The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, December 01, 2021 9:40 pm

SACS board chooses new member

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

The man who lost to Tom Rhoades in the 2014 Southwest Allen County Schools board race will serve the remainder of Rhoades' term, trustees unanimously decided Wednesday.

Doug Copley, 60, was one of four finalists and 29 applicants. He told reporters after the meeting that he felt "very humbled" to be selected. He noted Rhoades was a neighbor.

"It's an honor and a privilege to really take over for Tom and do my best to look out for all the 8,000 students and kids and teachers and families in Southwest Allen," said Copley, a 30-year district resident.

Rhoades resigned Nov. 5 because he moved outside the district. He was first elected to the board in 2014, the year that pitted him against Copley.

"I had his sign in my yard," Copley said, "and he had my sign in his yard."

The four board members didn't discuss Copley or the other finalists – Emery McClendon, Jeff Maines and Vincent Bloomfield – before voting. Bradley Mills, president, told attendees that might happen.

Board members independently researched each finalist, Mills said, and they had individual discussions with the candidates as well.

"If there happens to be little or no discussion tonight, it is because the four of us have already set our minds to thinking about the individuals and had discussions, looked at the applications, things like that," Mills said.

The board planned to vote until a candidate received at least three yes votes. The process took two attempts; Bloomfield was nominated first and received support from only Mills and member Mark Gilpin.

Copley said his sons are Homestead High School graduates, and his wife taught special education in SACS for about 10 years.

He acknowledged the tensions school boards have recently faced nationwide.

"I'd like to bring the volume down, tone it down a bit, so we can have civil conversation," he said.

Copley is expected to be sworn in this week, Superintendent Park Ginder said after the meeting. His term will end in just over a year because the seat is one of two up for election next fall.

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