MU BOE holds 2nd special meeting this week


By Eamon Baird


WEST MILTON — The Milton-Union Exempted Village School District Board of Education held a second special board meeting this week on Wednesday, Oct. 9, at 7:30 p.m. to hold an executive session.

On Monday, Oct. 9, the board also went into executive session. Residents of West Milton waited in the school gymnasium for over two hours, and no action was taken when board members came back into the regular session.

According to its agenda, this meeting was held to go into an executive session for the purpose of considering the appointment, employment, dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion, compensation, and investigation of charges or complaints against a person of an employee or official; conference with an attorney; and for confidential matters as required by federal law, regulations, or state statues.

These meetings were called after a lawsuit was filed on Sept. 29, 2023, against the Milton-Union Exempted Village School District Board of Education, Superintendent Brad Ritchey in his capacity as superintendent, according to court documents, and against Ritchey individually, as well as Jerry North, a former janitor employed with the Milton-Union School District.

On May 3, 2023, North was indicted on three counts of rape of a victim under the age of 10, all first-degree felonies, two counts of gross sexual imposition, both second-degree felonies, and one count of intimidation of an attorney, victim or witness in a criminal case, a third-degree felony, after alleged actions that occurred in boy’s restroom of Milton-Union Elementary School. These assaults allegedly occurred between Aug. 1, 2019, and May 31, 2021.

A jury trial on these charges against North is scheduled to begin in the Miami County Common Pleas Court on Nov. 28, 2023, at 9 a.m.

Amy Stevens said she came to the meeting to support the family of the victim and get some answers.

“The way things are handled at the school, a lot of times it’s just brushed under the rug, and I think we need to get better when someone reports something, a child, parent, whoever, there’s some follow through with it,” Stevens said.

Stevens, whose daughter recently graduated from high school in West Milton, said incidents like this could have been avoided if the schools had done a better job listening to parents’ concerns.

“When children come to school, they should be made to feel safe and not intimidated by adults,” Stevens said.

Before going into executive session, the board read the following statement:

“Members of the Board of Education call this evening’s special meeting to enter executive session. Reasons for the executive session are noted in the motion to enter into it. Members of the public may be present for the meeting opening and any formal action and adjournment. There shall be no public participation at this evening’s meeting. While the board is in executive session this evening, individuals will be asked to exit the board room area and wait in the school parking lot,”

Raymond Landis, who has been attending board meetings since August of 2021, took issue with the people allowed to participate in the executive session.

“I think it’s a conflict of interest. The school district has a responsibility in this case; the superintendent has a separate and different responsibility. He should not be going into executive session,” Landis said.

Like Monday’s meeting, no action was taken when the board members returned from the executive session.

The board announced a regularly scheduled meeting for Monday, Oct. 16, at 6 p.m., which will allow for public comments and will be held in the school library.

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