April 16, 2014

School board appointment process democratic

Mark  Granell
President, USD 231 school board
I am writing in response to your editorial of Sept. 25, titled “Board uses questionable procedure to replace exiting members.” Given the lack of balance in both your reporting on the process for selecting members to replace resigning board members and in your editorial, I am compelled to respond so our district patrons can be fully informed, and come to their own conclusions.
One of the Kansas statutes you mentioned in your article, K.S.A. 25-2023, provided the board with a clear answer to the question of whether a resigning board member can participate in the process to select his successor. That statute, which you failed to quote, provides that:
“Each member elected to a board of education shall hold office until a successor is elected or appointed and qualified and shall serve for a term of four (4) years.”
If a board member holds office until his successor is appointed and qualified, then this must mean that his service does not end until that appointment is complete. As such, the resigning board member remains on the board and is permitted to vote on his successor, if the board member states (as Mr. Rayburn did) that his resignation will take effect upon the appointment of his successor.
Nothing in Kansas law requires, or even permits, a board of education to “accept” a board member’s resignation. Unlike teachers or administrators, board members do not have contracts that bind them to serve for a certain period of time It is entirely up to a board member to decide when to announce their resignation, and unless they wish to resign immediately (as Shelta Collins did), Kansas law determines when that resignation becomes effective.
While it is true that board member Brad Chandler referenced a Kansas Association of School Board handbook passage during the September 16 board meeting, he acknowledged during the meeting this information did not cite any laws to support his position. KASB personnel have since stated they are going to consider revising the part of their handbook referenced by Mr. Chandler, after being informed of K.S.A. 25-2023.
Aside from whether it was legal for Mr. Rayburn to vote on his successor—which it was—I take issue with your contention this was somehow “non-democratic.” In reality, Mr. Rayburn voting on his successor was pro-democracy. Mr. Rayburn received over 1,200 votes when he was re-elected to the school board for a third term in 2011. To suggest he should have no voice in selecting his successor would have stripped those 1,200 voters of their voice in who should serve out Mr. Rayburn’s term. It was proper and ethical for one of Mr. Rayburn’s last acts as a board member to cast a vote for the candidates whom he believed would best carry out the wishes of those who elected him to serve.
In addition, your suggestion there was something illegal about the publication of the notice of vacancies on the board is inaccurate. The board president and vice-president directed the administration to publish the notice in the interest of ensuring that the board was fully staffed as soon as possible. At the Sept. 16 meeting, the board ratified the steps taken prior to the meeting to prepare for filling the vacancies. Since at least 1895, the Kansas Supreme Court has stated that public bodies have the authority to ratify actions taken between official meetings, so long as the action is one the body could have approved at the outset.
While you are certainly entitled to your own opinions, you are not entitled to your own facts. I hope in the future, when speaking about the district’s business, you will be better informed. Opinions, and your claimed outrage, are no better than the flawed facts upon which they are based. It would be refreshing to have our local newspaper take pride in our school district. We have accomplished so much as a community and school district. Our patrons, staff and students deserve responsible and factual journalism.
Finally, as in the past, this board of education will continue to strive for excellence with the continued promotion of our teachers, students, and facilities. We feel extremely fortunate to have the best teachers and staff formulating the future of our over 5,550 students, the dedication of new schools from the latest bond passage, and the recent reduction in taxes for each household. My sincere thanks to the patrons and parents of Gardner and Edgerton.

Comments

  1. Walter H. says:

    Here you have business as usual with a mouthpiece from USD 231 telling the patrons the way it is.

    1. Mr. Grannell mentioned facts. THE FACT is that is almost impossible for the Gardner News or any other person or entity to get ANY facts from the district office due to the transparency issues. Yes, there are transparency issues ask the voters. How many times have we seen an article with the statement saying there was no response from the USD Office?

    2. The idea of Rayburn sticking around to vote for his own replacement after resigning being portrayed as “pro-democracy” is a spin that could only come out of the district office.

    3. AND of course the last paragraph is spent patting themselves on the back about reduction of taxes blah blah blah. The mil levy dropped a tiny bit but in return we have crowded classrooms, less support staff and higher rates for parents.

    I feel like this letter has the Superintendents fingerprints all over it, after all we are not to believe that a School Board Member (even the President) would be allowed to send anything to the paper without the permission of their boss?

  2. Walter H. says:

    One more thing…Our School Board and district office needs to realize just because they have a right to do something doesn’t mean it is necessarily the right thing to do.

    I wonder how much tax payer money is spent on their attorney as he researches ways to skirt statutes and such. He’s probably making about $250.00 an hour.

    I guess since they are all about “getting the facts” I would have no problem calling them and asking that question. We shall see….

  3. Walter H. says:

    Mr. Grannell was proud about the “reduction of taxes” for each household because the USD cut enough teachers and staff to lower the Mill Levy slightly. What he DIDN’T tell you is that we STILL have the highest Mill Levy rate in the State of Kansas.

  4. Tony Lauer says:

    I’m no attorney, but I found one on the internet that talks about this stuff a lot. He says he’s a general of lawyers in Kansas, which seems suspect at first, but it looks like he knows what he’s talking about. His name is Derek Schmidt. I guess a lot of other lawyers ask his opinions and he puts them on the internet too.

    “School districts and other subdivisions of the state have only such powers as are conferred upon them by statute, specifically or by clear implication, and any reasonable doubt as to the existence of such power should be resolved against its existence.”

    “25-2023. Oath of office; commencement of terms; length of terms. Each board member shall qualify by filing an oath of office with the election officer not later than ten (10) days following the date of the election, or not later than five (5) days after issuance of such member’s certificate of election, whichever is the later date. Each board member shall take office on the July 1 following the general school election. Each member elected to a board of education shall hold office until a successor is elected or appointed and qualified and shall serve for a term of four (4) years.”

    But what we need to look at is 25-2022, which says:

    “25-2022. Vacancies on boards of education filled by appointment; publication of notice; term of appointee. Any board shall have power to fill by appointment any vacancy which occurs thereon, and such appointee shall serve for the unexpired term. 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. If such vacancy occurs before January 1 of an odd-numbered year leaving an unexpired term of more than two years such appointee shall serve until the July 1 after the following general school election as provided in K.S.A. 25-2023 or any amendments thereto.
    In the latter event, the unexpired term of two years commencing July 1 after the following general school election shall be filled at such election and the ballots or ballot labels and returns of election with respect to such office shall be designated as follows: “To fill the unexpired term.”"

    The president of $231 must be looking at a different law book than the general of Kansas attorneys. I hope $231 isn’t trying to mislead folks, because what’s clear for my simple mind is that they plucked some words out of a law, without looking at the rest of the words, in that very law. It’d be fun to be able to make up your own laws, but folks should get in trouble for that.

    And I’m used to motel ‘vacancy’ which I understand. When the sign says, ‘NO vacancy’, that means all their rooms are full, they got no rooms for me. When the sign is flashing and it says ‘vacancy’, that means they have rooms. I’m not sleeping in my truck tonight!

    I’d think $231 should understand this, but they’re trying to streeeeeeetch things here, just like the Gardner mill levy. In 25-2022, it uses words like “fill” and “vacancy which occurs” and “when a vacancy occurs”. You can’t ignore that.

    We’re talking about school board chairs here. If someone’s sitting in the chair, it ain’t vacant. How are you going to ‘fill’ a chair, if someone’s already sitting in it?

    Here’s some $0 advice for $231. The Gardner School District is #1 in highest mill levy (82.406) in Kansas, which isn’t something to be proud of. It’s cheaper to live in the Blue Valley school district. The drama in Gardner is fairly well known. You don’t need anymore negative attention. Your mirror is distorted. If your friends aren’t telling you how bad you look, find some honest friends or start listening to your enemies.

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