Zakkour responds to request for censure

TIPP CITY — Tipp City School Board vice president Anne Zakkour has expressed her concerns following a letter calling for a censure of her comments sent by the Tipp City Education Association (TCEA).

“The TCEA president Mrs. Yunker leading the charge on attempting to censure me (silence my voice), as a school board member and publicly elected official, is a slippery slope, without merit, and can potentially jeopardize the principles of American governance,” Zakkour said in a statement emailed to the Miami Valley Today. “Simply put, it seems to me the TCEA did not like or appreciate my comments to raise public issues facing our district.”

The letter Zakkour is responding to was sent to the Tipp City Board of Education members and Superintendent Mark Stefanik on May 28 on behalf of the TCEA. In the letter, the TCEA confirmed that 90% of members participated in a “Vote of No Confidence”, with 99% of members who voted declaring “no confidence” in Zakkour as a school board member.

“This vote is the result of Mrs. Zakkour’s statements and behavior during her tenure as an elected school board member,” TCEA President Heather Yunker said.

Of some of the comments listed in the letter were comments made at an April 26 board of education meeting. The letter alleged that Zakkour attempted to place blame on the association and Yunker for not communicating district issues and for the actions taken by community members.

“Her comments demonstrated little knowledge of Board Policy and Ohio Revised Code pertaining to communications between the school board and the association,” the letter said.

Zakkour responded by echoing that her comments came after “several angry citizens came to the meeting and spoke, indicating teachers have been complaining about the Board.

“The citizen comments were forceful, demanding resignations, pounding the podium and cheering outside the front door like it was a sporting event. Since I had received no district communications prior to this, regarding teacher complaints, I made thoughtful comments, asked about fairness in communications and encouraged the community to work together. I’m fully committed to fixing something, however, I need to know exactly what it is that is supposed to be fixed and proper communications (not community gossip) within the organization is key to that process,” Zakkour said.

Zakkour alleged that Yunker asked her to make a public apology to herself and the TCEA regarding the specific comments.

“Yunker asked to me make a public apology to her and the association for my comments on April 26. When I declined, the goal post shifted with further complaints against me including a vote of no confidence and censure request.

“It’s a slippery slope to set a precedent that could silence present and future elected officials to freely converse, question, debate, agree and disagree before their constituents,” Zakkour said. “Our First Amendment right is precious and we must always be mindful when attempting to take it away, particularly from those who believe there should only be one tolerable narrative.”