LOWELLVILLE, Ohio (WKBN) – Tempers were flying at a meeting Wednesday night as some parents and teachers said Lowellville School District’s Board of Education is not being completely open and honest.
Three minutes into the start of the meeting, the board voted to move into executive session. It held a public comment session that set the stage for several things to be addressed in front of the board.
The teachers revealed that a tentative contract had been reached Tuesday night.
“Pending a ratification vote next week, we hope this will once again place our focus on what has always been most important to us, and that is the education and the well-being of our students,” said Julie Diloreto, a teacher at Lowellville.
After that, several teachers and parents tried to address personnel issues at the district. One being a petition that started three weeks ago against Superintendent Dr. Eugene Thomas, and the second against the district treasurer.
Supporters of the petition want Thomas removed as superintendent and others say the treasurer doesn’t devote the time needed to the school.
Those with concerns were asked to move into an executive session with the board.
“If you would like to address concerns about the direction, you’re more than welcome to do that, but you’re not going to stand up and discuss a specific employee of ours in a public forum,” said School Board President James Alfano. “If you would like to request an executive session, we’ll be more than welcome to do that and we’ll be glad to meet with you.”
Members of the crowd then started begging for transparency and demanding answers to their concerns.
One man claimed his wife is being bullied by the administration for speaking out about issues in the district. He said they’ve lost trust and respect for them.
School Board Vice President Lisa Donofrio said that sometimes public forums are not the place to address specific issues parents or community members might have.
“If you’re willing to be patient, we’re going to listen to your concern,” she said. “Just because we can’t comment on it does not mean we don’t hear you.”
Community members argued that when asked questions, the board wasn’t giving straight answers.
Donofrio tried to reassure them.
“Your concerns are very important to all of us and that’s why we’re listening to them, but you have to understand there are laws.”
The public comment session took up a majority of the meeting. It ended in another executive session with those who had direct concerns about personnel at the district.
Nothing else on the four-page agenda was discussed Wednesday night.
The one thing that each group did agree on was that Lowellville is a tight-knit community that deserves a great educational system.