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Martin v. The Board of Education of Bellevue City School District

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Sixth District

September 27, 2013

William D. Martin, Jr. Appellant
v.
The Board of Education of the Bellevue City School District Appellee

Trial Court No. CVH 2010 290

Dennis L. Pergram, for appellant. Daniel D. Mason, for appellee.

DECISION AND JUDGMENT

PIETRYKOWSKI, J.

(¶ 1} This is an appeal from a judgment of the Huron County Court of Common Pleas that affirmed the administrative decision of appellee, the Board of Education of the Bellevue City School District ("Board"), to terminate the employment contract of appellant William D. Martin, Jr. Appellant now challenges that judgment through the following assignments of error:

1. Assignment of Error No. 1:
The trial court abused its discretion in affirming the Board of Education's order of termination because the Board of Education did not consider Mr. Martin's employment record and did not give him the opportunity to correct the alleged deficiencies.
2. Assignment of Error No. 2:
The trial court abused its discretion in affirming the Board of Education's order of termination because the Board of Education's order terminating Mr. Martin's contract for alleged gross inefficiency was not supported by a preponderance of substantial, reliable and probative evidence and was not supported by, and was against, the weight of such evidence and is contrary to the law.
3. Assignment of Error No. 3:
The trial court abused its discretion in affirming the Board of Educations' [sic] order of termination because the Board of Education's order terminating Mr. Martin's contract for alleged willful and persistent violations of the reasonable rules and regulations of the Bellevue City School District Board of Education, particularly Policy ACAA and for other good and just cause, and was not supported by a preponderance of substantial, reliable and probative evidence, was not supported by, and was against, the weight of such evidence and was contrary to law.
4. Assignment of Error No. 4:
The trial court abused its discretion in affirming the Board of Education's order of termination because the Board of Education relied on (1) alleged facts that were not introduced as evidence, (2) alleged facts that were not relevant to the specifications, (3) alleged facts that constituted private conduct and (4) because the Board of Education terminated Mr. Martin's contract because the Referee did not comment on the credibility of all witnesses and address every factual issue.
5. Assignment of Error No. 5:
The trial court abused its discretion in affirming the Board of Education's order of termination because the Board of Education's order of [sic] terminating Mr. Martin's contract did not give due deference to the Referee's findings and recommendation.
6. Assignment of Error No. 6:
The trial court abused its discretion by not awarding attorney's fees to Mr. Martin.

(¶ 2} The facts of this case are as follows. On May 1, 2008, the Board entered into a three year employment contract with appellant for his services as superintendent of schools. The contract specified that termination of appellant's employment would be governed by R.C. 3319.01 and 3319.16, and that the Board had the right to terminate the contract for several specifically enumerated reasons, including the failure of appellant to comply with and/or follow the policies, rules and regulations of the Board, inefficiency, immorality, misfeasance, malfeasance and/or other good and just cause.

(¶ 3} In June 2009, several female employees of the school district complained to the school district's treasurer, Nancy Beier, about the behavior of appellant and his assistant, Darrell Hykes. Because Beier believed the allegations crossed the line as to sexual harassment, she took the complaints to the Board. On July 16, 2009, the board unanimously adopted a resolution to notify appellant of its intention to terminate his contract on the grounds of "gross inefficiency, willful and persistent violations of reasonable policies of the Board of Education, and other good and just cause." The notification outlined and alleged numerous instances of conduct exhibited by and statements made by appellant during the 2008-2009 school year which the board asserted warranted the termination of his contract. The notification specifically identified statements and conduct that appellant had made and exhibited in his dealings with the president of the teacher's union, numerous principals of the school district, and an administrative assistant, that were construed by those present as being of a sexual nature and creating a hostile work environment. The notification further outlined allegations regarding appellant's failure to supervise and discipline Darrell Hykes, the assistant to the superintendent, for Hykes' inappropriate behavior and actions throughout the school year. The notification asserted that appellant's failure to enforce board policies on sexual harassment ...


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