The Washington Times-Herald

Local News

September 5, 2013

Fears fired at Otwell Elementary

Attorney for principal said he will sue

PETERSBURG — The Pike County School Board fired Otwell Elementary Principal Rick Fears on Tuesday on several allegations including falsifying attendance records and not performing teacher evaluations.

Fears was fired by an unanimous vote of all five school board members during the short meeting. The principal was placed on administrative leave last month pending a review.

The Pike County School Corporation released the findings of fact statement Wednesday that said the principal was fired for allegedly not performing teacher evaluations, falsifying attendance records and violating the student Federal Education Right to Privacy Act by releasing test results with student names.

Mark Phillips, Fears’ attorney, says his client is preparing to sue the school and the board within 10 days of Tuesday’s meeting. He said after the meeting he “was shocked” by the board’s vote. Fears and Phillips met with the board in an executive session last week as part of his appeal process.

“We had a seven-hour hearing a week ago (Tuesday). In fact, we were done by midnight,” Phillips said. “I quite frankly thought we would learn that he was going to be reinstated and begin work (Wednesday) and take off as things had not occurred because I did not hear anything in the presentation by the school corporation suggesting he should be terminated and his contract be cancelled.”

Fears declined comment after the meeting. Members of the board declined comment after the meeting, but board President Jerry Grubb said a findings of fact statement would be made public at the school’s central office in Petersburg on Wednesday.

In the findings of fact document, it says Fears made late evaluations of teachers or not even at all. The document said Superintendent Suzanne Blake met with Fears on April 24 and found many evaluations were not completed. The findings also say the former principal did not begin classroom evaluations until later in the year and the document also said the principal used unsubstantiated and incorrect data in making those evaluations.

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