When the Washington Local school board convened Wednesday night, there was one glaring absence — Patrick Hickey.
In recent months, the school district has been overshadowed by the controversy surrounding Mr. Hickey. Now, his seat was vacant, and his nameplate was gone.
Mr. Hickey stepped down from his school board seat Tuesday after he was charged with three counts of criminal sexual conduct following an investigation into a relationship with a former student decades ago.
In a written statement, Mr. Hickey said the charges filed against him are false.
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Washington Local Schools board president Thomas Ilstrup at a meeting in January.
Board President Thomas Ilstrup opened Wednesday’s meeting by reading a prepared statement before the board unanimously accepted Mr. Hickey’s resignation.
“We need to get our focus away from Patrick Hickey and move this district forward,” he said. “It’s time to refocus ourselves on the work of this body as we have been elected to perform.”
Mr. Hickey resigned as 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.
The school board has held its meetings off site this year because of a 2016 decision by the board to ban Mr. Hickey from district property following an altercation at a basketball game, as well as his separation agreement from the district that limited his access.
Moving forward board meetings will be held at the district’s administration building at 3505 W. Lincolnshire Blvd.
“I’m really excited to move home back to Lincolnshire,” board member Lisa Canales said.
The board must schedule special board meetings in the next 10 days to interview prospective candidates, board treasurer Jeff Fouke said.
It must appoint a replacement at its next regularly scheduled meeting on April 11.
Washington Local Schools superintendent Susan Hayward, right, listens to board member David Hunter make a point at a meeting in January.
Mr. Hickey’s successor would be up for re-election in two years. Interested candidates must send a letter of interest to Mr. Fouke by March 28.
In other matters, the board unanimously agreed to extend Superintendent Susan Hayward’s contract — which expires July 31, 2019 — to 2022.
A Jan. 18 vote on the same matter failed because of the abstentions of Mr. Hickey, Ms. Canales, and board member Mark Hughes.
Ms. Hayward received a standing ovation from the audience. When her new contract begins, her base salary will be $149,394.
“She has been a breath of fresh air helping the district get back on its feet,” board member David Hunter said. “She’s the right lady for the job.”
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