The Pike County R-III Board of Education will delay a vote to fill a vacant seat on its board till Monday, members decided at a special meeting of the Board Wednesday night.
That means Greg Talbert and Christie Kuntz, who were elected in to the board last Tuesday, could be sworn before the appointment is made. But according to advice issued by the board’s attorney, they won’t be able to vote on the issue. If the election takes place after the board reorganization, the four remaining members who were on the board when Talbert was removed due to repeated absences in February — Clay Lockard, Bob Danuser, Curt Mitchell and Melaney Mathis — would then vote after hearing from the last applicant for the position, Board President Danuser said.
Danuser, the Board President, handed out the advice of board attorney Amy Clendennen before Wednesday’s board meeting.
“Both Board Policy BBE-1, School Board Vacancies and state statue 162.261 require that vacancy on the Board be filled by “the remaining members of the board.” This means that only board members who were left on the board at the time Greg [Talbert] vacated his seat can vote on his replacement. All six members of the current board can vote to fill the vacancy. If the board does not fill the vacancy, the two newly elected members ([Christie Kuntz] and Greg [Talbert]) cannot vote, because they were not on the board when Greg vacated his seat,” Clendennen wrote.
The attorney also advised that the board needs four “yes” votes to approve a board member, meaning the vote will need to be unanimous if it comes after the board welcomes its new members. Per advice provided by Clendennen to the Missouri Association of Rural Education, the old board could hold a meeting Monday night before reorganizing the board and bringing on the new members. The new board will have to adjourn after it votes in new officers, but could call a new meeting that night provided it is posted beforehand.
The vacancy was created after Talbert missed a series of board meetings in 2018 and 2019 and the board voted 3-2 not to excuse his absences. Talbert then ran for one of the two seats already on the ballot in the April election through a write-in campaign. After coming in second in that election, Talbert will return to the board, but the vacancy created when he left the board still needs to be filled.
Five of the six applicants for the position were interviewed by the board Wednesday: Sara McBeth, Karl Steinhage, Mark Liana, Linda Perrone and Mickie Henderson.
One applicant, Tyler Beauchamp, was not able to make the meeting and will be interviewed Monday.
Some candidates in last week’s election had objected to the timing of the vote on the grounds that the two successful candidates should have a chance to participate in the decision and that two current board members — Tommy Beauchamp and Clay Lockard — were not able to make the special meeting Wednesday.
After suggesting the vote could be delayed to accommodate Tyler Beauchamp and reading the attorney’s advice to the crowded meeting, Danuser addressed those concerns and explained his understanding of the situation.
“I just want to make sure everybody knows, because there were postings on Facebook and everything else and we need to come together. I tell you what, I’m not a Facebook person. I think it causes problems…. There are half-truths that are told,” Danuser said. “I would like everybody to go back to the community and let them know that this is a rule. This isn’t something the Board made up…. I think its better for this current board of six members to vote, but I’m just one person, and there are four up here.”
After all three of the other board members in attendance opted to delay the vote, Danuser voted with them to table the vote for the next meeting.
“I hope the community understands, and if there are any other questions, feel free to call me. Just don’t post my name to Facebook. Let’s talk as a community, face to face. I have no problem talking to anybody. I look forward to the two new board members, I want to work with them. This has got to stop,” Danuser added.