INDIAN LAKE — The Indian Lake Schools Board of Education has rejected an Ohio State Education Department recommendation and fired its superintendent.
According to a release on the school district’s website, the board unanimously passed a resolution during Monday night’s board meeting to reject the recommendation issued by ODE referee Robert Harrelson. The board immediately terminted O’Donnell’s contract.
O’Donnell, 52, has been on unpaid leave since July after he was charged with rape and other charges for allegedly sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl three years ago. The girl, who doesn’t attend Indian Lake Schools, is now 13.
Harrelson had recommended the board wait on further discipline under after the trial, which is scheduled to begin Dec. 6 in Logan County Common Pleas Court.
O’Donnell and his wife, Heather O’Donnell, were indicted in June by the Logan County grand jury. Heather O’Donnell, 46, faces child endangering charges for not reporting the incident when the girl made the allegations.
Heather O’Donnell is on leave as superintendent of the Midwest Regional Educational Service Center in Bellefontaine.
Following a five-day hearing held in August and September, Harrelson recommended Indian Lake Board of Education keep Patrick O’Donnell on indefinite unpaid leave until the conclusion of his criminal proceedings.
Board members rejected the analysis and conclusions contained in the referee’s report and recommendation, including but not limited to his recommendation that the roard not proceed with termination of Patrick O’Donnell’s employment contract.
By law, the board may accept or reject the referee’s recommendation. Board members have not taken any position as to Patrick O’Donnell’s guilt or innocence relative to the pending criminal proceedings.
However, based on the board’s findings of facts, continued the release, the board resolves that Patrick O’Donnell’s contract of employment with Indian Lake Schools is terminated, effective immediately.
Patrick O’Donnell has been indicted on 14 charges: four counts of rape, all first degree felonies, four counts of sexual battery, all second degree felonies, and six counts of gross sexual imposition, allthird degree felonies.
He was originally arrested, June 19, and charged with gross sexual imposition in Bellefontaine Municipal Court. That charge was dismissed when Logan County Prosecutor Eric Stewart decided to present the case to the Logan County grand jury.
The Indian Lake district said that because he was arrested and not able to report to work, the district had grounds to terminate his employment.
The referee, in a 23-page summary of findings which cited multiple legal precedents, concludedthat “the Board of Indian lake Local School District has failed to provide reliable, probative andsubstantial evidence that there existed good and just cause for Mr. O’Donnell’s termination andrecommends that all charges be dismissed againat Mr. O’Donnell and that he remain on unpaid administrative suspension until the resolution of the criminal proceedings.”
Patrick O’Donnell has been with the Indian Lake School District since 2010. He had been employed by Sidney City Schools for 20 years. He had been the district’s superintendent, principal at Northwood Elementary School and a teacher.