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

There you go again

You think it is ok to carry on an affair on school e-mail and school time? We have clear evidence and a confession from Freddie. What more do you want?

nobodyfromnowhere

No, but that is not what the district had to prove. They had to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the affair adversely affected his performance as superintendent and they failed to do that. In this day of smart phones, tablets, and web based e-mail using the schools system was very amateurish. As for school time nowhere did anybody present evidence of Mr. Fox having a set work shift and truly by the nature of his job you can't. The district fail to show what exactly was work time and non-work time.

Huron_1969

First and foremost, this is about Fox.... your defense is based on looking for escape goats. Keep your cowardly twisting and turning coming.... and don't forget to keep posting big long winded speeches

Still Sold

1969-
I think you are still missing the point and I thought you were reasonable.

Fred Fox exonerated. It's simple. You already ate crow. Tell everyone they are spinning the facts, but the facts are pretty clear.

Exonerated, (and I'm not talking about the three who tried to make Fred Fox a victim).

Retiree

The people that think Mr. Fox will get his job back had better get their heads out of the sand. Start looking for another job because you will never work for the Huron Schools again. The people that think Mr. Fox can walk on water,have him try it now on the Lake Erie. You might like paying taxes so your hero can buy three of each for him and his buddies, but I do not. I did not read the report because it does not have any merit. It was a dog and pony show. You can get some homeless person from Sandusky to be a referee. Now if a judge or an arbitrator made the decision, that is binding.

I would like to know why no one does not want to address the following: the affair, busgate, fuelgate, toolgate, ticketgate, sheriff's report, and now windowgate. Being the owner of properties in Huron, and paying taxes on those properties, I am very concerned because many things are being hidden from the Huron taxpayers. If that bus was sold for a dollar and the title is still in Huron, that is theft. That is punishable by serving jail time.

If you think that a levy has any chance of ever passing in Huron again, all of the above needs to be answered. If you can find one person that would support a levy now, I'll show you twenty that will oppose it. The Huron taxpayers are tired of being taken advantage of by "white collar corruption". Engrave my words in stone.

Wald

Those sure are some sour grapes you're feasting on, Retiree! You keep mentioning your taxes in Huron, but don't seem to care one iota for all the money that has been wasted by the BOE's three stooges in their witch hunt. I wonder why that is. I mean, they have cost the Huron taxpayers hundreds of thousands already and it might climb into the millions by the time their little fiasco is finished, but you don't seem to care anything about that. And yes, the money spent in this invstigation was money wasted. You can cry all you want that it wasn't a judge or arbitrator or whatever, but the Department of Education in Ohio found no evidence to support Fox's termination. Period.

Still Sold

Wald-
You're waisting your time attempting to make Retiree and some of these other sour grapesters understand because THEY WILL NOT READ THE REPORT !

It's in very plain English.

It's as simple as you put it:

'You can cry all you want that it wasn't a judge or arbitrator or whatever, but the Department of Education in Ohio found no evidence to support Fox's termination. Period'. - Wald

nobodyfromnowhere

Unfortunately Retiree the fact that you refuse to even read the report shows that you are not only ignorant but choose to be so purposely, so obviously a conversation with you is a waste of time. You are probably correct that Fox won't work for Huron Schools again, oh wait HE STILL WORKS FOR THE HURON CITY SCHOOLS! His termination was never finalized pending the report you refuse to read. When this is over I too am confidant he will move on but it will be by his own choice and with a suitcase full of settlement money from the District.

Toolgate, fuelgate, ticketgate, windowgate, busgate, etc. I believe the affair is the only one that remotely panned out. So many accusations so little substance.

nobodyfromnowhere

Unfortunately Retiree the fact that you refuse to even read the report shows that you are not only ignorant but choose to be so purposely, so obviously a conversation with you is a waste of time. You are probably correct that Fox won't work for Huron Schools again, oh wait HE STILL WORKS FOR THE HURON CITY SCHOOLS! His termination was never finalized pending the report you refuse to read. When this is over I too am confidant he will move on but it will be by his own choice and with a suitcase full of settlement money from the District.

Toolgate, fuelgate, ticketgate, windowgate, busgate, etc. I believe the affair is the only one that remotely panned out. So many accusations so little substance.

good old boy

you old board members crack me up...

Julie R.

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

nobodyfromnowhere

No 1969, this became about 3 members of the school board who abused their positions and went looking for an outside law firm to produce a report that they could then use to further their personal vendettas against the superintendent. They spent $90,000 of the tax payers money on just this extremely substandard report. When it came time to prove their allegations they failed to prove a single one. This became about those board members the minute they let their personal vendetta's become more important that the education of the children of the district. They failed to do their jobs in a a remotely professional manner, and will now cost the taxpayers alot of money that the district can ill afford to spare. The facts are the 3 members of the board have FAILED every step of the way. They failed to prove a single charge. Obviously you feel that is OK but most people will find that very troubling.

I don't have to defend anything the facts, or more importantly lack thereof do that. You how ever seem to feel the need to defend what now appears indefensible. Soon the 3 school board members will have to defend their actions to the public and very possibly in court. Keep your head buried in the sand and cry "But it was Fox all day long", luckily most of the people of Huron are smarter than that.

I won't apologize for my long posts because you can't have a substansive conversation in 2 line sound bites. But that's not what you want, is it? If you don't want to read them you don't have to.

finntwq

My question is how can Sowecke be a vendor for the Huron schools if he is a school board member.

Still Sold

He can't. He didn't like it, but he can't sell to the Huron City Schools. This whole 'vendeta' started with that reality and is spelled out in the report !

whazup

You're right, Ace can't do business with the district. Did you know that the treasurer told him he could before taking office? There is email that proves this. The reason is stopped was because Kevin Asher questioned if it was ethical after Tim Sowecke started pushing for the investigation. Actually Asher did Sowecke a favor because the treasurer gave bad advice. Brickler and Eckler verified that it would constitute an ethics violation. Here is the interesting part of the story. Huron Cement has been doing business with the board the entire time (17 YEARS) John Caporini has been sitting on the board. And what makes it better, Kevin Asher never questioned whether it was an ethics violation during the first 15 months of his term. I'm sure the timing of the question is a coincidence. I think Kevin Asher even does some work at Huron Cement because I know he has waited on me. OOOOPS! Another ethics violation. The board office has years of receipts with tens of thousands of dollars being spent and not one of the receipts I am referring to was a bid job. Did I mention that Huron Cement could only sell to the district under two circumstances: lowest bid that is consistent with bids given to other customers and if the item can't be purchased elsewhere? True story! You can request the records from the treasurer but be prepared to be warned to back off. That happens sometimes.

Tsu Dho Nimh

Wonder what the OEC would think if it got a hold of this?

whazup

I forgot to mention that Fred Fox approved 10 years of these purchases. Some are a few hunderd dollars while seveal are 3,4,5, and 6 thousand dollars at a time.

Still Sold

Whazup-
Fred Fox does NOT ok purchases. Period.

And as for Huron Cement, I think you need to know that Huron Cement only pours the concrete. I will bet you that every one of the purchases from Huron Cement were 'brokered' through a contractor.

Just a thought. You can call and ask. If this is not true then you have a legitimate gripe.

betweenlines

I believe the treasurer took blame for buying from Huron Cement. He wasn't aware of the rule forbidding it. Once he learned of it, he stopped. He was incredibly remorseful about it.

UgtaBkdnMe

I'm sure the man is just sick about his mistake !

whazup

I'm sure that's the case, it was just contractors (wink, wink). I don't want to call and ask because someone will tell you who I am. That happens, you know!

Sit n Spin

Sold said or was it HHGuy or nobodyfromnowhere....anyway it was one of his many alter ego's, you my friend must be a log in / log out savant !

"3 members of the school board who abused their positions and went looking for an outside law firm to produce a report that they could then use to further their personal vendettas against the superintendent."

What are the vendettas that these 3 board members have against Freddie ? :)

Still Sold

Spin..
There's only one me.

Hastings/Green has an ex-brother-in-law. She also signed for a sign.

SOWecke cannot vend to the schools and is a childhood friend and now related to Hastings/Green's ex-brother-in-law. (and in fact Sowecke's emails to this friend/relative were on school email and talked about what happened in executive session)

Slocum is a follower.

It's actually pretty simple and you of all people, with your intelligence, should be able to read a 53 page report and gain some knowledge from it.

Sold

Sit n Spin

I read it, I read it. In my opinion it is slanted to the other side of the spectrum as the Markling Report. Neither of the reports have much merit in my opinion. I would be more interested in reading the actual testimonies verbatum from the proceedings and draw my conclusions from that. Let's see what the OEC has to say. If they find Freddie in violation of the charges brought against him..this will get really interesting !

Who is this friend / relative you speak of SOWecke ? Enlighten me :)

Still Sold

I thought the over 2000 pages would be considered a public document, too ?

Like you, Spinner.. I would love to read this novel.

Sit n Spin

Someday, someday....I would have to get a red bull and a 6 pack to survive that novel.

You never did answer my question ;)

Who is this friend / relative you speak of SOWecke ? Enlighten me :)

UgtaBkdnMe

Gee, considering how her sister's marriage ended I bet Ms. Green is a huge fan of the coach !

good old boy

He fired the football coaches kid, remember !!!!!!!!

Still Sold

Yes, Fred Fox had to.
(And hence we have the very beginning of this debacle).

Tsu Dho Nimh

Make up your mind, SOLD. One minute Sowecke started it over not being able to do business then a few post later the football coach is responsible.

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