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Firelands school board sets hearing over custodian's firing


SOUTH AMHERST — This June may mark the end of years of legal battles and discord between a middle school custodian and his employer, the Firelands school district.

At a Firelands school board meeting Monday, board members approved a June 2 date for a hearing to consider terminating the contract of Matthew Galloway.

Galloway worked as a custodian for South Amherst Middle School from 1995 to 2010, when he was put on unpaid leave.

The board is considering ending their contract with Galloway based on a resolution that dates back to 2008. According to the resolution, Galloway wrongfully accused one of his co-workers at the school of looking at a photo of a semi-nude woman in the presence of students in June 2008. The Lorain County Sheriff’s Office investigated the incident and found that Galloway had made false accusations.

He was suspended 13 days without pay after the incident, but by the time he came back to work at the school that year, the relationship between Galloway and his employers was souring.

In subsequent years, South Amherst Middle School Principal David Brand accused Galloway of failing to complete his basic job descriptions like cleaning the halls and restrooms, according to the resolution.

In the 2010-11 school year, while Galloway was working with a 16-year-old student, he started acting with “unprofessional and inappropriate conduct,” according to the resolution.

In the resolution, Galloway is accused of asking the student about his personal life, using expletives around the student and gossiping about co-workers.

After hearing numerous stories about Galloway’s behavior, the school board fired Galloway in late 2010. However, as a public employee, Galloway’s contract with the school remained and he continued to receive “certain privileges,” according to Firelands Schools Superintendent Robert Hill.

In 2011 the board tried to end Galloway’s employment contract. The case was brought to the Ohio Supreme Court, but it decided not to hear the case and no final decision was made, according to Hill.

Thomas Drabick Jr., director of legal services for the Ohio Association of Public School Employees, who has been representing Galloway throughout, said that most of the complaints against Galloway are not enough to warrant termination.

“I can’t find where the conduct rises to the level of egregious behavior,” Drabick said at the board meeting on Monday.

“(Galloway) was being singled out,” Drabick said, adding that Galloway’s work performance was scrutinized more closely than other custodians at the school. “I don’t believe there was a spitball or a paper wad … missing.”

Hill said that the hearing in June, which may see witnesses testifying for and against Galloway and a review of the evidence, is the natural next step in ending their professional relationship with the custodian. It’s a step that the school board has been trying to take since 2011, he said.

“This is a process,” he said.

Contact Anna Merriman at 329-7245 or Follow her on Twitter at @AnnaLMerriman.

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