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Published: Friday, 7/17/2009

Bellevue suspends 2 top school officials

BLADE STAFF

BELLEVUE, Ohio - A week after relieving Bellevue City Schools Superintendent William "Bud" Martin and Assistant Superintendent Darrell Hykes of their duties, the school board last night suspended them without pay.

Mr. Martin and Mr. Hykes, who have been with the Sandusky County school district one year, are accused of repeatedly violating the district's policy on sexual harassment and creating a hostile workplace.

They did not attend the board meeting last night, and they did not send anyone to represent them. Each will be informed of the board's action by certified letter. If they or their attorneys do not respond within 10 days, the board could terminate their contracts.

The board also appointed Kim Schubert, principal of Ridge and Shumaker elementary schools, as acting superintendent. She will be paid $350 a day.

In advance of last night's hearing, lurid allegations were detailed in letters sent to both men. Since July 9, both men have been suspended with pay and banned from coming onto school district property, attending school functions, or contacting school district employees.

According to a letter from board President Theodore Clark and Vice President Martin Shelley, Mr. Hykes, during the 2008-09 school year, "on numerous occasions made crude, rude, obscene, and sexual comments to employees of the school district."

Mr. Martin was cited for hiring Mr. Hykes, whom he previously worked with in the Strongsville, Ohio, school district, when he knew or should have known of his "propensity for creating a hostile work environment." Whether or not he was aware, the letter contended, Mr. Martin "failed to properly supervise and discipline Mr. Hykes for his inappropriate behavior and actions."

The men were accused of making sexual comments to employees, using obscene language, discussing their sex lives openly, and laughing at each other's inappropriate jokes. The behavior began, according to the board's letter, shortly after Mr. Martin arrived in the district.

In an Aug. 4 conversation with an unnamed person, Mr. Martin allegedly said he was committed to helping the person with professional growth by saying, "I am committed to growing you and your career. Let me fertilize you. Let me spread some fertilizer on you, and we'll go a long way."

The superintendent was accused of asking female employees "to pirouette in front of him so that he could view their clothing and make comments about how the employee looks."

The board said that Mr. Martin was responsible for creating "a hostile work environment based on sex that is so pervasive that all of the elementary principals made a pact during the 2008-09 school year never to leave one of them alone with [Mr. Martin] or Mr. Hykes at the board office."

Mr. Hykes, the allegations stated, returned from vacation and showed employees vacation photos on his digital camera that included a photo of a female friend who had a penis-like object between her breasts. Mr. Hykes "continually made sexual comments and innuendos to central office staff concerning the size of [his] genitals and [his] sexual prowess," the letter stated.



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