BLANCHESTER — While school officials remain quiet about why exactly Blanchester High School Principal Rick Hosler was suspended, his personnel file indicates several incidents of alleged unprofessional behavior contrary to the district’s policies.
The complaints allege intimidating staff, failing to investigate reports of sexual harassment, heckling students at a football game, throwing things and shouting and publicly criticizing juvenile courts and social services agencies at a school function.
Superintendent Dean Lynch wrote a notice of report dated Nov. 24 to Hosler regarding a “meltdown” where Hosler allegedly “threw things, screamed/yelled and made statements such as ‘No one is running my building or telling my teachers what to do, I’m the principal. Don’t you dare talk to my teachers. Dean and Bridgid [Carson, director of instruction] are trying to run my building; I’m the principal of this building!’ ‘This is in addition to other complaints of unprofessional behavior by staff and parents this school year and last,” the letter continued.
That letter also placed Hosler on paid administrative leave.
Another letter, dated February 2015, details at least some of those complaints referred to in the Nov. 24 letter. Many of them mention that Lynch had “recently” become aware of the complaints.
In 2014, Hosler allegedly failed to adequately handle allegations of sexual harassment by an adult staff member upon a male student. A teacher witnessed “what he believed to be male-on-male sexual harassment” in fall 2014. The teacher reported it to the assistant principal, who reported it to Hosler. Hosler allegedly failed to notify Lynch and failed to “investigate the incident consistent with the Board of Education’s police on sexual harassment.”
“Instead, you approached the teacher who reported the incident, pointed your finger at the teacher and said in a stern voice, ‘The issue with (the alleged perpetrator) yesterday is a done issue and it stops here. It will go no further and stops here.’”
The second fall incident alleged that Hosler intimidated kitchen staff after someone commented that Hosler didn’t thank them after the 2014 Cider Keg game against Clinton-Massie. Hosler allegedly approached two kitchen employees, asking if “we have a problem?” When told “no,” he allegedly said, “We won’t have any more problems.”
“Both individuals indicated your actions were intimidating, and it appears to me, done to silence them from expressing their opinions,” Lynch wrote in a letter of reprimand. Lynch added that it appears to have been done to silence those employees. “In the future, you are to conduct yourself in a more professional manner when investigating employee complaints or concerns. Intimidating and directing people into silence will likely cause more dissatisfaction in the workplace than engaging such individuals in an open discussion about their concerns.”
A third 2014 incident occurred in August, when Hosler allegedly criticized then-Clinton County Juvenile Judge G. Allen Gano, the county prosecutor’s office and said the court didn’t support school administration.
“The purpose of the meeting was to introduce the staff of the Juvenile Court, Children Services and other social service agencies available to assist public schools in the area,” said Lynch’s letter. “Judge Gano told me that he had to ‘step in because it was escalating to the point of getting out of hand.’
“It is not your place to represent the interests of the entire School District on such matters,” Lynch continued to write.
A fourth 2014 incident alleged that Hosler “heckle(d)” a student judge at a track meet at another school. Hosler allegedly took the clipboard from that student when another district’s principal intervened. Allegedly, Hosler continued to heckle students and staff from other schools, causing one competitor “to become upset to the point of crying.”
The other district’s principal allegedly told Hosler, “You are a principal. You should act like it,” according to the letter of reprimand.
Lynch said Hosler did not file any responses to the letters of reprimand. The News Journal was unable to contact Hosler Tuesday.
In an email to the News Journal about a week ago, Lynch stated that Hosler was placed on paid administrative leave after the district received a complaint about Hosler. Lynch stated it is board policy to not discuss personnel issues publicly. He also said that district policy required an investigation and that Brickler and Eckler, the district’s legal counsel, recommended placing Hosler on leave until the investigation was finished.
Brickler and Eckler is also charged with handling the investigation.
Lynch said he couldn’t estimate how long the investigation would take. He also said, “We are committed to reaching a conclusion as swiftly as possible but also in a manner that is thorough and fair to everyone involved and that protects the integrity of our students, staff and parents.”
Although Lynch declined to elaborate about the complaint, he did say that placing Hosler on leave “is being taken as part of an investigatory procedure, and does not constitute any disciplinary action or determination of any wrongdoing.”
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.