Tipp BOE to seek legal counsel regarding alleged executive session violation

TIPP CITY — Potential violation of executive session was brought up by Tipp City School Board Member Theresa Dunaway at a meeting held Monday.

No specifics were given about the topic discussed in a previous executive session in the interest of privacy, but Dunaway had motioned at the start of the meeting to add the discussion item to the agenda under new business. Board President Simon Patry had voted against the motion due to concern over what the best procedure to provide the school district the most protection during discussion would be; board members Anne Zakkour, Richard Mains and Dunaway had voted in favor of the motion.

“I certainly think that if there is a potential violation of executive session, which is inherently then a violation of the open meetings act, that that should be addressed. However, I think that the manner of which it is addressed probably needs to be carefully considered related to liability of the school district,” Patry said.

During discussion regarding the violation, she had stated that it was her opinion that the board had voted during the June 13 executive session, which was held to consider the employment and compensation of a public employee or official. Dunaway then asked how the board should handle that alleged violation.

“Do we have legal counsel come in? What’s the process of finding out if that happened or not,” Dunaway said.

Superintendent Mark Stefanik said that he could contact the board’s legal counsel and ask how someone would report a violation of executive session. A motion was made by Patry to authorize Stefanik to retain the board’s counsel for the purpose of investigating the alleged violation of the executive session, which passed unanimously.

Zakkour had expressed that while she doesn’t believe anyone on present or past boards has wanted to intentionally violate anything, it’s possible to fall into situations where that can occur.

“It’s easy to fall into situations where you unwittingly, unknowingly, unintentionally do make a violation. It doesn’t make it right, but my bigger message here is, when you live in glass houses, don’t throw rocks,” Zakkour said.

The following items were also approved at Monday’s meeting:

• The hiring of certified staff members Christine Baker, Crystal Niekamp, Susan Eichenauer and Joy Bannen, and classified staff members Mackenzi Hadder, Katrina Steck and Kristy Netherly was unanimously approved;

• The hiring of supplemental staff members Clay Barhorst, Dylan Blair, Brandon Baker, Caroline Berning, Lacey Loges, Andrew Group, Hannah Essick and Chelsea Porto was approved in a 2-1-1 vote, with Zakkour abstaining and Dunaway voting no;

• The hiring of certified staff members Katie Kramer, Jordan McKenzie and Tiffany Seibert for the 2021-2022 Summer Academy was unanimously approved;

• Contract corrections for the 2022-2023 school year were unanimously approved;

• A $4,900 donation from the Tippecanoe Educational Endowment was unanimously approved;

• Mackenzie English was approved for an after-school supervision position in a unanimous vote;

• Band camp program assistants Aubrey Beaty, Eric Carr, Connor Gibson, Collin Hall, Andrew Haines, Brandon Hood, Crosbee Lisser, Michael Maley, Jordan Miller, Andrew Peoples, Anna Quinn and Riley Swartout were unanimously approved;

• A $500 donation from the Dayton Dragon Classroom Makeover was unanimously approved;

• A $4,538.94 grant donation from the Tipp Foundation was unanimously approved;

• A $682 STEM Grant donation from the Tipp Foundation was unanimously approved;

• The 2023 tax budget for the Tipp City Public Library was unanimously approved; and,

• The Memorandum of Understanding between Tipp City Schools and the Tipp City Education Association in relation to teacher evaluations was unanimously approved.

A Memorandum of Understanding between Tipp City Schools and the Tipp City Education Association in relation to a PILOT program failed in a 2-2 vote with Dunaway and Zakkour voting against the motion. Additionally, a motion to permit Stefanik to get more information on the program failed in a 2-2 vote, with Dunaway and Zakkour voting against the motion.

Discussion and action regarding the Community Reinvestment Area Agreement and Mental Health Services Contracts were tabled, both in the interest of time and in the interest of all board members being present to give input and take action on each item accordingly.

The board will hold a work session at 5 p.m. Monday, July 11. The next regular meeting of the Tipp City School Board will be 6 p.m. Monday, July 25.