District treasurer Jeffery Fouke, left, and board members Patricia Pedro Carmean and Eric Kiser attend an emergency meeting of the Washington Local school board Saturday. The board voted 5-0 to ban ex-superintendent Patrick Hickey from school property — even for his children’s events.
When former Washington Local Schools Superintendent Patrick Hickey agreed to resign rather than be fired last year, he was ordered to stay off school grounds except to attend his children’s school events.
During an emergency meeting Saturday morning, the school board revoked that privilege, citing Mr. Hickey’s “disturbing, disruptive, embarrassing, and inappropriate” behavior at the Whitmer-Lima Senior varsity basketball game Friday night.
Following a 45-minute executive session, Board President David Hunter said Mr. Hickey had been “very verbally aggressive” with referees and “verbally confrontational” with district Athletic Director Tom Snook. Mr. Hunter also said that Mr. Hickey hugged interim Superintendent Cherie Mourlam at the game, continuing to embrace her even after she made it clear she was uncomfortable.
RELATED ATTACHMENT: Board Resolution: 2-13-2016
“As a result of the safety concerns for its employees and the need to maintain decorum and order at its school functions, Mr. Patrick Hickey shall not be allowed to come onto board premises,” stated a resolution that was approved 5-0. “And he shall not be permitted to attend any function of the Washington Local Schools on property owned or controlled by the board ... until further action of this board.”
Interim superintendent Cherie Mourlam reacts to the decision that former superintendent Patrick Hickey is banned.
Mr. Hunter said the board would send Mr. Hickey a notice of its resolution and invite him to “respond to the charges” and “otherwise explain his actions” in an executive session planned for 5 p.m. Monday.
Mr. Hickey was forced to resign in December after months of allegations and investigations prompted by an informal complaint by a teacher who said Mr. Hickey repeatedly sent her unwanted communications after their alleged relationship ended.
Mr. Hunter said because some of the allegations against Mr. Hickey involved the harassment of staff members, his separation package included the stipulation that he not be allowed on Washington Local property.
“I urged my fellow board members to allow Patrick to attend activities and sporting events that his children were involved in,” he said. “I felt that as a father of three who played sports myself that this was a nice thing to do.”
Senior Night on Friday changed all that.
Mr. Hunter said that at one point during the game, Mr. Hickey left the stands and went down to the end line at the far corner of the gym where players head to the lockerroom and again yelled at the referees.
They asked the athletic director to remove him.
“Mr. Snook was forced to remove him from the gym three separate times, and each time he removed him, Mr. Hickey would reappear at another door,” Mr. Hunter explained. “On the last occasion, while in the corridor, Mr. Hickey was yelling and became verbally abusive to Mr. Snook.”
Mr. Hunter said that when he later asked Mr. Snook what he would have done if any other parent acted that way, Mr. Snook said he would have had the parent arrested.
Earlier in the evening, Mr. Hunter said Mr. Hickey approached Mrs. Mourlam and wrapped his arms around her. She kept her arms at her sides, he said.
“When she did not reciprocate the hug, he became agitated and began saying, ‘Are you afraid you’ll get in trouble? Are you afraid you’ll get in trouble?’ ” Mr. Hunter said.
“Mrs. Mourlam tried to get away from Patrick, and when he would not let her go, he said, ‘Are you trying to get away from me? Are you trying to get away from me?’ And at that point, he released her.”
Mr. Hunter said he promised all of the staff members affected by Mr. Hickey’s actions that they would not be put in such uncomfortable situations at school again.
“Under the circumstances, considering they were trying to deal with a man who at one time they had utter respect for and who was their boss, they did as great a job as they could to control the situation,” he said.
Mrs. Mourlam, who plans to retire July 31 after more than 15 years with the school district, declined to comment after the meeting.
A former special-education coordinator and director of student services, she was assistant superintendent from 2007 until her appointment as interim superintendent Dec. 16.
Mr. Hickey, who remains on the district’s payroll through July 31 as an “administrator on leave,” could not be reached for comment. He has four children, three of whom attend Washington Local Schools, administrators said.
Mr. Hunter said afterward that it was up “in the air” whether Mr. Hickey would be permitted to attend his son’s graduation from Whitmer this spring.
“It’s going to be discussed,” he said.
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: email@example.com or 419-213-2134.
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