Dillaplain saw Xenia schools transform in 28 years on board

Dr. Robert Dilliplain
caption arrowCaption
Dr. Robert Dilliplain

Retiring school board member saw tense issues both then and now, says it’s always been about communication

XENIA — In his 28 years serving on the board of Xenia Community Schools, Dr. Robert Dillaplain counts building five elementary schools, constructing the Xenia High School stadium, and passing the recent bond issue for construction of the new middle school among the highlights.

However, on a personal level, his greatest accomplishments include hosting 16 international exchange students through high school, some of whom came from East Germany prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall, and handing them their diplomas at graduation.

“I’m the only parent in the district with 16 kids in the high school,” he joked.

ExploreJuvenile Court names award after longtime staffer

Dillaplain, 73, was a member of the Xenia Board of Education for 28 years, serving as board president for two terms, and vice president for two terms prior. An Air Force veteran, Dillaplain has owned a private ob/gyn practice in Xenia for 31 years, and served as medical director of the Greene County Combined Health District for 22 years.

He attended Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, holds a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Dayton, and has worked as a clinical assistant professor at Wright State.

At the time Dillaplain chose to run for office, controversy brewed in the Xenia school district as reappraisals led to a hike in property taxes. At the same time nationwide, the role of schools was in question on the topic of sex education, a topic Dillaplain was heavily involved in due to his profession.

“To me, it’s just human physiology, something children should know by the 9th or 10th grade,” he said.

Now, as school boards grapple with issues like critical race theory, mask mandates, pandemic restrictions, equity and quality of education, Dillaplain sees parallels between the two eras.

“At the beginning and end [of my career] there’s been hotly contested issues, angry people moving on the school board,” he said. “On either side it’s all about communication. If the community doesn’t want it, the worst thing you can do is force it.”

ExploreXenia STEAM school plans innovative programs

His work as a doctor and service on the school board have parallels as well.

“Both demand continuing education,” he said. “If I don’t continue my education in medicine, people bleed and die. If I don’t stay up on how the board functions, then kids may not start off life with their best chances and the best possible education.”

Dillaplain and his wife have volunteered reading books and administering standardized tests in elementary school classes, something he says should be required for aspiring board members.

“I think that was the single most informative thing in my time. I thought, I can do surgeries, first grade math I’ve got made. Nope,” he said. “I’m totally amazed at what kids have to do.”

caption arrowCaption
Robert Dillaplain (center) is a respected doctor and Air Force veteran, but he said to be a good school board member, you have to get in the school with the kids, as he did in November 2019 for a reading of the book "Turkey Trouble" with the students at Cox Elementary. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Robert Dillaplain (center) is a respected doctor and Air Force veteran, but he said to be a good school board member, you have to get in the school with the kids, as he did in November 2019 for a reading of the book "Turkey Trouble" with the students at Cox Elementary. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
caption arrowCaption
Robert Dillaplain (center) is a respected doctor and Air Force veteran, but he said to be a good school board member, you have to get in the school with the kids, as he did in November 2019 for a reading of the book "Turkey Trouble" with the students at Cox Elementary. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Accordingly, the price of admission for Dillaplain’s retirement party was a children’s book for grades K-5 for Xenia school libraries. The first delivery to the libraries was “a pretty good haul” of about 85 books.

Dillaplain credits the Xenia community for speaking their hearts and minds, allowing him to better serve his constituents.

“The things I’ve been able to do in 28 years have only been possible because of them,” he said.

About the Author