BLANCHESTER — Rick Hosler has resigned from his positions with Blanchester Local Schools and is no longer employed by the district.
Superintendent Dean Lynch said Hosler’s letter of resignation as Online Virtual Academy supervisor and career-based intervention supervisor was submitted Friday.
In a third-party investigator’s 17-page report, completed last month, that investigator states that the sexual harassment complaint against Hosler was filed March 2, 2018 by a school district employee. The alleged incidents occurred between 2015 and 2017.
In each case Hosler, who was given an opportunity to respond to each allegation, either denied each allegation or stated he did not recall an alleged incident.
The 5-page document signed by Hosler contains statements including:
• “There is mutual interest by both parties to amicably end Employee’s employment with the Board.”
• “Employee shall remain on administrative leave for the remainder of his contract and is to remain off all Board property for the remainder of his contract term.”
• “Employee shall not apply for any future employment with the Board.”
• “… Employee further agrees not to file any charges, complaints, claims or causes of action of any kind or nature against the Board, and of its past or present Board members, administrators, employees, agents or representatives with any local, state or federal court, governmental agency, administrative body, or any third party for any conduct of the Board, its individual Board members, administrators, or its employees occurring prior to the effective date of this Agreement and relating in any way to Employee’s employment with the board.”
The agreement also states:
• “Board shall provide Employee with a neutral letter of reference upon request.”
• “Employee shall be paid his remaining salary, in equal installments, as established by the Board’s pay schedule.”
• “The May 21, 2017 Separation agreement entered into by the Board and Employee shall be null and void and this agreement shall supersede all provisions of that agreement.”
• “It is understood that the execution of this Agreement does not constitute an admission of fault or liability of any kind whatsoever by any party.”
Hosler’s attorney, John Concannon, made the following statement to the News Journal on Monday:
“Rick Hosler has been a successful and beloved administrator for Blanchester Local Schools for many years. This is best evidenced by the outpouring of support when his employment was threatened by the Superintendent in 2015. More than 1,000 people showed up on a cold night at a board meeting to express support regarding spurious claims against him.
“Despite that lesson the District should have learned, the Superintendent attempted to non-renew him last Spring. Again, Mr. Hosler was strongly supported by the school community, kept his job and accepted a reassignment at the same pay rate, and in a position of support for the District and its students.
“This year the Superintendent again attempted to non-renew or terminate Mr. Hosler from District employment and chose again to go public. Mr. Hosler has successfully recovered from a recent near fatal heart attack and despite his love of service to the students of Blanchester Local Schools and his natural urge to defend himself, has submitted his resignation effective July 31, 2018 for his good health and peace of mind. He greatly appreciates the opportunity he has had to serve the students, parents and community members along with the vast majority of fellow employees.”
In the investigator’s 17-page report, two other female district employees “claim to have had similar comments made to them by Rick Hosler, separate and apart from those alleged by” the complainant.
The report continues, “While these two other female employees have not filed sexual harassment complaints, the nature of these comments allegedly made by Rick Hosler remains the same.
“There is also prior disciplinary history with Rick Hosler of his not responding appropriately to a prior complaint of sexual harassment during the 2014/15 school year (not related to this complaint).
“The evidence is that by a ‘preponderance of the evidence,’ the behaviors alleged by [the complainant] in her complaint against Rick Hosler are more likely to have occurred than to have not occurred and by ‘a preponderance of the evidence’, the alleged victim’s allegations are true.”
The report details how each allegation fits the legal definition of sexual harassment and/or the Blanchester Local Schools district policy on sexual harassment.
The report also states that the complainant “stated repeatedly that she needed her job and was concerned that if she reported this behavior earlier her employment might be jeopardized.”
She also “stated that she was reluctant to report this complaint due to the subject of her complaint (Rick Hosler) … and she felt pressured to be part of his ‘team’ both from him, other staff members and Rick Hosler ‘supporters’ as well as a fear that if she reported this she would suffer the same kind of negative comments she had heard about Superintendent Dean Lynch.”
On social media
Comments posted Friday on the Facebook page Blanchester Wildcats United comprised largely of Hosler supporters include:
• “The lengths someone will go to ruin someone that is up standing is disgusting and vile.”
• “The woman who has filed this complaint has been an instigator since the moment she was hired when it comes to Rick Hosler and has ‘told’ on him every time he sneezed. The fact that ‘she’ and the other two women are all friends with the superintendent is why the story has little to no merit.”
• “I have a hard time believing that ALL those cases were true and not just some vindictive women who didn’t get what they wanted so she claimed sexual harassment.”
• “When it is a matter of ‘he said, she said’ though; lies are much easier to manipulate than the truth. Just stand back, for a moment, and take an unbiased view of the situation. How convenient the times are that these ‘allegations’ arise.”
“I appreciate those teachers, secretaries and administrators who were able to adjust their schedules on such a quick notice to help pick up Mr. Hosler’s Attendance, Online and Career Based Intervention teaching responsibilities until the end of the school year,” Lynch told the News Journal Monday.
“I just appreciate the effort and professionalism all our employees have exhibited this school year. They are truly a great and fun group of people to work with.”
Supporters of Hosler have vowed to keep up the now years-long fight against Lynch.
This includes continuing to expose what they state is Lynch’s — and the previous school board members’ as well as the current members’ — bias and “witch hunt” against Hosler; questioning Lynch’s current licensure/certification status; and a settlement agreement with the Ohio Ethics Commission in 2017 regarding past painting projects performed by a company in which Lynch had an interest.
In that document, the OEC stated that “In mitigation of any violation, employees of the district had engaged in a long standing practice of being paid by the district for painting projects. The investigation found that Lynch did not personally profit from the 2014 painting contract with the District.”
It further states that, “Dean Lynch acknowledges that his approval of the painting contracts with his business associate violated the public contract provisions” of Ohio ethics law and that he agreed to accept a reprimand, and pay restitution of $940 to the district.