Voters in Springboro, Ohio, handed control of the city’s school board to a moderate faction Nov. 5, ending a period of dominance by Religious Right-style conservatives.
The city of about 17,000 residents located south of Dayton generated national headlines earlier this year when a conservative bloc on the board proposed teaching creationism in science classes. Not long after that, the board considered offering a series of classes on the Constitution that critics said reflected far-right “Christian nation” ideology
Board of Education meetings became raucous affairs dominated by arguments over social issues. At one meeting, many residents were angered when a local Tea Party leader, after speaking in favor of the Constitution classes, unfurled a large Confederate battle flag.
The city’s public schools are well regarded, and concerned residents soon mobilized to spread awareness about what was happening in Springboro. Parent Lynn Greenberg helped form a group called Springboro United for Responsible Education to reach out to the community. The group used social media and other avenues to share information about the board and its activities. (See “Paradise Lost?,” September 2013 Church & State.)
The board came under control of a three-person Tea Party faction a few years ago. The bloc was led by local parent Kelly Kohls, head of the Warren County Tea Party. Kohls won a seat on the five-member board after campaigning on a platform of fiscal austerity.
In 2011, two ideological allies – David Petroni and Jim Rigano – were elected to the board as well.
Kohls decided not to seek re-election this year. Three seats were open, and all were captured by a moderate slate composed of candidates Charles Anderson, Ronald Malone, and David Stuckey.
The race wasn’t particularly close. Results showed Anderson with about 28 percent of the vote, followed by Malone with 26 percent and Stuckey with 25 percent. Tea Party candidates David Bitner and Kolton Vaughn took about 10 percent each.
“Today you voted and your voices were heard – you voted for change in the Springboro School Board,” Anderson, Malone and Stuckey said in a press release.