By Sue Kiesewetter
HAMILTON - There will be no further investigation - at least locally - of allegations that Fairfield school officials urged students to vote absentee in the August special election.
The Butler County Board of Elections voted Monday to end its investigation of school officials.
The action came after the board reviewed a prosecutor's opinion that said "it would be a stretch to consider this criminal conduct," according to John M. Holcomb, a member of the elections board.
"We didn't think there was evidence of criminal intent."
Several students filed complaints this summer alleging that during graduation practice in June, school officials required them to sign applications requesting an absentee ballot for the Aug. 3 special election, even if they were to be in the county that day.
Fairfield and Fairfield Township voted on a 6.9-mill operating levy.
School officials say they are satisfied with the outcome.
"We're pleased but not surprised by the results," said Fairfield Schools Superintendent Robert Farrell.
The board determined that school officials had been overzealous in their approach, but concluded there was no evidence supporting criminal intent.
The board also decided the outcome of the election - the levy was rejected - was not affected.
The board directed elections officials, before graduations, to send all high school administrators a document outlining election laws pertaining to absentee voting.
But the matter may not be over.
The anti-levy group CARE - Citizens for Accountability and Results in Education - plans to ask state and federal officials to look into the allegations.
"We will ask the Ohio attorney general and the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the allegations," said Arnold Engel, CARE spokesman.
The school board has voted to put a 4.9-mill operating levy on the Nov. 2 ballot.
That, too, is opposed by CARE.
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