Court petitions filed requesting removal of Tipp City school board members

Tipp City Board of Education President Theresa Dunaway, left, and Vice President Anne Zakkour.

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Tipp City Board of Education President Theresa Dunaway, left, and Vice President Anne Zakkour.

Two board members both deny any wrongdoing and recently said they would not resign.

Petitions calling for the removal and forfeiture of office of two Tipp City Exempted Village Schools Board of Education members were filed Wednesday with Miami County Common Pleas Court by a citizens group that obtained more than 1,500 signatures to accompany the petitions.

The complaint seeking the removal of board President Theresa Dunaway and Vice President Anne Zakkour was filed by Andrew P. Meier and Chase T. Kirby of Smith, Meier & Webb of Springboro, the lawyers for a citizens group that circulated the petitions.

The complaint calls for the two board members’ removal, saying their continued presence is harmful to the district.

“Dunaway and Zakkour should be removed from office because their further presence in office is harmful to the Tipp City Exempted Village Schools, its administration and students,” the complaint claims. “The gravity and frequency of the instances are so serious as to endanger and threaten the education of students and is highly detrimental to the image of the school district.”

The Concerned Citizens group has called for the resignations of Dunaway and Zakkour since May, questioning their actions as board members in closed board executive sessions and in public meetings.

Dunaway and Zakkour both deny any wrongdoing and recently said they would not resign.

Dunaway has called the efforts to remove board members “a political witch hunt,” while Zakkour said the allegations by Concerned Citizens “misinformation and disinformation and without merit.”

The complaint alleges the two board members have “willfully and flagrantly exercised authority or power not authorized by law, refused or willfully neglected to enforce the law and to perform official duties imposed on them by law, exceeded the scope of their responsibilities and/or authority and are guilty of gross neglect of duty, misfeasance, malfeasance and/or nonfeasance in office.”

Dunaway has served on the board since 2016 while Zakkour joined the board in 2020.

The complaint more specifically alleges Dunaway and Zakkour and Dunaway violated Ohio’s Sunshine Law and during some meetings discussed matters outside the topics stated in the public motion to meet in private and topics not proper for the closed session. The complaint states the petitioners will have witness testimony delineating specific acts alleged.

Other allegations in the complaint include claims the two board members engaged in “improper exercise of authority without approval of the entire board, improper use of authority for personal gain and abuse of power.” Among the violations alleged were that Dunaway and Zakkour engaged district legal counsel without board approval and participated in a district statement published by the superintendent after the board decided against issuing a district statement.

Other alleged legal violations claimed center on the board’s controversial vote to end open enrollment and statements made by Zakkour that later resulted in a Tipp City Education Association vote of no confidence in her in May.

The complaint was assigned to Judge Jeannine Pratt, who will likely call a hearing on the request.

School board members cannot be recalled by Ohio law.

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