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Butler County’s sheriff continues to attack school boards on Twitter over school safety

Published: Friday, March 02, 2018 @ 12:13 PM

About a dozen residents spoke this week to Hamilton Board of Education members and shared their thoughts on Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones’ idea of arming teachers who volunteer to be trained to have access to handguns while in school.
About a dozen residents spoke this week to Hamilton Board of Education members and shared their thoughts on Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones’ idea of arming teachers who volunteer to be trained to have access to handguns while in school.

The top law enforcement officer in Butler County has been busy since the Florida school shooting blasting local school boards on social media and lobbying them to adopt his plans to arm teachers and school personnel.

Sheriff Richard Jones shows no signs of easing off his public campaign to persuade the publicly elected members of the county’s 10 school districts to move faster toward passing resolutions to allow some volunteer teachers – who are trained in concealed carry weapons (CCW) – to have access to handguns while working.

Jones, who this week began free CCW classes for local teachers and school personnel, has urged Butler County residents to attend school board meetings to help pressure school boards.

MORE: Sheriff starts free gun training classes for teachers

And he has sharply criticized board members, stating they are not being truthful with the public regarding school security.

“If your school board tells you the schools are as safe as they can b(e). They are not telling you the truth,” Jones posted Thursday on his Twitter account.

Lynda O’Connor, a Lakota school board member since 2008, said: “I think the Sheriff’s comments come from a genuine, deep concern for our community’s students and staff and I share that concern. Lakota’s board has committed to consider all options available to us.

“In 2013 Lakota made a promise to its community to implement additional security measures including adding more school resource officers. We’ve fully honored that commitment. However Security is an ongoing concern as are mental health issues. The responsibility for these concerns will not end - we as a community will always have safety and security as a top priority.”

Jones’ unusually high-profile disparagement of the boards has already resulted in residents attending school board meetings this week and sharing their comments about Jones’ ideas – pro and con – with board members.

MORE: Hamilton residents come out for and against arming teachers

The Hamilton Board of Education took a preemptive action in anticipation of the public push backing Jones’ proposal by sending out – prior to its board meeting this week - a lengthy email to school parents in the 10,000-student district listing dozens of school security measures already in place.

The board also invited Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit to its Tuesday meeting to speak about the various security procedures already in place to protect the 10,000 students who attend the city’s schools.

Coming Sunday, this news organization takes a closer look at the growing impact of Jones’ unusual and highly public approach to pressuring local school boards, what residents are telling their elected school boards and how board members are reacting.

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Monroe Schools nabs leader from one of area’s most academically acclaimed districts

Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2018 @ 9:48 AM

Kathy Demers, who is currently an assistant superintendent with Wyoming Schools in Hamilton County, will take over the top job at Monroe Local Schools this summer. MICHAEL D. CLARK/STAFF
Kathy Demers, who is currently an assistant superintendent with Wyoming Schools in Hamilton County, will take over the top job at Monroe Local Schools this summer. MICHAEL D. CLARK/STAFF

The growing Monroe School system will add a new leader next school year.

The Monroe school board voted unanimously Monday evening to hire a top official from one of Southwest Ohio’s most academically acclaimed school systems as its next superintendent.

They chose Kathy Demers, assistant superintendent for Hamilton County’s Wyoming Schools for the last half decade.

MORE: 5 things to know about Monroe Schools

In a statement released by the board, members described the former teacher and principal as bringing with her “the leadership skills and knowledge required to enhance the educational quality of their school system.”

“Kathy Demers was chosen for her ability to create a positive culture of openness, trust and respect in dealing with students, staff, as well as, the school’s community so vital for growth. (She) is known as an inspirational leader, who is focused on building work relationships with: teachers, professional learning institutions, community members, and area businesses,” school board members said in the statement.

Wyoming Schools have consistently been rated among the top 10 academic performers among all Ohio public school districts.

Current Monroe Superintendent Phil Cagwin is retiring on July 31, and Demers will then take over leadership of the district.

MORE: Monroe superintendent announces retirement

Demers said, “I was looking for a district where I can devote my knowledge, skills and attitudes toward the growth of the organization while directly working with students, staff, administrators and community members both on a personal and professional level. Monroe Schools is the ideal complement for who I am as a school leader.”

Board President Brett Guido described Demers as “a no brainer for us.”

“Kathy quickly rose to the top early in the (hiring) process,” he said.

Demers was given a three-year contract and her first year’s salary is $120,000.

Cagwin led the 2,700-student district through the darkest financial days in its history, coming aboard first as an interim superintendent in 2012 when Monroe Schools were mired in debt and under state oversight as part of falling into a fiscal emergency status.

MORE: Monroe Schools decides location for new building

He has previously been superintendent of Talawanda Schools in Butler County.

With the passage of a new tax levy in 2012, state education and auditor officials released Monroe from its state-ordered financial emergency in 2014 once the school system returned to solvency.

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Judge says Dayton schools task force public, but denies injunction

Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 2:41 PM
Updated: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 4:40 PM

            Members of a combined city-Dayton Public Schools task force studying school facilities tour Valerie Elementary School on Feb. 6. The tours ended before scheduled because of a legal challenge. SEAN CUDAHY/Staff
Members of a combined city-Dayton Public Schools task force studying school facilities tour Valerie Elementary School on Feb. 6. The tours ended before scheduled because of a legal challenge. SEAN CUDAHY/Staff

A Montgomery County Common Pleas Court judge denied a preliminary injunction sought by a Dayton resident who alleged an Ohio Open Meetings (OMA) Act violation because he was denied in his efforts to join a bus tour of Dayton Public Schools facilities.

Judge Richard Skelton ruled Monday in a 7-page decision that Dayton resident David Esrati did not meet the burden of proof about the bus tour containing substantive recommendations or discussion regarding potential closures of school buildings.

Esrati said he plans to continue the suit.

Skelton did write that the 20-member School Facilities Task Force formed to help Acting Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli was a public body — disagreeing with DPS and Dayton city attorneys.

RELATED: Judge to rule today on legal challenge to Dayton schools task force

“The court rejects the argument of DPS that the Task Force was only an advisory group for the superintendent and was not a ‘public body’ itself,” Skelton wrote, later adding: “Pretending that the Task Force, including three members of the Board, was only for the Board’s employee would allow a simple subterfuge to avoid the OMA.”

A Dayton Board of Education meeting that includes a potential vote on a school closing proposal is scheduled for Tuesday. An injunction could have stopped or delayed that vote.

“The burden is on the plaintiff to prove that such deliberative discussion occurred during the bus tour and was used by the Board (of Education) in proposing its formal action,” Skelton wrote. “The plaintiff did not produce the first witness who offered any proof that a deliberative or any other discussion was had on the bus tour at issue.”

Skelton wrote that the court “has no basis to find that plaintiff has shown he is likely to succeed on his claimed violation of the OMA at the trial on the merits.

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Esrati said Skelton’s decision “makes no sense” and that he received legal advice that he should — and plans to — take the case to trial, currently scheduled for July 11.

“He said clearly they were a public body, and how I’m supposed to prove what they discussed or didn’t discuss is irrelevant because they’re not allowed to meet in private unless it’s for matters of executive session,” Esrati said, later adding: “There’s no way of me proving it because I wasn’t in the bus or in the school or anything else. And that’s a violation.”

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Esrati filed the lawsuit without an attorney. He contends he was not allowed to attend a February bus tour of Dayton schools during which task force members went into schools until district attorneys advised them to cancel remaining stops.

On Thursday, Esrati questioned Lolli and also was cross-examined by DPS attorney Brian Wildermuth during the nearly 2½-hour, wide-ranging hearing.

Wildermuth did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Wildermuth, who has said the task force wasn’t a public body and isn’t subject to the open meetings laws, argued in a post-hearing brief that the group was not a decision-maker and didn’t reach any consensus or specific recommendations.


“Plaintiff had the burden of proof,” Wildermuth wrote. “He did not carry that burden.”

Esrati said the board’s actions are a big part of the district’s problem.

“This school board is not to be trusted by anyone at any time for anything, if this is the way they want to conduct business,” Esrati said.

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Troy narrows superintendent’s candidates list, sets interviews

Published: Sunday, March 18, 2018 @ 11:00 AM


The Troy City Schools Board of Education will begin this week interviewing eight candidates, three already with the district, for the superintendent’s job.

Board President Doug Trostle said the board planned to interview four candidates each night Monday and Tuesday in executive sessions. After those interviews, the board will narrow candidates to its top three for final interviews the week of April 9.

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“We intend to finalize our selection and introduce our new superintendent by the end of April,” Trostle said.

Superintendent Eric Herman announced earlier this year he would retire at the end of July.

K12 Consultants was hired by the board to coordinate the superintendent search. The firm will be paid $17,900.

The firm compiled a search profile following February meetings with various groups including teachers/support staff, parents and the community. The profile identified the top characteristics named for a superintendent as strong interpersonal and public relations skills, effective at creating and implementing a district vision and ability and willingness to deal fairly with faculty, staff, students and parents.

The deadline for applications was March 9. Trostle said 16 applications were received.

The board met in an executive sessions Monday, March 12, with K12 Consultants to review the candidates and narrow the list.

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The semi-finalists are:

- Shawn Blazer, assistant superintendent, Northeastern Local Schools, Springfield

- David Dilbone, principal, Troy Junior High School

- Scott Hunt, superintendent, Cardinal Local Schools, Middlefield, Ohio in Geauga County

- Jeremy Miller, assistant superintendent, Troy City Schools

- Michael Moore, director of curriculum, Troy City Schools

- Scott Nelson, former superintendent, Sylvania City Schools, near Toledo

- Jeff Patrick, superintendent Franklin Monroe Schools, Darke County

- Chris Piper, superintendent, Triad Local Schools, North Lewisburg

Information on the superintendent search, including the profile, is available on the district website at

Contact this contributing writer at

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Northeastern to close, consolidate schools if bond fails

Published: Friday, March 16, 2018 @ 9:44 AM
Updated: Friday, March 16, 2018 @ 6:06 PM

            Rolling Hills Elementary School. Bill Lackey/Staff
Rolling Hills Elementary School. Bill Lackey/Staff

The Northeastern Local School Board of Education approved a contingency plan to consolidate the district’s two high schools and close Rolling Hills Elementary School should voters in May again reject a $79 million bond issue for new schools.

The district is asking voters for a bond issue to build two new pre-k through 12th grade schools in the district, one on the Kenton Ridge High School side and the other on the Northeastern High School side. The state has offered to pay about $40 million for the schools, making the total cost of the project about $119 million.

RELATED: Northeastern bond issue for $117M new schools rejected

Having a backup plan is necessary, Northeastern Local Schools Superintendent John Kronour said.

“The district faces a number of upcoming facilities expenses to address problems in the aging school buildings, such as leaking roofs, poor air quality, heating and air conditioning regulation, plumbing problems, and other issues,” he said.

The contingency plan calls for closing Rolling Hills Elementary, using South Vienna and Northridge as preschool through fifth-grade elementary buildings, converting Kenton Ridge into a middle school for all sixth- through eighth-grade students and making Northeastern High School the only high school in the district.

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“By eliminating one building, the district will reduce necessary repairs in the future and be able to concentrate limited funds available for facilities upgrades toward the remaining four buildings,” Kronour said.

The Springfield News-Sun will update this article when more information is available.


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