Meet Michael Pearl: Former youth coach, pastor was unanimous choice for Lakota school board

The Lakota Board of Education voted unanimously Monday evening to fill a vacated seat by appointing area pastor and long-time youth leader Michael Pearl. Pearl will be sworn in later this month to finish the term of former board member Todd Parnell. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)
Michael Pearl.

Lakota’s newest school board member never really thought much about pursuing a political office because he was always too busy already helping kids.

But the recent and unexpected opening on Lakota Schools governing board seemed like a good opportunity for Pastor Michael Pearl to find a new mission field to help young people, he told the Journal-News on Tuesday.

Pearl replaces former board member Todd Parnell, who drew criticism after he wrote in an email “they should have shot them” regarding the Aug. 26 arrests of two Lakota West High School students following an investigation into a burglary.

ExploreLakota board member resigned after saying of students arrested, ‘They should have shot them’

“I’ve always been intrigued by politics but never wanted to seek an office,” said Pearl, who will now be part of the board overseeing Ohio’s ninth-largest school system. “But this is a unique opportunity and a unique time."

Pearl, 46, is the Pastor of New Day Baptist Church and Director of The Saint Monica’s Recreational Center, both in the Hamilton County city of Lincoln Heights. A Liberty Twp. resident whose two children graduated from Lakota Schools, Pearl said he is eager to get started in his first public office position.

Unanimously appointed by the board, Pearl will be sworn in at the board’s next meeting during its Sept. 28 work session.

“I’m looking forward to sitting down and going over the strategic plan. I want to learn as much as I can,” he said.

The enthusiasm was shared by his soon-to-be-fellow board members.

“We are excited to have Mr. Pearl join us in serving our students, staff, families and community,” said board President Brad Lovell. “He brings a deep dedication through community service and volunteerism, in addition to life experiences that will add tremendous value to our governing board.”

Pearl is Lakota’s second Black board member since the once-rural district, which is now the largest suburban school system in southwest Ohio, was created in the late 1950s.

He is a graduate of Wyoming High School and of Miami University Hamilton.

Pearl, who also serves on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of West Chester/Liberty and coached for the district for almost 10 years, is looking toward the future.

“I like to be very optimistic,” he said. “I know that we are in challenging times in a lot of ways. My agenda is to keep the kids first and to support (Superintendent) Matt (Miller), the administrators and teachers to keep the district moving forward.”

He will finish Parnell’s remaining term through Dec. 31, 2021. If Pearl is to serve a full, four-year term on the board, he’ll have to win election in November 2021.

“I can’t guarantee I will run in the future but I won’t block that option out either,” he said.