First meeting of Lakota school board sees new member take quick opposition

Darbi Boddy was sworn in as the newest member of the Lakota School Board during a meeting at Lakota Plains Junior School Monday, Jan. 10, 2022 in Liberty Township. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

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Darbi Boddy was sworn in as the newest member of the Lakota School Board during a meeting at Lakota Plains Junior School Monday, Jan. 10, 2022 in Liberty Township. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Newly elected, politically conservative members joined others on the Lakota Local School District’s school board Monday evening in unanimously choosing a board veteran as president.

Lynda O’Connor — who first won a seat on the Lakota board in 2008 — will lead the board for the next year.

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O’Connor is joined for the first time on the board by two fellow members — both conservative newcomers — who share some of her long-standing philosophies on how best to govern Butler County’s largest school system.

And some previews of the board’s possible changes in its approach of overseeing Ohio’s ninth largest school system were revealed during the new board’s first meeting of 2022.

Darbi Boddy, a first-time public office holder who campaign in opposition to some of the district’s policies, was sworn in on the five-member Lakota Board of Education prior to the start of the regular board meeting.

Boddy wasted little time in addressing some of her campaign issue as she promised to propose student COVID-19 mask and quarantine procedure changes during the board’s next policy committee meeting on Feb. 4.

Specifically, she said, school parents should have the final say in whether they wear masks while in school and she also promised to try and change Lakota’s COVID-19 policy she described as containing “divisive language regarding the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.”

Lakota currently strongly recommends students wear masks though some area districts — including Middletown Schools — have returned to mandatory student masking during the recent jump in COVID-19 Omicron cases.

Some school parents in 2021 have complained and protested the periodic intervals when Lakota officials ordered all students to wear masks during COVID-19 surges.

Boddy said her four-year term on the governing board for the 17,000-student district will include focusing on what she claimed were school parents left out of some conversations regarding masks and other issues. And she also promised to push for more “transparency” regarding some curricula.

She and fellow new board member Isaac Adi — who was chosen by unanimous vote to be the board’s vice president in 2022 — had campaigned together and pledged to rid the district of Critical Race Theory, but Lakota officials have repeatedly claimed to not teach such lessons.

“I got involved to be a voice for those not being heard,” she said.

Lakota officials recently sent out a notice to school families alerting them to the possibility of schools going back to mandatory masking or remote, at-home learning as early as later this week should staff absences — and a lack of substitute teachers — continue to rise due to the sharp climb in COVID-19 cases.

“If at any time we see this trending upward district-wide or in a particular building, we will consider the option to temporarily close or reinstate masks to help slow the spread,” wrote Lakota officials.

Boddy also was the lone board vote in opposition of the renewal of its annual membership in the Ohio School Board Association, which requires the spending of $8,081.

The board took no action on major policy or other issues during its meeting. The next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 24.

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