The Journal Gazette
Thursday, April 29, 2021 7:10 pm

NACS board president's wife says kids should stay home on count day

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

The wife of the Northwest Allen County Schools board president is urging parents to keep their children home on fall count day in an attempt to cost the 7,900-student district state funding.

Lisa Bobay-Somers' comments on social media has renewed calls for Kent Somers' resignation.

"Pull your kid and go remote for now," Bobay-Somers wrote in a Facebook comment shared with The Journal Gazette by multiple people. "This will be hard for them now. It wont [sic] cost them any money now if you pull your kids. Next fall, sign up as usual and then keep your kids home on the day they count the kids. That's the day they get their funding. If 600 kids are gone it would cost the school $5 million."

Count day determines who is enrolled and expected to attend a school, said Holly Lawson, Indiana Department of Education spokeswoman. The resulting count is used to determine basic grant funding for a school, she said, and a student absent that day would still be counted.

Bobay-Somers also is encouraging social media users to complain via the district's website about a science teacher talking positively about the COVID-19 vaccination.

She addressed the board during at least three public meetings about the mask mandate, which she is against.

The school board voted 3-2 Monday to uphold the district's reopening plans, which include mask-wearing. Somers, the board president, and member Steve Bartkus opposed the resolution.

Somers – whom some asked to resign during public comment Monday – did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment Thursday.

The district administration and longtime board member Ron Felger declined to comment. Phone messages for board Vice President Liz Hathaway and board Secretary Kristi Schlatter were not immediately returned.

Felger, Hathaway and Schlatter censured Bartkus less than a week ago over statements he made April 21 regarding sexual orientation.

Parents including Sarah Bridgwater and Carrie Harmon are among those demanding Somers resign, or at the very least step down as board president.

The conflict of interest is too great considering Somers' position on the school board and his wife's involvement in the Unmask NACS Students Now group, Bridgwater said. She added that Bobay-Somers' attempt to undermine the district's funding next year "proves that they do not have the interests of our students and district at heart."

Harmon called Somers unfit for office. She specifically referenced Bobay-Somers' effort to meddle with fall count day.

"This is not only an attempt to sabotage our district – the very district her husband took an oath to serve – but it is also literally a plan to hurt the students of Northwest Allen County Schools," Harmon said by email. "That she would put a plan into place to hurt children is untenable. This is absolute subterfuge and a clear conflict of interest for Mr. Somers."

Somers was re-elected to a four-year term in November. He was unopposed.

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