Ex-Bellbrook school board member’s appeal denied in dereliction of duty case

Virginia Slouffman had appealed a Xenia Municipal Court finding, tied to improper spending on a school levy campaign

The Ohio Second District Court of Appeals denied a former Bellbrook-Sugarcreek school board member’s appeal of a dereliction of duty conviction tied to a past school levy campaign.

Former Bellbrook-Sugarcreek school board member Virginia Slouffman was denied her appeal Thursday, as the court ruled that there was enough evidence to substantiate that she acted “recklessly” in regards to Board of Education funds spent to pass a school levy in 2019.

Slouffman and ex-school board President David Carpenter were each found guilty last December of one count of dereliction of duty, and not guilty of illegal transaction of public funds following a trial in Xenia Municipal Court.

Samuel J. Kirk of the Ohio Auditor’s office, the prosecuting attorney in the case, said the illegal use of funds count required that the state prove the defendants acted “knowingly,” while the dereliction count required only a lesser showing that they acted “recklessly.”

According to the court’s filing, Slouffman claimed that her conviction for dereliction of duty was based on insufficient evidence. Slouffman’s argument, the filing reads, relies “substantially on her assertion that she was not engaged in the creation of the (school board) postcard,” and did not see it in any form until she received it through the mail.

Court records show Slouffman received texts and emails from other board members about the details of the postcard, but did not respond to them.

“Slouffman did not express any concern about Carpenter’s suggestions for what the postcards should contain, and she testified at trial that she approved of Carpenter’s suggestions and the written content of the postcards,” the judge wrote. “Her unhappiness with the Board postcard mainly concerned the photograph that was included and the use of her name without her approval; she expressed those complaints to (former school board member Kathy) Kingston after receiving the mailing.”

Carpenter and Slouffman were each ordered to pay $502 in restitution to the school district, plus court costs.

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