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Judge to fill Washington Local board vacancy

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Judge Jack Puffenberger

The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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Registered voters in the Washington Local school district have until 4:30 p.m. April 18 to throw their hats into the ring for an open seat on the school board.

Lucas County Probate Judge Jack Puffenberger said Monday that he will accept applications from persons interested in filling the vacancy created by the March 20 resignation of Patrick Hickey.

Mr. Hickey, a former superintendent who was elected to the school board last November, stepped down last month after he was charged with three counts of criminal sexual conduct in Lenawee County District Court for allegedly sexually abusing a 14-year-old female student while he was a teacher and coach at Addison Community Schools in Addison, Mich.

In December, 2015, Mr. Hickey resigned as Washington Local’s superintendent, shortly before the school board could consider a resolution to fire him. Among the charges alleged at that time was that he failed to inform the district that he left Addison Community Schools in 1990 because of accusations he had inappropriate relations with students.

The Washington Local board interviewed candidates for the vacancy but was unable to reach a majority vote on finalists Irshad Bannister and Christopher Sharp when it met April 2. Each candidate received two votes. A third finalist, Karen Mayfield, withdrew her name from consideration.

Mr. Bannister, a Whitmer graduate, district parent, and volunteer Whitmer football coach, unsuccessfully ran for a board seat in last year’s election. He finished a close fourth, garnering 2,894 votes. After playing football and receiving his bachelor of science degree in education from Bowling Green State University, he received an MBA from the University of Findlay in 2008.

Christopher Sharp is president of the Whitmer Panthers baseball club and has four children attending school in the district, according to the letter of intent he submitted to the board. Mr. Sharp is an electrician for Local 8, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and “an active member in the community.”

Karen Mayfield works as the executive assistant to the superintendent for Ottawa Hills Local School District. She was involved with the Shoreland Elementary School’s parent club for six years. Both of her daughters graduated from Whitmer.

By law, Judge Puffenberger now must appoint a replacement for Mr. Hickey. The judge said any of the past candidates who want to be considered must re-apply.

“My intention is to do it very similar to the way that the board did it and narrow it down to two or three people and interview those two or three people,” the judge said.

Judge Puffenberger said residents interested in filling the vacancy on the school board should submit a letter of interest and resume to judgepuff@lucas-co-probate-org or by mailing it to: Judge Jack R. Puffenberger, Lucas County Probate Court, 700 Adams St., Suite 200, Toledo, Ohio 43604.

Staff writer Javonte Anderson contributed.

— Jennifer Feehan

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