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

Still Sold

TDN-
Can't believe you are still here.

The original 'sin' Fred Fox committed was firing A teacher at the middle school where he was the principal.

That smoldered for years. You can read the report and see this whole episode was ignited because SOWecke was told ACE could no longer deal with the schools.

I want to remind you that everything I have said has come true, or been true.

Whether you like it or not it still has been true. You can't change to truth just because it doesn't fit your beliefs.

betweenlines

Except for the three board members resigning...

Tsu Dho Nimh

Maybe there is still some more truth to come. You know it isn't over until all voices are heard. People in this town might surprise you on Tuesday.

UgtaBkdnMe

Really ?????? Didn't know that a middle school principal can fire people. Dummy me, I thought it was the board that does that !

Retiree

There are still people out there that will still drink Jim Jones kool-aid.

UgtaBkdnMe

It goes well with Lotus flowers.

Justme...

Good question sit n spin. I get it - the referee ruled in his favor. But in my opinion the tale they tried to spin about these three and their motivation has no merit and in fact underscores the "gotcha" atmosphere that characterizes Fox and friends and got us to this point. Green apparantly reported the toolgate situation, and for that she was punished with the trumped up charge of stealing money. They obviously had nothing on Slocum, so made up something about a previous job he held. And the tired old story about Sowecki's nephew (or step nephew??) is too far in past for anyone to even care. This is what we're dealing folks, and apparantly we're stuck with it.

Still Sold

My only question is this:

Since Markling's report turned out to be bunk.. When is he going to repay the $90,000 ?

Tmm

As much as I hate to say it sold...that is a very good question.

SilentMajority

Justme....you hit the nail on the head.
I think many have forgotten that the OEC hasn't reported it's ruling yet, so those who keep spewing that Fox has been exhonerated are just providing more spin. The OEC ruling may still go very much against Fox. That is the ruling that should be followed. If it is in Fox's favor, then Sold and the others can crow (not eat crow), but if it is against Fox, then they need to eat crow!

Truth and Justice

Just thought you all may want to know this. The referee in this case, Mr. Harry Taich, of the ODE has a past performance of making 85% of his rulings in favor of the Board. Both sides had to agree on the referee and he was picked from a list. Each side had a choice in this matter and believe it or not, the Board’s attorneys knew this track record going in or they never would have agreed on Mr. Taich. So what does that tell you about the facts in this case? Also let’s end the Toolgate discussion – The Auditor of the State, The Erie County Sheriff and the Huron Police all investigated this and found no wrong doing. Go get the reports if you don’t believe. I can’t for the life of me understand why you all continue to beat this drum. And the bus, forget it. It’s a pile of rust. The best thing that happened was when it was removed from school property. Good ridden.

Finally there is a statement in the referee’s decision about the sign issue with Hastings-Green being turned over to the state auditor’s criminal division by Treasurer Weis. What is this all about? Can anyone expound on this? Is he saying that the state auditor is going to investigate Hastings-Green for some potential criminal action? And to think people are worried about an old, rusted piece of crap bus!

partyboy

TDN.....earlier you posted that Fremont terminated their administrator. How do you know that? Was that posted on the website? I think you are misinformed.

Tsu Dho Nimh

Party...I have been told that she was released from her administor position from a friend who works in Fremont. If she had tenure, they probably could not fire her from the district but could reassign her. Maybe she agreed to step down to avoid further embarassment. Does it really matter what term we use? She is no longer the principal, correct? Her job is now with the juvenile detention center. That is not typically the job of choice for teachers. I was not trying to insult her. My intent was to show how unfair this whole process is.

partyboy

TDN...Lots of teachers gravitate to the less fortunate. I heard she had choices but chose the JDC. If she stepped aside to minimize the impact on her family and her district then she showed some courage. I also took a second to look at the FCS website and saw that the building under her guidance was upgraded from an effective rating to an excellent rating this year

Tsu Dho Nimh

Sounds like she is your friend. Again, I was not trying to be mean to her. My point is Fred Fox makes lots of mistakes and the attitude is it's no big deal, it's been going one for a long time, everyone is doing it, etc. Your friend, however, makes one mistake and paid the consequences professionally whether is was her choice or the choice of Fremont schools. She should be proud of her work and her building's success. That proves my point, too. Her mistake did not impact her ability to do her job but yet she no longer has that job. Fred Fox gets praised for his leadership so who cares about what he did. Sounds like your friend has class and integrity unlike Fox.

Tmm

I'll keep my mouth shut about fox because it appears this whole thing blew up in the face of the 3 people i though were doing right but cannot keep it shut when it comes to this woman. Damn right she should have been fired or demoted for her actions with fox. I frankly cannot keep myself from snickering every time I see her out and about acting as if she is holyer than thou. The fact that her husband is still with her is laughable! Who gives a shiat about her schools rating...the teachers did that not her.

partyboy

Tmm~ all I can say you are a fool..first of all you must not know much about leadership and second you don't anything about her. If you did you wouldn't be casting judgement. You hide behind your comments..She and her husband are raising a young family and they will get through this public slashing stronger than expected. If you are so discissed with her holier than thou attitude..confront her...don't talk SHIAT about her..afraid of what you might hear. Move on Huron!!!

partyboy

Tmm~ all I can say you are a fool..first of all you must not know much about leadership and second you don't anything about her. If you did you wouldn't be casting judgement. You hide behind your comments..She and her husband are raising a young family and they will get through this public slashing stronger than expected. If you are so discissed with her holier than thou attitude..confront her...don't talk SHIAT about her..afraid of what you might hear. Move on Huron!!!

Tmm

Hey party itch..she has been confronted. Just ask her.

UgtaBkdnMe

Sounds like the principal in question is Mrs. Party Boy.

whazup

Are you saying she doesn't work at the detention center and the website is wrong? Why would she voluntarily leave her principal job to work with incarcerated kids? Sound like she lost her job to me. I bet she regrets the day she met Fred and rightfully so.

Julie R.

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

Retiree

The state is still looking for that school bus that disppeared from the Huron bus garage. After the state became aware of the sale for a dollar, helecopters were use to find its location. It is still on the missing list.
Ever though the school bus was sold for a dollar, the engine, tires and steel from the bus is worth a lot of money at a scrap yard.

When the board became aware if tools missing from the bus garage. The Huron Police Chief was asked to investigate and refused. His reasons I don't know or care. The Erie County Sheriffs Dept. was asked to investigate the missing tools and the investigation came up positive. The report was given to Fred Fox and his reply to the sheriff was, "it will be handled internally". The cameras were turned off one night and most of the tools were returned. So now there is three weedtimmers, chainsaws, etc. I then heard that the tapes in the cameras has disappeared. The report is still at the sheriff's department and I hope by now it is in the hands of the school board.

Tsu Dho Nimh

But here is the real issue...did the employee's contract say he could not buy extras and take them home? Did his contract say he could not buy a bus for $1? The new standard is if your contract does not state that you cannot do it, then anything goes...lol

good old boy

i think Hoffa is burried in the bus ! Just stay retired , your boring us all !

Still Sold

hahaahhaa.. Good one !

cbj

bbbb

BooBeeDoo'

I am very happy that Fred was exhonerated he is a good guy! I just would like to say this is old news. Don't you people have anything better to do with your lives? "He who has no sins let them cast the first stone".Believe me,the Fremont principal will survive this and move on to bigger and better opportunities. She is a smart cookie. If this is the worst thing that could happen to her then she is a very lucky women. Life goes on. As for Fred, I hope that he gets his job back, but if not he also will move on to bigger and better opportunities. The Fremont principal should look into sueing Fremont City Schools for asking her to step down when she did nothing that jeapordized her position as principal. She should sue "personally" any individual (superintendent or board member who was involved in her demotion).This is my recommendation to her.

Tmm

Smart cookie. Really? A public employee screwing someone in their public office is real smart. Causing you and your family to be a laughingstock is real smart. Please sue away by all means. Good luck with that.

UgtaBkdnMe

I don't think that she could continue to be effective. Her staff, or as Freddy says "underlings", would not respect her and neither would the parents.

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