Kettering City Schools took the first step toward firing Fairmont Athletic Director Brian Donoher on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012, when the school board voted to consider the termination of his contract. Donoher has been off the job since early February, when he was arrested and later charged with soliciting a prostitute.
Donoher has 10 days from Tuesday’s vote to appeal the school board’s decision, and if he doesn’t, the board likely will vote to fire him.
Dayton Police arrested Donoher on Wednesday, Feb. 1, in a prostitution sting operation. When he was put on paid administrative leave after his arrest, a ripple effect of staff changes went through Fairmont High School.
Frank Baxter, a social studies teacher, wrestling coach and one of the assistant athletic directors, is now the interim AD at Fairmont. Baxter’s new position was officially approved at the Feb. 14 school board meeting, but Baxter says his quasi-start date was actually Feb. 13. Mike Haverland, a long-term substitute who is certified to teach social studies, has taken Baxter’s teaching position in Room 413.
But those two aren’t the only staff members whose workloads have increased in the past couple of weeks. Athletic Department Secretary Jonnie Shoemacher said the department has been swamped since Donoher’s sudden departure, but that they are quickly adapting.
Baxter noted the contributions of Shoemacher and Assistant Athletic Director Joy Manning. “There’s a lot of work that needs doing, but I’m not doing it by myself,” said Baxter. “All of us have been working our butts off.”
VonHandorf also recognized the extra hustle by the Athletic Department staff. “Everybody is doing more to pick up the slack from this,” he said. “We are fortunate to have such a great staff in athletics.”
Baxter described his new workday, which on several nights has lasted until midnight, as “hyper-busy.”
“I don’t think you’re ever really prepared for something like this,” he said. “No matter how prepared you feel, the added responsibility is something you can’t prepare for. I miss teaching already. I miss my classes, I miss my kids. But the school has asked me to do something that will help the community. My goal is to keep the ship going in the right direction and maintain the high level of excellence that we’ve had in athletics.”
Still a few wrinkles to iron out
VonHandorf says the school’s goal is for the students, parents and community not to see any changes in service, but the sudden staff changes do present some challenges.
For the past several years, Haverland has orchestrated the large-scale OGT tutoring that begins this time every year. Because he’s picking up Baxter’s classes, Haverland won’t be able to take as active a role in coordinating the tutoring. “On our front burner right now is finding a great OGT tutor to take over what Haverland did,” said VonHandorf. “Hopefully we will find someone to step up. We want to get the kids who might be struggling over the hump for the OGT.”
Haverland said he hopes the school can find someone to take the lead in the OGT tutoring. “But even if they don’t, I’m still taking a half a day to work on that,” he said.
Haverland is excited to be teaching in his subject area after subbing at Fairmont since 2007. “I love Fairmont. I love the community, I love the attitude and I love the students,” he said. Haverland spent 20 years in city management, before deciding to teach. “I’ve always wanted to teach history, so in 2007 I decided to go back to school to get my teaching degree.”
He noted that Baxter was well-organized with his classes, which will make the transition easier.
What’s next for Donoher?
On Saturday, Feb. 4, Donoher, 42, was charged with a third-degree misdemeanor of soliciting prostitution and a first-degree misdemeanor of possessing a criminal tool (the device referred to was the cellphone from which Donoher allegedly called the undercover police officer posing as an “escort”).
At first, Donoher was placed on paid administrative leave from his $101,492 annual salary, but he was put on unpaid family medical leave last week.
It is yet to be seen whether Donoher will leave with a financial settlement or severance package from the district. VonHandorf says the administration is proceeding with caution and that the legal process must run its course. “We constantly have to assess the situation and try to make the best decision,” he said.
Meanwhile, VonHandorf says the number of people who have volunteered their time to pick up slack has been overwhelming. “That’s what makes this such a great school district,” he said.