Lakota board member resigned after saying of students arrested, ‘They should have shot them’

West Chester body cam video shows officers taking a juvenile into custody in the Lakota West High School parking lost on Aug. 26, 2020.

The recent resignation of a Lakota school board member was the result of him sending a “vile” email in the wake of the arrest arrest of two students, the board’s president said Friday.

In Todd Parnell’s email, which came in response to an email sent by the Lakota West High School principal about the arrests, the former board member wrote, “they should have shot them” referring to the Aug. 26 incident, said Lakota School Board President Brad Lovell during Friday’s board meeting.

Lovell then requested Parnell resign from the board on Aug. 27. Parnell did resign later on Aug. 27, publicly citing a job opportunity that would require him to move out of the Butler County school system.

ExploreLakota board to search for replacement after member unexpectedly resigns

But Parnell told the Journal-News on Friday he was only joking with his message to Ben Brown, principal of Lakota West.

On Aug. 26 a Lakota West High School male student was arrested by West Chester police in the parking lot as part of their serving a search warrant in connection with their investigation into an earlier home burglary. A juvenile female was also arrested.

Police officer’s body camera video showed a male student, handcuffed by officers, who was directed to remain sitting in the backseat of a cruiser but then tried to exit the cruiser and stand up ignoring the orders of officers.

The student was also yelling for other students nearby to destroy cell phones. The juvenile was later charged with tampering with evidence, resisting arrest and obstructing official business.

Parnell told the Journal-News after being informed of Lovell’s statement at the board meeting: “I made an ill-advised attempt at sarcastic humor.”

“Looking at it now the attempt at sarcasm was ill-advised. And given my intent to resign at the end of the year, which was my plan, and the opportunity to pursue a (job outside the district) I decided to resign now,” he said.

“As far as I was concerned, it was a bad joke and the decision to resign was mine,” said Parnell.

But Lovell in his statement said that “the decision was made quickly to ask Mr. Parnell for his resignation from the board. Unlike a company employee, as an elected official, a school board member cannot be immediately fired.”

“Mr. Parnell’s email to Mr. Brown was abhorrent and it does not in any way reflect the values of our school board, school district leadership or our school family,” said Lovell.

“Mr. Parnell submitted his resignation via email to Mr. Miller and me at noon that same day (Aug. 27). At this time, I, along with Mr. Miller and Mrs. Logan called each of the remaining three board members to explain what had happened. We agreed to hold an emergency meeting that afternoon to accept Mr. Parnell’s resignation.”

“Approximately two hours later, Mr. Parnell rescinded his resignation saying that he wanted to have ‘further discussion with the board and (his) personal attorney.’

“Less than one hour later, Mr. Parnell sent another email to Mr. Miller and me changing his mind once again and resigned. The board met at 4:30 p.m. that same day to accept the resignation.”

Lovell, said that “as a board, we discussed how to react to Mr. Parnell’s email to Mr. Brown and decided to not discuss it publicly out of sensitivity for Mr. Parnell’s family, particularly his children.”

“We want you, our community, to understand that Mr. Parnell’s vile comments have absolutely no place in this school district. The board acted swiftly and definitively to remove him from his seat. Our focus now is on finding the very best candidate from our community to fill the remainder of the open term on our school board,” he said.