Jeff Sodd has been terminated by Toledo Public Schools as head girls varsity basketball coach at Rogers High School midway through his first season.
He understands the reason why, but is now baffled why he was given the position in the first place.
Because of a cocaine trafficking conviction in June of 1988, the result of an “under bulk amount” arrest for selling the drug to an undercover police officer in Perrysburg in December of 1987, he is not eligible for employment with TPS.
The Ohio Revised Code bans anyone with a felony drug-related conviction from being employed by public schools in the state.
Sodd, 34, is a 1984 Rogers graduate. He said he pleaded guilty to the charge, received no jail time, was given one year of probation and was fined $2,500. The probation expired in June of 1989, according to Sodd, who had served as an assistant coach for the past three years.
“I'm not trying to hide anything,” said Sodd, who is a painter by profession. “I was 20 years old and I made a mistake. Ever since then I've been on the straight and narrow.”
Sodd said he submitted to a drug test and the accompanying background check performed by the TPS secuity department, which includes a fingerprint analysis to verify the applicant's criminal record.
“Our athletic director (Randy Bartz) came up to me after our game against Northview last Thursday and said I was being suspended with pay,” said Sodd, who subsequently contacted Earl Apgar, the assistant superintendent of human resources for TPS.
“I spoke with Earl and he was real cordial. He said not to worry, he'd check into to it and get in touch with me. Then the next day I get a letter in the mail that says I'm terminated. All of a sudden I'm kicked to the curb with no explanation, and I'm made to look like a bad guy to all my players and their parents.”
Apgar would not comment on the specifics of Sodd's termination, other than to acknowledge that his office acted on the information when it was brought to light, and followed TPS procedures in accordance with the Ohio Revised Code.
“Anyone pleading guilty to a felony drug charge cannot work for a public school in Ohio,” Apgar said. “No exceptions.”
Apgar ackowledged that Sodd followed through properly with the TPS application requirements.
“The background check was done and we received the information,” Apgar said. “I'm pretty sure it was sitting on someone's desk well before we acted on this. That's what concerns me. It was stamped in late September.”