Records show communication between Hamilton school board and superintendent on his administrative leave

The letter placing Hamilton Schools Superintendent Tony Orr on administrative leave this week uses different language for its reason than the board’s public communication, according to an exclusive review of internal district records by this news outlet.

MORE: Hamilton Superintendent says he doesn’t know why he was ordered on leave

Documents obtained through an Ohio public records request reveal the Hamilton Board of Education’s note to Orr on Feb. 5 cites a “pending investigation into allegations of misconduct.”

The board’s statement released to the public on Tuesday, Feb. 6 — and signed by Board President Steve Isgro — states the board “is investigating allegations that Orr may have violated board policies.”

Orr released his own comments a few hours after the board released its Tuesday statement saying that he was “unaware of what the allegation is, (and) I am confident that I will be exonerated at the conclusion of this investigation.”

The board said it would not comment further on the matter, and aside from Orr’s statement, he also has not responded to requests to comment.

MORE: 5 things to know about Hamilton Schools leader Tony Orr

Under the Ohio Revised Code, the term “misconduct” has many definitions and distinctions.

The board will not go into details while the investigation is active, Isgro said, but he said that students are not involved.

A review of Orr’s personnel file also revealed he did not sign the Ohio Ethics Law acknowledgment form, which details the ethical and legal requirements of holding public office, when hired in 2015.

Robert Hancock, Hamilton schools treasurer, said Orr “would have received it with his original employment information. It appears that we do not have a signed acknowledgement in his file.”

Larry Knapp, the school district’s business manager, is now serving as interim superintendent.

In the board’s notice to Orr, it stated: “you are hereby being placed on paid administrative leave, effective immediately, pending investigation into allegations of misconduct.

“This administrative leave will be for an indefinite period of time. During your administrative leave, you are not to be on district property or to attend district-sponsored events without written permission from me (Isgro). You are not to speak with district personnel regarding this or any other matter during this time.

“You are to turn in your keys/badge and any other items of board-owned property in your possession. If necessary, arrangements will be made with you at a later date for securing any of your personal items located on school district property.”

Hamilton school board member Tom Alf, who was the lone board vote last year against extending Orr’s contract to 2020, told this news outlet that, “I’m pleased there is going to be an independent look at this” but did not elaborate further as to the nature of the allegations.

“I feel very confident in Mr. Knapp and the decisions we have made as a board in moving on this, and that’s all I really have to say,” Alf said.

The school board’s next regularly scheduled meeting is 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Hamilton Schools’ Central Office, 533 Dayton St.

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