The Lakota School Board Created the National Circus: They want short meetings, and Darbi Boddy asks too many questions

There is a big difference between making mistakes and purposeful maliciousness. What Darbi Boddy did as a Lakota school board member was make a few mistakes. At the last meeting, I pointed this out to the board by giving a brief history of mistakes the Lakota school board had made, precisely one that resulted in an embarrassing lawsuit last year that cost many thousands of dollars. As a new board member, Darbi has been asking lots of questions. Still, the radical element has been aggressive toward her, primarily since she worked immediately to remove mask mandates at the school. Darbi Boddy was targeted right out of the gate, which wasn’t unexpected. But what was surprising was the level of activism that the school board would take to use whatever mistakes Darbi Boddy made as a new school board member to create a public circus just to get her to resign. Darbi, I think, has been a good school board member, and it was the job of the rest of the board members to reach out and to build a team with her instead of plotting behind the scenes to get rid of her because she didn’t fit a mold they saw as being on their school board membership. The voters picked the board, and the school board, along with Matt Miller, the superintendent, became activists to remove Darbi Boddy with a classic trick of social ostracization and peer pressure to force her to resign for a mistake only six months into the first term. The result was a national spectacle that was grossly unfair to Darbi. It was a level of activism that told many stories, but the worst of all was in its doing and the lack of responsibility that anybody utilized in the aftermath. The school board itself acted as if Darbi brought all this negative attention to Lakota when they tried to use the media and the radical element churned up for blood to destroy Darbi Boddy in every way they could. 

For me, what started years ago to simply fight school levies to keep the costs down of tax burdens in our school district, I have grown to hate Lakota schools over the years. I don’t think Lakota does anything well for the kids. I would argue that even the sports programs are unhealthy for the kids and their future culture once they’ve graduated. The more I have learned about public education, the more I hate it. So after the last election, I felt that Darbi Boddy and Issac Adi, the two newest board members, did care about public education. A lot more than I did, so they might be able to make Lakota the best it can be for the taxpayers who are forced to contribute small fortunes to essentially a progressive institution that works against them politically.   I heard at that last meeting Issac’s statements about not wanting to be on the news, and all his experience as a program manager with Master’s Degrees in college, because he was struggling to understand what a school board member at Lakota was all about. I felt sympathy for him, Issac is a very good person, and he means the best for all lives he touches. I think he and Darbi make the school board better, and maybe they’ll actually help some kids along the way. I was happy with their elections, so I stayed out of Lakota business because I personally find the whole thing sickening. Everything about public schools is political, and they aren’t my kind of politics. So I’m not eager to waste my time at their stupid meetings. All they have is a parade of complaints of below-the-line thinking from a unionized mindset that projects that more money is always needed to solve their problems. And to get that money, kids are always used as hostages to move public sentiment. So if I can put Lakota out of my mind and forget about it as much as possible, I’m a happy guy. If they drag me into their mess, well, then I’m not so happy. 

Politics is a blood sport, which I say all the time. Nobody really likes each other about much of anything. Politics, then, is a game where people use each other to achieve whatever objective they find bounces around in their minds. It is those skills specifically that I think Darbi Boddy has that make her better than most in school board business.   The greatest weakness in any school board culture is the Ohio School Board Association which turns the whole effort more into a country club mindset than anything practical for the business management of a district. What ends up happening is that the OSBA runs cover for the radical elements of progressive public schools, focusing on damage control of public image over the substance of actual management of resources united through political friendships and peer pressure. Darbi went into the school board without needing to have the illusions of friendships and being free of peer pressure. She has a nice family at home, a husband she enjoys, and is a dedicated mom, which is good enough for her. Going into the election, I thought that she had the potential to actually be helpful as a school board member at Lakota because of those traits. But she didn’t feel a need to maintain illusionary friendships aimed at group consensus, and this was a problem for the traditional way of running a school board, so things got off to a rough start from minute number one. Perhaps when Matt Miller gave Darbi and Issac their fruit baskets as a gift at the beginning of the year, they all would have gotten along better if they had given Darbi something she actually wanted. Whatever the case, the board would have done better to make political friends with Darbi than they did. Instead, they looked to destroy her because the value system was featured on cooperation and politics than on actually doing the job for the school.

The result of the school board approach with Matt Miller playing his role of passive-aggressive assassin was to use the media and the mob to push Darbi Boddy off the board with scandal, like a Shakespearean play. They could have used some of Darbi’s rookie mistakes to bond with her and do team building which is how such things are done in the professional world. Everyone would have understood, after all, the board as a body had made more than its fair share of serious mistakes over the years. Nothing that Darbi had done was malicious. There is a hostile political element in Lakota that the board should be fighting as members of management. Not yielding to. That radical element seeks to take away the management ability of the board at every juncture, and the net result of that is always more money.   At that last school board meeting, the seeds were certainly being planted for a future tax increase. The cost of diesel was going up, so busing was getting too expensive.

Teachers weren’t feeling safe in a post-Covid world; what would Lakota do to prevent teachers from leaving for other districts? The subtext of all the conversations was “more money.”  And what always costs more money is a lack of management which the political radicals at Lakota purposely interject always to keep the school board on its heels. And when they can get the board fighting each other, as they were baited into doing against Darbi Boddy, well then, of course, the result is continuously increased costs and unregulated monstrosities. The excuse that while the board was focused on shoving Darbi Boddy off the board, one of the schools needed an extended parking lot for increased busing, which would cost more money and create a need for another tax levy. All the while, to cover up the hard decisions with obvious indecision, Darbi Boddy made a convenient punching bag. The superintendent and other board members who aren’t getting paid want to go home. They don’t like long marathon meetings, and Darbi won’t shut up about her questions.   So they attacked her to push her off the board so that perhaps they could get back to 45-minute meetings again, or even 20 minutes. But from what I heard at that last meeting, the Lakota school board needs the questions that Darbi has been asking even more. When you are managing many millions of dollars, those meetings should be every bit of 4 to 5 hours. And if they take 12 to 15 hours, then that is what should be done if managing all those schools, all those progressive employees, and all the variables in between is required not to have to ask the public for more money. At that May 9th meeting, I heard that the superintendent and the board wanted to be lazy, and they wanted to get rid of the person who wanted to work the hardest so that they wouldn’t have to.   And they created the embarrassing national circus so they wouldn’t have to do the work that the taxpayers expected.

Rich Hoffman

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