Choral Director David White says he plans to fight a Monday decision by the Hillsboro City Schools Board of Education to terminate his employment.
A 1992 Hillsboro High School graduate who has served as the district’s choral director for 17 years, White was already on unpaid leave when the board voted 3-2 to approve a recommendation from Superintendent Tim Davis to consider the termination of White’s contract.
The vote was called after the board had deliberated for one hour and 56 minutes in executive session at Monday’s meeting.
Bill Myers, Larry Lyons and Beverly Rhoads voted in favor of the recommendation, while Tom Milbery and Jerry Walker voted against it.
White said he has hired a Dayton attorney and plans to file an appeal to the board’s decision immediately.
“No one wants to see me leave and I do not want to leave. I want to continue making great music with the children of this community,” White said, adding that he was overwhelmed with the support shown toward him Monday from current students, former students, teachers, administrators and community members.
The meeting was moved to the Hillsboro Elementary cafeteria to accommodate an expected large crowd, and White’s supporters filled the cafeteria to standing room only.
During the public participation portion of the meeting, several students and community members spoke in favor of White until the board said more than the allotted 30 minutes for them to speak had passed.
Sydney Sears, an HHS senior and member of White’s choir, said, “David White has impacted not only my life, but the life of every kid who has walked through those choir doors. He gave me a passion for music I will carry with me the rest of my life. And there are many others in this room like that. He’s not only someone I consider a teacher, but an inspiration. He strives for me to be the best part of myself.”
According to Davis, White put students in danger during a recent symphonic choir trip to New York City when he allowed 12 kids on the trip to move a car that was blocking the path of their bus.
According to White, this is what happened: The bus he and the students were on, along with five chaperones, was coming off the Lincoln Tunnel, turned onto a one-way side street, and an illegally parked smart car was on the right curb with other vehicles on the left. The bus driver tried to maneuver around the car, but was unable, and he remarked, according to White, “If I only had six inches I could move around that car.” White said that he and others said they could move the car, then he and 10 to 12 students, with help from a taxi driver blocked behind the bus, moved the smart car no more than 12 inches.
“The five chaperones were all of the same mind, the bus driver suggested it, so we went with it,” White said.
He said that because the smart car was parked by the right curb, and the bus had other traffic blocked, the students were in no danger. He said the whole episode took less than 30 seconds.
White also said Tuesday that no one was cited, no complaints were filed, and that the bus company was made aware of the situation and did not complain.
Four of the chaperones spoke Monday in White’s defense.
“We believed (moving the bus) posed the least amount of risk in the situation,” said chaperone Linda Vangroll.
Christopher Ford, a 2017 HHS graduate who has performed musically far and wide, said it was White that inspired him.
“He never settles for anything less than excellence,” Ford said. “Excellence is what he brings to our school and our community. We deserve the best … and that’s Mr. White. Mr. White’s class is safe. It’s more than a classroom, it’s a haven and a place to find peace in the world we live in.”
Haven Young, an HHS sophomore, said it has not always been easy growing up as a black girl in Hillsboro, but in White’s class she feels safe and valued.
“Kids who aren’t exactly normal around here need someone like Mr. White,” Young said. “We need someone who believes in us even if we don’t believe in ourselves.”
Older members of the community also spoke on White’s behalf. No one from the public spoke against him.
Before the meeting and during the executive session, Hillsboro choir members and others sang numerous songs, obviously showing support for White.
After the executive session, Davis read a lengthy resolution regarding White’s employment. In it he cited 10 facts for the basis of his recommendation.
In part, the resolution said, “Mr. White’s disciplinary record during the past five years reflects seven separate incidents where the district administration has critically identified actions by Mr. White that reflect inappropriate actions and/or incidents of poor judgment.”
Jerry Bailey, a community member and HHS graduate, asked why White was put in charge of the trip to NYC if he had shown a pattern of bad behavior.
The smart car incident took place March 28. But White was left in charge of the trip until it ended March 31.
Davis said White was placed on paid leave from April 1-3. He said that he met with White on April 3, that White did not dispute what transpired with the smart car, and that he was placed on nonpaid leave after the meeting.
Several students posted about the incident on social media.
The superintendent said that for the time being, choir classes for grades 7-12 have been postponed at Hillsboro. He said that the school district is trying to find a replacement to finish out the year, but that there’s not a lot of people looking for a job who have the required certification.
The school district plans to have a full choir program next year, Davis said.
Davis’ full statement regarding his decision to recommend White’s termination can be found in Wednesday’s paper starting on page one.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.