Lakota board member claims being ‘muzzled’ in superintendent search

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

A member of Lakota Schools’ governing board is refusing to participate in the district’s search for a new superintendent citing what she claims is an unfair process that has “muzzled” her.

Lakota Board of Education member Darbi Boddy released a statement this week accusing her four fellow members of conducting a search and interview procedure that prevents her from asking certain questions of the job candidates.

But the leader of the school board is countering Boddy’s accusations, contending her accusations are inaccurate.

The 17,500-student Lakota Schools, which is the largest suburban district in southwest Ohio, has been seeking to hire a new superintendent and this week the board announced there were four finalists for job.

“I have been muzzled in the process for selecting a superintendent for the Lakota schools,” Boddy said in a publicly released statement.

“I have been barred from asking the questions that I had prepared for the in-person interviews. My constituents want to understand what position any candidate for the superintendent’s job has regarding CRT (Critical Race Theory), DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) and SEL (Social Emotional Learning).”

“These topics are not even being broached in the process,” she said.

“I will not vote to approve any individual selected through this extraordinarily flawed process.”

Under Ohio law, locally elected school boards hire superintendent and treasurers for their school systems. A three-vote majority of a five-member board is sufficient to hire such leaders.

But Lakota Board of Education President Lynda O’Connor said it is Boddy who has chosen to remove her participation to the candidate evaluation and questioning in choosing Lakota’s next leader.

In response to a request by the Journal-News, O’Connor responded to Boddy’s accusations, saying: “It needs to be made known that she (Boddy) chose not to be a part of this process.”

“On June 5th, the board met to begin planning this work. After 10 minutes of (private) executive session, the board was forced to take a five-minute recess due to Mrs. Boddy’s behavior,” said O’Connor.

Since being elected and joining the Lakota board in January 2022, Boddy has repeatedly and publicly clashed verbally with other board members – and specifically President O’Connor — over a variety of issues. In 2022, a resolution ordering the censure and request for resignation by Boddy was passed by the four other members.

O’Connor also said: “Upon returning from the recess, Mrs. Boddy made the decision to leave the executive session, and stated she would not be part of the search. As a first-time board member, Mrs. Boddy may not aware of how a superintendent search is conducted, and by choosing to leave the room, her input was not available to the search firm or remaining board members.”

“Mrs. Boddy claims board members are barred from asking questions. However, had she remained in our meeting, she would have learned how the interview process works, and how interview questions are incorporated into our process. The questions were derived by the professional consultant, and took into consideration input from board members, administration, staff, parents, community members, surveys, and the community focus groups,” said O’Connor.

“To ensure that the interview process was fair and consistent for all candidates, the professional consultant presented the same questions in the same manner to all candidates. This is standard practice. And in addition, legal counsel was present to ensure the process was compliant with applicable law.”

Lakota officials said the next round of interviews for the four job finalists are tentatively scheduled for the week of June 26 and a decision by the board is anticipated before the end of the month.

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