WEST CHESTER, Ohio — Police issued a Lakota Local Schools board member a notice of trespassing after the district said she made unauthorized visits to school buildings.
Lakota Schools officials released a statement accusing Darbi Boddy of violating building visitor policy Wednesday by not waiting for a school principal to escort her through the schools. The district said such actions are unauthorized for any school building visitor, including a publicly elected member of the school system’s governing board.
In a letter to parents, Superintendent Matt Miller said Boddy showed up at Lakota East High School and Liberty Early Childhood School unannounced, "ignoring the staff's request to remain in the office until the principals met her," violating safety protocols and causing disruption in learning. Miller said the visit alarmed both schools.
Boddy, however, said that characterization was “absurd.”
The trespassing notice comes a week after Boddy was censured by fellow members, who also voted 4-0 calling for her to resign. The first-year board member has had numerous clashes with district officials — and fellow board members — since taking office in January.
“This is also not the first time that Mrs. Boddy has ignored board policy, nor is it the first time she has disrupted learning in our schools. Our decision was not made lightly and was done in consultation with law enforcement,” Miller said.
Parents are divided on whether the notice was needed.
"If she walks up in there and wants to look at everything, let her because we're paying her to do that and they're not letting her do that and that's crazy to me," Becky Barker said.
Others, like Nikki Palun, said she believes the district is in the right.
"There's procedures in place for her to follow and you know, she's been asked to follow them multiple times at the meeting and she keeps wanting to skirt that," Palun said.
Miller explained the decision in his message to families.
"While some may question why such a seemingly steep action was taken against Mrs. Boddy, let me explain. We welcome our parents into our schools; we welcome our community into our schools, and we certainly welcome our school board members into our schools — as long as they follow safety procedures and policy," Miller said. "These are not difficult. They involve alerting building administrators of the interest in visiting and setting up a time that is convenient for all involved."
Boddy responded to the district’s initial statement about her school visits saying official were making “the absurd claim that I was a visitor.”
“When I enter the schools, as I have been doing since my swearing-in, I am doing so as part of my responsibilities as a board member, not as a visitor. The need and the rationale for this kind of activity has not only been discussed in past board meetings but depicted in (my) writings as well,” Boddy said.
Boddy said she only took photos of signs and literature on doors and walls, noting she will not resign.
Other members of the Lakota Board of Education did not immediately respond Thursday to requests to comment.
Former Lakota school board member Sandy Wheatley described Boddy’s actions as “inexcusable.”
“Board members have always visited buildings. They read to kids, they eat lunch with kids, they visit an interesting class … but they never do any of those things without following board protocol and having the permission of the principal on timing etc.,” Wheatley said. “Think about walking into an elementary building unattended and it happens to be a testing day. Or what about sticking your head into a classroom where a teacher has been working all year to create an environment that works for the child in her class with autism. All that is turned upside down in an instant for a child. Mrs. Boddy has no regard for anyone but herself.”