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Valentine steps down as Leetonia bus driver

LEETONIA — Embattled Salem Township Constable Dan Valentine has resigned his position as a bus driver for Leetonia schools.

The school board Monday night accepted the resignation of Valentine effective March 2 and approved five days of unpaid leave requested by Valentine today through March 1.

Some community members have been vocal in their opposition to Valentine since his guilty plea to misdemeanor disorderly conduct, amended from an original charge of theft, for taking some mini bottles of alcohol from a Columbiana liquor store in the fall. Salem Township trustees placed Valentine on paid administrative leave during the investigation, but reinstated him in December.

Ed and Charlene Farmer, who have attended several township meetings to voice their concern about Valentine being reinstated, attended the school board meeting and attempted to voice their concerns about Valentine being a bus driver. The couple had previously presented township trustees with documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request showing Valentine had been investigated for alleged sexual misconduct while a member of the Beaver Township Police Department, although ultimately not criminally charged.

The Farmers were stopped from speaking against Valentine by board President Christina Bulford due to rules regarding discussion of personnel in public session.

According to Superintendent Dennis Dunham, Valentine did not give a reason for his resignation and leave of absence request and the matter was not discussed in the public portion of the meeting.

Valentine did not attend the board meeting.

In other business, the board approved Gail Zoppelt as the Before/After Care program aide effective Jan. 25 at $15 per hour and 12 certificated staff members to assist with the program for specialty classes on an as needed basis at $20 per hour for approximately one or two hours total each week.

Dunham noted there are approximately 25 students currently enrolled in the program, which is a free service offered to students in grades kindergarten through six for parents who need assistance before and/or after school hours. The program is offered weekdays when school is in session from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 to 6 p.m.

Dunham also noted the program is not available when there is a one- or two-hour delay to school since classes can still be canceled during the delay. Board member Larry Duko, who posed the question about delays, asked if the administrative team can consider ways to possibly meet the needs of the participating families during delays.

khowell@salemnews.net

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