Wild day for Springboro schools; superintendent Hook to leave, Hester to stay after all

Hook will become new superintendent at Forest Hills near Cincinnati; Hester was hired as deputy superintendent, now may fill Hook’s role.

Springboro Superintendent Larry Hook will become the next superintendent of Forest Hills School District in Hamilton County, Forest Hills officials said late Monday afternoon.

A special meeting has been set for 6:15 p.m. Wednesday by the Forest Hills Board of Education to approve Hook’s new contract.

“I am confident that Mr. Hook will be an excellent addition to our school district,” Forest Hills Board of Education President Linda Hausfeld said. “His passion for students and education, as well as his ability to unite all stakeholders, sets a strong foundation for the future of Forest Hills School District.”

Hook interviewed with the Forest Hills school board last week, and the decision was announced late Monday afternoon. Forest Hills is an affluent district in Cincinnati’s eastern suburbs, and includes the Anderson and Turpin high schools.

“I am truly honored and delighted to be presented with this opportunity,” Hook said in a statement released by Forest Hills. “I look forward to working with students, staff, parents and the community to ensure Forest Hills maintains its strong commitment to academic excellence and student success, both in and out of the classroom.”

Hook has gone through a wild few months where he was a finalist for Ohio’s state superintendent job in May but was not chosen, then was up for a second vote for that job after the original hire backed out. The Ohio Department of Education eventually decided to take a more deliberate approach to the hire, rather than appoint Hook immediately, and Hook applied elsewhere.

Second Springboro move

At the same time, another key Springboro schools administrator who had already accepted an offer to leave leave the district, has now reversed course. Carrie Hester will remain with the school district as its deputy superintendent and most likely will be the district’s interim superintendent, given Monday’s news on Hook.

Last month, Northwest Local Schools in suburban Cincinnati voted to hire Hester as their new human resources director, with the move to take effect Aug. 1. At the time, Hester told the Dayton Daily News she was “excited for the opportunity” to serve Northwest Local Schools, which is her home district.

That move will no longer take place.

Last week the Springboro Board of Education approved a three-year contract for Hester, which is effective immediately. Hester has served as the district’s assistant superintendent of operations. She also served as interim superintendent of schools for the 2019-2020 school year, after superintendent Dan Schroer was put on leave. Schroer eventually pleaded guilty to theft in office.

Just Monday morning, the school district put out a press release about Hester’s change of heart. It included a quote from Hook.

“The Board of Education and I have cooperatively worked together to keep our incredible administrative team intact,” Hook said in the statement. “I am excited Mrs. Hester will remain at Springboro Schools as our new deputy superintendent.”

In a statement early Monday, Springboro schools said Hester “will only serve as acting Superintendent in the event Mr. Hook is absent.” The district said Hester would focus on the district’s strategic plan “alongside Superintendent Larry Hook,” while also overseeing the Human Resources department.

“Mrs. Hester has excelled in her roles as human resources director, interim superintendent, and assistant superintendent of operations while at Springboro Schools,” said Board Vice President Jamie Belanger. “We are grateful for the strong leadership that Mrs. Hester will continue to provide our district as deputy superintendent and look forward to having her remain an integral part of the district’s leadership team.”

Hester was quoted in the same statement as saying, “I am honored to remain a part of Springboro Schools, which continues to provide opportunities that allow for growth as an administrator.”

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