Pickerington manager failed to deal with sexual assault cases
A report from an independent investigator explains why Pickerington North manager Mark Ulbrich was placed on administrative leave before resigning on Monday.
The report finds Ulbrich mishandled a student’s return to Pickerington North as the 15-year-old from Fairfield County awaited trial in two separate sexual assault cases involving other children.
Local schools in Pickerington contacted the Central Ohio Educational Services Center to investigate a complaint against Ulbrich.
Learn more about this incident:Pickerington North manager Mark Ulbrich resigns after being placed on administrative leave
The first alleged sexual assault happened in a playground on June 9, when the student, who was 14 at the time, approached an 8-year-old girl and sexually assaulted her from behind bushes, according to a report from the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office.
The second incident occurred in a district pool party on August 7 where the 14-year-old student is accused of sexually assaulting a 5-year-old boy, according to another report from the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office.
The student was charged as a minor in both cases on March 23. He entered a plea deal in the June case and was found guilty, which is comparable to guilty in adult court, of gross sexual imposition. He was convicted of rape in the August case, said Charles Fultz, an attorney with the Franklin County District Attorney’s Office.
He will be sent to a care center for an undisclosed term and will be on probation for five years, Fultz said.
Whether the student should register as a sex offender will be determined at a further hearing after he is at the treatment facility, Fultz said.
The student was originally scheduled to attend Pickerington North at the start of the 2021-22 school year, but did not attend the fall semester.
Ulbrich pleaded for the student to return to school in January because he had an “obligation to receive an education,” according to the investigator’s report.
The heavily redacted 48-page report also alleges that Ulbrich has a “personal relationship” with the student’s father.
A virtual meeting between Ulbrich and five anonymous witnesses took place on December 21 to discuss a plan for the student’s return to school, according to the report.
Ulbrich told investigators he “couldn’t recall who acknowledged the final plan” and said “no one signed it”, according to the report. The plan was not shared with the student’s teachers, according to the report, and Ulbrich said he did not know if the district bus company, Petermann Transportation, received a copy.
The student’s first day back at high school was January 4.
A third incident involving the student took place on January 13 when the 15-year-old sexually harassed a 7-year-old boy on a bus ride home from school, according to another Fairfield County Sheriff’s report.
A supervisor at Petermann Transportation received an email from a relative about the incident, so she forwarded the email to Ulbrich who then contacted the sheriff’s office.
The student was suspended and recommended for expulsion after the bus incident, and the Fairfield County Juvenile Court judge who presided over the case called an emergency meeting. on January 18, according to the independent investigator’s report.
A day after the incident, the bus company banned the teenager from riding the bus. Petermann Transportation’s discipline supervisor said she never received a copy of her return-to-school plan, according to the investigator’s report.
“Principal Ulbrich knew that Pickerington School District buses carried elementary school children on the buses (along with high school students), and Principal Ulbrich let his personal relationship influence his decision by allowing the student to take the bus to attend PHSN,” according to the cited complaint. in the report.
Ulbrich said he didn’t receive documentation of the student’s return-to-school plan until Jan. 17 — four days after the bus incident, according to the investigator’s report.
Administrative leave and the investigation
Ulbrich, who has 30 years of experience in education, was placed on administrative leave on January 24 and then, on February 8, was temporarily reassigned to work in central administrative offices.
Ulbrich, the person who filed the complaint, and 11 witnesses were interviewed as part of the investigation. The Central Ohio ESC investigator also reviewed district policies, personnel records, appraisals, emails and other documents relevant to the investigation.
The investigator concluded that documentation showed that Ulbrich was responsible for allowing the student to return to school and failing to implement and oversee a safety plan for that student.
The matter will now be referred to the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Professional Conduct, Pickerington Superintendent Chris Briggs said at Monday night’s board meeting.
Ulbrich, who had been manager at Pickerington North since August 2014, was in the final year of his contract and his salary was $126,533. Ulbrich resigned on Monday and his resignation was approved at Monday night’s district council meeting.
Mike Hudak will serve as acting principal of North High School, the district announced Monday in a statement to families.