O'Donnell sues Indian Lake Schools for wrongful termination

ODonnell Pat IL

O'DONNELL

Indian Lake’s terminated district superintendent has filed a civil lawsuit in Logan County Common Pleas Court against his former employer. 

Pat O’Donnell alleges in a lawsuit dated Nov. 29 his due process is violated by the Indian Lake Board of Education, which officially fired him in a Nov. 21 resolution during a regular school board meeting. 

In its decision to terminate O’Donnell, who stands of accused of more than a dozen felonies including rape and gross sexual imposition against a minor child, the board went against the recommendation of an Ohio Department of Education arbiter that previously concluded the board should wait until after resolution of O’Donnell’s criminal proceedings before moving to fire him. 

O’Donnell’s lawsuit seeks reinstatement of his superintendent and continuing education contract, as well as attorney fees and compensation for missed salary and benefit contributions. 

Ohio Revised Code protects tenure educators and administrators from termination in the absence of, “reliable, probative or substantial evidence.” 

Robert Harrelson, a lawyer who oversaw O’Donnell’s five-day termination hearing earlier this summer, concluded the Indian Lake school board failed to “provide reliable, probative and substantial evidence that there existed good and just cause for Mr. O’Donnell’s termination.”

The board was not required to accept that recommendation, and moved to fire O’Donnell, citing an “erosion in public trust,” and testimony from law enforcement and minor children alleging he was, in fact, guilty. 

O’Donnell’s trial is scheduled on Feb. 6 through 8 in common pleas court in conjunction with his wife, Heather O’Donnell, who is suspended without pay from her position as superintendent of the Midwest Regional Educational Service Center as a result of the charges.