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.