‘Passing the trash’ a problem for schools in Ohio and beyond

The Blade

May 24, 2019

By Jay Skebba

When Patrick Murtha first came to Rossford Schools in search of a job, he told school board members that he was “looking for a change.”

It was 2004, and fresh off a stint in southern Ohio working as the Athens City Schools athletic director, Mr. Murtha said he wanted to move to another small town. Hence how he ended up before the school board in nondescript Rossford — a northwest Ohio community few outside the Toledo area could find on a map.

What he didn’t tell the school board, according to a recent investigation conducted by a district administrator, is that he was departing his former job after running into trouble for inappropriately touching members of the Athens school community.

Now Mr. Murtha again finds himself without a job, and again finds himself under scrutiny for acting inappropriately with young people he came into contact with because of his role as a school administrator and assistant principal.

Fifteen years after he was hired, school officials are under fire over how they’ve handled Mr. Murtha’s dismissal, and how he came to work in the district in the first place.

While the district’s report puts the onus on Mr. Murtha for self-reporting his own disciplinary problems, it’s unclear what steps Rossford Schools leaders independently took at the time to check on Mr. Murtha’s past transgressions because, as Superintendent Dan Creps noted in a letter to district families this week, none of the current board members were in place in 2004.

Board members and Mr. Creps largely refused to discuss with The Blade Mr. Murtha’s employment or their investigation until a board meeting Wednesday. All five board members and Mr. Creps admitted mistakes were made in handling the fallout, and offered apologies.

It’s not clear if district leaders went to the police once accusations by at least three Rossford students surfaced about Mr. Murtha’s conduct.

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