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Ex-leader of Bellevue schools to appeal his firing

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BELLEVUE, Ohio - Former Bellevue Schools Superintendent William "Bud" Martin said yesterday he will appeal his termination and the school board's decision to reject a hearing officer's recommendation that he keep his job.

"I've already been found innocent of those charges by an independent hearing officer, so I have no reason to think the court's not going to do the same," said Mr. Martin, 52, of Olmsted Falls, Ohio.

He was placed on unpaid leave in July along with his assistant, Darrell Hykes, after they were accused of sexually harassing female employees. Both men appealed the board's plans to fire them, and their cases were reviewed by separate hearing officers from the Ohio Department of Education.

While a hearing officer upheld Mr. Hykes' termination, Victor Kademenos' report on Mr. Martin's case last month concluded the superintendent did not sexually harass female employees and did not create a hostile workplace. Mr. Kademenos said some of Mr. Martin's comments "could be considered crass or rude," but did "not rise to the level of sexual harassment."

The school board vehemently disagreed Thursday night. In a lengthy rebuttal, the board said its sexual harassment policy prohibits behavior that creates an offensive environment, which it believes Mr. Martin surely did.

"The board does not interpret looking at bust lines or looking female employees 'up and down' as merely 'impolite,'•" the board stated. "We interpret the placing of an arm around a subordinate and calling her his 'hottie honey,' as not merely 'unprofessional, rude or crass,' but tending to create an 'offensive environment.'•"

Moreover, the board said, the hearing officer seemed to ignore that Mr. Martin was the highest executive officer of the district.

"As superintendent, it was Mr. Martin's contractual and legal obligation to enforce school policy with all school employees, including himself," the board stated.

The board voted unanimously to fire Mr. Martin for gross inefficiency and willful and persistent violations of the reasonable rules and regulations of the board. He may appeal his termination in Huron County Common Pleas Court, which Mr. Hykes has done.

Dr. Ted Clark, board president, issued a statement: "The board members have spent many hours reviewing the record of this matter, as this is a serious matter involving Bellevue's most important school official."

Meanwhile, Mr. Martin faces five misdemeanor counts of falsification in Bellevue Municipal Court for allegedly falsifying mileage reimbursement forms for more than $900 while he was superintendent. The case is set for a pretrial hearing March 8.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-724-6129.

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