TCEA seeks censure of school board member


TIPP CITY — The Tipp City Education Association (TCEA) affirmed a “Vote of No Confidence” in a resolution letter submitted to Superintendent Mark Stefanik May 28.

The “Vote of No Confidence” is in regard to school board member Anne Zakkour and out of 90 percent of TCEA members participating in the vote, 99 percent of those votes affirmed, “no confidence” in Zakkour as a Tipp City School board member.

“This vote is the result of Mrs. Zakkour’s statements and behavior during her tenure as an elected school board member,” said TCEA President Heather Yunker.

The resolution letter provided to Tipp City Board of Education members and Stefanik presented quotes from Zakkour during board meetings that were dated with time stamps and calls for action from the board of education to censure these comments pertaining to TCEA and the TCEA President.

A censure is a formal statement expressing disproval of an action.

“Her actions have demonstrated a lack of knowledge, misperceptions and misunderstanding regarding the processes that exist between a public school board and a professional education association. In addition, Mrs. Zakkour’s demeanor during public board meetings has cultivated a culture of distrust and divisiveness among district staff, administration, and the community,” the letter stated.

Examples provided in the letter included an April 26 regular board meeting in which Zakkour “attempted to place blame on the association and the association president for not communicating district issues and for the actions taken by community members.” This was in reference to a discussion regarding citizens’ comments raising concerns over the volume of resignations of Tipp City Schools teachers, support staff and administrators.

The letter also quoted Zakkour stating: “but we are not mind readers. So, for 7 months. So, I am asking in a sincere question of fairness. Where was your input to us? Seven consecutive months preceding negotiations. Where was the communication to us? I’ve been here. The doors have been open. So, when people have their weaponry out and they are ready to attack. I understand isolation and covid and things are getting on everybody’s nerve. Can we please have some fairness in this dialog.”

According to the Ohio revised code 4117, TCEA members cannot directly address any issues pertaining to language within its negotiated agreement. Contract language must be bargained. Any concerns, issues, conflicts must be addressed directly to the district superintendent. Board Policy 3112 also states communications from staff shall be addressed to immediate supervisors, then to the Superintendent.

The letter also stated that Zakkour’s comments concerning TCEA and the TCEA president continued during discussions pertaining to the resignations of several district administrators.

“District administration, as referenced in ORC 4117.06 and the TCEA master agreement, are not permitted, nor have they ever been, members of the association. Resignations of administrators are not within the purview of the TCEA,” the letter said.

“The board, administration and the association must be committed to working together”, said President Yunker. “It is our duty as professionals to model effective communication for the betterment of the district. This includes adhering to board policy, our negotiated agreement, and Ohio Revised Code. It is extremely irresponsible for a board member to expect an association to break policy in order to speak negatively of others or of our district. This type of behavior is not acceptable and does not align with our (TCEA) commitment for restoring the ‘Tradition of Excellence.”

The TCEA has requested the board of education takes action on the censure by June 15 — currently, Stefanik said that he does not know whether the board plans to add this to the work session planned for June 15. Additionally, Stefanik said that the TCEA had notified the board and himself of their concerns prior to the resolution letter being submitted.

Stefanik added that while the board has challenges that need to be addressed, there are also accomplishments and achievements that deserve recognition but seem to be overshadowed by the concerns raised at board meetings as of late.

“We recently completed successful negotiations that resulted in a contract that’s positive for our teachers and our community. I think this speaks volumes about the Board, TCEA, and district administration. Tipp City just completed our last day of school for the 2020-21 school year — a year unlike any other. But due to the efforts of our entire staff, student body, and community, we stayed in-person all year (kindergarten through fifth grade) and in-person all but three weeks in grades 6 through 12. Many school districts and students did not have this opportunity.

“Through it all, our students continued to excel at levels that Tipp City expects: Athletic accomplishments, academic accomplishments, and co-curricular accomplishments. Thank you to our students, staff members, and parents for their outstanding efforts and support! In the end, it must be about our students. And our students here, soak up lessons and knowledge, and then apply them across the board to a degree I’ve not experienced anywhere else,” Stefanik said.

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