Lakota board member says recall petition is ‘product of mob mentality’

An embattled Lakota Local Schools board member, who has already been asked by colleagues to resign and was censured by them, is now the target of a growing public petition-gathering effort by critics seeking to remove her from office.

Lakota Board of Education member Darbi Boddy has been in office for a little more than eight months of her four-year term but she has already been the focal point of numerous criticisms in her first publicly elected position.

And backers of the petition to remove Boddy said they already have thousands of signatures from Lakota residents and are nearing the state minimum to proceed in a rarely attempted process to remove an elected school board member.

Boddy told the Journal-News the petition against her is “a product of mob mentality and constitutes a destructive, shameful and reckless act.”

Recently, one of a series of petition solicitation efforts was conducted outside MidPointe Library in West Chester Twp.

“This is the community saying we can’t stand for what she is doing to our district,” said Lakota school parent Alex Argo as he paused during his and other recall advocates approaching people going in and out of the library.

“We want it to stop so people will think highly of our district again,” said Argo, one of those most active in the “Remove Darbi Boddy” effort, which has its own Facebook page.

Boddy, who ran on joint campaign platform with fellow, first-year member Isaac Adi, has fired consistent allegations against Lakota and district administrators concerning what she describes as the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and her alleged exposure of transsexual and gay issue-oriented lessons to students.

Lakota officials — and fellow board members — have, however, countered repeatedly that CRT is not taught to the district’s 17,000 students and that other issues brought up by her refer to state-mandated Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curricula.

Adi has since publicly distanced himself from his former campaign partner on some issues and Boddy has not had any fellow board members second any significant motions during meetings to discuss or vote on issues she as raised.

Under Ohio law school boards may ask a member to resign but can’t force such action.

And votes by members to censure a member are rare but amount to no more than a public reprimand for their target, with no reduction in that board member’s powers as an elected office-holder on a district’s governing board.

Boddy, who was the second-leading vote-earning — after Adi — in last fall’s board election, counters she is legally prepared to fight any recall effort that might proceed far enough along to bring the issue before a judge.

Unlike most other publicly elected offices, there is no voter referendum option to bring a current board member’s position back up for public vote prior to an election vote before the end of a four-year term.

Petitioners have to gather and have certified enough signatures to equal 15 percent of voters locally that cast ballots in the last gubernatorial election and that gives them a minimum target of 6,751.

Once enough signatures are collected and verified, the petition to remove Boddy would go to a Butler County Common Pleas Court judge and be presented by the recall group’s attorney for the judge to rule on whether Boddy would remain in office.

Boddy, who recently retained an attorney in fighting a Lakota district order restricting her access to school buildings, said she remains steadfast in fulfilling her campaign promises to voters who elected her.

“We have great confidence in our legal position and expect to prevail in court should it become necessary,” she said.

“The promoters of that petition have been given every opportunity to understand where they have gone wrong, to understand where they have been misled and are now misleading,” said Boddy.

The Lakota school board next meets at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Plains Junior School at 5500 Princeton Road in Liberty Twp. and the meeting is also available for online viewing via a ZOOM link on Lakota’s website.

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