Springboro school administrator leaves after probe into profanity

John Pennell, the executive director of operations for the Springboro school district, resigned Thursday after reaching an agreement with the district that will pay him for the next several months.

Pennell had been on paid administrative leave since Feb. 22, “pending an investigation into allegations of misconduct,” according to a Feb. 25 letter from Carrie L. Hester, director of human resources.

Earlier this week, this newspaper requested Pennell’s personnel and disciplinary files.

Pennell will remain on paid administrative leave through June 1, according to a resignation agreement obtained along with his personnel file on Friday by the Dayton Daily News.

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On Aug. 31, 2018, a formal complaint was filed with Superintendent Dan Schroer stemming from an incident involving Pennell and a bus driver.

The complaint claimed Pennell responded profanely on Aug. 27, 2018, to an employee reporting on a weekend athletic field trip assignment.

The complaint also claimed Pennell “stood up from his chair and moved towards” the unidentified driver “while continuing to yell and scream at him.”

“I am filing this complaint because this is repeated and consistent behavior by Mr. Pennell in which he raises his voice and directs profanity at SCEA members and officers,” according to the employee statement in the complaint.

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SCEA is the Springboro Classified Employees Association that represents bus drivers and other classified employees of the school district.

According to Hester’s harassment investigation report, Pennell confirmed the driver’s claim and asked what Hester wanted him to do.

“You can stop using the F-word with people and that will help,” Hester said according to her report.

The driver said Pennell should “at the very least” get a written warning, according to the report.

Hester recommended Pennell work with her “to facilitate problem solving around union/contract issues.”

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Also in the report, filed on Oct. 1, Hester recommended Pennell seek anger-management counseling.

Pennell’s contract expires on July 31.

Scott Marshall, the district’s communications coordinator, said no decision had been made on Pennell’s replacement.

Administrative staff and other district staff are “picking up the duties until the position can be filled,” Marshall said.

Pennell joined the district as business manager in 2013.

“His leadership in duties including transportation, food services, maintenance and procurement will be complemented by his prior experience as a teacher and assistant principal. Pennell was Business Manager and Executive Director for Administrative Services for the Mount Healthy City School District since 2002,” then-Superintendent Todd Petrey said in a press release.

Pennell previously worked for the Fairfield City School District in Butler County, according to his resume.

He ran for school board there in 2003, according to election records.

On Friday, Marshall said there would be no other comments from the school district.

Pennell could not be reached.

The resignation agreement included a nondisclosure agreement.

All contact numbers for Pennell were redacted from documents included in those released on Friday to this newspaper.

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