Adam White attended his last meeting as an outgoing Olentangy school board member, but then left before the meeting began on Thursday. It seemed true to form for the contrarian and controversial board member.
“Before we start, I just wanted to thank all my supporters,” White said. “We have worked hard over the past four years to bring accountability and transparency to this board, and I’m proud of what we’ve done here and what we’ve done in the Ohio Supreme Court. I want to thank everybody — and good night.”
“Thank you, Adam,” one man said and clapped as White walked out of the board’s conference room. White did not return for the board’s business session.
The court case White referred to pits him against the other school board members over whether emails among board members constitute a public meeting. Two lower courts dismissed White’s lawsuit, but the Ohio Supreme Court recently heard the case.
“This is something I’ve been looking forward to for some time, this opportunity to recognize Mr. White and his time on the board,” board President Kevin O’Brien said during the meeting after White had left. “We wish him well at whatever he chooses to do from here. There’s a plaque for him that I assume we’ll get to him at some point.”
In 2015, White missed roughly half of the board of education meetings, including on Nov. 24, when the board voted to put a levy issue on the March 15, 2016, ballot. When asked to serve on committees as other board members do, he declined, stating he didn’t have the time.
White has repeatedly clashed with school officials since taking office.
In 2012, he accused then-Superintendent Wade Lucas of threatening his life during an executive session, an allegation his fellow board members denied. He claimed that following the meeting, he was followed by a group of “menacing-looking individuals” who later followed him in a minivan. White later brought a personal security guard to meetings, saying he feared for his safety.
White criticized Lucas during his retirement speech earlier this year, saying Lucas merely wanted another cheerleader on the board to applaud the district’s accomplishments.
White was regularly the lone “no” vote on measures, from policy changes to personnel changes to donations; and it was not uncommon for him to vote against approving the board’s agenda at the beginning of meetings or pull out action items to vote on separately.
White, whose term expires on Dec. 31, was elected to the board in November 2011. He holds degrees from Ohio Wesleyan and Capital universities, and is an accounts receivable manager who lives in Lewis Center with his wife and two children. White did not seek a second term on the board.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.