BOE faces deadlock
The four remaining members of the Jefferson County Board of Education could not come to a decision Friday when they took a vote on replacing former member Peter Dougherty. The group split with a two-two tie on who will fill the vacant seat.
Board president Gary Kable, who moved into the president’s seat upon Dougherty’s resignation, nominated former board member Larry Togans, saying that he felt Togans could come in and “hit the ground running and be an asset to the Board and the school system.” Kable’s vote was seconded by Mariland Dunn Lee who called for a “fresh perspective” on the board.
During the discussion segment after nominations, member Scott Sudduth chose to speak to the process in place for selecting a replacement.
“We get the responsibility to establish a process in this rare and unusual circumstance,” he said. He went on to say that no process or criteria was established in making a selection where he felt transparency to the public should have been considered.
“I would rather see a process where we make a decision unanimously with criteria or we establish some grounds and criteria for applications,” he said. He suggested that some type of public input would have been beneficial.
Without such a process established, Sudduth said he was choosing to offer his support to former board member Alan Sturm who had previously been selected by voters on two occasions. Support for Sturm was also given by Mark Osbourn who said that he felt Sturm offers recent experience and could get right to work.
In discussion following Sudduth’s comments on process and procedure, Kable simply said, “If the State wanted voters to have the responsibility here, they would have put it into the law.” He said that the 45-day time frame did not allow adequate time to take resumes and vet them.
The board split the vote between Togans and Sturm with Kable and Lee choosing Togans and Sudduth and Osbourn voting for Sturm. Neither board member voted for Laurie Ogden, who Sudduth indicated had also expressed an interest in the position. Ogden was narrowly defeated in the past board election.
With the 2-2 split, the item remains on the agenda as old business and will be taken up again on April 8 at the next regularly scheduled meeting. At that time, members of the public may choose to comment during the public comment session of the meeting.
When asked after the board discussion and tie vote what the process was in determining who may have an interest in the position, Kable indicated that there was no process that he was aware of. When asked how individuals were to know about the vacancy, he replied, “They just did.” The board placed no notice or advertisement for the position. Mention of the vacancy was made in news stories regarding Dougherty’s resignation and appointment as sheriff.
It is unclear what the outcome will be if the vote cannot move beyond the 2-2 tie on April 8. There are no indications in the State Code on what to do in such an instance. State law mandates that a replacement be named within 45 days and that deadline is April 13, according to Kable.