SIDNEY – Three residents of the Sidney City Schools District shared their views on different problems facing the staff and students — including asking for the superintendent’s resignation — during Monday night’s board of education meeting.
Tracey Landrum-Gockley, Cherie Epperson and Nick Inman, all of Sidney, used their 3 minutes of allotted time to share their issues with the district. Inman, at the end of his presentation, called for the resignation of Superintendent Bob Humble.
Inman told the board he wanted all students in the district to be represented. The student minority rate is 22% while the employee minority ratio has fallen from 6.4 in 2018 to 1.7 today.
“Instead of removing teachers and faculty of color, we should be ensuring all the students are represented during their time at Sidney City Schools.”
He also addressed the bullying situation within the district.
“Xavier Foy offered his services to his organization … to help stop bullying. You didn’t take him up on it. You didn’t start anything until a student attempted suicide,” said Inman.
He discussed how the janitors were asked to take a 25% pay decrease.
“We need to show that we care about our school instead of outsourcing,” said Inman. “Is this really saving money or is it leading to civil suits that will cost more in the long run?”
Inman said he contacted the Fairbanks School District — which is where Humble was superintendent before he came to Sidney. He said the Fairbanks superintendent said Humble left everything in disarray.
“I’m asking for the resignation of Bob Humble,” said Inman.
Board President Jason Schaffner called Inman back to the podium.
“Nick are you going to wait for his answer or walk away,” asked Schaffner. “Bob do you have an answer?”
“No,” said Humble.
When contacted Tuesday, Humble provided the following statement. “The Board of Education does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), disability, age, religion, military status, ancestry, genetic information (collectively, “Protected Classes”), or any other legally protected category, in its programs and activities, including employment opportunities.”
Landrum-Gockley is a former aide with the school district. Her position, along with the other aides in the district, were eliminated through reduction of force (RIF) in 2020. Aides are now being hired through the Midwest Regional Educational Service Center. Some aides were called back and several of those who were filed complaints with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission alleging age or race discrimination.
In a ranking created by the districts, aides were ranked 1, 2 or 3 with 1 being the best. Landrum-Gockley ranked a 2 and was not called back while someone with a 1 ranking was.
“On May 19, 2020, a letter was sent out signed by Mr. Humble saying ‘Please be assured that this situation has nothing to do with you personally nor is it a reflection on your job performance.’ Response on May 16, 2021, from School board attorney Mr. McCord stated in response to Civil Rights, the most successful aides were recalled to employment and I was not rated one of the highest. It had everything to do with the process and my performance.
“I am sure Mr. Humble can recall the meeting we had in person in his office with Mr. (Mike) Watkins present regarding recall of employment and rating system used. Mr. Humble specifically told me I scored a ‘2’ on the rating system 1-3, she said. “The rating system the Civil Rights investigation found fault in the process using subjective questions for principals to rate aides (1 being the best and 3, wouldn’t call back to work). In response to him stating I scored a ‘2’ I said that is great, nobody is perfect I have room to grow within the district. Then he further stated if I would have scored a ‘1’ I would had been called back. All aides who were called back scored a ‘1’ he looked me straight in the eyes and blatantly lied.”
Landrum-Gockley said the Civil Rights Commission investigation report states a vast majority called back were 1’s but also 2’s and 3’s were called back.
“It is obvious to me, that Mr. Humble had it out for me and others. He did not want someone like me, someone who spoke up at meetings held after school, a voice for the students and staff at SCS to be employed within the district. In my opinion it scares him. But let’s be honest with ourselves here. My voice will always be heard whether you the board members or Mr. Humble likes it or not,” she said. “I ask you the board members, did you look over the ratings, race and age for all employees and compare to ones who were called back? Did you really look into it. Or are you also part of this lie. Or I should say lies. I will always stand up and support the students of SCS and all staff members.”
Schaffner asked her if she had been recalled back to the district and she said no. She added she had applied for aide positions through the MRESC but didn’t get the job.
Board member Bob Smith said, “You indicated had you received a ‘1’ on your rating you would have been recalled. If all the 1’s are recalled and some 2’s doesn’t that mean you would have been recalled.”
Landrum-Gockley pointed out that some 3’s had been recalled and she hadn’t been recalled.
Epperson said she was disappointed in the response of some of the board members during Landrum-Gockley’s presentation.
“I hope all the board members don’t see this as a laughing matter,” she said. “Two people were smirking. That’s disrespectful.”
Epperson did give kudos to the person who designed the new drop off and pickup system around the schools in the district. She said the teacher at Emerson has the safety of the children of the district close to his heart.
However, she said, as a bus driver, one day at Sidney Middle School she had to open the bus doors and make two kids stop fighting. Teachers outside the building, she said, were clustered together and did nothing to stop the fight.
“If teachers are out there, they need to stop the bullying,” she said.
Epperson is a member of the Student Wellness Advisory Committee, of which anti-bullying is one of the priorities.
“Mr. Humble you haven’t been to any meeting. You told me you wanted to be involved in kids’ lives. The buck stops now,” she said. “I’ve tried to call you and you call me back during my work hours. You need to step up.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.