By Liz Oakes
The Cincinnati Enquirer
PLEASANT RIDGE - Following nearly a week of protests by parents angry at the firing of Nativity School's principal, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati this weekend said it would support mediation of the dispute.
Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk released a statement saying that due process would be followed in Bob Herring's appeal of his firing Nov. 24 by the Rev. Marc Sherlock of Nativity of Our Lord parish.
Sherlock cited "philosophical differences" in his firing of Herring. The dismissal upset parents of the 388-student K-8 school.
Under terms of the mediation, Herring and Sherlock will each appoint a representative to a panel. The two representatives will then select a third member.
In a statement read at Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning Masses at Nativity church, Pilarczyk said: "After consultation, I have determined that the personnel policies for Nativity of Our Lord parish possess an appropriate form of due process. Therefore, the local due process is in force and must be followed by all parties involved in the matter of Mr. Robert Herring's termination."
Sherlock has agreed to the mediation, according to the statement.
On Friday, Herring hand-delivered a letter to Sherlock requesting the panel be formed.
In the letter, Herring said he didn't think Sherlock had followed parish policy.
"Although there are reasons stated in the Personnel Policy Guidelines for immediate dismissal, I do not think any of those reasons apply to the reasons you gave for firing me: the incompatibility of styles of administration and not administering Nativity Grade School based on your philosophy," his letter stated.
The parish's personnel policy allows for formation of a three-member panel to review action against employees.
Herring's attorney, Tim Garry Jr., said Sunday that Herring would name his representative within a day or two.
The parish committee Sunday demanded all three panel members to be chosen by the end of the week and the panel convene a hearing within a month.
The panel is required to arrive at a decision within one week after the hearing, and its judgment is final.
Neither Herring nor Sherlock were available for comment Sunday. Herring has received strong support from the parents of the school.
He is the kind of dedicated principal, said Shelley Castellini of Pleasant Ridge, mother of three children attending Nativity School, who kept good teachers from leaving and didn't mind tasks as small as opening a child's milk carton at lunch.
Parents have set up a Web site (www.keepbobherring.com) .
A group of parishioners who banded together to fight the firing as Nativity's Leadership Crisis Committee said they were planning a 6:30 a.m. demonstration in the school's parking lot today to show support for Herring before a 7 a.m. meeting of Archdiocese officials and Nativity School staff.
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