VIDEO: Fred Fox fired, again

The Huron school board voted Tuesday to fire district superintendent Fred Fox. Watch a video clip of the vote from the meeting below. Click here to read 17-page order of termination.
Register
Apr 3, 2013

The vote was 3-2 with board president Scott Slocum and members Donna Green and Tim Sowecke voting to fire Fox.

Board members Kevin Asher and John Caporini voted against termination.

Click here to watch video of Tuesday's meeting, for a photo gallery and to read other stories about the firing of Fred Fox.

Click to read the school board's termination order. 

Sowecke said the board majority found that a referee from the state department of education ignored important testimony from witnesses.

The referee recommended Fox be reinstated with back pay.

Asher defended the referee's report, saying the referee found "a rush to judgment" by the board majority against Fox, "replacing sound judgment."

The vote came about two hours after the meeting began. 

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Watch the video clip of the vote below, and check back later at sanduskyregister.com for demand viewing of the full meeting video.  

Sowecke spoke for more than an hour, reading from the referee's report and a board report that outlined his findings. He suggested Fox had participated in efforts to intimidate him, Green and Slocum. He also said Fox violated his employment contract and engaged in unprofessional behavior.

Asher spoke for about 15 minutes and asked for the board's attorney to outline the next phase in Common Pleas Court, and how much that might cost the district. He also defended the referee's reputation and suggested he's never been successfully overturned in a ruling and recommendation.  

The board had a fiduciary responsibility to protect the district, Asher said, suggesting the board wait until Fox's contract expires in July 2014. 

"We'll have a lame duck," an audience member said. 

Watch the final minute of the meeting in the player below

Watch live streaming video from registermedia at livestream.com

Comments

Still Sold

LIKE, (Wald, Nobody, Wired)

queenjhb

Fred Fox , its over, if you care for Huron let it go, the folks dont want you , the teachers dont want you, you sullied your rep. on your own. good day.

Retiree

You are all entitle to an opinion but there seem to be some very disgruntle people venting their frustration over last nights decision. Get over it. It's done. You want a thief and a cheat back as a superintendent. You must have benefited from him holding that position. Did you get a dollar school bus or free tools? The school board has spoken and he is gone. Insult whoever you want because it shows how much common sense you really have.

nobodyfromnowhere

Your ignorance is showing. The school board has spoken but he is not gone, not by a long shot. Now this whole mess moves to what you so badly wanted, Common Pleas Court. You know that judicial hearing you raved about. Now the District again has to meet the burden of proof that they already failed to meet once. Any guess what Fox's Exhibit 1 is going to be? Plus the District can't use the Ethic Commission Report no matter how that turns out. What will you say if the Court rules in Fox's favor? That the judges opinion doesn't matter? That the trial was "a dog and pony show"? That the court is corrupted by Fox and his attorneys too? Hey by the way still waiting for that ORC section I asked about earlier, and did you find a "State District Attorney" yet?

1luckydog

While I saw last nights decision coming. I am still shocked the board(3) didn't go in the direction of keeping Fox, and just not renewing his contract next summer?? This would of saved a lot of money for the citizens of Huron. That is of course if insurance does not cover, or if the court precedings go in the 3's favor. This is far from over. Sadly has divided a once strong community! At this point we need a whole new board, as well as superintendant.

Justme...

Do you honestly believe if they brought him back (basically saying he did nothing wrong), then didn't renew his contract he wouldn't still file lawsuits for defamation, retaliation and whatever else they could come up with?? Asher presented that as a simple solution, but common sense says otherwise.

Tsu Dho Nimh

Dog...the board cannot just non-renew an administrator. There are several documented steps and procedures that must be followed as defined by the ORC. Mr. Asher was incorrect when he said that they do not need a reason to non-renew. He apparently does not know what he is talking about or was trying to mislead us.

nobodyfromnowhere

Please tell us what those steps are and cite the relevant ORC sections. I believe that as Fox is a contract employee when his contract runs out his employment runs out, unless his contract has an automatic renewal clause.

Justme...

And he certainly wouldn't sue for retaliation or defamation if he subsequently lost his job, would he? Especially since if they brought him back they'd be saying he'd done nothing wrong. Anyone who believes that, stand on your head...That just puts us right back where we are now.

underthebridge

Really asking: Any chance that if the district retained him they would be legally liable for hostile work environment given that Fox used Ms. Vonthron as a front and cover for his extra-marital relationship?

Tsu Dho Nimh

Excellent question.

nobodyfromnowhere

Nope. There was zero evidence or testimony that he stated he was having an affair with VonThron. That was all simply gossip and conjecture on the part of others. He would have had to have said he was having an affair with her to create a hostile work environment. Plus the Board would have had to warn him and he would have had to continue the activities.

underthebridge

Thanks for the info and insight. Whether his actions (using Vonthron as a cover for his affair) were legally/civilly objectionable, I still find them (as well as his affair) to be morally reprehensible.

In all of this mess, I feel the most bad for Ms. Vonthron and actually Fox's wife.

There you go again

Except that Fox's wife got caught in a "compromising position" and caused maritial distress a few years ago. She isn't exactly innocent.

BW1's picture
BW1

if morally reprehensible behavior was grounds for removing a public official from office, Al Gore would have gotten a promotion to president.

Tsu Dho Nimh

I don't have the exact section at the moment but try the 3319 section. If he is doing a good job at the time of renewal, it would be extremely difficult to non-renew him.

Justme...

And bringing him back would be saying he did nothing wrong. No way is that a "simple" solution, and it certainly wouldn't save any money.

nobodyfromnowhere

Found it for you ORC 3319.01 states in part "Such superintendent is, at the expiration of a current term of employment, deemed reemployed for a term of one year at the same salary plus any increments that may be authorized by the board, unless such board, on or before the first day of March of the year in which the contract of employment expires, either reemploys the superintendent for a succeeding term as provided in this section or gives to the superintendent written notice of its intention not to reemploy the superintendent."

All they have to do to not renew his contract is tell him on or before March 1, 2014 that the District is not renewing his contract. Nothing more is required. His job performance, nor any other factors, is not required to be considered.

Justme...

And you don't think he'd sue for retaliation? After all, they'd be saying he did nothing wrong by bringing him back. The lawsuits would not likely end. We'd be right where we are now.

nobodyfromnowhere

There is a lot he can sue for but as of now I don't see retaliation as being one. What would he base a retaliation suit on?

SanduskyMomOf3

Not necessarily, nobody. ORC 3319 says a little farther down:

"Termination of a superintendent’s contract shall be pursuant to section 3319.16 of the Revised Code."

3319.16 says that there has to be "good and just cause" in order to terminate.

If Fox were reinstated by the BOE, they couldn't just drag this up next year and say that they now have "good and just cause" for termination. By reinstating him, they would have essentially cleared him of wrongdoing.

Just sayin'.

nobodyfromnowhere

The 3319.16 section requirements and hearing have already passed. The hearing was held and the referee ruled in favor of Fox. He already ruled that the board did not have good and just cause to terminate Fox's contract. It's now going to be on to the Common Pleas Court.

You are confusing termination with not renewing. The board would not be terminating, which is unilaterally ending the contract early, his contract they would simply be letting it lapse and not renewing it. There would be no need to drag anything up next year. They do not need to show "good and just cause" or for that matter any cause at all. They need not give a reason at all for not renewing his contract. All they have to do is tell him in writing on or before 03/01/2014 that they are not going to renew his contract. Essentially all they have to say is: "It is the decision of the School Board for the Huron City School District that the district will not be renewing your contract that expires on 07/31/2014." They need not, and should not, say anything more and there can be no claim of retaliation for not renewing a contract.

Justme...

Is there something that says he CAN'T sue for retaliation, or is that just your gut feeling?

Justme...

Plus...if they brought him back, why would he drop the lawsuit against Sowecke? He might even expand it to include the others. This is not a less expensive way to accomplish the same thing.

nobodyfromnowhere

That lawsuit is not going away no matter what. There is at least one other suit that I could see possibly forth coming too. That would be against the board for releasing the "confidential" report. That one could get extremely expensive given the sub-standard nature of the report and the very chilling effect it could have on his employ-ability. There is now the probability of a wrongful termination/breech of contract suit now. Bringing him back would possibly reduce the chances of that one. But since the refused to do so that one is coming too. Especially if the Common Pleas Court rules in his favor. The smart move would have been to reach a negotiated settlement before it got this far. But that's getting more expensive every day since Fox now has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Justme...

Well now you're just talking in circles. Bring him back and these lawsuits may go away. But probably not. Don't renew his contract and obviously they come right back. If they bring him back and he continues to sue, there's your retaliation. Or if they bring him back and he drops the suit, he can still say they are retaliating for him filing in the first place. He's not going quietly no matter what, and a couple board members are right there with him. No one is buying your effort here. If they believe he needs to be gone, bringing him back and not renewing is not the cheaper solution.

nobodyfromnowhere

What would be the retaliatory act?

Tsu Dho Nimh

Read a little closer. If he is non-renewed, and the board has given him the proper evaluations and followed the proper procedures, he is allowed to request a private meeting, with representation, to discuss the reasons for his non-renewal. What would their justification be? There is a difference between non-renewing an administrator due to a change in staffing needs versus non-renewing an administrator whose position still exists but will be filled by another individual.

nobodyfromnowhere

Sorry but it does not say that anywhere in ORC: 3319.01. The only requirement is that they notify him on or before 03/01/2014, nothing more is required. If you are referring to ORC 3319.02D4 then you already know it only applies to "assistant superintendent, principal, assistant principal, or other administrator under this section". And I'm sure you read ORC: 3319.02A2 which specifically states "As used in this section, “other administrator” does not include a superintendent, assistant superintendent, principal, or assistant principal." Section 3319.01 is the controling section for Superintendents. Section 3319.02 apples only to assistant superintendent, principal, assistant principal, or "other administrators". Please read closely the entire ORC sections and don't just pick and choose what you think will fit your arguments. Since you found that I'm guessing there is a reason why you didn't provide a citation to the section of ORC you were referring to.

Tsu Dho Nimh

No, I didn't "pick" sections. I wasn't home and didn't have time to give exact details. I just know that the 3319 section deals with administrators, just like 3313 deals with board school board members.

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