Tipp City library: Protests, interruptions, police called to meeting

TIPP CITY —Some supporters of the Tipp City library say the school board here is trying to gain too much control of what goes on at the village’s library.

More than 50 people gathered outside the Tipp City Exempted Village Schools Board of Education office before a Tuesday board meeting with Tipp City Public Library trustees carrying signs urging the school board to “stay in its own lane.”

At issue was the appointment of the seven trustees who oversee the public library and what role the board of education should have in that process.

The board meeting included an hour of discussion by the five school board members on the appointment issue before two library representatives were invited to join the discussion. The board of education in November said it would invite the trustees to their meeting Tuesday. The Tuesday meeting was closed to public attendance due to COVID-19 restrictions and was shown  live on Zoom.

About 20 minutes into the board of education discussion, library representatives waiting in the lobby were knocking on the door with one opening the door seeking admission to the meeting. When told no during a chaotic few seconds, the supporter left, and later apologized for the intrusion.

Board President Theresa Dunaway said the board first needed to discuss its thoughts on a possible policy. Board member Corine Doll said she felt unsafe by the intrusion.

A few minutes later, Tipp City police officers were at the door, asking it everything was OK. They were assured it was and left. “If you guys are OK, we’ll get out of your meeting,” an officer can be heard saying off camera.

Debate on the library trustee appointments had intensified the last few weeks following board of education discussions this fall about what role it should play in trustee appointments and suggestions that up to three members were interested in the board taking over appointments. Some library supporters said they feared that board of education selection might at some point affect selection of library materials.

That discussion led to letters to the board, Facebook exchanges and the protest of the board possibly taking a larger role in the library trustee selection.

In the end, the board of education Tuesday discussed a written policy that would  have both the board and library trustees advertise for trustee applicants; a committee of library trustees and two board of education members, if the board chose, interview applicants; and the seven library trustees recommend to the board of education names for appointment. The board of education previously was not involved in advertising for trustee seats or candidate interviews.

Similar procedure had been followed for decades before the process was questioned this fall by some newer board of education members who said they were not aware the board approved appointments and questioned why they hadn’t been approached for approval recently.

Linda Parsons, library board president, eventually discussed the appointment process Tuesday night with the board along with fellow library trustee Bill Wendel.

“It appears that the school board is willing to work with us on future library trustee appointments. I am satisfied with this result,” Parsons said Wednesday.

Heather Bailey, a school district resident involved in organizing the opposition, Wednesday thanked those who spoke out in support of the library trustees.

“The BOE’s time and legal fees spent on hashing out their obligation to the library could have all been avoided if they had just picked up the phone and talked to the library in the first place,” Bailey said.

The board this fall held contentious meetings on who should contact district lawyers and when. Some of the calls involved in those arguments were about the library trustees and the board’s responsibilities and role.

Contact this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.com

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