Decision: Southington man incompatible for two boards

SOUTHINGTON – A local school board member will have two weeks to decide on which of two school-related boards he wants to remain and from which he will resign.

Albert Haberstroh currently serves as a member of the Trumbull County Educational Service Center Governing Board for a term through December 2015. The board oversees all of the county’s public schools, including Southington.

He is also a newly elected member of the Southington Board of Education, having won election last November to a four-year term through December 2017.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office last week ruled that it is incompatible for an individual to serve as both a member of the governing board of an educational service center and as a member of a board of education of a local school district at the same time.

In a letter sent Tuesday to the Trumbull County Educational Service Center Board, Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins states, ”In light of the updated opinion of Attorney General Michael DeWine and this office’s agreement with his position, Mr. Haberstroh is now serving in two incompatible positions … Mr. Haberstroh will be granted two weeks from the date of this letter to choose which position he will keep, and to resign from the other.”

Watkins further states that if Haberstroh continues to act as a member of both boards after the two-week deadline, action will be taken in 11th District Court of Appeals to remove him ”from his unlawfully held position.”

”If I had to pick which board to remain on, it would be the Trumbull County Educational Service Center Governing Board because they already represent all the students in Trumbull County, including the 600 students in Southington,” Haberstroh said Tuesday.

Haberstroh said serving on the TCESC board, which represents 38,000 students in the county, also helps in carrying a bigger voice when dealing with state school-related issues and matters than a position on a school board in one of the county’s smallest districts.

Haberstroh said at last Thursday’s school board meeting that he was waiting for an official legal decision from Watkins on whether there is a conflict for him to serve on both boards.

Haberstroh abstained from voting on most of the board’s agenda items, but did vote on matters at the January organizational and January and February regular meetings.

He said he abstained at the March meeting in order to avoid possibly creating any problems for the Southington board and having not yet having received or heard from Watkins’ office about the attorney general’s ruling earlier last week.

”I was not there to create problems for that board or to put them in any jeopardy,” he said.