The public war of words between Lakota School officials and a suspended teacher escalated after the district released a statement in response to the teacher’s filing this week of a federal lawsuit against her employer.
According to officials of the Butler County school system, Emilly Osterling, who taught special needs students, is conducting “a desperate and frivolous attempt to ignore the fact that she failed to provide the appropriate and required education to Lakota students required by state and federal law.”
The Journal-News was the first to report earlier this month that Osterling, who worked at Liberty Junior School, was suspended without pay by the Lakota Board of Education and the board’s stated intention to fire her.
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In response, Osterling filed a lawsuit this week in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati alleging she is being punished for publicly supporting an expansion of the rights of transgender students.
Lakota officials are now sharply criticizing Osterling, saying “the allegations brought by Ms. Emilly Osterling, in response to the board’s intent to terminate her employment, are patently false, not supported by facts and are without merit.”
Moreover, school officials contend her argument that she was punished for her public statements and actions regarding transgender Lakota students is baseless.
“Her complete disregard of the needs of her special education students and refusal to follow the requirements of students’ individual education plans (IEPs) are at the very least unprofessional and provide the board the necessary cause to terminate her employment,” according to the district’s statement.
The school board’s policies, in accordance with the requirements of both federal and state laws, protect transgender students from discrimination, the district said.
Matt Miller, superintendent of the 16,500-student district, said, “all of our students at Lakota Local Schools receive equal opportunity and access to a quality education. The absence of a policy specific to our transgender community does not change our continued efforts to support their individual needs. We act in the best interest of all our students.”
Osterling did not respond to messages Friday seeking her comment.
The board’s 11-page resolution earlier this month detailed their accusations against Osterling and included a provision stating the board planned to also vote on ending her employment during its meeting this coming Monday.
But now, no action concerning Osterling will be taken, said officials, because Osterling — as allowed under Ohio school law and the district’s labor contract with teachers — “has requested a termination hearing before a state-appointed referee.
Officials said the district has not yet been notified concerning the scheduling of the hearing.
District officials also further detailed their accusations against Osterling, saying “the board initiated termination proceedings against Ms. Osterling due to evidence of her unprofessional behaviors including but not limited to the following: Failed to provide math support to Lakota students during at least the 2017-2018 school year resulting in at least 4,200 minutes of compensatory math education owed to students.”
And “failed to provide writing support to Lakota students during at least the 2017-2018 school year resulting in at least 500 minutes of compensatory writing education owed to students. And failed to provide specially designed reading instruction to students during at least the 2017-2018 school year resulting in at least 4,500 minutes of compensatory reading education owed to students,” stated officials.
And “failed to follow state and federal rules in providing education to at least 17 students through failure to provide progress reporting and monitoring during at least the 2017-2018 school year.”
“The district is in the process of reviewing the data and monitoring the progress of each student affected,” the statement said.