Bellbrook updates residents on active lawsuits

BELLBROOK — The Bellbrook-Sugarcreek school district updated the public on three active lawsuits the district is facing during a special meeting Thursday.

According to district legal counsel Tabitha Justice, a group of media outlets have filed a lawsuit against the school to obtain the records of the man responsible for the Oregon District mass shooting in August. And resident John Stafford has personally filed the other two lawsuits: Stafford v. Citizens for Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools et. al and Stafford v. David Carpenter et al.

Justice told WDTN the school board is required by law to defend itself and employees if either is sued.

Stafford is the founder of the “Vote No Movement,” which opposes the upcoming levy on the ballot.

He alleges in Stafford v. Citizens for Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools et. al, that the school board and its employees spent public funds to support or oppose the passage of a school levy or bond issue or to compensate any school district employee for time spent on any activity intended to influence the outcome of a school levy or bond issue election.

“They’ve spent illegally public funds,” Stafford said. “They have done everything they’re not supposed to do.”

In the other lawsuit, Stafford alleges the school board violated Ohio election laws by not holding public meetings in which they discuss strategies for promoting the levy.

No public comment was permitted during Thursday’s meeting.

“This is the first school board meeting in the last year where there’s been no public comment,” Stafford told WDTN. “There was no way that I could bring attorneys or I could stand up and talk and (Justice) could throw out these allegations and there’s no response back for it.”

Bellbrook parent Josh Pressnell is involved with the Bellbrook Research Angels, an organization that supports the school levy. He attended the meeting and said he believes the school board should continue to fight the litigation.

“I hope to hear that they’re not planning on settling. There’s been some calls for that within the community. I think it’s important to stay in the right and fight for being right and not to give up when you know that you’re on the right side of the argument,” Pressnell said.

Stafford’s lawsuits are ongoing litigation in Greene County.

The lawsuit regarding the Oregon District shooter is expected to reach the Ohio Supreme Court after the Second Appellate District Court sided with school district’s decision to withhold the release of Connor Betts’ records.

Justice indicated she would give another update on the lawsuits to the public again soon.

Our partners at WDTN contributed to this story.

Our partners at WDTN contributed to this story.