It was the second phone call from Akron Public Schools in less than a week, and more bad news.
The appeal hearing for Paul Eddleman’s son, Nathan, was unsuccessful. The freshman at Ellet High School returns to school today to serve his five days of in-school suspension after being removed from the school Feb. 7.
The district suspended Nathan and four other students for allegedly drinking rum from a 1-liter Dr Pepper bottle during lunch. But after the boy’s father had rushed him to Akron Children’s Hospital that day to produce a negative blood-alcohol test, the Eddlemans thought they had irrefutable proof of Nathan’s innocence.
“Right now I’m a little bit discouraged in the system, especially how it was handled,” Paul Eddleman said Thursday, the day after he was told his son’s suspension would not be overturned.
His next course of action would be to file a civil lawsuit against the district in an effort to erase the blemish from his son’s record.
“I don’t know. I don’t have the funds to take this to court,” he said, but then again, he already has missed two days of work and paid for the blood-alcohol test. “The more I sit here and think about it, the more I might do it.”
Tina Faverty took that step when her son was suspended last February.
“When I see the Eddlemans’ case, I can sympathize with them because I’ve been there, done that,” Faverty said in a voice message left at the Beacon Journal. She could not be reached for additional comment Thursday night.
Faverty, according to court records, appears to be representing her son in the pending lawsuit, which alleges the district grossly exaggerated an incident that resulted in a reduced two-day suspension.
“[These] overblown and blatantly false charges being left on his permanent record could adversely affect his future ability to get government security clearance, which is important because he wants to be an engineer,” Faverty wrote in an 86-page complaint, including attachments, to Summit County Common Pleas Court.
The incident, according to her voice message and complaint, occurred as Faverty and her four children where riding an elevator to the sixth floor of Akron’s National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM High School to pick up her son’s report card.
Her son, 13 at the time, jumped up and “tapped” a clock, which he caught as it fell. Faverty said she left the undamaged clock with a coach, who told her that everything would be fine.
Her account of the schools’ take on the incident mentions that her son was hanging from the clock until it fell.
During a subsequent PTA meeting, she received a phone call from her husband stating that her son had been suspended. Court records and Faverty’s message indicate the school did not set up an appeal hearing until 193 days after a request was submitted.
Board of Education President Jason Haas was not aware of all the details surrounding the Eddleman or Faverty suspensions, but he did say he is concerned about the time lapses between a suspension and an appeal, as well as the district’s disciplinary process in general.
“We’re going to have an ad hoc committee look into those issues,” he said Thursday. They want to determine “whether or not [the current] process is working as well as it can or as it should.”
Dan Rambler, director of Student Support Services, said the Faverty case is rare. Most failed appeals do not end up in a civil action.
He also said an appeal form is available for students or parents who feel they have not received fair treatment from a hearing officer. That request is usually answered and granted in a few days.
Rambler couldn’t comment on the specifics of either Eddleman’s or Faverty’s case, due to ongoing litigation and student privacy laws.
Doug Livingston can be reached at 330-996-3792 or firstname.lastname@example.org.