Residents raise concerns at school board meeting


TIPP CITY — Several members of the Tipp City community gathered outside of the Tipp City Board of Education meeting Monday in a peaceful demonstration.

Many who gathered are part of a group called Concerned Citizens of Tipp City and have signed a petition calling for the resignation of board president Theresa Dunaway and vice president Anne Zakkour. The petition alleges that the two have “demonstrated a voting history that appears to not be working in and for the best interest of the students, Tipp City Exempted Village School employees, and the overall health and vitality of our schools and our community.”

“The petition circulators appear to dislike me personally and have focused on matters at the school they know I cannot offer a defense without violating laws regarding students and staff’s privacy rights. The petition allegations about me are recklessly false and I am uncertain if they are making these false allegations because the circulators are uninformed, or because they have some personal animosity towards me,” Dunaway said in a statement submitted to the Miami Valley Today. “Making matters worse, there appears to be a deep division in the board. While I encourage independent and different perspectives on our board to ensure that we are properly considering our decisions, I sincerely wish our board could be more focused on the issues and less on agendas forwarded by polarized groups within our community. If the community knew all of the information that goes into my direction and decisions, I firmly believe that instead of wasting resources attacking me personally, and the extensive public records requests, they would join me in making sure that we have the best school system in the state.”

Bryan Ramos has three children currently enrolled in the Tipp City school district: one high school student, one middle school student and one elementary-aged student. He attended Monday’s board meeting to address the board with his concerns during citizens comments.

“I think they have made decisions over the past two years that have negatively impacted the schools. The elimination of open enrollment — by allowing teacher’s students, which I think is a great idea, but not allowing open enrollment — you lose all that funding. The mishandling of the issue involving the library board didn’t need to happen. Obviously, the administrative staff, the resignations — I think this board, at least, the leadership — (has failed) to understand and accept that this is a problem. If they can’t see the problem, or refuse to see that there’s a problem, I’m not sure we can expect them to solve the problem,” Ramos said.

Tippecanoe High School alumna Natalie Seeman, who graduated in 2018 and currently attends The Ohio State University, also showed up to the board meeting to voice her concerns about the volume of resignations within the district that have been a fixture at board meetings over the last several months.

“I think it puts a disturbance into their schoolwork and finding new teachers and having new teachers every year makes it hard, because you don’t know what you’re expecting when you go into classes, and you’re not hearing from upperclassmen how you should prepare for class,” Seeman said.

“Since I have joined the Tipp City School Board, I have endeavored to only focus on what is best for our students. Many times, that means making tough calls that will inevitably upset some of our staff, administration and community. This is not a popularity contest. It is unfortunate that my detractors have focused on personal attacks on me and my family due to their personal dislikes for some of the hard choices the board and I have had to make. What many members of the community do not understand is that due to state and federal regulations that are meant to protect the privacy of student and employee records, I cannot provide the entire context of my decisions,” Dunaway said.

The Tipp City Board of Education unanimously approved three certified staff resignations and two supplemental staff resignations at Monday’s meeting:

• Tippecanoe High School Biology & Life Sciences teacher Kelly Drayton, effective Aug. 31, 2021;

• Tippecanoe High School counselor Veronica Hlavac, effective July 31, 2021;

• Tippecanoe High School Science teacher Ryan Tremblay, effective Aug. 31, 2021;

• Assistant High School Boys Golf coach Bryan Gronski, effective May 17, 2021;

• CPA Supervisor James Trzeciak, effective May 28, 2021.

“Being a board member is the best and most difficult duty that any member of this community can do. I have also learned that it comes at a great personal price if you really want to do what is right for the students as opposed to keeping the status quo,” Dunaway said.

When asked for comment regarding the resignations, superintendent Mark Stefanik said: “We have created a chart on our website highlighting resignation trends over the past few years. Currently, our resignation percentage is below the national average for education institutions. Several of our resignations, this year and in the past, were due to family obligations, including relocations for new job opportunities for spouses. Any time an employee resigns, it is a loss for our district, and our role is to find a high quality teacher to enhance educational opportunities for our students.”

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