About 20 supporters of a Perrysburg Junior High School principal who is in the process of being fired showed up at a Board of Education meeting yesterday to voice their support for the embattled official.
The supporters said they believe the principal, Patrick Calvin, is the victim of a rush to judgment, and suffering punishment out of proportion to his alleged misdeeds.
Mr. Calvin has been suspended from his $101,493 job, without pay or benefits, for allegedly violating the Perrysburg schools' money-handling procedures. He has been accused of not depositing funds within 24 hours of receiving them, and sloppy accounting practices that have left thousands of dollars potentially unaccounted for, both violations of school district policy.
Mr. Calvin had been slated to be fired at the school board's Aug. 25 meeting. But Kevin Greenfield, Mr. Calvin's attorney, said yesterday his client had submitted an appeal and requested a closed hearing before an independent referee.
Mr. Greenfield and school officials said the termination action would be put on hold until after the hearing, which the attorney believed would be held in a month or two.
Perrysburg resident Robert Bernhoft was among those speaking for Mr. Calvin, noting the principal s military service and saying backers are distraught by the board s decision.
"After reviewing the facts, I'm confident that Patrick did nothing to violate his contract or the standards under Ohio law," Mr. Greenfield said.
This was the sentiment of Mr. Calvin's supporters who spoke to board members.
Matt Hammit, who described himself as a friend of Mr. Calvin, said the principal's alleged violations of policy seemed "more a misunderstanding than a misdemeanor."
Another supporter, Robert Bernhoft, noted that Mr. Calvin is a retired lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard. "We're all distraught with the decision of the board," he said, adding that the issue was "fodder" for opponents of school-tax levies.
Alyssa Pinkerton said the board had used a "minor infraction" on the part of Mr. Calvin "for making an example of how powerful you are."
School Board President Gretchen Downs said the board and administration were not at liberty to address the supporters' statements at length or in detail.
"This is a legal proceeding that is ongoing, and we don't know enough to speak without our attorney," she said.
In other action, the school board followed through with its plan to put a 7.3-mill incremental levy on the Nov. 4 ballot.
The new levy would replace a four-year, 5.8-mill incremental levy that expires at year's end.
The incremental levy is unusual in that it is designed to generate additional revenue each year as the district's property base grows.
If the levy was approved, the district would increase its funding by collecting 1.5 mills more than the current 5.8-mill levy in 2009 and an additional 0.75 mills each year in 2010, 2011, and 2012, for a total additional 3.75 mills.
School officials, however, do not anticipate they will have to collect the full additional millage. They believe growth in the property-tax base will result in an actual increase of 2.19 mills.
One mill equals $1 per $1,000 of a property's assessed value. The owner of a home worth $200,000 would pay, on average, $31 more per year with the new tax in place, according to school district projections.
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