The union is seeking arbitration in the firings.
By IAN HILL
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
CANFIELD --The school board has denied an appeal from a custodian who was fired after a physical confrontation with a maintenance worker at Canfield High School.
Keith Moffo, 36, was fired by the board March 28. He is also president of Ohio Association of Public Employees Local 354, which represents custodians, teacher aides, cafeteria workers and secretaries in the Canfield schools.
Moffo had appealed the firing to the school board. The appeal was denied Wednesday night.
About confrontation: The physical confrontation reportedly occurred Feb. 22 as a result of an argument between Moffo and Jim Zeiler, who works in maintenance at the school. According to Canfield police reports, the two argued about the board's firing of head custodian Frank Seidita.
Seidita was fired Feb. 21 for misconduct with a female student.
On Feb. 22, Zeiler reportedly approached Moffo and asked why he was spreading rumors about Zeiler's testimony in a deposition regarding Seidita. The two grabbed and pushed each other before they were separated by another custodian, police reports say.
Marshall Buck, the attorney for the Canfield school board, said the board had no policy regarding physical confrontations between employees. However, he said the board acted appropriately by firing Moffo.
Buck said that no action was taken against Zeiler because the board felt Moffo instigated the physical confrontation.
Union president's view: As president of the union, Moffo attended school board hearings about Seidita's reported relationship with the student. Both Moffo and Don Siegel, a staff representative of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees, said he felt the firing was a result of the Seidita hearings.
"I believe it all has to do with me being union president," Moffo said. "This whole situation is blown out of proportion."
Siegel added that the union is seeking arbitration in the firing of both Seidita and Moffo. He said that the school has no evidence against Seidita and that the union was not allowed to question witnesses to the reported relationship with the student.
The union also has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the state on behalf of Moffo and Seidita.
In a related matter, the board approved the hiring of two custodians to replace Seidita and Moffo. Both new custodians had to sign resignation letters before they were hired, in the event that Seidita or Moffo win their jobs back in arbitration.