Former superintendent Patrick Hickey answers a question during a League of Women Voters candidate forum for the Washington Local School Board at Calvary Bible Chapel in Toledo.
The new Washington Local school board that will be seated Wednesday evening already has controversial events with which to deal.
On the agenda of the organizational meeting — normally an occasion built largely around ceremony and formality — are items regarding the board-imposed ban of Patrick Hickey on district property, as well as his separation agreement that additionally bans him from most district property. Both items came out of his resignation from the district in 2015 while under investigation, as well as a subsequent confrontation with a basketball official.
The outgoing board voted in December to not lift his ban or move Wednesday’s board meeting, though three of the outgoing members who voted then either lost in last year’s election or did not run to retain their seat. Mr. Hickey won one of three open seats in November, and insists he should be allowed on district property and the bans lifted.
Before Wednesday’s meeting, Mr. Hickey’s former assistant, Sharon Giles, swore Mr. Hickey into office at the Washington Local library branch. According to guidance by the Ohio School Boards Association, notaries public — of whom Ms. Giles is one — may administer oaths of office in Ohio. State law regarding boards of education specify that school treasurers or board members may administer the oath of office, but other, broader provisions allow notaries public to administer oaths.
“For these, you want to read them together as opposed to conflicting,” said Van Keating, an attorney with the Ohio School Boards Association, in relation to state law on administering oaths of office.
Mr. Hickey streamed video of his private swearing-in ceremony on Facebook, and argued he should be seated by the new board because it was the will of the voters. He also reiterated his repeated position that he had done no wrong while an educator, and issued veiled threats to the board that if he was not seated he would sue in federal court.
“Please don't waste taxpayer money and make me go to federal court to be seated to fulfill the Constitution of the United States and the will of the people of the Washington Local school district in Lucas County, Ohio,” he said. “Don't make me do that, please.”
Mr. Hickey resigned as Washington Local's superintendent in December, 2015, shortly before the school board could consider a resolution to fire him because of 37 charges compiled by a board-hired law firm. Those charges included allegations he failed to inform the district that he left Addison Community Schools in Addison, Mich., in 1990 after accusations surfaced that he had inappropriate relationships with students.
They also included accusations of inappropriate relationships with staff and harassment of employees.
A separation agreement limits his access to district property for events other than those related to his children, although the superintendent or board president can waive that restriction. The board then banned him from all district property after an altercation between Mr. Hickey and school officials at a basketball game.
The board meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
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