Close vote ends with monetary settlement for Lakota East principal

Yejide Mack was ordered on paid leave in May.

The final chapter of an unexpected departure for a local principal ordered in the spring to take a leave of absence from her job running one of Ohio’s largest high schools ended this week with a close vote by the Lakota school board.

Board members Monday evening split 3-2 in approving a settlement agreement with former Lakota East High School Principal Yejide Mack, who was ordered on paid leave of absence from her position in May.

Lakota Board of Education members Lynda O’Connor and Julie Shaffer voted against approving the agreement, which will pay Mack her salary through July 2022.

According to the settlement, Mack submitted her resignation in August in exchange for district officials agreeing to halt their investigation into circumstances that led to her being ordered on leave in May, according to Lakota officials.

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Mack – who is now principal of North College Hill High School in Hamilton County - will be paid by Lakota her annual salary of $116,850 plus additional compensation of benefits for a total of $148,747 through July 31, 2022, according to the settlement.

Neither O’Connor nor Shaffer responded to multiple electronic messages seeking their explanations as to why they voted against approval of Mack’s settlement.

Mack did not respond to messages left at her North College Hill High School office Tuesday seeking her comment.

The Journal-News was the first to report on Mack’s ordered leave in May, just a couple of weeks prior to Lakota East’s senior commencement ceremony.

Mack, who was hired in July 2020, was a first-year principal during her time at Lakota.

Under Mack’s supervision, the school had switched from its traditional, gender-specific cap and gown colors of black for boys and white for girls to all black for all students.

Lakota Superintendent Matt Miller later apologized in a message sent to Lakota East parents and students for the change and said the traditional, gender-specific colors would be restored.

Then in June, Lakota officials said Mack would be reassigned within the district. The district website’s staff directory of all personnel had no listing of Mack as the school year began classes last month.

According to the settlement, Mack submitted a one-sentence letter noting she resigned as of July 31 without citing a reason.

“It is important to note that student safety was never a reason for Dr. Mack’s paid administrative leave,” Lakota Spokeswoman Betsy Fuller told the Journal-News. “As part of this agreement, Dr. Mack submitted her resignation and the district did not complete its investigation.”

According to the agreement, Mack’s attorney fees of $38,950 will be paid out of her annual salary. Lakota will provide her with a letter of recommendation, signed by Superintendent Matt Miller.

According to the settlement, Mack submitted a one-sentence letter noting she resigned as of July 31 without citing a reason.

The settlement also stated: “It is understood that the execution of this agreement does not constitute an admission of any kind whatsoever by any party.”

In Miller’s letter, he makes no reference to Mack being ordered on leave but instead the letter includes him stating Mack led “with grace and tenacity.”