Schools monitor criminal case against board member

Woman facing theft in office charge was re-elected Tuesday at Southeastern

Southeastern Local Schools’ board of education says it is monitoring the criminal case against one of its members, but cannot vote to remove her at this time.

School board member Tammy Stoops has been charged with felony theft in office, stemming from an allegation at her former job with Madison County’s juvenile court. She has been terminated from that job.

Southeastern’s school board, through Treasurer Brad McKee, released a statement after Friday night’s special board meeting.

“The district’s attorney is monitoring the situation very closely on the board’s behalf and is keeping the board apprised of developments as they impact the district,” the statement said. “Be assured that the Southeastern Local School District Board of Education will take appropriate action in a timely fashion in the event of being advised of further developments.”

Stoops could not be reached for comment Saturday.

School board President Tony Entler said Saturday that since Stoops was elected by the public, the school board can’t take action to replace her unless she is convicted of the theft in office charge.

Sara Clark, director of legal services for the Ohio School Boards Association, confirmed that Saturday, saying only a person convicted for committing a felony is deemed “incompetent” to hold an office of honor, trust or profit, under Ohio law.

In the meantime, Entler said Stoops can continue to participate in board meetings.

“Wait and see is kind of a bad term,” Entler said. “We’re on top of it. We’re staying cognizant of what’s going on and following the case.”

The statement Friday said the board “is extremely concerned about this situation, particularly as it relates to the Board’s established Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct, and as to any possible negative impacts to the District as a result. The Board is committed to ensuring that the best interests of the District are protected at all times as it relates to this matter.”

Stoops, who served as the chief probation officer at Madison County Common Pleas Court Juvenile Division, is scheduled for arraignment on Nov. 13. She is accused of not processing two cash payments made to the court for restitution, then trying to move $1,800 from a grant fund to cover that money. Authorities said in their complaint that the money is “unaccounted for.”

Stoops was fired in August, with Judge Christopher Brown writing that she engaged in “behavior deemed to be deceptive, insubordinate and counterproductive.”

The charges against Stoops were filed in court late last week. A story about the criminal charge was published on the News-Sun’s website Monday and in the paper Tuesday morning, but Stoops was re-elected to another four-year term Tuesday night.

There were only three candidates listed on the ballot for the three Southeastern school board seats. Kim Owens and Gregory Flax were elected with more than 900 votes each, while Stoops received 442 votes — more than the 295 write-in votes (Frances Edwards ran as a write-in candidate).