Editor’s Note: The Blanchester Local Schools Board of Education is expected to vote Monday night to non-renew Principal Rick Hosler’s contract for 2017-18. If that happens, as a tenured employee, he would still be offered employment in some capacity with the district.
BLANCHESTER — The News Journal obtained a copy of Blanchester High School Principal Rick Hosler’s personnel file this week following a public records request, as well as a copy of the 14-page investigative report into Hosler that the school board voted 4-1 to release Wednesday night. That investigation was undertaken by an independent investigator contracted by the district’s legal services firm, Bricker & Eckler.
Hosler attorney John Concannon of Freking, Myers & Reul, when contacted for comment about both the investigative report and the personnel files, provided copies of several pieces of earlier correspondence totaling 15 pages, including:
• A letter dated March 8, 2016 from Concannon to the board’s attorneys stating that he had received nothing in response to earlier requests for answers to 27 separate questions he and his client had, and that he had also not received a copy of the investigator’s report.
Those questions include:
“1. In the alleged sexual harassment discipline, who was the victim of sexual harassment?”
“2. In the incident referred to in number 1, why was the confidentiality requirement of Board Policy ACAA-R violated?”
“3. Was anyone investigated and/or disciplined for violating that policy, specifically Superintendent Lynch?”
“8. Does Superintendent Lynch admit that when he spoke with Judge Gano about the Aug. 15, 2014 meeting at court, the judge told him that Mr. Hosler was passionate, but neither unprofessional nor inappropriate and that Judge Gano saw no behavior meriting discipline.”
“17. I have seen your client state in writing and I heard Board President Shonkwiler state at the Dec. 15, 2015 board meeting that employees being investigated are always put on administrative leave while the investigation is pending. I have informed you of citizen concerns of active investigations of Superintendent Lynch by sheriff and/or prosecutors as to district painting contracts and track contracts. I also provided you with supporting documentation as to the painting contracts. At least one school community member has brought these issues to the board and provided supporting documentation. Does your client agree? Please advise as to why Superintendent Lynch has not been placed on administrative leave. Please advise as to whether there has been any internal investigations by the board as to possible inappropriate/criminal/unethical/unprofessional conduct by Superintendent Lynch.”
• A letter dated Dec. 3, 2015 from Concannon to the board’s attorneys making a public records request for “all documents, recordings, transcripts, etc. relating in whole or in part to the district’s investigation into the allegations documented in Superintendent Dean Lynch’s letter to Principal Rick Hosler dated Nov. 24, 2015 …” as well as “all emails or other correspondence dated since Dean Lynch has become superintendent of Blanchester Local Schools which reference Rick Hosler other than as an addressee in a group” and “all correspondence related to the appointment and duties of investigator Janice Collette.”
• A copy of the Jan. 19, 2016 reprimand of Rick Hosler by Dean Lynch.
• A copy of Rick Hosler’s rebuttal to the Jan. 19, 2016 letter of reprimand.
• Two letters from Blanchester educators stating that, in essence, incidents with Hosler were overblown by the superintendent.
The below are short excerpts of reports/letters written by Superintendent Dean Lynch and taken from Rick Hosler’s personnel file, which contains hundreds of pages of material. The files also contain rebuttals/explanations on some issues by Hosler to Lynch.
These excerpts, all from either 2016-17 and 2015-16, are verbatim except for — to benefit the reader — correcting typographical errors and adding clarifications in brackets.
• “Your acts of anger have exhibited a lack of respect for members that is going to take time to ensure that you treat employees and students with respect and for me to feel comfortable that disrespect, whether it be physical, verbal, emotional or social, has ceased toward all employees. You were to provide me with documentation by April 2016 indicating you have completed anger management counseling sessions. On 11/22/16 we met and I asked you about providing me with such documentation and you stated the sessions were so good you wanted to take more and that you could get the document to me shortly, when you completed your last session, which was coming up. On 2/22/17 I sent an email to you reminding you of a meeting on 2/28/17 and to bring documentation indicating your completion of the anger management counseling sessions. At the meeting you told me you left the document at home and would get it to me. As of March 6, 2017, I have yet to receive the document from your counselor. Something as important as a directive and not meeting its deadline in a reprimand seems to indicate a lack of seriousness and/or negligence of the directive and/or the management of your anger.”
• “On Aug. 8, 2016 you submitted a $1,400 requisition for staff shirts that was denied. And on Nov. 22, 2016 you again submitted a $3,500 requisition for weight-room equipment. Both requisitions requested the expenditures to come out of the building budget totaling $4,900 (16% of your allotted budget for FY17). With the purchase of AP and Honors textbooks taken out of your building budget being a concern [of yours], more of an effort could have been made to manage your building budget to support purchases for staff and the student instructional needs.”
• “It was evident that not all staff members understand the importance of your building’s Continuous Improvement process. During your presentation a member from your staff stated in front of his colleagues, principals, district staff and DFA representative he didn’t understand what the “big deal was” re: the presentation. This is clear evidence your efforts in facilitating, leading and monitoring the continuous improvement process in your building was not understood by all.
“When ACT scores are compared to the State average the 2016 ACT Composite scores reflects a 1.6 gap, which is the largest gap the building has seen the past five years. 2016 ACT scores also indicated a decline from the prior year in all assessed subjects as well as the composite score.
“Three-year data suggests no students (0 of 32) have passed the AP Math exam in the last three years. It is clear this data suggests the curriculum blocks are not aligned. I would strongly recommend beginning discussions with the Director of Instruction on ways to address this deficiency. The concern of your AP math scores was reflected in your 2015-16 evaluation.”
• “Walk-throughs [by the superintendent] provide snapshot evidence that regular classroom visits [by the principal] are not being conducted. Eight of nine walk-throughs between Aug. 22 and Nov. 11 indicated you were sitting in your office or conference room. To ensure instructional classroom practices are effective, regular classroom visits and basic feedback to staff should be provided. I would recommend documenting your walk-throughs for what you are seeing and hearing in the classrooms.
• [Regarding tardiness of school staff; day starts at 7:10 a.m.] “Employees entering the building: 12/1/16: 7:12 and 7:16; 12/7/16: 7:11 and 7:13; 12/20/16: 7:14; 1/12/17: 7:12; 2/13/17: 7:11, 7:12 and 7:15.”
• “Staff members reporting to work late gives evidence rules are not being reinforced or not consistently reinforced.”
• “You have failed to meet multiple requests to have Virtual Learning Academy (VLA) grades and course codes in Progress Book. I had sent an email to you on Aug. 19, 2016 and Dec. 13, 2016. Only after my Dec. 13, 2016 email (3 months later) wanting an explanation as to why my expectation and my August request hadn’t been addressed, did the course codes get recorded. As of March 6, 2017 VLA interim and report card grades still have not been recorded in Progress Book… As of April 13, 2017 interim and report card grades for VLA students have yet to be recorded in Progress Book. Your failure to take care of this request in a prompt manner after being brought to your attention (three times) gives the appearance of being defiant, insubordinate or being disrespectful of administration …”
• “You were misleading in your Dec. 14, 2016 email stating MVECA was developing a program to make VLA compatible with Progress Book and training would be offered in the spring, stating … ‘It was day-to-day growth and refinement with the new program. MVECA recommended that we wait until the spring to begin using the program so training could be put in place for us.’ In a Dec. 15, 2016 email, you confirmed the compatibility of the two programs stating that they would ‘be compatible and was hoping it will streamline the process.’ When I asked you to contact MVECA to schedule the staff training this spring for all the administration, you told me they (MVECA) cancelled the training. MVECA administration reports no mention of any such program under development or training for schools put in place this spring, nor was a call made to schedule the spring training sessions.”
• “Mr. Hosler misdiagnoses the state of instructional practices in the school, and is unable to articulate clear strategies to improve instruction.”
• “You shared that ‘Vocabulary’ and ‘Dialogue’ were the two instructional strategies you would like to see your teachers using. When asked to describe what you thought ‘Vocabulary’ looked like in the classroom, you said, ‘correct spelling.’ Such an answer gives clear evidence of your inability to accurately describe the instructional strategy you deem most important in your classrooms. Also, principals … are to make systematic and frequent classroom visits. Walk-throughs would seem to support that a majority of your time is spent in your office or sitting in the cafeteria during students’ lunch time.”
• “Mr. Hosler submitted a FY 2015 requisition for $1,248 to pay the second installment of a purchase made in FY 2014 for a 5-man sled for the football team out of his Instructional Supplies fund for the building. When asked about his desire to pay out of his building Instructional Supplies, his response was ‘Yes’. This prompted a review of past purchases made out of his building budget.
“The review discovered purchases out of the instructional supplies line item was used for athletic department equipment such as … first installment of a 5-man [sled], cleat cleaner, field goal holder, water station, football line-up markers, gym floor cover, 6-roller covermate, seaming tape, walk behind tapemate, 2 baseball pitching nets, first-down football markers, two 15-foot portable benches, crossbar, goal post pads with lettering, track cover, end zone pylons, shot and disc carrier, portable ball holder, soccer nets, cleat cleaner, field goal holder, water station, football lineup marker and a custom street banner.”
“The review also found other athletic equipment purchases of $3,874.17 out of the building fund budget (not from instructional supplies line item) which consisted of a sideline turf protector, track protector and crossover (track) protector.”
• “Although improvement has been made in Standard 1, Standard 3 continues to be an area of concern and need for improvement. Mr. Hosler clearly did not meet the level of performance in Standard 3:
“a) Failing to remain calm and professional at all times by not using an aggressive tone, demeanor and actions when reacting/responding to problems. See reprimand dated 1/19/16.
“b) Failing to address tardiness of his staff.
“c) Misled and/or submitted inaccurate records to the district office. On 5/27/14 and 6/11/14 requisitioning purchases described as ‘P.E. equipment’ to be paid out of his building’s instructional supplies line item. Purchases were actually used for athletic department equipment. 30% of the building budget and 59% of instructional line item expenditures in the 2014-15 SY were spent to offset athletic department/equipment expenses.
“d) Insubordinate and/or not understanding the concept of a building budget. After the purpose of a building budget was discussed in October (a month prior) regarding the athletic department equipment purchases. A requisition was submitted on 11/5/15 requesting $2,437.75 of purchases for “Awards” to be paid out of his building budget. Purchases were actually 440 pieces of clothing apparel given out free to 20 teams and coaches who participated in a holiday basketball tournament.” [Editor’s Note: 65 polo shirts/ 375 T-shirts were allegedly purchased for all players and coaches in the annual tournament held at Wilmington College and run by a high school teachers’ organization; in 2015 the schools participating were Blanchester, Clinton-Massie, East Clinton, Wilmington, Mason, Lakota East, Fairfield, Eastern Brown, Park Tudor (Ind.), Mansfield, Cleveland East Tech, Paint Valley, Cleveland Heights, Dublin Jerome, Northridge, South Ripley (Ind.), Chaminade-Julienne, Johnstown-Monroe, New Albany and Northmont.] .. “The design on the clothing apparel states ‘sponsored by Blanchester High School’.”
• “Mr. Hosler waited 36 days (9/11/15 to 10/17/15) to notify a student their behavior has ‘fallen below the standards for character set forth in the constitution of NHS.’ Notification was sent to the student (10/17/15) after Mr. Lynch shared an email from a parent with Mr. Hosler on 10/15/15 regarding disciplining NHS members. Mr. Hosler stated, ‘We are working on addressing it.’ After a meeting with the parent on 10/16/15, Mr. Lynch sent an email to Mr. Hosler asking … ‘If any of our athletes who were disciplined for violating our Student Code of Conduct this year NHS members? If so, are they in violation of any NHS by-laws/criteria?’ Mr. Hosler’s reply was as follows: ‘A letter is being sent to the student and … parents notifying them of the process.’ Two days later (10/17/15) a letter was sent to the NHS member notifying them of a hearing scheduled on 10/30/15. The hearing is 49 days from the time of the original discipline was issued (9/11/15). When asked about the delay in addressing the NHS discipline, Mr. Hosler explained he was ‘allowing time for the initial discipline (suspension on 9/11/15) to calm down.’”
Reach Tom Barr at firstname.lastname@example.org.