Several parents speak out about decision to appoint felon to Portage County DD board

RAVENNA, Ohio-- Several people packed a Portage County commissioners' meeting Thursday to voice their opinion on the appointment of a man with a felony record to the Board of Developmental Disabilities.

Some are upset and concerned about William Tarver being appointed to the board, while others support him. Tarver was convicted of felony charges of failing to pay child support and violating a protection order.

Tarver said he wants to serve on the board so he can be a voice for those with disabilities, like his younger brother.

“I don’t know what you are afraid of,” Tarver said to those upset about his appointment. “I chose to apply and I am going to do the best job I can for my brother as well as your children.”

However, one woman said she doesn’t feel Tarver should have been appointed.

“He has misrepresented himself to you guys. He has failed to gain the trust of parents, and other concerned individuals,” said Christina Matthews. Another parent said she doesn’t want Tarver in her child’s school.

Several people, however, told commissioners they support Tarver. Two women who attend Tarver’s church say he does a good job volunteering with children. A neighbor of Tarver’s also wrote a letter to commissioners saying she doesn’t know Tarver but often sees him helping his brother, who has disabilities.

One commissioner said she regrets her decision to appoint Tarver.

“I have no authority or no support to undo this,” said commissioner, Vicki Kline. She said commissioners do not do background checks on volunteer board appointments, but they are looking to do that in the future. “I have been very sick; I lost sleep over it and I should have called people. We should have asked better and more questions.”

But a commissioner also pointed out that Tarver is just one vote on a seven-member board.

Commissioner Sabrina Christian-Bennett added that the board also received several letters vouching for Tarver and saying that he has always been a good caregiver for his brother.

Tarver says he plans to attend the board’s first meeting next week.