Hearing set for April in Tipp City school board court case

Group of residents seek dismissal of two board members; lawyers call complaint vague, ambiguous, insufficient

TROY — Tipp City school district residents seeking court removal of two board of education members have asked a Miami County judge to reject the board members’ motion to dismiss the residents’ petitions.

The Tipp City Concerned Citizens filed petitions to remove former board President Theresa Dunaway and Vice President Anne Zakkour in December in Miami County Common Pleas Court.

Dunaway and Zakkour filed motions to dismiss the complaint earlier this month, and the new filings from district residents were in response.

Judge Jeannine Pratt on Monday scheduled an evidentiary hearing on the complaint for April 8.

The Concerned Citizens accuse the two board members of alleged willful and flagrant exercise of authority and power; refusal or willful neglect to enforce the law and uphold their duties; exceeding the scope of their responsibilities and authority; and gross neglect of duty, misfeasance and/or nonfeasance in office.

Dunaway and Zakkour have denied any wrongdoing and filed for dismissal, claiming the petitions do not comply with state law and procedures for removal.

The complaint was “so vague and ambiguous that the respondent (Dunaway) cannot reasonably answer or defend against this complaint,” wrote Jeremy Tomb, Wayne Waite and Patrick Janis of Troy, Dunaway’s lawyers.

Zakkour’s lawyers R. Gary Winters and Bernard W. Wharton of Cincinnati argued the allegations against her “are insufficient under the law as they are either restatements of the grounds for removal contained in (the revised code), involve matters that would not constitute misconduct in office, or are simply conclusions of law.”

The Concerned Citizens said in their new filing that there are issues to decide.

“Respondents (board members) know what they did and do not want to answer for their illegal actions,” the Concerned Citizens state in their petition opposing dismissal.

The petitioners also asked the judge to order the county Board of Elections to certify the more than 1,500 signatures on the removal petitions. The petitioners sought signatures from registered voters who lived in the school district.

The board members’ lawyers argue the signatures had to be certified before the removal action was filed in court. The petitioners claim they asked the board of elections to check signatures before filing the complaint and were told by the board of elections that they needed a court order.

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