FAIRBORN — A crowd of students, parents, and alumni gathered at the Fairborn school board meeting Thursday to voice concerns about comments allegedly made by a teacher and assistant football coach.
“We understand some people are here to make their presence known and voices heard in regard to certain staff members and officials of our district,” Superintendent Gene Lolli said. “Please note that the board has heard the complaints pertaining to these individuals, and we take this matter very seriously.”
The Fairborn Board of Education has not publicly named the teacher. However a letter in response to a public records request from the Daily Herald dated June 3 confirms that Mike Blandino has been placed on administrative leave pending an independent investigation.
In addition, the individuals who came to speak at the board meeting had complaints specifically pertaining to Blandino. According to a letter in Blandino’s personnel file, he was placed on administrative leave June 1 and is not allowed on district property without prior permission. The district also confirmed that Blandino’s spouse, Barbara, is a member of the Fairborn school board. She was not present at Thursday’s meeting.
Blandino’s personnel file contains mostly positive reviews of his teaching. However he was accused of calling an African American student a “thug” during an Oct. 25, 2019 football game against West Carrollton. An email from then-principal Brian McKnight informed Blandino regarding board policy 321 entitled “Staff Ethics” and thanked him for “apologizing to the football team and taking ownership of your actions.”
Many students and alumni who spoke told the school board of other alleged incidents with Blandino that had not been reported on his official record. Others called out the school board for refusing to acknowledge incidents of discriminatory behavior among staff and students where no disciplinary action was taken.
“We demand policy,” one resident said. “These kids have been speaking out, and they’ve been brushed under the table for too long.”
Chris Mustard, a parent of a rising senior, said, “We are asking our teachers, coaches, and staff to live up to a higher standard. There is a line that has been crossed, and the integrity of our leadership has to be held accountable.”
“As a teacher, you should be advocating for all of your students,” said Anya Tassy, who also organized the peaceful protest downtown earlier that day, where demonstrators protested the death of George Floyd. “You should be helping them and shaping them into adults that can make great decisions and advocate for what they believe in.”
Blandino allegedly responded to a Twitter post stating that Pres. Donald Trump “called black people ‘thugs’” by tweeting back, “Just because he speaks the truth you all can’t stand it. Take your blinders off.” That post has since been deleted.