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Lakota School Board appoints new member to replace Darbi Boddy

Lakota Local Schools Central Office
Zack Carreon
Lakota Local Schools Central Office

The four members of the Lakota School Board voted unanimously to appoint Christina French as its newest member during a special meeting Monday.

French replaces former board member Darbi Boddy, who was removed by her fellow board members last month. Boddy had been absent from board meetings for more than 90 days due to a civil stalking protection order filed by board member and former political ally Isaac Adi. The protection order prevented her from getting within 500 feet of Adi, which ultimately barred her from attending meetings and gave the board the legal right to expel her.

RELATED: Darbi Boddy is removed from Lakota's school board

Boddy was a controversial member of the board for many reasons. She was known for pushing a strong conservative agenda at Lakota, which included pushing for bathroom and athletics bans for transgender students and the removal of diversity, equity, and inclusion programs within the district. Boddy constantly clashed with her fellow board members on such issues and parents in the district frequently spoke out against her political agenda during public comment at board meetings.

Boddy called her removal process "corrupt" and an attempt to squash the voices of those who voted for her.

The board members who appointed French said she is a welcome addition to the board and praised her experience as an educator within the district.

"Her wealth of experiences will enhance our ability to best serve the students, staff, families and community of Lakota Local Schools," Board President Julie Shaffer said.

French, a Liberty Township resident and Lakota parent, has worked in public education for 21 years. She joined the district in 2011, serving as the assistant principal of Shawnee Early Elementary School before becoming the principal at Hopewell Elementary School. French's most recent position at Lakota was director of K-6 curriculum.

RELATED: Lakota School Board strikes down anti-trans motion amid Darbi Boddy’s long-running absence

French says her passion for the Lakota school community will help guide her as a board member.

"I believe that building strong relationships with the community and the school district is what opens the door for decision-making that will move Lakota Local Schools forward and create the best educational opportunities for our students," she said.

Before appointing French, the Lakota board reviewed 29 applications for the open seat and interviewed 11 of those applicants. The district also sought feedback from the community to find out what qualities they would want in a new school board member.

The top responses were someone who would advocate for all students, support public schools, and willing to work with the entire staff.

French's first official meeting as a board member is Tuesday, just a day after her appointment.

Zack Carreon is Education reporter for WVXU, covering local school districts and higher education in the Tri-State area.