PIQUA — The Upper Valley Career Center Board of Education voted during its meeting this week to suspend a teacher without pay and to initiate termination proceedings.
Mark Lester, of Tipp City, formerly a full-time automotive technologies teacher and as-needed special projects/maintenance worker at the school here, was dismissed from both positions when the board unanimously passed — without comment — a resolution referencing Lester’s June 21, 2017, conviction for assault.
Lester had pled guilty in Miami County Municipal Court. He had been charged with a first-degree misdemeanor assault for, according to court documents, “while intoxicated, punching his wife multiple times in the face.” When police arrived at the scene, he answered the door with a gun in his hand. He put the gun down when police told him to do so, court records show.
Lester was sentenced to one year of probation and counseling sessions. He also had to give his firearms to his father. In addition, he received a sentence of 180 days’ jail time, which was suspended.
UVCC Superintendent Dr. Nancy Luce had written to Lester, Aug. 9, to inform him that pursuant to Ohio Revised Code Section 3319.39(B)(1), she planned to recommend that the board terminate his nonteaching contracts and initiate termination of his teaching contract. That code section states “no board of education of a school district, no governing board of an educational service center, and no governing authority of a chartered nonpublic school shall employ a person if the person previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to any of the following.” Among the following list of code sections was the one concerning assault.
The board took the action after an executive session lasting just under an hour, during which the board met with Lester and his legal team.
The motion to adopt the lengthy resolution was made by Joyce Reives and seconded by Doug Trostle. The resolution read, in part, “… the board accepts the superintendent’s recommendation to suspend Mark Lester from his teaching contract, immediately and without pay … to initiate termination proceedings … for just cause … (and) to terminate Mark Lester’s nonteaching employment …”
In passing the resolution, the board also directed the UVCC treasurer to provide Lester with legal notice of the action and with notice of Lester’s right to request a hearing.
In other business, the board:
• Approved a Shelby County United Way Special Project Grant in the amount of $2,750 for counseling services provided to Shelby County students by New Creation Counseling Center.
• Accepted donations of $500 by Western Ohio Home Builders Association to support the Carpentry SkillsUSA program; of a John Deere garden tractor by Devon Jeffries for use by the ag and power technologies students; of tools worth $700 by Harbor Freight for use by electrical trades students; and of 25 pairs of steel-toed work boots by Perrigo Nutritionals for student use.
• Approved out-of-state travel by Apprenticeship Coordinator Tony Trapp for the Emerson 360 Conference in Chicago in October.
• Approved the Adult Aspire Student Handbook.
• Increased meal-reimbursement for international travel to $100 per day.
• Hired Elizabeth Bingham and Sharon Ernst as general education short-term substitute teachers; Terry Krogman as a permanent vocation teacher; Nicholas Baumer, Jessica Helsinger, Derek McCracken, Kreg McCullough, Matt Pleiman, Nathan Sailor and Lindsey Whetstone as agricultural science instructors in the Bradford, Covington, Hardin-Houston, Newton, Fort Loramie, Fairlawn and Jackson Center satellite locations; John Kreitzer as a career tech instructor in horticulture and landscape management; Jim Metz and Michaella Quinter as a career tech instructors in environmental occupations; Daniel Schmiesing as career tech instructor in agriculture and power technologies; Deborah Stanfield as career tech instructor in veterinary science; and Sabra Tomb as a volunteer in the Adult Aspire program.
• Approved $200 stipends for resident educator mentors Susan Caudill, Mitzi Clark, Frank Harris and Kerri Lovelace; a $400 stipend for resident educator mentor Shellie Gyetvai; a $400 stipend for resident educator summative assessment mentor Susan Caudill; $200 stipends for OTES Student Learning Objectives Committee members Megan Flanagan, Larry Griffis, Amanda Helmstetter and John Kreitzer; and $500 stipends for Brenda Ciribassi and Denise March, who completed SAM training.
• Accepted the resignations of adult WD industrial instructor Brent McKinney and electrical trades paraprofessional Kenneth Rank.