Nordonia Hills School Board president resigns

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MACEDONIA, Ohio - Nordonia Hills School Board President James Virost resigned from his office on Tuesday, calling his continued presence on the Nordonia Hills School Board a distraction.

Virost became the district's School Board President following the arrest of his predecessor, Steve Bittel, in September.

Bittel is currently serving a fourteen year prison sentence on child pornography charges.  He was the School Board President when officers went to his home to investigate the charges in September.

While they were there, Bittel staged an armed standoff with officers before peacefully surrendering.

For his sentencing Virost wrote a short letter to Judge Richard Reinbold saying, in part, he had known Steve Bittel for the past 5-6 years and adding ' To the best of my knowledge and subsequent to his resignation, I am not aware of any reports or allegations that Mr. Bittel behaved inappropriately.'

The letter fueled outrage from some in the community who have openly demanded Virost's resignation.

Jim Blazek, the treasurer for an organization called 'Citizens for a Strong Nordonia Hills School District' has been among them.

"I have two small children, two young girls myself, the crimes that were committed by Bittle were horrendous to have our current school board president support that man is beyond belief," said Blazek following Virost's resignation on Tuesday.

"You know in life if you make a mistake you have to pay the price and he made a mistake. Unfortunately it cost him his position as a school board president," added Blazek.

Pressure also came from a Facebook page called U-Knighted for our children.

Its creator, Kathy Springer, told Fox 8 News on Tuesday that she felt Virost's resignation was the right decision but she did not want to appear as though she was celebrating.

In a written statement to Fox 8 Springer said:

"We appreciate Mr. Virost's actions today and we do not want this one

mistake to overshadow his 40 years of service to the community. However,

some mistakes have consequences and the consequence of Mr. Virost's

letter is his resignation from Nordonia Hills School Board. We hope the

passion and involvement that the community has shown on this issue can

continue as we all work towards the best school district for our

children."

Virost was not at his home when Fox 8 attempted to speak with him on Tuesday.  A message left for him to call was not returned.

His successor, Tammy Strong, was at home when Fox 8 attempted to speak with her about the resignation, but we were told she was too busy.

Some of the visitors to Springer's Facebook page did offer support for Virost.

But many in the community felt his decision to write the letter was a poor one and Virost made the right decision in stepping down.

"The reasons he chose to back Mr. Bittel were his own but we felt as a community that was not right and he needed to step down," said Jennifer Simmons.

"We have been a mess over the last few months between Bittle and now this situation in my opinion," said Carol Deastolv.

"This gives the community time to come together and heal and start doing business again and moving forward," concluded Blazek.​

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