Centerville school issues, board election draw police attention

Centerville police have been requested at four board of education meetings thus far in 2021 “to keep the peace,” according to a department spokesman. Law enforcement’s presence at school board meetings this year is a first, one longtime incumbent said. NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF
Caption
Centerville police have been requested at four board of education meetings thus far in 2021 “to keep the peace,” according to a department spokesman. Law enforcement’s presence at school board meetings this year is a first, one longtime incumbent said. NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF

Credit: NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF

Credit: NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF

Opposing sides in Centerville City Schools school board election say they both have called law enforcement to their homes in recent weeks.

And one incumbent seeking re-election said Centerville police were at every entrance at a recent board of education meeting, helping fuel a mood which left her “physically ill” prior to the meeting’s start and led her to text her priest.

Some Centerville board meetings this year have drawn up to 100 people and police have been requested at four “to keep the peace,” according to a department spokesman.

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Law enforcement’s presence at school board meetings this year is a first in his tenure, one longtime incumbent said.

National media outlets have reported school board races across the U.S. have become more political this year. National Public Radio called it a “flashpoint in the culture wars of the moment” as it featured Centerville in demonstrating the contentiousness of local elections this fall.

Challengers Lysa Kosins, Dawn McGuire and Heather Schultz are campaigning as one ticket, as are incumbents John Doll, Dr. David Roer and Megan Sparks.

The challengers and their supporters have been openly critical of board members for months on a number of issues, including the district’s COVID-19 face mask policies.

Since Labor Day, both Roer and Schultz said they have called law enforcement to their homes and reports were filed in each case, records show.

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On Sept. 11, a woman campaigning for another board candidate came to Roer’s home, records show. A few hours later a man claiming to be the volunteer’s husband rang the doorbell and asked why Roer’s wife “was attempting to intimidate his wife,” according to a Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office report.

Dr. David Roer
Caption
Dr. David Roer

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

The man “started yelling at myself that his wife was being harassed and felt intimidated,” Roer told the Dayton Daily News. “And then he started yelling at me…saying ‘This is what’s wrong with America. You’re what’s wrong with America.’ And I asked him three times to please leave my property. He wouldn’t tell me who he was and eventually left.”

On Oct. 7, Centerville police took a report from Schultz, who said she called to report damage to her vehicle, which was parked overnight in her driveway.

The vehicle’s “passenger rear quarter panel had a large dent,” and “Schultz was sure the damage was new” as she was a hit-and-run victim earlier in the week and had checked the car thoroughly, the police report states.

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“There was no transfer paint” on the vehicle, according to the report.

“I don’t know if they punched or kicked it or took a knee to it,” Schultz told this news outlet. When asked, Schultz said she did not know if the damage was related to her campaign.

Both campaigns said they do not condone threats or violence.

“I know of nobody making threats…that’s on our side of things,” Schultz said. “I can’t even tell you that I could confirm any threats have been made on the other side of things.

“I think some of the board meetings have gotten pretty interesting and pretty heated,” she added. “But I don’t feel I can recall any time when any threats were made on either side.”

Roer, who has been on the school board for nearly 30 years, generally agreed.

But he said “although I personally have not felt threatened – and have not had concerns of violence at me – I think some of the speakers’ tones have been scary at times.

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“I have no problems of people coming to those meetings, standing up there, saying what they want to say in a civil manner,” Roer said. “I think we’ve lost the civility at these meetings.”

The police presence at board meetings is a first since he became a member in the 1990s, Roer said.

Police were requested for an August meeting “because they expected emotions to be high,” said CPD Spokesman and Officer John Davis.

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Prior to one meeting, authorities told district officials they had a safe room that they were going to put us in that they had planned out if anything was to happen, Sparks confirmed with the Dayton Daily News.

“I was so scared before the meeting,” she added, “I was physically ill in the bathroom, texting my priest.”

But police have “never had any incident that’s caused problems” at board meetings, Davis said. “We’ve never taken any action. We’ve just been there.

“Our role is to keep the peace….to make sure everybody acts accordingly,” he added.

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