Tipp City school board rejects effort to censure themselves

Tippecanoe High School. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF
Tippecanoe High School. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

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The Tipp City Exempted Village Schools Board of Education voted 3-2 on Monday to reject board member Simon Patry’s resolution calling for the full board to censure itself.

Patry said there have been “serious offenses that are occurring by some of the members of our board … serious violations of our bylaws, our policies, our code of ethics and the Ohio Open Meetings Act.”

Because of those alleged offenses, the proposed resolution says, the “Board of Education has failed to perform as the Tipp City Exempted Village School District deserves.”

In his opinion, Patry said, “we all share in the blame” for the current turmoil in the district and calls by community members for resignations of some board members and criticisms of the overall board focus in its meetings.

Community members again gathered outside the board office Monday to voice displeasure and several citizens made comments during the meeting’s public input time.

“You need to understand the depth of anger out there in this community,” resident Jackie Wahl told the board.

The vote to reject the full board censure saw Patry and Joellen Heatherly voting “yes” and board President Theresa Dunaway, Vice President Anne Zakkour and Corine Doll voting “no.”

Board members had mixed reactions to the resolution, which they first saw Monday, with some saying more time for review was necessary.

Doll said she understood Patry’s intent, but voiced reservations about a statement that board members failed to abide by state laws. “I am not sure this is the best route to healing, to moving forward,” Doll said.

Dunaway asked for further discussion of the issue during a planned July board training session.

Heatherly said she heard Patry as saying the board members “should all shoulder responsibility.”

The board in May was asked by the Tipp City Education Association to censure Zakkour for comments made about the TCEA and its president. A response was requested by TCEA by June 15. The board met in an executive session after Monday’s full board censure vote and said afterward it would work on a statement in response to TCEA.

During the board’s monthly meeting, Patry introduced the five-page resolution calling for the full board censure. Patry listed a series of alleged “failures” stating that individual members of the board have:

  • Used their offices to seek special privileges for personal gains.
  • Personally exercised authority not granted to them by the board of education or its governing bylaws and policies … by directing the superintendent and other administrative staff to take actions that are desired by individual board members without board of education discussion, authority or outside of what is allowed under Ohio Open Meetings Act, in contravention to the board of education’s policies and bylaws and Ohio law.
  • Personally exercised authority not granted to them by the board of education or its governing bylaws and policies, including but not limited to: engaging legal services of the board’s lawyers without board authority, discussion and approval of services to be performed.
  • Personally exercised authority not granted to them by inappropriately responding to citizens comments “and while unilaterally asserting non-existing authority to unilaterally ‘correct misinformation of facts’ and presenting such ‘corrections’ of ‘misinformation’ as undisputed facts without appropriate qualifiers …”
  • Routinely using the “president’s comments” section of the meeting “to advance the president and vice-president’s political views, goals and agendas.”
  • Directing the superintendent in the writing of a district statement that was directed outside of a public meeting, without board approval, without notifying at least two of the members of the board.
  • Making unprofessional comments and statements which, implicitly if not expressly, accuses other board members of incompetence, lack of diligence, impropriety or other short comings.

The resolution would have asked all board members to express their disapproval of conduct alleged and request members to “cease and desist from further conduct of a similar nature.”