- Will Garbe,Lauren Clark Staff Writer
The Huber Heights School Board unanimously accepted resignation Thursday of the Valley Forge Elementary School principal without debate.
After the vote, board member Mike Miller read a statement from Larry Sussman stating it has “not been easy” over the past three years due to the loss of a parent “and other personal events.”
Speaking for himself, Miller said, “This decision, for me, is not one I made lightly. I’ve had a lot of information coming in over the past several weeks to help me get to the point where I am.”
Earlier Thursday, Sussman told this news organization that Facebook posts about Donald Trump and a photograph of a student are behind the resignation.
Under a separation agreement negotiated with the Huber Heights City School District, Sussman will continue as a teacher in the district.
Sussman was placed on administrative leave in December pending an investigation into “unprofessional behavior online,” but district officials didn’t elaborate at the time. Nor did district officials reply Thursday to interview requests.
Earlier this week, Sussman posted a video on Facebook in an attempt to clear his name.
“I’ve done my best to uphold the integrity of my office as a principal,” Sussman said. “I do not believe that I have done anything wrong.”
Sussman said district officials showed him two photographs indicative of the alleged unprofessional behavior. The first image was a photograph he took with a student in the district, he said.
That picture — which shows the two smiling side-by-side — was posted by him on Facebook, he said. Sussman said he had the permission of the student’s mother to post the photograph. He said he believes other staff have taken photographs with the same child without consequence.
The second image was a post Sussman “liked” on Facebook regarding Trump’s comments about Muslims. Sussman said he did not intend to indicate approval of the presidential candidate’s proposals.
“I clicked on that button not to say that I liked it,” Sussman said in a phone interview. “… Not to say that I agreed with it, but to be able to follow it.”
Valley Forge mother Debbie Douglas said she was glad Sussman had the opportunity to voice his side of the story.
“He needed to let people know the truth and what actually happened,” she said. “He is such a caring person and loved the kids so much.”
Sussman was previously disciplined by the district.
He received a written reprimand in September 2010 for inappropriate use of a personal cell phone that resulted in negative feelings from administrative staff, according to a review of his personnel file in December. He became principal in 2012.
As principal, Sussman earned a $91,652 base salary in 2015, according to the Dayton Daily News I-Team Payroll Project.
This news organization has filed a records request for Sussman’s up-to-date personnel file.