At sheriff’s urging, Hamilton residents lobby school board for armed teachers

Published: Tuesday, February 27, 2018 @ 10:19 PM

Hamilton residents sound off to school board about county sheriff’s idea of arming teachers.

Public lobbying by Butler County’s top law official saw more residents come out Tuesday evening to let a local school board know their stances on arming school teachers.

About a dozen speakers told the Hamilton Board of Education their opinions, most in support of the school security idea pushed by Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones in the wake of the Parkland, Fla. school shootings this month.

MORE: Lakota school residents share their stances with board about arming teachers

Hamilton schools resident Jim Graham told the board he backed Jones’ proposal, saying “I hold you responsible for the safety of my grandchildren at this point.”

“I saw at the recent shooting in Florida where armed folks in the school could have had an impact and lessened the devastation that occurred there,” Graham said.

“I’m an advocate for paid, armed personnel in our (school) buildings … I am an advocate of having teachers that would be willing to assume some of those roles to do that as well. We probably have teachers in our schools that would be willing to do that,” he said.

But city resident Kimberly Whitehead cautioned the board not to have a “knee jerk” reaction to the Parkland shooting by arming some Hamilton teachers.

The idea of armed teachers “scares me to damn death,” said Whitehead, who added that teachers already have enough responsibility.

“There are teachers who work for Hamilton city schools who are totally inept at the job they are paid to do. So why would I think they would be qualified to carry a gun?” she said. “Arming our teachers with guns is the worst idea that can ever happen.”

Monday marked the first day of free handgun training offered by Jones for Butler County school employees, including teachers. Hundreds have signed up, the sheriff said.

MORE: Sheriff opens free concealed carry classes for teachers

Jones has publicly urged residents to demand local school boards allow some teachers and non-teaching staffers who volunteer access to guns while working.

Active on social media, the sheriff in the last week has used the public forum to urge Butler County residents to attend local school board meetings to pressure members into passing resolutions allowing interested and trained school workers to be armed.

Some Ohio school systems already have armed school staffers who qualified for carrying concealed weapon (CCW) training and certification in their buildings.

“Be there let your voice be heard,” Jones said on Twitter Tuesday prior to the board meeting. “They work for you. Let teachers have ccw in school now.”

The Hamilton board took no action on the issue but said all security options – beyond the dozens of electronic, procedural, infrastructure and personnel safety measures, including armed city school resources officers already in use – will be considered by the board.

In other board action, members took no votes nor made any comments regarding their Feb. 6 order to place Hamilton Schools Superintendent Tony Orr on paid leave.

The board has said an investigation into allegations of violation of school board policies was the reason for placing Orr on leave but have since offered no further information nor timetable for that investigation’s completion.

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Monroe’s plan to relieve overcrowding in schools delayed

Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 2:20 PM

            State education officials have told Monroe school officials their plans for building a new school will have to be delayed a year. Monroe school officials said they were surprised by the news but intend to continue to seek state funding for a new pre-kindergarten to fourth grade elementary school to relieve overcrowding. STAFF FILE PHOTO
State education officials have told Monroe school officials their plans for building a new school will have to be delayed a year. Monroe school officials said they were surprised by the news but intend to continue to seek state funding for a new pre-kindergarten to fourth grade elementary school to relieve overcrowding. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Plans for building a new Monroe School have been pushed back by a state school commission, leaving local school officials disappointed.

The Monroe school system remains on the eligibility list for state funding to help build a new elementary school, but the district has been lowered — through no fault of the local schools — according to criteria used by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC).

“It’s very disappointing,” said Monroe Board of Education President Brett Guido.

The district had planned on being approved this year for nearly half of the multi-million project that would have brought a new pre-kindergarten through fourth grade school building to relieve overcrowding in Monroe’s two schools.

MORE: Monroe school officials say overcrowding forces need for new school

Monroe officials were expecting good news earlier this month from OFCC officials but instead learned from them about a larger-than-anticipated number of other eligible Ohio school districts seeking similar funding have placed school tax issues on the May ballot.

Monroe officials had planned to put a bond tax issue on the November ballot — which OFCC rules require voter approval before about 50 percent of funding would be paid for by the state.

The result of the eligibility reshuffling has Monroe Schools remaining eligibility for state funding but not until 2019.

Jesse Catanzaro, director of operations for Monroe Schools, said “they (OFCC officials) moved the finish line on us.”

MORE: 5 things to know about Monroe Schools

For residents in the growing Monroe school system it means they likely will not see any ballot tax issues seeking a rise in property taxes until November 2019.

The now, more likely scenario — if voters approve a yet-to-be determined amount of tax millage increase in 2019 — would be for a new school opening in November 2021 instead of fall 2020 as originally planned, said Catanzaro.

During Monday’s board meeting, members voted unanimously to make the new school’s grade configuration a pre-K to 4th grade building, should it be constructed.

MORE: Monroe board hires new school superintendent

Last year the board approved the new school’s location on the 29 acres that the district owns between Macready Avenue and Elm Street, which includes the campus of the current but aged and too small Monroe Primary School.

The district’s Primary building, constructed in 1954, was designed to house 339 students and currently has 470 students enrolled. The district’s 2-12 building was opened in 2004 and was designed for 1,883 students. There are currently 2,410 students attending the school.

“The planning for the new school is all done,” said Guido. “The need (for expansion) is still there and will now only become more dire.”

Board members said they are exploring various options to handle overcrowding including the possibility of constructing eight temporary classrooms in the junior high school’s gym or using portable classroom trailers on school grounds for additional classroom space.

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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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