• 30°

MR/DD board member removed

A member of the Lawrence County Board of Mental Retardation/Development Disabilities has been removed from his position after it was discovered he failed to perform the required in-service training.

Former Superintendent Jimmy Thacker said a secretary discovered a couple of weeks ago that Dan Russell, a veteran board member, failed to take the training required last year. State law requires that each county MR/DD Superintendent verify each board member has taken in-service training and is otherwise eligible for the position to which they have been appointed.

Unaware that he had not taken the training, the Lawrence County Commission reappointed Russell to the board in January.

Thacker said he contacted the state MR/DD board about what course of action to take in the matter. The reply from Ohio MR/DD Chief Legal Counsel Christine Oliver was specific:

"If during a prior term a board member fails to obtain the required in-service training, that board member is not eligible for reappointment.

"…when an appointment is made with the appointing authority ascertaining that the potential reappointee meets the requirements… in such a case the reappointment is improper and considered void," Oliver's letter stated.

County Commissioners have given Russell two weeks to show proof that he has taken the training and that state and local records on the matter are incorrect.

"It's unfortunate," Commission President Jason Stephens said. "We're not trying to be mean, but this is the action we're required to take. We have to obey the law."

Other board members are being sent a copy of the letter from Oliver, with a letter from the commission, asking they each submit proof of their in-service.

"In the future when names are submitted for reappointment to these boards, we want to see in black and white that these people have complied with the law," Commissioner George Patterson said.

The commission has also been advised that another member of the MR/DD board may not be able to serve his full term, due to a conflict of interest.

The board member, whom commissioners and Thacker declined to name, has recently accepted a position in education. State laws state that a person may not serve on a county MR/DD and serve as superintendent or board of education member in a local public school district. Teresa Moore/The Ironton Tribune