Dear Community Members,
We understand there is a significant amount of discussion and concern regarding the eligibility of board members-elect, Paul Napier and Nathan Bellman. We would like to share some information so that our community understands what the issue is.
The Board of Education, Mr. Bellman and Mr. Napier recently received a copy of an opinion from the Office of the Ohio Attorney General that Mr. Napier and Mr. Bellman, who were recently elected to the Board of Education and who are regularly employed by the Knox County Career Center, hold positions of employment which are incompatible with service on the Board of Education. A copy of that opinion is attached.
This issue arose because community members raised the potential conflict with board members. Upon inquiry, both the Ohio School Boards Association and the Board’s legal counsel reviewed the situation, and concluded that the positions were likely incompatible based on a 2003 opinion from the Attorney General involving a career center principal. Given the election results, and the unquestionable concerns that this would raise, we needed a definitive answer on this question. The Ohio Attorney General is the authoritative source on issues like this. So, the Board’s statutory counsel, the Knox County Prosecutor, requested an opinion from the Ohio Attorney General based on the specific facts in this situation. This is not an uncommon type of request.
In an opinion issued December 22, 2021, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office used a seven part test and presented five separate reasons why Mr. Napier and Mr. Bellman cannot serve in both roles (as board members and KCCC employees), simultaneously. The positions have been determined as “incompatible” by the Ohio Attorney General.
As a public body, it is imperative that we operate with integrity and in compliance with the law. It is important to understand that Mr. Napier and Mr. Bellman are not prohibited from taking their respective seats on the board, and no one will act to prevent them from doing so. However, it is our understanding that, based on the Ohio Attorney General’s opinion, the two individuals cannot serve as both board members for Fredericktown and KCCC employees at the same time. The choice between these roles will respectfully be left to the two individuals.
The Board anticipates working with the two individuals, our legal counsel and the Knox County Prosecutor to address this situation as expeditiously as possible.
Jim Peterson, Interim Superintendent and Fredericktown BOE
Opinion from the Office of the Ohio Attorney General (pdf)