Lakota school board investigating accusations against superintendent

In a surprise move, Lakota Schools’ governing board announced Monday evening it has hired an investigator to look into unspecified but non-criminal accusations against Superintendent Matt Miller.

The investigation will include: “a review of events to confirm that the superintendent is not a threat to students or to staff,” according to a statement read at the meeting by Lakota Board of Education President Lynda O’Connor.

O’Connor did not detail the accusations that were also a part of a private, executive board session prior to Monday’s public board meeting.

“On Aug. 22 … the board of education received a complaint from a member of the community regarding Superintendent Matt Miller,” said O’Connor, who interrupted the public comment portion of the meeting to read the statement.

“The materials submitted to the board did not contain any direct evidence of misconduct or that Mr. Miller presented a threat to students or to staff.”

“Moreover, the complaint stated that this issue had already been submitted to law enforcement. Because there were no credible allegations against Mr. Miller, the board waited for law enforcement to complete their investigation.”

“On Friday, Sept. 9, at the end of the workday, the board of education received notice that the Butler County Sheriff’s office completed an investigation regarding the superintendent,” said O’Connor.

“The sheriff office determined that there was no probable cause to initiate criminal charges.”

“To date, the board has not received any criminal evidence of wrongdoing. However, in order to execute due diligence, and with the support of the superintendent, a neutral party – with no ties to Lakota – has begun a review of events to confirm that the superintendent is not a threat to students or to staff.”

The board will make no additional comments regarding the complaint until after the investigation is concluded,” said O’Connor.

Miller did not speak at the meeting regarding the board president’s statement.

And Miller did not respond after the meeting to requests to comment but Lakota Spokeswoman Betsy Fuller said Tuesday the statement O’Connor read at Monday evening’s board meeting " is Lakota’s official statement.”

Board member Julie Shaffer joined fellow members Isaac Adi and Kelley Casper, when asked directly by O’Connor in saying they all supported the board statement.

But member Darbi Boddy did not support the statement and instead issued an accusation at Miller before being admonished by the board president.

“Mrs. Boddy, this is not a disciplinary hearing,” and then asked the board if they would “like to go into executive session again to discuss this issue?”

Members declined to do so.

Prior to the public portion of the board meeting, President O’Connor had, as required by the state’s open meeting laws, cited in general the reason for the board’s going into executive session saying it was “for the purpose to consider the employment of a public employee, and to conference with legal counsel concerning disputes that are the subject of pending or imminent court action.”

The roughly 90-minute meeting then saw the board return and begin its regularly scheduled, public meeting held at Plains Junior School in Liberty Twp.

School board members did not respond to emails seeking further comments.

In her closing comments at the end of the board meeting, O’Connor said “when we can talk, we will” without further elaborating.

No details or timeline for the hiring of investigator or information on the focus or scope of the coming investigation were offered during the meeting.

Since his hiring in 2017, Miller had garnered wide attention for his sweeping changes made in the 17,200-student district, which is the ninth largest in Ohio.

Previously, he was the superintendent of Mentor Schools in northern Ohio.

In December 2020, Miller received a five-year extension of his contract from the then school board that has since seen the contractual provisions in his employment agreement raise his base salary to more than $200,000.

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