Covington BOE faces lawsuit

By Aimee Hancock

Miami Valley Sunday News

COVINGTON — Former school bus driver Shon Schaffer recently filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the Covington Exempted Village School District Board of Education after being fired from his position last month.

Schaffer, 47, was hired by the district as a bus driver in August 2006. On Jan. 25, 2021, he was placed on administrative leave and provided notice of a disciplinary hearing to take place on Jan. 28.

According to the disciplinary hearing notice, Schaffer was under investigation for criminal activity related to the manner in which he euthanized and ultimately disposed of a dog prior to the period of time he was authorized to do so by authorities.

According to court documents, Schaffer has been charged with duties after dog bites person; failure to quarantine dog and prohibitions concerning companion animals, both first-degree misdemeanors.

The disciplinary hearing notice states Schaffer admitted to Superintendent Gene Gooding on Jan. 21, 2021, that he had lied to a sheriff’s deputy about not knowing that the 10-day quarantine period, which was required prior to euthanizing the dog, had not expired.

The notice further states Schaffer admitted to lying to the sheriff’s deputy about how he disposed of the dog after euthanization.

“(Schaffer) had advised the sheriff’s deputy that he had disposed of the carcass by placing it in a dumpster located at Bradford Schools,” the notice states. “However, Mr. Schaffer advised (Gooding) that he actually disposed of the carcass in his own trash receptacle.”

The Covington Exempted Village Board of Education, during its regular meeting on Feb. 17, unanimously voted to terminate Schaffer’s contract based on his “dishonesty and immoral conduct.”

According to his wrongful termination appeal, filed in the Miami County Common Pleas Court, Schaffer was “fully qualified for his job and maintained a positive employment history with the board,” and “had never been subjected to any kind of discipline” prior to events leading up to his termination.

The appeal claims Schaffer’s termination does not meet the standard set by the Ohio Revised Code, “was not supported by evidence, and is not in accordance with the law.”

According to Ohio Revised Code, a non-teaching employee’s contract “may be terminated only for violation of written rules and regulations set forth by the board of education or for incompetency, inefficiency, dishonesty, drunkenness, immoral conduct, insubordination, discourteous treatment of the public, neglect of duty, or any other acts of misfeasance, malfeasance, or nonfeasance.”

As part of his appeal, Schaffer is requesting the board be enjoined from further unlawful conduct as described in the complaint; to be reinstated to his job and awarded all lost pay and benefits; to be awarded compensatory damages, including for emotional distress, as well as liquidated damages, and punitive damages; to be compensated for adverse tax consequences of receiving a lump sum rather than compensation over several separate tax years; to be awarded reasonable attorney’s fees and costs; and to be awarded all other legal and equitable relief to which he may be entitled.

No trial date has been set for the wrongful termination appeal.

A pre-trial conference has been scheduled for April 1 in reference to Schaffer’s two criminal charges.