Home Police to remain at Oregon school board meetings
Police to remain at Oregon school board meetings
Written by Kelly Kaczala   
Thursday, 26 January 2012 16:27

The Oregon Board of Education will continue to have police officers attend school board meetings because of threats that have been made to some board members.

Oregon Mayor Mike Seferian a few weeks ago had said the city would no longer allow police officers to be at school board meetings after he learned that the city was footing the bill.

Two police officers provided security on Jan. 5 at an organizational school board meeting, which included a five hour retreat for board members.

“We had assumed that wasn’t going to happen anymore. But I found out school officials did request it again at a meeting on Jan. 5,” said Seferian.

At a school board meeting on Jan. 17, school board members P.J. Kapfhammer and Jeff Ziviski, who were elected to the board last November, asked why a police officer was present, and who was paying for it.

“The school district is paying for tonight,” said School Board President Richard Gabel.

Kapfhammer said the board should have voted on the matter.

“I know we weren’t [paying] before, and I know that’s a change in how we’re doing this,” said Kapfhammer. “I would have liked to have been brought up to speed before I got in here.”

“This was a policy or practice that actually got started back in the spring,” said Superintendent Dr. Mike Zalar. “This is something the current board is going to need to decide, that this is the direction we’re going to go.”

Kapfhammer said in an article that appeared in the Jan. 16 edition of The Press that he believed the board had asked police to come to the meetings to throw him out if discussions on the board became too heated. He and Ziviski had campaigned last fall against the board approving raises for administrators at a time when busing for Clay High School students had been eliminated. Many in the community had been critical of the raises.

Board threatened
Gabel said the school board had asked police to board meetings before Kapfhammer and Ziviski were elected last fall.

“We had some problems here at the school, and we had some disgruntled people who were coming to the meetings because of it, and sometimes it got a little heated,” said Gabel. At the time, he added, there were shootings at a school board meeting in another community “that gave call to be nervous.”

“We also had someone who sent threatening e-mails to one of our board members several times. It was reported to the police. We had another board member who had pornographic material e-mailed to her. We know who did it. And we got that stopped,” said Gabel. “So at that time, the board decided we thought we would have a police officer here. Everyone felt a little more comfortable up here, on this stand. Quite the contrary of what people think – that we brought a police officer in because there was going to be trouble with board members - that really wasn’t the case. I don’t want to fight with the city. I don’t want to fight with the mayor. We need to come together with the city and work together.”

Gabel said The Press should have contacted Zalar or a member of the school board to provide comment in the article that explained why police were at board meetings.

“I just wish that some people would come to us and ask Dr. Zalar or myself or any board member why we had police here,” he said.

The Press had asked Zalar why police were at school board meetings, and his comments were included in the Jan. 16 article. Zalar had said the board last spring had requested there be police at meetings “when there were several acts of violence that occurred at school board meetings nationally.”

“The police presence at the board meetings is intended to be more of a deterrent than anything else,” Zalar had stated in the article. He also said the board had not received any threats of violence.

“If you’re going to spend money from the school’s budget, that should be a board decision,” said Kapfhammer. “It’s the role of this board to make those decisions. Not the role of one or two people. When you do something like this, I want it to come through this board. I think that’s why we’re elected.”

Resource officers
Zalar said it was always the intent of the board that Student Resource Officers (SROs) would provide security at the meetings, not road patrol officers.

“When this began last spring, my understanding was that this was not going to be an additional cost to anybody – the city or the school district. What we worked out was an arrangement where the school resource officers who work in our schools that are paid by the city…would use some of their time at the board meetings. Now we have run into a couple of instances where there have been scheduling problems – holidays and things like that. Tonight, obviously, we had a scheduling problem that warranted getting someone other than the school resource officers. My understanding was that that would be a district cost – not something the city would incur. If the city is claiming that they’ve been paying our school resource officers on top of whatever their pay is, then that is something that needs to be cleared up.”

Kapfhammer noted that police, not SROs, were also at the Jan. 5 board meeting.

“It was a holiday,” said Zalar.

Kapfhammer said the board should still vote on providing security to meetings and who will be paying for it.

“We decided a long time ago,” said Gabel. “We didn’t try to go around you.”

“I’ve listened to every minute of every board meeting for the last three years,” said Kapfhammer. “I’ve never heard this voted on in my life. So unless you decided on this in executive session, and took an illegal vote, I’d love to see it.”

Gabel said he was unsure whether the board actually voted on the matter.

“When we agreed to do it, I’m not sure if it was in executive session or it was here,” said Gabel. “I don’t think it required a vote. We got together as a board and decided we wanted some protection. Whether we voted on it or did it in executive session or did it just casually talking, the board all agreed that we wanted someone.”

'Instability’ in district
Ziviski asked how much it costs to have an officer at the meetings.

Zalar said $25 per hour, for a minimum of three hours. 

“We’re taking away from educating our students,” said Ziviski. “Just doesn’t seem like a good use of money. I’ve never felt threatened.”

“I don’t need protection,” said Kapfhammer.

“You’re speaking for yourself only,” said Diana Gadus, vice president of the school board. “I don’t want to over generalize. There was a shooting at a board meeting. There was instability. And there still is instability. Not right now in our schools. But at the time, there was a lot of instability.”

“In Oregon city schools?” asked Ziviski.

“Yes,” said Gadus.

“It may be a reflection of board members, then,” said Ziviski.

“No, it’s a reflection of the economic times and what has been going on in the state of Ohio regarding public education, Senate Bill 5, teachers and their jobs,” said Gadus. “It’s been across the state and across the country. It’s been glorified. And sometimes that brings instability.”

Mayor Mike Seferian said on Wednesday that the district, not the city, will have to pay for police at future meetings.

After the meeting, Kapfhammer said the board will decide the issue at the next meeting on Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. in the media center on the second floor of Clay High School.

“I want to hear what our community has to say at board meetings. This is their time to talk to us, let us know what they’re thinking. We’re a great city. People feel passionate about their schools, and I appreciate it. I don’t want them to feel intimidated from speaking at board meetings because police are there,” said Kapfhammer.

Comments (8)Add Comment
posted by Thomas Paine, January 26, 2012
Dear Press Publications,

I know PJ Kapfhammer sells newspapers, and he is more than ready to talk to a newspaper to get his name out as a champion of the people, but the divide that is being driven in the community is widened every time that man speaks. When you seek out only one polarizing figure on the school board, and ignore the others, you are subconsciously vilifying every other member on the school board. I'd ask that you rise above the side picking and remain an independent source of information for the City of Oregon. The past several newspaper articles have placed this man on quite a pedestal, and it is clear that the Press has no problem helping this campaign (seriously, a person who couldn't pass a background check to work at a school being voted onto a school board...not something to be proud of in this community). Busing was clearly something that the board was originally going to bring back, and pegging this entire business on PJ's management skills is horribly biased.

Thank you

Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine
posted by P.J. Kapfhammer, January 27, 2012
I feel like you don't like me Thomas, I would much rather have this conversation knowing your true name but since you chose to hide behind an alias I guess this will have to do. I think you have your facts mixed up and I want to help you so that you are better educated the next time you attack my character. The first thing I would like to point out to you is the Press is free so my name doesn't help them sell their free paper. Secondly I want you to re-read this whole article so you understand that this wasn't a interview done by me, it was the press reporting from the minutes of our Jan 17th school board meeting and from past articles and the only quote from me was in the last paragraph and I did that so the public knew that we would be voting on this issue next month. Thirdly I think it is important to point out that our community was divided way before I ever got elected and based on the election results I would think that the majority of our community is glad to see me on our school board. As for your comments about the Press only talking about me and ignoring the other members I don't know what articles you have been reading but you must be blinded by your hatred of me because you can clearly see Ziviski, Gobel, Gadus, And Zalar's being quoted in this article also. You seem to be mad because you feel like the Press is taking sides but all I see is our area paper reporting the facts, it's not like they are only getting my version of the story because they clearly reported what they heard from the minutes of our last meeting. I would like to point out that no one was talking about returning bussing before I fought for it and I would love for you to show me proof that they ever talked about bringing bussing back, they not only brung back bussing on the day I was elected but what you probably don't know is that on Oct 11th all 3 school board candidates had a debate that was held at Clay high school and at that debate I explained how we could bring back high school bussing at a much lower cost to the district, I stated that we could do a shuttle service with three buses with one going to the east, one going to the west and one doing the middle of our district. I went on to say that if they each did multiple trips we could run more routes with three buses and that would save us money so before you assume that I had nothing to do with bringing back bussing you should get your facts straight. I want you to know that my past is no secret and everyone who voted for me knows that I'm not the same person I was twenty years ago but if that makes you feel better to keep bringing this up then so be it but maybe you should do some research on some of your buddies before you keep slinging mud at me. I'm not going to say that if you don't like what I'm doing for this community then run for the school board yourself because me and you both know that you are on the inside all-ready but I will say that your alias is quite misleading because Thomas was a man and you are a woman.

P.J. Kapfhammer
The people's champion
Mr Kapfhammer
posted by Thomas Paine, January 28, 2012
A poorly written, grammatically incorrect, sexist, egotistical response from a public official. You sir are truly over those immature youthful days you so insistently refer to as "life changing." All I did was suggest that you are a polarizing figure who is only concerned with causing as much trouble as possible, as evident by your insistence to vote against everything for pure political reasons until you can attempt to "take back the school board" next election, and the Press is playing to your ego. The fact that, as you stated, the school board voted to renew busing on the day you took office would imply that, since you were not on the board to suggest such an idea, the idea was suggested by someone else. The assumption that you were the only one intelligent enough to suggest a shuttle service with the remaining funds the district has is laughable. That is common sense Mr Kapfhammer, and something that is the only obvious solution. My suggestion to you would be to continue to be the "people's champ", as you so wish to be known, but in a manner that is befit of someone of your office. Posting childish comments on Facebook, web sites, and appearing on television in hoodie sweatshirts might relate to the constituents who voted you in. But remember that you only received 39% of the vote. Far below the majority you assume you have. It is time to become the politician you are (and vehemently deny) and represent the entire community, rather than your own interests. I challenge you to be the bigger person Mr Kapfhammer. And refrain from demeaning women online and begin a witch hunt for an "inside man." Looks extremely unprofessional. I am merely a voter in Oregon who follows the number one rule of the internet. "Never put any information out there" A rule I learned in high school.

Thomas Paine
Common Sense
posted by P.J. Kapfhammer, January 28, 2012
You are more then welcome to call me at 419-720-8873 anytime you want to discuss this subject further because it is hard to have a conversation with someone who hides behind their keyboard.
School Board Cowards
posted by Bradley, January 30, 2012
It's ironic that the keyboard coward commando uses the name Thomas Paine as their alias. Thomas Paine was imprisoned several times for speaking out against the absolutist monarchies of England and France and was under constant police surveillance. The powers that be made his life an ordeal for speaking truth to power, but one can expect that to happen whenever absolute power is challenged.

Zaler and other members of the board were caught with their pants around their ankles and could not answer even the most basic questions in regards to press questions about the police presence at meetings. Do police at school board meetings encourage or discourage discourse (which at times may become heated) between the board and the public? If the public gets out of hand, they're under the gun.. right Zaler? Or are you personally threatened by anyone who you don't like, who doesn't agree with you? Or is it that you think you're beter and smarter than PJ and the public he represents?

I'm so glad Mayor Seferian is a no-nonsense kind of guy who doesn't put up with waste and foolishness. This may stem from his own battle to bring about change while being persecuted for his past by the entrenched political powers and interests in Oregon. I also ran for the board many years ago and was smeared by the local political rumor mill for daring to buck school district insiders and union reps who are accountable to no-one.. except the superintendent who is accountable to no one as long as he has a proxy board to.

So Thomas Paine (I'll call you school board insider), maybe you should consider that what really polarizes a community is an unresponsive, self-congratulatory, self-aggradizing government body which shorts both citizen and student through its avarice. Between those who support the school system through taxes and those whose incomes are derived from them, the line has been drawn.
posted by Thomas Paine, January 30, 2012
School board insider? Give me a break. Can't a community member have an opinion that is supportive of the school without being branded a part of a "self-congratulatory, self-aggradizing government body which shorts both citizens and students through it's avarice." Goodness, all this squabbling and name calling is ridiculously childish and would be expected in a lesser community. Now, I don't in anyway speak for any school board member, employee, or citizen of Oregon, but from what I have read and witnessed, I must say that all questions about the police officers at school board meetings have been answered. They were brought in after a rash of school board shootings nationally, as well as several attacks made to the members personally. End of story. They'll vote on it and it will be the end of the story (judging from comments I'd expect there will be two no votes). The mere assumption you make about someone bringing them in because they feel threatened is a rumor I would expect to hear started in a Jr High locker room. The fact that you can't spell the Superintendent's name correctly probably proves you haven't had much interest in schools until recently.

This is what I'm talking about Mr. Kapfhammer. You lead a large group of people, and must understand that it is now your responsibility to lead them wisely. This gentleman clearly thinks you have the answers, but the way he is making his thoughts known is indicative of how you have subconsciously taught him to handle his issues. There has been a divide created, which you are aware of, and it is now your job to mend it.

I appreciate your trust in online identity protection, but I see further contact as redundant. You will maintain your previous name calling, and I will attempt to repeat the same things I mentioned above. Simply consider leading from a position that is better suited for healing rather than destruction. And please try to refrain from ad hominem logical fallacy's. As soon as you attack a person, even for trivial things like using a pseudonym, your comment is rendered moot.

Good Luck
posted by P.J. Kapfhammer, January 30, 2012
Their will be more then two no votes because it has been agreed upon by all board members that the police are not needed at our board meetings, you would think that you would of picked up on that because that's what I said to channel 11 when I was wearing that hoodie that your so fond of. For the record I was in a hoodie because I was touring our schools to see what needed to be repaired this year so I didn't see the need for a sport coat as we walked in the mud and went into boiler rooms. It is easy to sit back and complain while you do nothing to bring about change but I want more for our schools so I'm actually doing something that helps our students. You are irrelevant because you chose to be and i'm glad that I took the harder path because unlike you I get the chance to make a difference everyday in our district. You keep backseat driving with your head buried under the covers and I will continue to do the driving because even though you hate the way I drive you can't drive if your afraid to take the wheel.

Thomas Paine
posted by Bradley, January 31, 2012
You said: "This gentleman clearly thinks you have the answers, but the way he is making his thoughts known is indicative of how you have subconsciously taught him to handle his issues."

Your quote made me laugh. Did you ever think the thousands who voted for PJ might happen to agree with him? As I mentioned before I became involved in Oregon politics many years ago and know from the inside how the Oregon School System operates. My thoughts are my own, but I'm glad we have someone, ANYONE on the school board willing to buck the status quo. The status quo being the way in which school administrators use the carrot and stick approach to get levies passed around here. "Vote for the levy or we'll cut sports and bussing," is generally how the threat goes. That the supposedly educated people responsible for educating this community's future would use children as pawns in thier levy campaigns every year is appaling.

You said: "The fact that you can't spell the Superintendent's name correctly probably proves you haven't had much interest in schools until recently."

How long has this guy been around here and where did he come from? My family goes back to very settlement of Oregon as a township so excuse me if I can't spell the name of some carpet bagger. In the past I spent thousand of dollars of my own money running for school board. I knew other superintendents over these years who were able and capable (in your words) to lead more wisely. The superintendent leads the schools, members of the board approve or disapprove, hire or fire based on thier actions: that is their job.

So far no member of the board or administration has explained the police situation clearly. Was there a public meeting where this was voted on or was it a private executive meeting held in violation of Ohio's sunshine law? Does the board routinely operate away from public view? They may have explained why they did it, but can't explain when or how. That could be a problem for Zaler or Zalar (whichever the case may be) if he's doing illegal things.

So thanks for correcting my spelling and missing totally the actual ideas at play here. For someone who says they're not an insider you sure correct grammar and spelling like a teacher :)

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