision is not binding it certainly does not mean nothing. Nor is it his personal opinion, it is his PROFESSIONAL opinion which he has done a very good and through job of supporting in his report. You should also remember that the referee was agreed to by both Mr. Fox and the District. You speak of all this corruption yet when given the chance to charge Fox they can only come up with 4 charges? Then when required to prove those charges by a "Preponderance of the Evidence", not even beyond a reasonable doubt, they cannot prove a single one? They waste $90,000 on a substandard report that failed to even attempt to confirm basic information to the charges or interview many of the major subjects involved? The law firm is either blitheringly incompetent or unfortunately the report had a predetermined outcome whose price was $90,000. You speak of the kind of individuals who support Fox and the statement that ACE Hardware will not be there as intimidating. So what would you call it when after not evaluating the Treasurer for 2 years Board President Slocum tells him 3-4 days before he is to testify that the board will now all of the sudden be evaluating him again? That sounds like a threat! But hey that's ok with you, right? If the three members of this board, and their hired gun law firm, had done their jobs in a professional manner instead of turning this into a vendetta/circus it would have never gotten to this point. You may think you know Huron but I was born and raised there. My picture hangs on the wall of the High School Cafeteria like all of those who came through the District and while Huron is far from perfect in many ways it by and large is populated by pretty smart people. This incident has caused a substantial fissure in the city but I believe the silent majority was taking a wait and see attitude and most of them are not going to support this Boards (3 member in particular) continued squandering of AT LEAST 200,000 of their hard earned tax dollars, that they thought was going to educate their kids in an outstanding school system with excellent teachers and very good facilities, on a substandard lawyers hack job report and someone's personal vendetta. There will always be people on both sides of this issue but the majority is going to want this over with quickly and at as little further cost as possible so the District can move on from this embarrassment. Unfortunately that further cost will not be little.

Huron_1969

I have read all the documents from day 1 and came to my own conclusions. You can make a stand on the technicalities all you want.... and your extreme defensiveness makes you sound like someone trying to hide the truth. Fox won a battle, not the war. Just as bill Clinton got off the hook, he will always be a punch line for jokes. Fox now shares the same legacy.

Ps, most of my life has been in Huron and my pic is in the cafeteria too, so I have skin in the game as well

nobodyfromnowhere

I would hardly call the Boards TOTAL failure to provide proof or their accusations, by the relatively non-stringent preponderance of the evidence standard, a technicality. Being required to prove your accusations is not a technicality it is a mandatory REQUIREMENT. That is the foundation requirement on which all their other actions will be judged and they could not do it on a single one of the 4 charges. Mr. Fox did win this battle and he won it overwhelmingly leaving the District at a massive disadvantage. This decision was Hiroshima. It remains to be seen but I would say that there is a greater than 50/50 chance that after the smoke clears this will be the final battle. The District's insurance company cannot be happy with this situation as they are not in the business of financing the vendetta's of school board members. More so now that Sowecke's attorney filed an affidavit blaming the release of the confidential Markling report squarely on the School District. They recognize that the longer this drags out the greater the cost to their bottom line. Especially if the Ethic Commission finds that the board's complaint is unsubstantiated or even worse unfounded. Given the evidence presented so far that is an extremely strong possibility. And that will finish the war much like Nagasaki. Then all that will be left to do will be to meet on the deck of the Missouri and figure out how much the District is going to pay Mr. Fox. Much like the former President I predict Mr. Fox will also retire with quite a bit of the Districts money in his account and into an extremely comfortable retirement.

Given Retiree's silence I'm guessing his picture isn't up there with ours.

Huron_1969

Keep the extreme defensiveness coming, you're proving my point
Winning the war means being accepted by the community.... that won't happen

Tsu Dho Nimh

Sold from nowhere is good at that, proving your point that is.

nobodyfromnowhere

And you think the three on the board that let their personal feelings replace good judgement and have already wasted over $200,000 in tax payers money are winning over the community?

UgtaBkdnMe

You're not Sold, you're A NOBODY FROM THE EAST SIDE.

Julie R.

"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 ........"

Somebody somewhere is going to write another one of those books someday ..... one of those books like Disorder in the Court .... or The Most Outlandish Things Ever Said .... and that statement will be in it.

nobodyfromnowhere

Ok Julie please show by objective measurements how they did prove it?

Julie R.

I think you misunderstood. I didn't disagree that they proved his inappropriate relationship did not hamper his effectiveness as a superintendent. What I meant was - the way the referee has it worded sounds ridiculous.

nobodyfromnowhere

Actually that is relatively standard legal phraseology. Had the district proved their case the only difference in that sentence would have been to delete "failed" and insert "succeeded".

Silvia

Ok for whoever wants to answer this ..... Is the ODE not the same as the OEC ?? Because I am alittle confused on all of this if the Ohio Ethics Commitee hasnt come back with anything and the ODE did then how can anything be resolved isnt everyone jumping the gun ??? How can any decision be made until the final report comes back from the OEC ?? Can someone explain please ?????

Julie R.

The ODE is the Ohio Department of Education. Their purpose is to make sure the schools follow the law. The OEC is the Ohio Ethics Commission. Their purpose is to promote ethics in public service to strengthen the public's confidence that government business is being conducted with impartiality and integrity.

Both the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Ethics Commission are made up of attorneys. In fact, the referee in this decision to reinstate Mr. Fox is a Cleveland attorney.

Silvia

Ok so what happens if the OEC says he is guilty of all charges then what ??? Why is everyone making a big deal about the ODE if the OEC hasnt made a ruling ??

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...

will you vote yes on the next levy?

Still Sold

As long as Fred Fox is in place as the superintendent and the Board of Education is repaired I will always vote yes. Children deserve a great education and school employees deserve a great, properly funded, place to work.

When the rubble is cleared I can't wait to see what the 'real' financial condition of the school district is. When Fred Fox was 'ousted' I believe he had built a surplus of over $7,000,000. (When I say he, I am including the entire team which would be he, Fred Fox, the other school employees and the parents and other supporters).

If Fred Fox says we need a levy I am going to believe him.

sanduskyregiste...

i still have some difficulty with the last levy passed, when our school teachers (at fox's request) took a pay freeze. for the teachers that have been in the system and earn a good wage, that is fine and they probably can manage, for the lower ones, thats tough! but then after the drive by locals to get the levy passed, what happens. Freddy gets a pay raise and like zoom quick. while the hard working teachers are stuck. we could see a strongsville situation with this next teacher union meeting/boe meeting. the school is broke. and the teachers deserve a better deal.

Silvia

To your question SanduskyRegister...... Way before this all happened, yrs ago there was a levy up and lots of huronites got together and formed a Huron WIns commitee and worked diligent to pass the levy for the kids, and the Levy passed without the help of the Superintendant Fred Fox. Soon after the Levy passed the administrators took a pretty Substanial a raise! Alot of people in the community especially the Commitee were upset. So the answer to your question is The next levy was never going to pass due to all the raises not this new episode.

Huron_1969

Absolutely true... Fox got credit where no credit was due
Dedicated citizens did the work and were then pushed to the back of the missing bus

Justme...

Correct Silvia. He bragged about taking a pay freeze while they were trying to get a levy passed, but he/they gave it all back to him (and then some) before the new board was in place. If that doesn't indicate what we're dealing with with these folks, I don't know what does. I don't mean to suggest this has cost a small amount of money, but with the size of HCS budget, when a levy is needed, this will hardly be the cause. The treasurer has been saying 2015 for several years now.

Still Sold

I really didn't know how many negative people there were in Huron until this whole situation reared it's ugly head.

Teacher's raises are tied in to their contract. They do get raises, but the newbies are on the bottom teir. Someone posted on here a bit ago that the average teacher salary in Huron was around $65,000. I do not know if this is accurate, but it was posted on the internet.. So it has to be true ?

As far as the administrators are concerned, their raises are more tied in to what administrators 'in the area' are paid.

I would love to see the last ten years history of all saleries in the district and how they have evolved. Last 'freeze' I remember was over ten years ago and was teachers/non-certs/ and administrators.

I'm sure someone here can come up with that data ?

(and as a suggestion: Maybe Slocum, Hastings/Greene and SOWecke should donate back to the school their per meeting pay ?)

sanduskyregiste...

there was a pay freeze for the teachers with that levy issue a few years ago, it has since been lifted. i would think 65k is a little steep. if you include admins. to that then it probably is true. its not hard to find that information. Anyways maybe the average if it is 65k's still does not do justice when the starting teacher receives low 30's and is trying to pay off college, rent, maybe has children. and to top it off takes a freeze they cant afford. Fox planned this all out and knew exactly what he wanted to do. knife in the backs of the taxpayers and teachers! if you cant read between the lines, then take off the blinders.

Still Sold

That damn Fred Fox..
He's..
He's..

Exonerated.

Still Sold

JustYOU-
Thought you'd disappear with the rest of the riff raff ?
Just kidding. Hope you enjoyed the current press.

Of course I know none of the testimony under oath could be right ? And of course no matter what you will still find something negative to bring up.

My suggestion is to help solve problems.. Not just talk about them.

Thanks for your input !

Justme...

Did I say something that was not true? I vent here. Its difficult not to when you read all the spin.

Still Sold

No Justme.. I am just always amazed at certain people here who can find nothing positive about Huron, or the Huron City Schools. Is it really that bad ? You sound like someone who has helped out in the past and is now disgruntled. I really don't think Fred Fox got up one day and said: Wow.. What can I do today to p*** off JustMe ?

If I'm complaining it's going to be about a 3-2 school board who will eventually cost the school system millions.

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