Thomas Ilstrup, President, Washington Local School Board hugs Jackie Semelka, right, who passed out individualized letters to each member of the school board.
The soap opera-like saga over the fate of the Washington Local Schools superintendent took another sweeping turn today when the board of education voted 5-0 to accept Patrick Hickey’s resignation.
The vote took place during a special meeting at the Administration Building.
Mr. Hickey, the district’s former assistant superintendent who was tapped in 2007 to be its top leader, has been embroiled in controversy and twice placed on leave this school year amid board investigations.
In September, an investigation into a staff member’s informal complaint that Mr. Hickey harassed her after their alleged relationship ended resulted in the board issuing Mr. Hickey letter of reprimand.
He was told not to interact with anyone he believes has filed a complaint against him, "including staff members and board members," except for school business. The board said failure to follow directives could result in further discipline or termination.
Since Nov. 18, Mr. Hickey has once again been on paid leave as the board looks into unspecified allegations. That move came after board member Patricia Carmean filed a police report claiming the superintendent had harassed her, sent her texts, and sent a critical email about her to district staff. Mr. Hickey claimed she had been “stalking” him.
Patrick Hickey's resignation letter
While on leave, Mr. Hickey was told to not communicate with parents, students, or community members about the investigation or his leave.
Earlier today, school district parent Michael Murphy announced he plans to mail a complaint today to the Ohio Ethics Commission against board member James Langenderfer.
Mr. Murphy alleges the board member disclosed confidential information obtained during executive sessions about the superintendent investigation, “causing a breakdown in the disciplinary process,” according to a copy of the letter he said he intends to send to the state.
He plans to include two sworn statements from Mark Hughes and Thomas Johnson, who both ran unsuccessfully for Washington Local school board seats in November. Mr. Hughes is still awaiting the results of an automatic recount triggered by the closeness of his race.
Both men allege that Mr.Langenderfer shared with them facts he learned in executive session about the first investigation into the superintendent.
Among other allegations, Mr. Johnson stated in his letter that Mr. Langenderfer told him that the board member had hired a private investigator and used about $3,500 of his own money to take down the superintendent.
Ohio Ethics Commission spokesman Susan Willeke said she cannot legally confirm if complaints have been or are expected to be filed. Some of the commission’s work can become public if a matter is referred to a local prosecutor and someone is charged with a crime or if the commission reaches a settlement agreement with the person under investigation.
Mr. Langenderfer and Mr. Hickey did not return calls for comment this morning.
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