Former Ohio ‘Principal of the Year’ Indicted on Sex Charges

The former 'Principal of the Year' began as a language arts teacher in 2005 and was promoted in 2016 to a district administrative position.
Published: November 8, 2017

An Ohio district administrator who was named ‘Principal of the Year’ in 2016 has been indicted on seven counts of sexual battery, all third-degree felonies, for his alleged relationships with two former students.

Chillicothe City Schools district administrator Jeffrey R. Fisher was issued a summons by a Ross County grand jury on Friday on seven counts of sexual battery, reports USA Today. If convicted, Fisher could face one to five years in prison for each charge. He is expected to be arraigned on November 20.

Ross County prosecutor Matt Schmidt says the charges stem from alleged inappropriate relationships Fisher had with a 16-year-old student and a 17-year-old student, both of whom have since graduated.

Schmidt says Fisher’s relationship with both students lasted almost three months, according to NY Daily News.

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According to Schmidt, the allegations stem from the 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 school years.

“We’ve been aware of these accusations for years and we’ll be entering a not guilty plea,” says Brad Koffel, Fisher’s attorney.

Fisher says his relationships with the students were appropriate but admits to having telephone contact with at least one of the alleged victims.

“Certainly with at least one victim, phone records will show substantial telephone and text contact,” says Schmidt.

Former Principal’s Background, Concerning Behavior

Fisher began working in the Chillicothe school district in 2005 as a language arts and journalism teacher. He became principal at Chillicothe High School in January 2011 and was hired last year as the lead of registration, safety and special projects.

Schmidt says Fisher’s relationship with both students began when he was a teacher.

In 2015, Fisher was awarded Ohio Principal of the Year. He was praised for his fast rise into an administrative role and his connection with students, reports the Chillicothe Gazette. In 2016, he was a finalist for the Adena, Ohio, superintendent position.

Concerns regarding Fisher’s behavior with students began in September 2015 when Superintendent Jon Saxton met with Fisher regarding “alleged disengagement from the leadership team, failure to exercise good judgment at times, and misrepresentation of himself and a few events.” No disciplinary actions were taken against Fisher following the meeting.

Records released by the district on Thursday show an August 10 email Saxton sent to Fisher regarding his concern with how he had been interacting with students on social media and through text messaging.

“In our conversation, you did not seem to understand the importance of separating yourself from relationships with students via messaging and texts,” reads the email.

Fisher denied having inappropriate relationships with students and says he believed he was abiding by policy.

District Records Include Screenshots, Social Media Posts

On August 16, school officials reported the allegations to Jody Walker, chair of the South Central Ohio Department of Job Family Services, which launched an investigation.

District records contain screenshots of a text conversation stating that a former female student had retained an attorney to speak on her behalf because “it’s too much trauma for her to go through again without some protection.”

In a social media post, Fisher called a female student a “10/10”. “You’re an awesome girl. You ever get down and need reminding of that just let me know and I’ll explain your awesomeness anytime,” continued the post.

On August 19, Saxton assigned Fisher to work from the district’s operations center and required that he have no contact with current and former students, the school board or staff. He was also instructed to “refrain from any social media or communication of any kind on behalf of the Chillicothe City School District.”

Three days later, Fisher was made to work from home and ordered to stay off all district property.

This past Friday, a letter from Saxton to the community stated that Fisher has been suspended.

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