Lakota board president fires back as Boddy, lawyer blast visitation policy

Unfettered access is not unilaterally granted to anyone, president says.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

A proposed board resolution that would further regulate school board members’ access to school buildings and classrooms has already drawn criticism from Lakota Local Schools board member Darbi Boddy and her attorney.

And hours before Monday evening’s school board meeting, the president of that governing body countered Boddy and her lawyer’s accusations.

The resolution, which was released by the Lakota Board of Education on Sunday evening, would amend the existing district’s policies regarding visits by elected school board members and is part of Monday evening’s board meeting agenda.

Boddy’s lawyer said if approved by fellow board members, the resolution “would effectively gut a board member’s ability to evaluate the atmosphere and teachings in the schools.”

Both Boddy and her attorney blasted the proposed resolution, which comes in the wake of controversy over Boddy’s unescorted visits in the spring of two schools prompting district officials to issue a trespassing warning that was delivered later by West Chester Twp. police officers to her at home.

During her unescorted walks through school hallways, Boddy was videotaped by school security cameras taking a photo of a student while also photographing student posters and other displays posted outside some classrooms.

Boddy, who campaigned on a platform opposing alleged Critical Race Theory (CRT) teachings and proclaiming opposition to alleged LGBQT class lessons, has accused Lakota of incorporating CRT lessons into parts of curricula.

The first-time office holder is also now the focus of a signature petition drive to have a local judge rule to remove Boddy from her elected office.

The new district resolution amending current visitor policies states: “The Board of Education welcomes and encourages visits to school by parents, other adult residents of the community and interested educators. But in order for the educational program to continue undisturbed when visitors are present and to prevent the intrusion of disruptive persons into the schools, it is necessary to invoke visitor controls.”

The proposal is targeted at Boddy, claimed her attorney Robert Croskery, who last month issued a letter to Lakota officials — with a deadline of Aug. 10 — ordering them to revoke their previous actions limiting Boddy’s access in schools by that date.

Boddy, wrote Croskery, will not be deterred by any emergency motion attempt to change district visitation policy.

“The ‘emergency’ is apparently that Darbi Boddy, a board member elected on the agenda that parents should know and have input on such controversial issues as Critical Race Theory and transgenderism in the classroom, will apparently continue to carry out her duties and unobtrusively observe, and report to parents, her observations.”

“The motion would amend a visitor’s policy to state that a board member cannot make official visits to a Lakota school; that the only ‘official visits’ are those to attend board meetings. The proposal would effectively gut a board member’s ability to evaluate the atmosphere and teachings in the schools without it being filtered through others,” said Croskery.

Lakota officials have contended repeatedly that CRT is not taught to the district’s 17,000 students and that other issues brought up by Boddy refer to state-mandated Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curricula for Ohio’s public schools.

Lakota Spokeswoman Betsy Fuller responded: “The proposed changes are meant to clarify the language in policy 9150 (visitation rules) — a board policy that has been in place since 2013.

Monday afternoon, School Board President Lynda O’Connor told the Journal-News the changes in policy are needed to enhance school security.

“Lakota’s safety and security policies and processes are in place for sound reasons. Sandy Hook, Columbine, Parkland, Uvalde — those horrific tragedies happened because of security breaches. The safety of our students is the number one priority for the district,” said O’Connor.

“Unfettered access is not unilaterally granted to anyone, including elected officials at any level of government, whether it is access to federal and state buildings, airports, or k-12 schools. All these facilities have security and specific processes for entering secured areas.”

“We don’t believe that we are making significant changes to what is a long-standing district policy. Board members have always been expected to follow safety protocols just like anyone else. One board member seems to have interpreted the policy differently, so the policy is being clarified to avoid any confusion, based on legal counsel,” said O’Connor.

Referring to a current, third-party curricula audit now in process to search for inappropriate lessons - including CRT instruction - O’Connor also said: “Mrs. Boddy contends that her actions were an effort to see what teachings were happening in our schools. However, the board is already working with administration to conduct a formal curriculum audit this year to address the concerns some have expressed.”

“We’ll carefully review the results of the audit once complete and will address any concerns that may be found.”

But Boddy said: “The proposed amendment to (school visitation) policy, if passed, encroaches on the freedoms granted by the Ohio Constitution and violates the rights of the voters who elected me.”

“As an elected official of the school board, I have the right — and duty — to carry out the wishes of those who elected me by procuring a true, unfiltered picture of what is going on in our public schools. The motion presents the clear question: What is Lakota trying to hide from its parents?”

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