LISBON - The Beaver Local Board of Education selected Pat O'Hara to fill the vacant position on the board during a special meeting held Monday evening at the district office in Lisbon. Following his swearing-in, O'Hara cast the deciding 3-2 vote to retain Jeff Campbell as BLHS assistant boys basketball coach.
The appointment of O'Hara came only 11 days after the board accepted the resignation of former president Brian McKenzie on Oct. 18. By contrast, the process of selecting Greg Eisenhart on Oct. 9 to replace former board member Brad Buchheit, whose resignation was accepted Sept. 10, took nearly a month.
District Superintendent Kent Polen said the swiftness of O'Hara's ascension to the board was made possible by the quick succession of Eisenhart's arrival and McKenzie's departure. Rather than begin the search process anew, as normally required by the Ohio School Board Association anytime a board member resigns, BLSD was permitted to draw from the pool of candidates who had been already interviewed but not selected to fill the previous vacancy. "They (the OSBA) said it was such a close window that you're OK with that," Polen said.
Polen called O'Hara "a very good selection on the board's part," and lauded his role as leader of the BEST Levy Committee that promoted the school bond issue, which was approved by voters in March. O'Hara said that he was very pleased and excited to be selected for the post. "There's a lot of hard work ahead, and I'm ready to dig in and get it done," said.
Don Smith, who has spoken out against Jeff Campbell for making what he calls discriminatory comments against his hearing-impaired son, said that he was disappointed not just with the reinstatement of Campbell but also with how it occurred. The Campbell proposal did not appear on the Monday meeting agenda, which Smith believes was an intentional maneuver to hide the action. He referred to the entire proceeding as sneaky and deceitful.
"It's a shame that Mr. Polen had to use the new school board member, Pat O'Hara, to vote this in when he had been a school board member less than five minutes," Smith said. For his part, O'Hara stood by his vote, saying it was the kind of decision that would inevitably leave one of two parties disappointed. "You listen to the facts and evidence, and you make your choice," he said.
Polen said the board had not intended to vote on Campbell when the meeting, originally called for Oct. 25, had been scheduled three days earlier. In the hours leading up to Monday's meeting, however, Polen says board members decided that the rapid approach of basketball season made a resolution of the matter a necessity.
The decision on Campbell's reinstatement, which was to have taken place at the board's regular meeting on Oct. 10, was postponed following the public comment portion of that meeting when Smith testified against his rehiring. Smith said the board should not reward Campbell with a contract renewal after making such comments.
Polen said that he supported the board's decision and feels that Jeff Campbell will be able to continue his coaching duties without significant problems. "Anytime the board has to make a tough decision like this, somebody isn't going to be happy with the results," he said. "The board understood that they had to make a decision as soon as possible."