Private hearings continue regarding Togliatti’s contract

Private hearings continue regarding Togliatti's contract

Photo: Jessica Wuensch

Anne Marie Cardilino, FHS Class of 2011, addresses the Kettering City School Board on its decision to suspend English teacher Michael Togliatti without pay pending termination of his contract. Cardilino and others attended the Aug. 2 meeting to show their support for Togliatti and hear the board’s verdict.

By Kevin O'Donnell, Editor-in-Chief

The third and fourth private hearings on the possible termination of Fairmont English teacher Michael Togliatti’s contract are scheduled this week at the Kettering Board Office in the Barnes Building on Far Hills Avenue.  One hearing will take place at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 10, and another is scheduled for the same time on Friday, Jan. 13.

Administrators and students presented testimony in private hearings on Dec. 22 and 29.

After a student complained about Togliatti’s classroom behavior last spring, administrators began calling in other students and compiling statements. On April 18, the district removed Togliatti from the classroom and placed him on administrative leave.

“The action we took was to protect our students,” said Human Resources Director Jim Justice.

The district has turned over the investigation to a third-party hearing officer from the State Board of Education, who will make a recommendation to the school board after all the hearings. The school board may accept or reject the officer’s recommendation.

John Doll, Togliatti’s attorney, expects a total of four or five hearings in January, but he says he can’t predict how long the process will take beyond that. So far, he said, the ball is still in the administration’s court.

“The school district is still presenting their case,” said Doll. “I don’t know who their witnesses are, but I’m led to believe they will be more administrators and students.” Doll said the defense will still be collecting witnesses throughout the month.

Meanwhile, a defense of a different kind has been mounting outside of the hearing room. Students who knew Togliatti from his classroom showed up on Dec. 22 and 29 to show their support. The core group of about eight students — mostly current FHS students, but also one graduate — carried signs and wore shirts bearing the words “Breng Tog Bak” (intentionally misspelled to comment on the effect of losing an English teacher).

While activity on the group’s Facebook page “Togliatti is an amazing teacher!” has waned, several of the protesters said they felt that the fight and Togliatti’s need for support is far from over.

“We want to let Mr. Togliatti and the school board know that he is not alone, and that many students enjoy his style of teaching and want him to come back,” said senior John Parrett.

The group plans to convene at 5 p.m. outside of the Barnes Building near the end of the Jan. 10 hearing to express their support for Togliatti.

Previous Flyer stories on this topic:

9/6/11:  No date set for hearing on Togliatti’s termination

8/9/11:  Board suspends Togliatti, votes to ‘consider’ termination