O’Donnell volunteers for unpaid leave


Heather O’Donnell, 46, superintendent of the Midwest Regional Educational Service Center, has been placed on a voluntary unpaid leave of absence, effective Sept. 19.

The request, which was made by O’Donnell, was approved Aug. 17 during the governing board’s meeting held at the Sidney ESC office.

O’Donnell had been on paid administrative leave following her arrest and indictment for child endangering.

“The justice system will proceed and determine her guilt or innocence and the ESC reserves the right to take further action depending on the outcome,” the board said in a prepared statement released after the meeting.

“Dr. Rick Smith will continue as acting superintendent while the ESC begins a search for an interim superintendent. The ESC remains committed to our first priority: partnering with school districts to improve outcomes for students and families,” the release continued. “We are committed to working with any member district, staff member, student or family who has concerns about anything surrounding our ESC, including this issue.”

Smith is the superintendent of Ohio High Point Career Center.

O’Donnell’s husband, Patrick, 52, of Lewistown, superintendent of Indian Lake Schools and a former Sidney City Schools superintendent, has been indicted on 14 charges: four counts of rape, all first degree felonies, four counts of sexual battery, all second degree felonies, and six counts of gross sexual imposition, all third degree felonies.

He was originally arrested June 19 and charged with gross sexual imposition in Bellefontaine Municipal Court. That charge was dismissed when Logan County Prosecutor Eric Stewart decided to present the case to the Logan County grand jury.

They were both indicted by the Logan County grand jury on July 11.

Patrick is accused of having abused a girl, now 13, since 2013.

Heather has been indicted on two counts of child endangering, both third degree felonies.

Both O’Donnells have entered not guilty pleas to their respective charges. Both have been released on bond.

The ESC serves schools in Shelby, Hardin and Logan counties.

The Indian Lake School District has placed Patrick on unpaid leave. Patrick has requested a hearing concerning the board’s action.

Heather is scheduled to go before a jury, Nov. 30, for what is expected to be a two-day trial.

Her husband’s two-day trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 28.

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By Melanie Speicher

Mspeicher@sidneydailynews.com

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.