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

Informed

So, in other words, if others commit the same wrong-doing as you (using district email for personal use), you can get away with it. Sorry, but I expect more from the leader of our district. How many of those emails from other district employees involved extramarital affairs during work hours?
Sorry, but I do not agree at all with this opinion. Fox gets credit for teachers and students and parents doing their jobs but has no accountability to conduct himself in a professional manner, shown, for example, by calling teachers and staff his "underlings" in an email.
As far as the Chamber of Commerce supporting Fox, what a joke. Once again business has power over morality.

good old boy

Sounds just like our great football coach . ha ha ha ha ha ha

Darwin's choice
Darwin's choice

Had to be this guy.....http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K... Forever a classic moment in United States history.

good old boy

those were great, but i was hoping for somthing from sawmill parking lot !!!!!

Still Sold

I'd like to see that video, too Good Old Boy !

Darwin's choice

I'm told that the School Board has a copy of the video. Maybe time to dig a little deeper....

Silvia

You are way off Sold no relation at all actualy !! Nice try though !!

Still Sold

Just kidding you, Silvia !

Still Sold

After reading the 53 pages for the third time..

Listen folks, this man Harry, (the referee), is only going on what was presented to him during over 2000 pages of testimony.

Both sides, Fox vs Board, had their chance to present their best case. The referee not only sided with Superintendent Fox, he actually chastised the board of education for not doing the job they have been elected to do.

It's all in black and white. The referee, after listening to both sides, taking notes and then going over the transcripts again.. Could find nothing that Fred Fox actually had done wrong.

I am truly sorry that such strong feelings exist, that a portion of the board of education even thought they had a chance of making this 'witch hunt' stick.

Read the report.
(And by the way.. this report is backed up by 'testimony under oath' unlike the document that attorney Markling produced. I would say that if you formed your initial reaction to this situation from the Markling report, that maybe after reading this report you may feel slightly different.)

Huron_1969

Sold..... Markling was conducting interviews and was not legally authorized to hold them under oath. Your ability to twist and shout is endless

nobodyfromnowhere

So since they were not under oath those making statements in the interviews and Markling in authoring his report could have lied without repercussion, especially since (contrary to best practices) there are no recordings to confirm what was actually said in those interviews? Doesn't really help your argument.

Still Sold

Tell them, Nobody !
Big difference as even the SAME people who 'testified' talked to Markling and said the same things except they were censored and treated like 'sound bites' to reflect a negative towards Fred Fox.

Funny.. Under oath there was nothing negative about Fred Fox ?

Retiree

The referee that heard Fox's case is the same referee that made the decision to reinstate a superintedent in the Toledo area for unethicial behavior. After the board read his recommendation, they superintedent was fired. Just thought the Huron taxpayer would like to know that piece of information.

The "snippet" and Huron taxpayer want to know. Where is the bus that was sold for a dollar? The state is still looking to find its whereabouts. Who are the people that brought the tools back to the bus garage? Why was the bus filled up with fuel and then gone before the start of work the next day? Why is the title of the bus still in Huron. Who turned off the cameras at the bus garage? Maybe one of the so called "three stooges" should get a copy of the sheriff's report and make it public. Oh, Fox said he would handle that internally. Did anyone get fired for stealing. I assure you that the Huron teacher's did take a pay freeze to support the district. The administrated personal did give themselves a pay raise. Iam well aware of that unethicial decision. What happened to the other person in the affair? Was there a referee in that persons defense.

The above questions have merit and the Huron taxpayers have money invested.
These are all questions that people from Huron ask me. Maybe someone that knows everything could enlight the inquisitive minds of the Huron taxpayer.

There you go again

Yes, those questions do have merit and deserve answers. The more I read about the Fox debacle, the less I like it. How can the people of Huron take this sitting down? Are the good ol boys that persuasive in this town?

Tsu Dho Nimh

There you go...do you think enough people in this town will stand up and speak where it counts? There is a board meeting next Tuesday and it may be the last chance to speak.

Wald

If you're so concerned about the Huron taxpayers, then you should also be questioning the three stooges of the school board who have now cost the Huron taxpayers hundreds of thousands of wasted dollars in their vendetta. Add in the fact that Kalahari has withdrawn thousands of dollars in donations for the McCormick auditorium thanks to them, and you'll see that they are where the real problem lies, not Fox, who, it bears repeating, was exonerated by the state of Ohio.

Still Sold

Retiree..
One more time:
The bus was a decomissioned school bus no longer able to transport students. Originally it was sold to the Huron Band Parents for an equipment vehicle. When it was even too old for them it was sold again for a dollar and is now part of a deer camp in southern Ohio.

No mystery no matter how you spin it.

UgtaBkdnMe

And it had a scrap value the was more than a dollar. Whose name was on the title? If what Huron City Schools then it had to be board approved.

Silvia

So does anyone know when they will hear from the OEC ??

UgtaBkdnMe

The Journal said that Mr. Fox would receive around $99,000 in back pay if the board agreed with the recommendation. I'm thinking that he should also calculate how many hours he spent during his leave having sex so the district can reimburse him for that. After all, if we pay him to have sex when he should be working, shouldn't he be compensated while he was suspended ?

Retiree

One person is saying that Mr. Fox was "exonerated" by a referee. This person (referee) has no legal jurisdiction in determining Mr. Fox's faith. This referee is not even close to having the power of an arbitrator. I would imagine that the referee was hand picked by the defense attorney having examined his track record. The referee can only give an "opinion" that is not binding arbitration. I do not understand why anyone would agree to this type of "dog and pony show" unless someone is aware of their (referee's)pass decisions.

If individuals want to praise people on their pass records they need to look at the record as a whole. Just don't pick and choose what you feel is their accomplishments. The Huron taxpayers and teachers, who agreed to no raises, is who brought the Huron Schools out of fiscal emergency. When the Huron School's went into fiscal emergency, Mr. Fox was the superintedent and his expenditures put Huron into the fiscal emergency. Of course,he would never take the blame for that, so it all went onto the former treasures shoulders. Having been raised as a Christian, I am aware of only one person who could walk on water. Not one person mentioned on these blogs meet that criteria, as some might think.

Darwin's choice

Wow ! It really chaps your azz that Fred won! Funny thing is, everything you cite above can be said for the markling dog and pony show. And you're questions about the bus? Really? You know dam well the whole story, and your pithy comments sound like an old hen cackling. Cluck Cluck

Still Sold

Tell them, Darwin !

UgtaBkdnMe

Sounds like maybe you have the bus !

nobodyfromnowhere

Retiree did you even read the Report? On page 1 he specifically states "the two parties in this possible termination matter mutually selected me to serve as the referee in this matter pursuant to R.C Section 3319.161" Since you haven't had a quality Huron education that means both the District and Mr. Fox selected him. The section is also where the Referee's legal jurisdiction comes from. The "dog and pony show" as you referred to it is based in Ohio Revised Code Section 3319.16. This was also in the report on page 2. Obviously you haven't read the report so I don't see how you could offer an informed opinion. Kinda like Markling not even researching basic facts of the accusations he was investigating, or even attempting to interview many of the principal persons involved.

Still Sold

Obviously, many of these folks have not read the report.

It's all in black and white and pretty easy to read.

Tsu Dho Nimh

"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"

I feel bad for his ex-mistress. She is involved in the same affair and Fremont schools terminate her from her administrator position and now she works as a teacher at the detention center (at least that is the position the district site lists). On the other hand, Mr. Fox has the same affair, is part of a reimbursement that does not meet the criteria of what is permissable, and possibly an ethics violation with a golf trip. What does he get...a recommendation to be reinstated with pay. Why is it that Fremont can discipline her but Huron should accept Fred's actions? I doubt he even cares about what happened to her.

Darwin's choice

And this means??????????? Fred won! Get over it. You can sling crap till the cows come home, won't change anything! But thanks for the comedy!

nobodyfromnowhere

Twice the reinbursements had been reviewed by independent parties and twice they have been ruled as permissible. The referee even stated that Fox did not claim near what he was actually entitled to. As for the golf trip there was no evidence presented of any ethics violation. None! Please tell me what the supposed violation was and what evidence there is of said violation?

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