Candidate for Hamilton school board alleges ‘smear campaign’

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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There are 8 candidates seeking 3 open seats on Hamilton's Board of Education.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The campaign of one of the many candidates jockeying for seats on Hamilton’s school board has taken an unusual personal twist, prompting complaints of a “smear campaign.”

Chris Mate is one of eight candidates seeking three open seats on the Hamilton Board of Education.

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Mate is a former Hamilton City Schools teacher and associate administrator. He was also a school administrator at several other local, public school systems and now works as the assistant principal of curriculum and academics for the Catholic Badin High School in the city.

According to documents obtained by this news outlet through an Ohio public records request, Mate’s wife — Paula Murphy Mate — was a teacher with Hamilton City Schools until 2014 when her teaching license was revoked by the Ohio Department of Education after she was found to have forged documents during her employment.

The couple’s respective work histories may have remained largely unknown by the general public but for a recent email campaign said to have reached many residents — and Mate’s public response to it on social media.

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The anonymous emailer contends Mate’s employment with the non-public Badin High School — and his wife’s history with Hamilton Schools — makes him unqualified to sit on the publicly elected, governing board of the city’s school district.

“Chris Mate who works for a private school that receives funding from Hamilton City Schools represents a clear conflict of interest,” writes the anonymous emailer, who when contacted by this news outlet refused to identify themselves.

The emailer wrote: “One questions if Chris Mate is simply a disgruntled former employee …. If that is not enough, during the same time he was employed his wife … forged documents while employed at Hamilton City Schools causing her to lose her teaching license and her job at Hamilton.”

When the emailer was asked why they would not identify themselves, the person responded “I will remain anonymous for fear of retaliation,” and also declined to respond to further questions.

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On his campaign Facebook page, Mate directly addressed the email campaign against him.

“As a lifelong resident of Hamilton I can’t recall a smear campaign against a candidate for school board. I can only assume there is a group in our community that does not want me to be elected. Make no mistake about it, this attempt to sabotage my campaign has assistance from the inside,” wrote Mate.

In another recent posting on his campaign Facebook page, Mate wrote: “I want to thank all the folks who have reached out to me through Facebook to offer their support. All of you are as shocked as I am that this election for school board has hit a new low when it comes to decency.”

When asked if he knew who could be behind efforts to keep him off the school board, Mate told this news outlet: “I don’t know who he is or anything about him. Some people have tried to tell me they have searched online and can’t find anything. But his email has gone out to thousands and if I’ve heard right, within the Hamilton school system.”

Mate, whose campaign Facebook page is here, declined to comment further.

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A private school administrator or other employee of a non-public school sitting on a public school board is a rarity.

When asked, Hamilton school officials said they checked available records back to 1970 and found no instances of a local, private school employee holding a seat on the city school board.

Earlier this year, Hamilton Schools Superintendent Tony Orr apologized after he sent a letter out to private school families urging them to instead consider enrolling their children in the city’s public schools, a move that was unusual if not unprecedented in this region.

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In a campaign video on his page, Mate said “we also need to revitalize and rejuvenate our partnerships with our local parochial schools.”

“We are not in competition with our local Catholic schools, we are partners. I want to represent all members of our community and also give voice to those parents who make a family choice to send their students to our Catholic schools,” he said.

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