In a statement posted to the Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools website, Cozad wrote, “This plea allows me to maintain my innocence and, at the same time, put this situation behind me in order to move forward both personally and professionally.”
Current school board President David Carpenter and former board member Virginia Slouffman also have been charged with one count of illegal transaction of public funds and one count of dereliction of duty. Both still have trials scheduled for Monday, according to Xenia Municipal Court records.
In his statement, Cozad wrote that this area of law around advocating for school levies is “still unclear.”
Newsletters paid for by school districts have long walked a thin line between sharing positive school information with voters, which is allowed, and openly campaigning for passage of a tax levy, which is not.
The four newer members of the Bellbrook school board, who did not face charges (Audra Dorn, Heidi Anderson, Mike Kinsey and Kevin Price) issued a statement Friday afternoon.
“We thank Dr. Doug Cozad for his professionalism during this difficult time. We know it has been a strain on all parties involved,” the Board of Education statement said. “The Board of Education has not yet decided what, if any, actions are required of it at this time. However, the board is seeking further information and guidance on this matter.”
Cozad’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.