Despite the questionable process of replacing recently-elected Shelta Collins, who resigned from the USD 231 board of education, and Tim Rayburn, who will resign at some future date, two good candidates were selected: Mary Nelson, senior vice-president at Metcalf Bank and Tresa Boden, a former USD 231 director of health services.
The district’s flawed replacement policy in no way reflects upon the qualifications of these candidates, who we hope will serve Gardner Edgerton School District patrons well.
Rather the marred process reflects on those presiding over it: Bill Gilhaus, returning superintendent, back after a two-month retirement absence; Tim Rayburn, USD 231 board president, who voted on his replacement; and the advice of Joe Hatley, the district’s legal counsel.
It appears these three believe the end justifies the means, and by stringing two state statutes together – K.S.A. 25-2022 having to do with filling vacant positions and K.S.A. 25-2023, which deals with elections – the trio created a new non-democratic process – choosing and voting on your own successor.
The one shining light during the entire process was Brad Chandler, newly-elected board member, who objected to the process. It’s a breath of fresh air to see a board member who has not only researched the issue, but isn’t too intimidated by peer pressure to speak up for those who elected him.
Chandler quoted the Kansas Association of School Board’s handbook, which indicates the selection process can only begin once a vacancy occurs.
K.S.A. 25-2022 reads, “When a vacancy occurs, the board shall publish a notice one time in a newspaper having general circulation in the school district stating that the vacancy has occurred and that it will be filled by appointment by the board not sooner than fifteen (15) days after such publication.”
The board clearly violated the statute; resignations had not been accepted by the board when the notice was published , and the board did not publicly direct the publication of vacancy notice, the acting superintendent did.
In addition, while the selection process should have been directed by the board, instead, Gilhaus wrote the cover letter for candidate questions and appears to have played a major role in the selection process.
Sorry guys, none of this passes the smell test.
District patrons should be outraged. We are.