A Lakota Local Schools board member is accused by district officials of making unauthorized visits to school buildings and now has been told by officials further visits without permission will be considered trespassing.
District officials released a statement accusing Lakota Board of Education member Darbi Boddy of violating building visitor policy by not waiting for a school principal to escort her through the schools.
Such actions are unauthorized for any school building visitor, including a publicly elected member of the school system’s governing board, the district said.
Early Thursday afternoon, a statement from Lakota Superintendent Matt Miller has the district issuing a no-trespassing notice to Boddy.
Miller said the district has been “forced to issue a notice of trespassing to Mrs. Darbi Boddy. As such, Mrs. Boddy will no longer be allowed on district property without prior authorization and unless invited for official Board business.”
In a Wednesday statement on its district website, Lakota officials said Boddy’s behavior alarmed some teachers and was disruptive to the school day.
Boddy, however, said that characterization was “absurd.”
“Staff at both schools were understandably alarmed at Mrs. Boddy’s unannounced appearance outside of their classrooms. Some staff later expressed discomfort in seeing an unescorted visitor in the building,” wrote Lakota officials.
Boddy was recently censured by fellow members, who also voted 4-0 calling for her to resign. The first-year board member has had numerous clashes with district officials — and fellow board members — since taking office in January.
“Lakota Board Member Darbi Boddy blatantly disregarded board policy … and its administrative guidelines, which requires all school board members give prior notice to a school’s principal before visiting any building.”
“She entered two of our schools unannounced and, against the request of our office staff to wait for the principal, proceeded to exit the main office and walk the hallways of the schools. Upon learning that Mrs. Boddy was walking their hallways, each principal immediately notified our superintendent and then accompanied her for the remainder of her visit,” the statement read.
“We are disappointed in Mrs. Boddy’s actions. We will not tolerate behavior that violates our policies and procedures, especially where it interrupts the learning process for our students and contributes to an uncomfortable work environment for our staff,” officials said.
In Miller’s statement Thursday afternoon, he said Boddy had entered the two schools “through the main offices, she then proceeded to ignore staff requests to remain there until the principals met her. Instead, she left the offices and proceeded to walk the hallways, violating safety protocols and causing a disruption in learning at both Lakota East High School and Liberty Early Childhood School.”
“While some may question why such a seemingly steep action was taken against Mrs. Boddy, let me explain. We welcome our parents into our schools; we welcome our community into our schools; and we certainly welcome our school board members into our schools — as long as they follow safety procedures and policy. These are not difficult. They involve alerting building administrators of the interest in visiting and setting up a time that is convenient for all involved.”
“This is also not the first time that Mrs. Boddy has ignored board policy, nor is it the first time she has disrupted learning in our schools. Our decision was not made lightly and was done in consultation with law enforcement,” said Miller.
“It is my hope that by sharing this information with you, I am able to stop rumors from circulating and reassure you of our commitment to safety. The safety of our students and staff is always my first priority and a responsibility I take very seriously. I will do everything I can to ensure that our students and staff feel safe, welcome and included when they walk through our doors.”
Boddy responded to the district’s initial statement about her school visits saying official were making “the absurd claim that I was a visitor.”
And, she said, “it makes the absurd claim that I was in violation of (board) policy. Additionally, if the scenario that was depicted in this communication regarding school staff and administrators is accurate, it is incredibly sad and telling. It describes a panic.”
“No elected official serving as a member of the Lakota Board of Education should be reacted to in this way,” adding “if there has been an official action to bar my entry into the schools, I have not been notified.”
“When I enter the schools, as I have been doing since my swearing in, I am doing so as part of my responsibilities as a board member, not as a visitor. The need and the rationale for this kind of activity has not only been discussed in past board meetings but depicted in (my) writings as well,” said Boddy.
“The actions and communications coming from the board and administration on this issue constitute emotionally charged rhetoric that creates confusion and inspires the spread of misinformation detrimental to the district,” she said.
“I was elected to, among other things, get an understanding of what was being taught in our schools and to be transparent about it. It is imperative to this end that school board members find the time to get into the schools in order to understand the culture and the learning environment, and verify what is being taught in the classrooms. I can say with certainty that my fellow school board members not only do not have a comprehensive understanding of what is being taught in the classroom but have no way of knowing without taking the time to show up and see.”
In the wake of Miller’s later statement Thursday afternoon, Boddy brought up her previous allegations against Lakota of teaching Critical Race Theory, which school district officials have repeatedly denied is occurring.
“After exposing just a few of the back door tactics and examples that are used to get Critical Race Theory in the classrooms and exposing Lakota’s lack of safeguards to ensure that intended curriculum objectives are followed … I was barred from further meaningful entry to the schools,” Boddy said.
“We have a board that refuses to be proactive regarding any of this — other than to shut me down — and a superintendent who either doesn’t know what it (CRT) is or is refusing to say, a position that is at best unprofessional but truly rude and irresponsible. It is an affront to all those parents who want and deserve answers.”
“Again, I have no intentions of resigning and I will continue to honor my campaign pledges that include transparency and an understanding of the culture and learning experience that our children are exposed to in the halls and classrooms of our district,” Boddy said.
Other members of the Lakota Board of Education did not immediately respond Thursday to requests to comment.
Former Lakota school board member Sandy Wheatley described Boddy’s actions as “inexcusable.”
“Board members have always visited buildings. They read to kids, they eat lunch with kids, they visit an interesting class … but they never do any of those things without following board protocol and having the permission of the principal on timing etc.,” Wheatley said.
“Think about walking into an elementary building unattended and it happens to be a testing day. Or what about sticking your head into a classroom where a teacher has been working all year to create an environment that works for the child in her class with autism. All that is turned upside down in an instant for a child,” she said.
“Mrs. Boddy has no regard for anyone but herself.”