Out-of-court decision deals
with bus driver
By JANIE SOUTHARD
Celina City Schools board of education and its classified staff
union have settled amicably the civil lawsuit filed by the board
in September over the bus driver who failed a random drug test.
“We accomplished what the board wanted without going through
(Mercer County) Common Pleas Court,” district Superintendent
Fred Wiswell told board members at Monday’s meeting.
The lawsuit followed a decision by board members to fire Michael
Bullock, a Head Start bus driver who failed a random drug test
and admitted to smoking marijuana the weekend before he drove
After the firing, the Ohio Association of Public School Employees
Local No. 457, the union which represents classified workers
such as bus drivers, cafeteria workers and other non-teaching
staff, brought in an arbitrator who determined the board did
not have just cause to fire Bullock because he was not using
drugs in the workplace.
Arbitrator Janet Goulet’s decision on June 7 was based
primarily on Local 457’s contract language, which specifies
termination for “using drugs in the workplace.”
She also ordered the board reinstate Bullock, give him back
pay and to wipe clean his disciplinary record regarding the
The crux of the board’s lawsuit was that the arbitrator’s
decision would keep the board from terminating or disciplining
any employee in the future who fails a drug test.
In the final settlement, both the board and OAPSE agree Goulet’s
decision is limited to Bullock alone and has no binding effect
on the board for future purposes. Also agreed is that Bullock
has no right to reinstatement or back pay.
Bullock tendered his written resignation and full waiver to
reinstatement and back pay in October.
Union President Carol Henderson, who also is a bus driver, said
settling the case “brings closure and let’s us move
That matter resolved, board members moved on to more pressing
matters: the new levy in the March election and the budget reduction
plan that must be filed with the Ohio Department of Education
by Jan. 31.
The board reviewed recent information from Mercer County Auditor
Mark Giesige certifying the current tax valuation of the district
at $335,313,135. Thus, to avoid an operating deficit in the
amount of $2.65 million per year for three years, the March
levy must be 7.9 mills.
The district as well as hundreds of others in Ohio will be back
at the polls in March attempting to generate new dollars to
keep their systems in business as state and federal cuts force
schools to scramble.
“It’s a sad scenario for public schools in Ohio,”
The board will work quickly to organize a levy campaign taking
the appeal for more money to the community.
Meanwhile, Wiswell and his administrative staff are putting
together the budget reduction plans that are required by the
state in January.
“We are doing all we can to be ready to present at the
Jan. 12 meeting. Our reduction format will probably be similar
to last January’s where we presented Plan A, reductions
we must put in place no matter the levy results, and Plan B,
what has to happen if the March levy fails,” Wiswell said.
As she conducted her last meeting, board President Cindy Piper
received a plaque and certificate from the district recognizing
her leadership and dedication during the past four years.
Neither Piper nor Joe Bath sought re-election to the board.
The reorganization meeting on Jan. 12 will produce board officers
for the coming year as well as see the swearing in of new board
members Amy Hoyng and Tom Rable.
Prior to Monday’s business, Wiswell praised the district
music department for the excellence of their Christmas performances.
Vocalist Marissa Zacharias, accompanied by choral director and
pianist Dave Vantilburg, performed Christmas selections for
board members and those gathered for the meeting.