Board: Thoburn Will Still Be Paid

MORRISTOWN – After posting $60,000 bond last week, Union Local Schools Superintendent Doug Thoburn awaits a grand jury to consider the case against him – all while collecting a paycheck from the district.

The Union Local Board of Education addressed Thoburn’s suspension with pay during a special meeting Monday, during which they also approved Ben Porter as superintendent pro-tempore.

Thoburn was arrested July 24 after police searched his home and charged him with four counts of pandering obscenity involving a minor. In an emergency meeting that evening, the board voted to suspend Thoburn with pay while the case progresses. No information or details regarding the charges have been released.

On Monday, board President Dean Lancaster said the board is not trying to hide anything, but due to the legal process, it will not discuss details of the case.

“Legally, we are bound to some pretty strict guidelines and we have to do things orderly so that we don’t expose the district to more situations down the road,” Lancaster said. The laws “have to be followed or we could get into bigger trouble.”

The board also addressed Thoburn’s paid leave, with Lancaster stating the board “did not have a big choice.”

“That night Thoburn was arrested, he wasn’t guilty of anything by the law,” he said. “When a bomb goes off like that, you have to proceed judiciously. … We did not want to expose the district to litigation with the way we handled it,” Lancaster said. “We made sure we did it all legally because that is how we serve the school district the best and make everybody feel good and make us feel good. But we did the right thing because Union Local now has done the right thing by Thoburn. We protected his rights, we proceeded legally.”

Board attorney Gary Smith also defended the emergency meeting, saying the district needed to ensure the school buildings were secured.

“I asked the board to convene under an emergency meeting because the immediate need was to – and this is not judging Mr. Thoburn – but we needed to secure the school and that is why we did what we did,” said Smith. “When Thoburn bonded out … one of his conditions of his bond is that he can’t come back on this campus.”

Additionally, Smith encouraged anyone with additional information or allegations regarding Thoburn to contact the Belmont County Sheriff’s Department. He added the Ohio Department of Education is also conducting its own investigation, as it does any time allegations are brought against a licensed educator.