Every Akron Public Schools board member voted at their regular meeting Monday to publicly strip fellow member John Otterman of most of his responsibilities — except Otterman himself.

The board passed a resolution 5-1 to publicly reprimand and censure Otterman while revoking some of his duties with the board because of a misdemeanor drug charge he received in June.

Board President Patrick Bravo said the board found out about the charge from a tip in August, two months after Otterman’s arrest.

Police said they found Otterman in his vehicle with “slurred speech and glazed over eyes,” along with an unmarked prescription bottle containing Xanax pills.

The school board was limited in the action it could take against Otterman, because he is an elected official.

Otterman’s consequences include revoked committee assignments for the remainder of his term, which ends in 2019, a lost ability to be reimbursed for professional development activities and a barring from any school building outside of meeting times.

“It’s difficult and it’s a distraction from what we should be focused on, which is starting a new school year, educating children and making children and families feel comfortable,” Bravo said.

Bravo said the board is looking into additional “concerns or reports of [incidents] from the greater Akron Public Schools community” concerning Otterman. Bravo declined to comment further but said additional action may be taken once those incidents are reviewed.

Otterman’s consequences with the school board come after a history of arrests involving illegal substances.

In 1989, Otterman was acquitted on charges of trafficking in marijuana at the end of a 10-month undercover investigation by the Summit County sheriff’s office at Loral Defense System that led to the arrest of eight employees, including Otterman.

In 2001, Otterman, who was a city councilman at the time, was arrested and charged with five felony drug charges for lying to a doctor for painkillers. The case was acquitted, too, and the charges were dropped.

With only traffic violations on his criminal record, Otterman’s third-degree misdemeanor charge in June was reduced to a fourth-degree misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. He pleaded guilty to the reduced charge last month and received a 30-day suspended jail sentence and a $277 fine. It’s the first violation involving drugs that will appear on his record.

Conflicting accounts

Otterman has given conflicting accounts of what exactly happened.

The police report states that authorities responded to a call about a reckless vehicle that “had committed multiple traffic infractions.” In the report, officer Christopher Sterling said he found Otterman sitting in his running Ford Escape at a gas station on Triplett Boulevard in East Akron, where he searched the car and found an unmarked prescription bottle containing 13 Xanax pills.

The report states that Otterman told the officer he had a prescription, but not with him. Otterman later pled guilty, but he’s since insisted that the pills were his friend’s that were left in the car.

Otterman gave Beacon Journal reporters conflicting stories as well. On Aug. 4, Otterman told a reporter that he was taking medication for concussions that occurred during football and recent surgeries. On Thursday, he said he had taken Benadryl for allergies.

In any case, Otterman has consistently denied that he was under the influence while driving that night in June, and says that he has never had a problem with drug abuse.

“I don’t think it’s fair to say I have a substance abuse problem,” Otterman said on Thursday. “I haven’t been in treatment. I don’t even know what this stuff [Xanax] is.”

Despite his dissenting vote, Otterman said he accepts the board’s decision and he’ll continue doing what he can to be an effective board member.

“That’s just the way it goes,” Otterman said. “You just move forward and keep a positive attitude, and that’s what I’ll do.”

Theresa Cottom can be reached at 330-996-3216 or tcottom@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @Theresa_Cottom.