COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Professional Conduct has released the results of an investigation of alleged misconduct by a former Sidney City Schools employee.
The professional licenses of Eric Finke, of Sidney, have been suspended for 18 months, with all but 90 days of the suspension stayed, according to a consent agreement signed by Finke and Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria. Those licenses include a five-year professional superintendent license; five-year professional elementary teaching license; five-year professional principal license, one-year supplemental intervention specialist teaching license; and five-year pupil activity permit.
Finke was accused of conduct unbecoming to the teaching profession when he allegedly accessed Sidney City Schools employee emails while he was director of operations, technology and transportation with the district.
According to the consent agreement, the 90 days of license suspension will be served from May 28, 2018, through July 12, 2018, and May 29, 2019, through July 12, 2019. During the times of suspension, Finke “is prohibited from performing any educational activities, coaching activities or other duties within the state of Ohio that require certification or licensure through the Ohio Department of Education.”
He is also required to report the suspension on all future applications for licensure to be considered by the ODE.
In addition to the license suspension, Finke must take 12 hours of training in ethics and perform 80 hours of community service. Both items must be completed within 120 days of the execution of the consent agreement.
Finke is currently employed by the Indian Lake School District. Superintendent Rob Underwood said since the suspensions will be served during summer breaks, his employment with the district will not change.
“As long as he fulfills the conditions of the consent agreement determined by the Ohio Department of Education, it will not affect his employment status at Indian Lake Schools,” said Underwood.
Finke resigned from his position with the Sidney district, Oct. 3, 2016, with the resignation effective Oct. 31, 2016. He was placed on paid administrative leave until Oct. 31, 2016. Finke had been with the district for 13 years, beginning his career as a teacher, then moving to assistant principal and principal before being named director of operations.
“It has been nearly two years since these email accounts of employees were accessed without their permission, and it is a relief to know the matter has been resolved and there is finality to this matter,” said Sidney Superintendent John Scheu when contacted about the agreement.
The alleged investigation began when Scheu sent an email to the board members on Sept. 21 concerning information he had received from other district employees that “Eric Finke was sharing confidential information with them that made them feel quite uncomfortable, and one suggested they thought some of his information was coming from emails.”
During the course of the investigation, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office was contacted for input on the situation. They recommended Finke’s computer be disabled. No charges were filed in the case.
After Finke’s resignation, Scheu sent a form reporting educator misconduct to the Ohio Department of Education.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.