Former judge loses teaching job

Wednesday, June 4th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ENID, Okla. (AP) -- A man whose questionable behavior cost him his judgeship in Kiowa County is looking for work after not being rehired as a teacher in Enid.

The school board was told of several complaints against Richard Hovis, including one incident that led to a sexual harassment grievance by a co-worker.

Hovis, a former associate district judge, had worked since last fall at Longfellow Junior High School as a math teacher. In a meeting that lasted until 3 a.m. Tuesday, the board opted not to renew his contract.

According to school documents, Hovis sent a copy of an off-color joke to a female co-worker, who in turn filed the grievance against him.

Hovis said it was blown out of proportion.

"It was just an adult joke people tell around the (water) cooler," he said. "It was a garden-variety joke. I had no intention of hurting her feelings.

"My character shouldn't have been an issue," he said. "I'm at least as moral as 80 percent of the people in the school district."

Other complaints said he had been late for work twice and left early once; that he was not at his assigned post for hall supervision on three occasions; he had left his students unattended eight times; and that he had transported students in his personal vehicle, which is against school policy.

Hovis said administrators had been "picking" on him since early last school year and were looking for ways to get him fired. He said he hopes to regain his job and begin teaching again.

Hovis gained publicity as a judge in 1996 when he ordered two men convicted of burglary to stand outside the town hall in Snyder with signs that read, "I am a convicted burglar."

In 1997, the Council on the Judiciary investigated him for being repeatedly late for court proceedings, campaigning within 300 feet of a polling place on Election Day and giving a court reporter a pair of red panties on Valentine's Day.

A court that heard the case removed him from his judge's seat. Hovis' appeals to the state and federal level were unsuccessful.

Last year, Hovis ran against U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas in the 3rd Congressional District Republican primary. Lucas won handily with 89 percent of the vote.