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Canfield board takes flak from parent

Read the report here

CANFIELD — The board of education got an earful Wednesday about a police report on how the schools superintendent handled a threat made by a middle school student.

And, the victim’s father was asked to leave the meeting after berating Superintendent Alex Geordan.

The parents and a former student had read news of the report, released Tuesday, and brought their concerns to the meeting.

After a lengthy investigation carried out by the Canfield Police Department and Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office, the agencies concluded that Geordan downplayed the severity of a Sept. 12 threat at Canfield Village Middle School. Their report states the superintendent misled families of the school district three times Sept. 13 when he issued an “all-call” message to them about the shooting threat a boy, 12, made to another sixth-grade student at the school the day before.

Joe Boris, father of the child who was threatened, walked up to the board’s table and addressed Geordan.

“We teach our children not to cheat, not to steal and not to lie,” he said. “You’ve done all three.”

Boris then took his seat as Renee English, Canfield schools communication director and a teacher, spoke about Geordan providing good leadership for the district. But she was interrupted by Boris.

At that point, board President Dave Wilkeson asked Boris to leave the meeting.

“I simply asked everyone to conduct themselves in a respective manner,” he said in defense of having Boris removed.

Another speaker, Michelle Piver, said the situation makes her sad, and involved “a serious lack of communication, and there was a lot of downplaying of the situation.”

Also addressing the board was Youngstown State University student and 2016 Canfield High School graduate Samantha Fritz. “I am ashamed at the action of the board members. It seems to be a trend to show we are this perfect community and we are not. I hoped you guys have learned from this.”

A statement from the Canfield Police Department states: “Failing to notify, or delaying the notification to law enforcement impedes the ability to investigate such matters and potentially places the students, teachers, staff and community at risk.”

Also speaking was school board member-elect Jennifer Kluchar, who will take office in January. She said the district needs to move forward.

“We are here for the children first,” she said. “Personal attacks are always a lose-lose situation.”

Near the end of the meeting, board member Phil Bova spoke highly of Geordan and improvements and advancements he has brought to the district. Then he added: “The relationship between the school district and the police is terrible. We just can’t work together?”

School officials doled out a suspension to the boy the day of the incident despite not having notified police, the report states.

Geordan was “deceptive” about when he first learned of the severity of the threat and was deceptive about the threat being specific, the report states.

It quotes a text message Geordan sent to school board members saying, “We intentionally downplayed it because it deals with a student making pour (sic) choice, as adolescents do.”

The police department’s criminal investigation regarding the boy has since been turned over to the Mahoning County juvenile prosecutor. Police were recommending a charge of misdemeanor aggravated menacing.

The boy will not be allowed to return to Canfield Schools until after criminal proceedings are complete in juvenile court, the report states.

At the end of the investigation into the conduct of school officials, the facts were turned over to Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains. He and Canfield police agreed that no criminal charges would be pursued against the superintendent or other officials.

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