The attorney for the school board said the arbiter failed to rule on the appropriate issue in the case.
CANFIELD -- The board of education will appeal a federal mediator's ruling ordering it to rehire Keith Moffo, a custodian fired for his involvement in a physical confrontation at Canfield High School.
Marshall Buck, board attorney, said an appeal will be filed in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. Arbiter Joseph Girolamo's ruling, issued June 25, states that there isn't enough evidence to determine that Moffo started the confrontation Feb. 22, 2001, with James Zeiler, who does maintenance at the high school.
Buck said Girolamo shouldn't have tried to decide if the board had enough evidence to fire Moffo. Instead, the arbiter should have determined if the firing violated the board's contract with the custodians union.
Buck added that the board has the right to discipline employees under its contract with the Ohio Association of Public School Employees, which represents Moffo and other Canfield custodians.
According to Canfield police reports, Moffo and Zeiler argued about head custodian Frank Seidita, who was fired by the board Feb. 21, 2001, for misconduct. The two grabbed and pushed each other before they were separated by custodian Dom Prologo.
Suspended, then fired
The board suspended Moffo without pay for one month Feb. 28, 2001. He was fired March 28, 2001.
Buck noted that the State Employee Relations Board and the Ohio Bureau of Unemployment Compensation both ruled against Moffo. OAPSE staff representative Don Siegel, however, said that the employee relations board and the unemployment bureau didn't rule on who was at fault for the confrontation.
The unemployment bureau denied Moffo unemployment benefits, while the employee relations board determined that Moffo wasn't fired for his union activities, Siegel said.
Moffo is president of OAPSE Local 354, which represents custodians, teacher aides, cafeteria workers and secretaries in the Canfield schools. He has said he thinks he was fired because he is president of the union.