Commission: Probable cause found in five complaints

By Melanie Speicher - [email protected]

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Civil Rights Commission has completed its investigation into 15 complaints filed by former Sidney City School District employees.

According to Mary Turocy, director of Public Affairs and Civic Engagement, the commission found five complaints have probable cause of wrongdoing in the cases.

The commission, wrote Turocy in an email, “believes it is more likely than not that the law was broken. Each party will have a chance to request reconsideration (i.e. appeal) of these preliminary findings. Upon reconsideration, the Commission can either uphold or overturn the initial finding. The parties have 10 days to request reconsideration.”

The five employees which the commission found probable cause in the cases include Doug Zimmer and Jayne Evans, along with ShaRonda Johnson, Erika Foster-Wheeler and Tiffani Foy. The commission ruled that the complaints filed by Johnson, Foster-Wheeler and Foy were a split recommendation and there was probable cause on issue of recall/rehire only. The remainder of their complaints were dismissed.

Zimmer’s complaint which the commission found probably cause deals with age discrimination. A portion of Zimmer’s complaint was also dismissed.

Evans’ complaint which the commission found probable cause deals with age discrimination.

Complaints filed by Johnson, Foy and Foster-Wheeler concerned employees with lower rankings than they had were called back to work.

Sidney City Schools Superintendent Bob Humble said the district plans to appeal the findings.

All five have been assigned a conciliator to work out an agreement with the school district. If no agreement can be reached, a formal complaint will be issued and the case will be scheduled for a public hearing.

Complaints filed by Kenna Chavez, Tracey Landrum, Charles Havener, Reba Tippie, Judith Shepherd, Brenda Thompson, John Michalos, Renee Hamilton, Charles Tucker Jr. and Jayne Evans were dismissed.

The contracts of the staff members were non-renewed due to a reduction in force during the board of education’s May 18, 2020, meeting. Landrum, Havener, Tippie, Shepherd, Thompson, Johnson, Hamilton, Foster-Wheeler, Tucker, and Foy were all aides with the district. Michalos was a member of the IT staff.

Zimmer resigned at the May 18, 2020, board meeting from his position as assistant principal. He was then hired as a teacher beginning Aug. 1, 2020. At the June 15, 2020, board meeting, the board accepted Zimmer’s retirement request effective July 1.

Chavez was a secretary with the district. Her position was a reduction in force/nonrenewal at the June 15 board meeting.

Evans was a school psychologist with the district. Her contract was suspended at the June 15 meeting.

The commission sent a letter to each person who filed complaint informing them of their decision. Included in the letter was information stating they all have the right to file a civil lawsuit against the district.

By Melanie Speicher

[email protected]

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.