BOE tensions flare during discussion on new buildings


By Amantha Garpiel and Sheryl Roadcap

[email protected]

TIPP CITY – Discussion on school building plans for new facilities became heated during the Tuesday evening Tipp City Board of Education (BOE) meeting to the point of a brief dispute between the now former board president, Simon Patry, and Board member Anne Zakkour, who appeared to gesture a Nazi salute to Patry.

Tension rose before the BOE voted on the base plan for the district’s new facilities project during its work session. The BOE voted on the plans Tuesday, Sept. 5, after discussing them at the Aug. 28 regular session board meeting at the request of Superintendent Aaron Moran, to confirm the two-building plan. It consists of a preschool through eighth-grade and ninth through 12-grade building for the district as part of the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission’s (OFCC) master facilities plan for Tipp City.

The discussion prior to the board’s vote was tense as Zakkour raised concerns which Patry did not agree with. Zakkour felt holding the vote during Tuesday’s work session was cutting out the community because citizens’ comments are not allowed during work sessions and that two community meetings set to take place in the weeks following should be held before the board votes to ensure they are continuing to consider and value the opinions of the community.

It was pointed out by Board member Amber Drum and Moran that the upcoming meetings are building tours to show attendees why the new facilities are necessary, rather than to gain more feedback from the community.

Despite being reassured that holding the vote Tuesday evening would not be cutting out future opinions expressed at the upcoming meetings, Zakkour insisted the vote should be held during a regular board meeting to allow for final citizens’ comments and stated, “That’s not how you respect your taxpayers.”

After Zakkour shared her concerns and opinions regarding Tuesday’s vote to decide if the district should move forward with a preschool through eighth-grade building and a ninth through 12th-grade building, Patry shared his opinion on the subject.

“We’ve been talking about this for two years, if not longer, there’s no more need to wait,” said Patry.

Patry noted the claim the board and facilities committee has been anything but transparent and open with the community during this planning is “blatantly false.” He feels as though the board, facilities committee and community have had more than enough meetings to adequately discuss this portion of the master plan for the district’s new facilities.

While Patry was speaking, Zakkour could be heard mumbling under her breath, something indistinguishable. Patry told her to stop talking and would not tolerate being interrupted, to which Zakkour proceeded to turn to Patry and give an apparant Nazi salute during Tuesday’s live-streamed meeting.

The meeting went on with no acknowledgement to Zakkour’s gesture and a vote was taken. The plan to have a preschool through eighth-grade building and a ninth through 12th-grade building for the district was approved with Patry, Drum and Board member Rick Mains voting “yes” and Zakkour abstaining from the vote. Board member Theresa Dunaway was absent at Tuesday’s meeting.

The following evening Patry’s resignation from the Tipp City Board of Education was announced. Patry told Miami Valley Today his resignation had nothing to do with Tuesday’s meeting and was pre-planned, as was confirmed by Mains and Board member/now President Amber Drum.

Patry provided the following statement to Miami Valley Today about Tuesday’s meeting:

“Mrs. Zakkour has shown the inability to conduct herself within social norms or professional expectations for 4 years. She has the inability to be courteous and follow basic rules. At Tuesday’s meeting, the Board of Education allowed her to present, without interruption, her nonsensical and unsupportable arguments as to why we should delay the project for new facilities. Unsurprisingly, she lead a similar Facebook smear campaign against the last Bond for new facilities.

“When it was my turn to speak, she could not help but interrupt and make noises. When she was told to stop interrupting and stop talking out of turn, she made an inexcusable and unjustifiable gesture. She is not a victim and there is nothing that can justify a Nazi salute. All anyone needs to do to see that her accusations are false is to observe all of our meetings, which are recorded and public record.

“Mrs. Zakkour is clearly doing everything she can to distract from her horrible conduct. Her conduct does not reflect the values of our wonderful School District, its staff, students, parents, and our community.

“Mrs. Zakkour should resign immediately. Her and Mrs. Dunaway’s conduct over the last 4 years has distracted the focus of the Board of Education away from the District and its students. I look forward to a day where the Board of Education will be permitted to focus on the District, its students, and community without the distraction caused by Mrs. Zakkour’s and Mrs. Dunaway’s abhorrent behavior.

“My resignation was planned prior to the meeting and I shared that plan with the Superintendent and Mr. Mains.”

When asked for a comment on the meeting, Mains responded by email saying, “I did not see her (Zakkour) make the gesture during the meeting. However, I was able to view the recorded video and see it. In my opinion, there is never a justification, sarcastic or otherwise, for that disgusting gesture and remark. I am extremely upset by this situation. At that point during the meeting, I was upset with Mrs. Zakkour’s conduct and I was ready to get up and leave. I could not stand what was taking place. However, I decided for our community’s sake that I would stick it out. I am so sorry that this has happened.

“I am only one board member. Board action needs to be decided at the next meeting of the Board of Education.

“Mr. Patry has always treated all members equally and with respect. Mr. Patry did not resign as a result of this incident. His resignation had been planned prior to the meeting as he previously discussed with me.”

Drum said the OSBA (Ohio School Boards Association) may have the answer for what may be done in regard to Zakkour’s actions at Tuesday’s meeting, or that information may be found online.

She also said, “At Tipp City Schools, our district motto is ‘Where Excellence is a Tradition’ and we ask those in our district to follow the three pillars “Be Respectful, Be Responsible, and to have Integrity.” Those expectations were not met by Mrs. Zakkour’s actions at last night’s board meeting. I was unaware that the ‘Salute’ was made until I went back to watch the meeting. Her actions were of her own accord and in no way reflect my beliefs as a board member. I am shocked by her lack of professionalism.

“As far as comments Mrs. Zakkour has made in regards to Mr. Patry, I feel Mr. Patry is a very kind, helpful, and a respectful member of the Board. I have never felt bullied by him or been made to feel less than by anything he has said to me.”

Dunaway responded to a request for comment saying since she wasn’t at the meeting, she would let the others respond.

Moran issued the following statement on the incident, along with information on the search for BOE applicants to fill the newly vacant seat:

“As the superintendent of Tipp City Exempted Village Schools, I’m disappointed about the behavior at the September 5th board meeting. This does not reflect our values and the greater community. This incident distracts from our primary focus, which is the students of Tipp City Schools.

“My priorities are and will continue to be how best to support students in their educational journey. This can only be accomplished by bringing our community together and focusing on our students’ learning.”

Zakkour has yet to respond to Miami Valley Today as of Thursday afternoon for a request for comment for this story.

No posts to display