Lakota board grants Mantia leave, promotes assistant to top job

Lakota school board members unanimously voted Wednesday evening to grant Superintendent Karen Mantia medical leave and promoted her assistant superintendent as interim leader of the district.

The board vote comes one day after the Journal-News first reported that Mantia was seeking a medical leave of absence in the final year of her contract as head of Ohio's eighth-largest school system.

Replacing Mantia, who is 64 and has led the 16,500-student Butler County district since 2011, will be Assistant Superintendent Robb Vogelmann, who will serve as acting superintendent.

Lakota Board of Education member Julie Shaffer told Vogelmann after the vote, “we have complete confidence in your ability to lead us.”

Mantia did not attend the board meeting. There is no timetable as to her return to work.

Vogelmann is a veteran administrator in Lakota Local Schools and was promoted from principal of Liberty Junior School to assistant superintendent in 2012. Prior to that he worked as an assistant principal at Lakota East High School and earlier taught math in Lakota schools.

Vogelmann, who will continue his current annual salary of $133,000, said, “I’m grateful for the opportunity and humbled in your belief in me.”

He addressed the unexpected change in leadership for Southwest Ohio’s largest suburban district, saying there has been “a little bump in the road at the top but kids still went to school today … and I look forward to continuing the excellence in Lakota Schools.”

Mantia, who has declined to comment beyond telling the Journal-News that she had requested medical leave, will now receive paid medical leave. Her annual salary is $165,000 and her contract with Lakota Schools runs through July 31, 2017.

In a statement released by the school board just after midnight Wednesday, O’Connor said, “the Lakota Schools Board of Education will accept the superintendent’s request for medical leave to ensure that the students and staff of one of Ohio’s largest school districts are well supported and that learning will continue during her absence.”

Mantia was hired by the Lakota school board in 2011 from her position as superintendent of Pickerington Schools, south of Columbus, Ohio.

Mantia, who is Lakota’s seventh superintendent, spent the majority of her career at her Alma mater, Northmont City Schools, where she was a teacher and held various administrative positions including assistant superintendent.

In 2000, she became superintendent at Sycamore Schools in Hamilton County prior to being hired as the leader of Pickerington Schools.

Under Ohio law publicly elected school boards hire district superintendents and school district treasurers.

School board searches for a new superintendent generally begin prior to Jan. 1 to give boards time to interview candidates early in the calendar year and to allow current superintendents time to notify their current school board employers should they decide to leave.

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