During a June 2016 meeting, two School Board members called for fellow board member Jim Szabo's resignation -- and during the Board's March 20 meeting, he did just that.
Szabo resigned from his seat on the Board -- after a vote was called for on whether or not to extend Superintendent Dr. Joe Clark's contract with the district for five years -- citing philosophical and personal differences.
"I can no longer be a part of a Board whose members over the years as far as I'm concerned have directed intimidation and intolerance towards my thoughts, beliefs, and votes either personally or through local media outlets," Szabo said. "I cannot continue be a part of what I believe to be a culture of disrespect for residents who may be critical of the superintendent or the board."
Szabo told the News Leader after the meeting that he feels "great" about his decision to resign and that he accomplished what he set out to do as far as helping to bring back busing, seeing the land sale through and the completion of the athletic complex.
"There's really nothing left for me to do," he said.
His exit from the Board was just prior to a roll call vote extending Clark's contract through 2023, which was on the February meeting agenda but postponed due to Szabo's absence from the meeting. At the time, Board member Nick Berchtold said he felt it vital that all School Board members be present for the important vote.
When contacted by the News Leader after the February meeting, Szabo said he had no comment on the matter.
Quite the opposite was true at Monday night's meeting, as Szabo stood before the Board prior to his resignation and said Clark had unjustly accused him of attempting to destroy his reputation and career because he did not participate in his latest performance review.
Szabo explained he felt the accusation unjust because he had participated in Clark's performance reviews prior to that and had given him top marks and positive comments. He said he abstained from the evaluation because he lacked the objectivity to evaluate Clark after reading an email from Clark prior to Szabo's election to the school board which stated "I believe deeply that when you mud wrestle pigs you both get dirty and the pig enjoys it."
He told the News Leader "This could have all been solved with a simple act of remorse or contrition. All he would have had to have said was 'I shouldn't have used those words' or say 'I'm sorry' because that's what we expect of our children when they say something wrong."
Board President Chad Lahrmer told the News Leader "I just want to say thank you to Mr. Szabo for the more than three years he was a Board member and for the time he devoted to our School District."
Clark said, "I wich Jim the best."
After Szabo handed in his resignation a vote was held and the four remaining School Board members voted unanimously to extend Clark's contract.
The Board is accepting applications to fill Szabo's seat. The Board has until April 19 to appoint a replacement.
Residents interested in being considered for appointment to the Board of Education should deliver a letter of interest and resume outlining qualifications to 9370 Olde Eight Road, Northfield, 44067, ATTN: Chad Lahrmer. Materials may also be submitted electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications must be received by 4 p.m. April 3.
Briana Barker: 330-541-9432