Lakota Schools board hires firm to investigate superintendent Matt Miller

The leader of Lakota Local Schools will be investigated by an employment law firm hired Wednesday by his school board to review recent, non-criminal allegations against him.

The Lakota Board of Education conducted a special meeting Wednesday evening, and after hearing from speakers in the audience, members went into private executive session as allowed under Ohio law.

The executive meeting notice from the board cited reasons for the non-public meeting as being “for the purpose to consider the employment of a public employee. To consider the investigation of charges or complaints against a public employee and to conference with legal counsel concerning disputes that are the subject of pending or imminent court action.”

Upon re-convening into a public meeting, the board voted 5-0 to hire the national, employment law firm Jackson Lewis P.C. as an investigator to review non-criminal accusations against Lakota Schools Superintendent Matt Miller.

Miller then commented for the first time publicly since accusations surfaced saying the allegations against him “are false” and that he will continue to fully cooperate with board’s investigation as he said he did with that of the Butler County Sheriff’s.

“I think that most people, if you’ve seen our board meetings, I’ve been the target of character assassination as a result of my position,” said Miller.

“It didn’t just start in August, it’s been a slow build over a couple of years, professionally, politically, personally.”

“The allegations are false. They lack merit and proof. I have 100 percent cooperated with the Butler County Sheriff’s department,” said Miller.

Earlier this month the Journal-News reported the Butler County prosecutor’s office reviewed the findings of the sheriff’s investigation into the allegations against Miller and found there were no probable causes for charges the superintendent had engaged in criminal activity.

Miller said: “They (county law enforcement officials) appropriately determined there were no grounds for criminal charges. I’ve been cooperating a 100 percent with the board investigation over the same, false accusations and fully expect to be vindicated again,” he said.

“I’ll continue to devote my career and my life to our kids and to our students and staff our administrators and to our community. And I won’t let bullies and rumors and false accusations deter me from that work.”

On Sept. 12, a few days after the prosecutor’s decision, the board majority voted to do its own review of Miller, who has led the 17,200-student Lakota Schools since 2017.

A “neutral” party would conduct a review of the allegations made by a Lakota resident to the sheriff’s department, said Board President Lynda O’Connor during the Sept. 12 board meeting.

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 that time by O’Connor.

She added: “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.”

But she said a school board-initiated review of Miller was necessary as a “due diligence” action by the board.

“A neutral party — with no ties to Lakota — (will) review events to confirm that the superintendent is not a threat to students or to staff,” said O’Connor on Sept. 12. She also noted Miller agreed to the board’s action.

Jackson Lewis P.C. is a New York City-based firm, which has an office in Cincinnati.

According to a letter Tuesday from officials with Jackson Lewis P.C. to Lakota Schools Treasurer Adam Zink, the school district “has decided to retain (the firm) for legal services in connection with the investigation.”

Prior to Wednesday evening’s board meeting, Miller’s attorney Kevin Tierney told the Journal-News his client would be “fully vindicated.”

“Matt is the target of an attempted character assassination,” said Tierney.

“As a result of his position as the Lakota school superintendent, a lot of false allegations have been made against him, all of which lack any merit or proof to back them up.”

“Matt voluntarily cooperated 100 percent with the Butler County Sheriff’s office and their investigation and they appropriately determined there were no criminal charges as a result of that,” he said.

“Matt is currently cooperating with the school board and he expects to be fully vindicated.”

Lakota board member Darbi Boddy said the board “needs to put Mr. Miller on leave and begin the process of removal.”

Since his hiring five years ago, Miller has garnered wide attention for his sweeping changes made in Ohio’s ninth largest public school system and the largest suburban district in Greater Cincinnati.

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.

Editor’s note: Because no charges have been filed against Miller, nor have any accusations been made public by the district, the Journal-News is not reporting the allegations.

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