The Lakota School Board is Not in Charge: Lawyers and public relations officials are, elected representatives are just a mask

The school board meeting for Lakota on December 12th, 2022 was unique for several reasons, most of which was the obvious realization that our elected members are not in charge; the lawyers are. As I listened to comments about the new Senate Bill 178, which will take away much of the power of the Ohio Department of Education and give it to a director reporting to the governor for direct accountability, it was quite clear that even with all our work in Lakota of electing a conservative board, that no matter what we did, the system hid itself behind a veil of lawyers and public relations personalities. The school board itself was just a ruse, and you could hear it in Isaac Adi’s voice in that meeting in the way he spoke to Darbi Boddy. I had spoken to both of those personalities extensively before the election of 2021, and to hear Isaac talk, it was like a completely different person, shaped by the system itself, to fit the mold of corruption that resides behind all of public education. It caused me to reflect on the ten previous years that Lynda O’Conner worked hard to prove to me directly that she was one of the good school board members. And after all the many hours of conversation, the moment we delivered a conservative majority to her, she became obsessed with controlling Darbi Boddy, which was never my intention, and the power of the seat obviously went to her head. Ultimately, the truth is that the only value of the school board was ceremonial, not in real management decisions, and these people understood that which is why the titles of their positions were so crucial to them. Because the lawyers were really in charge and always residing behind a veil that the school board showed the public, and behind that veil, so much bad action occurred, which conceals the reality of public education today in America. 

And part of the veil was what we saw from Matt Miller himself, the current Lakota superintendent who got himself in trouble with a messy divorce, then sought to harass witnesses in the community with legal threats to keep his actions from being discussed in public. As an example of the legal firewall they utilize, included here is a copy of the investigation into Matt Miller by the school board. Notice how much of it is redacted? So much for the transparency that Lynda O’Conner talks about. For some who received those intimidation letters, it was a scary experience. But I am proud of those who continued on unafraid of the obvious intimidation tactic and proceeded to make a national story out of the content that was learned about the sexual lifestyles of Lakota administrators and the various mechanisms that had been exposed during the process. Over the last few weeks, the Libs of Tik Tok picked up the story and several radio stations. Charlie Kirk has carried it, as did Louder with Crowder, who works for Glenn Beck’s Blaze news network. I thought most effective was Kristi Ertel’s interview with Brian Thomas on 55 KRC. Because Kristi is a very conscientious Christian woman, a rock-solid character, she represents what’s best about the Lakota community. When people like her can’t accept the nonsense that the Lakota school system was trying to feed the public, you know something is really wrong. I have a long history of opposition. So when I say something, people tend to refer to it in the context of a long-standing opponent. But when nice people like Kristi Ertel are on a big radio station in Cincinnati talking about how she can’t accept the moral dilemma that Lakota employees have imposed on our community, then it becomes clear that this is a different kind of time we are living in, where the veil of the lawyers isn’t working any longer. The school doesn’t know what to do about it, because the school board isn’t in charge, and they never were. 

The tactics used to derail the public from public opinions into the ostentatious liberal lifestyle of the Lakota superintendent and the general administrative culture have only exacerbated the suspicions that were always there. I remember the many meetings we had early in 2021 to identify possible school board candidates, which were organized by Lynda, who obviously always wanted a conservative majority so they would nominate her as the school board president. It was always odd to me how once Lynda knew she had the vote of Issac and Darbi to appoint her as the new president, then Isaac as the VP, Lynda quickly turned on Darbi to see her removed from the board, which essentially started all this trouble. That is how the information about Matt Miller got out to the public. Otherwise, people wouldn’t have been very interested in the superintendent’s sex life. For the sake of context, it looks like things worked out for the best because now people have seen the teeth of Lakota and the actual quality of the employees, not the garbage that the public relations firms present through tricks and nonsense. At those early meetings, Darbi was there, organized by Lynda. So were Vanessa Wells, Kristi Ertel, and many of the kinds of people who have come out very upset about the Matt Miller behavioral problems. And it’s clear what Lynda was after during those meetings in hindsight. In all her conversations with me, she knew the school board wasn’t really in charge. It’s the lawyers who run the school. The school board has no value at all other than to provide a mask for all the garbage that was going on behind the scenes. So when there are protests about S.B. 178 removing our vote from a Board of Education, the truth is, that vote is worthless because our elected representatives aren’t in charge of doing anything anyway. The lawyers do everything, and all these school boards constantly punt all the hard decisions to them along with a hefty legal bill, which then provides cover for the multitudes of bad behavior that the employees of public schools engage in.

I’ve told everyone concerned about legal action from this experience with Lakota that frivolous lawsuits are often viewed by the courts harshly, and this one is a clear case of frivolity. Most First Amendment cases are. As many who have nationally picked up on the story know from experience, reporting on a story isn’t a violation of slanderous behavior. Once a story is a story, it’s a story. And the police report in which Matt Miller was interviewed in a public context made this a story.   From my perspective, the divorce records didn’t make it a story. It became a story once the Lakota superintendent admitted to the contents of the police interview, which then turned all this into a crisis instead of a messy divorce from poor decisions on his part and became a community problem. Whether or not Matt Miller is one of Sheriff Jones’ “boys” protected by the sheriff’s department is irrelevant. The criminal element is just another consideration. The moral representation of what is expected from public employees in a school full of children is essential. And it has been good to see that people like Kristi Ertel and many others have not allowed themselves to be intimidated into shutting up when voices are needed to undo the many wrongs of this case. It’s obvious the school board won’t do it, and they never had the power to. And knowing that it’s up to the community to do the work that we had trusted the media, the police, and our elected officeholders to do. What we have learned is that we’re on our own.    

Rich Hoffman

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