BLANCHESTER — Blanchester Principal Rick Hosler issued a rebuttal to a recent letter of reprimand, denying incidents of unprofessional conduct from the 2013-2014 school year as well as an incident in November 2015.
“I feel this rebuttal is necessary because if you do intend to ‘consider termination’ in the future, I want the record to be clear as to what has (and has not) occurred as to these two reprimands you would rely upon for a termination foundation,” Hosler wrote.
Hosler also wrote that he agreed to continue to act professionally because the schools, students, parents and community have the right to expect it of him.
A letter from the school district, signed by Superintendent Dean Lynch, reprimanded Hosler, saying an investigation found Hosler had a “meltdown” where he threw things and yelled.
According to the letter, multiple witnesses confirmed the incident and Hosler admitted to saying, “I’m the principal of this building, and no one is going to tell me how to run it.” Twenty-nine witnesses also said they had been the recipient of Hosler’s anger, and nine witnesses said Hosler needed help managing his anger.
The reprimand concluded by giving Hosler multiple directives to act professionally, follow the district’s chain of command, “avoid contact that could give offense to others or have the appearance of being defiant, insubordinate or disrespectful of the administration” and complete a licensed anger management program.
Hosler wrote that he must follow those directives, would report to Lynch and is complying with Lynch’s order to complete anger management.
Hosler responded in a letter of rebuttal, dated Friday, saying Lynch didn’t mention that the victim of Hosler’s “meltdown” believed the incident didn’t merit discipline nor being placed on administrative leave.
Emails Hosler attached to the letter from Chris Branson, Blanchester schools’ student services coordinator, said she would be extremely upset if Lynch took her concerns as a complaint.
Branson wrote that she didn’t consider Hosler’s behavior bullying, writing, “If this is what you consider helping, we have very different interpretations of that word.”
In another email, sent later, Branson detailed the incident, saying Hosler was upset because he didn’t know about a conference meeting, called Branson into his office, crumpled up paper, threw it on the floor and raised his voice.
“His voice was raised, but I did not feel bullied or threatened,” Branson wrote. “I felt he was extremely stressed out. When leaving the meeting I told one teacher sitting in the front office that Mr. Hosler needs to calm down.”
Other witnesses confirmed the incident, according to Lynch’s letter of reprimand.
Branson said Lynch asked her to write a statement, which Branson said she refused to do. The next week, Branson wrote, she corrected a statement Lynch read and said she didn’t believe it was bullying, as Lynch reportedly professed.
The day after that, Hosler apologized, and Branson told Lynch, “as far as I was concerned the incident was finished,” according to Branson’s email.
“I feel the emphasis place(d) on this incident is overblown, and I was used as a pawn,” Branson wrote. “Hosler is a good man who sometimes gets emotional in defense of his teachers. The incident should not have happened, but the resulting chaos that has followed should definitely never have happened.”
Branson also wrote that she believed the incident should have been handled internally and shouldn’t have gone public.
Both of Branson’s emails were dated after Hosler was placed on leave.
Lynch told the News Journal that the complaint was one of many he received indicating a pattern of behavior, and it put the investigation into motion.
He said he felt comfortable enough with statements he received prior to the reprimand to investigate it.
Lynch said the reprimand wasn’t personal, but was about getting Hosler help based on events reported to him.
The reprimand also said the investigator independently confirmed incidents for which Hosler was reprimanded in February. Those complaints included failing to properly investigate a case of sexual harassment between two adult staff members, heckling students and a principal at a track meet, intimidated kitchen staff and behaved inappropriately at a Clinton County Juvenile services meet-and-greet event.
In the letter of rebuttal dated Friday, Hosler denied those allegations, questioning the timing and choice of witnesses and maintaining that they weren’t properly investigated. Hosler also said the track meet and kitchen staff incidents were minor, then-Clinton County Juvenile Judge G. Allen Gano said Hosler’s conduct at the meet-and-greet was not unprofessional, and the sexual harassment incident didn’t meet the definition of sexual harassment.
Both Lynch and Hosler agreed on one thing – they’re ready to put it behind them and continue their work.
“It is good to be back on the job,” Hosler wrote. “I feel so fortunate to be the Blanchester High School Principal, and I continue to be humbled by the support of this fabulous school community. I look forward to faithfully serving this school district.”
“Absolutely,” Lynch said. “I’m glad he’s back. Forgiveness is given, now we have to give him time to prove that he’s got his anger under control, and I’ll think he’ll get it under control.
“It’s for his health, and the health of our district,” Lynch continued, adding that everyone’s ready to move on.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.