In a couple previous posts, like this one, I mentioned that I was in St. Paul with Art lobbying. I was there because a law has been introduced to put the same limits on school boards that exist for other local elected bodies. They would have a more rigorous requirement for removing their members than currently exists. This law was introduced by a Senator who saw first hand what happened in St. Francis.
Changing the law will not protect Art retroactively but after his experience both of us were eager to tell legislators how the current legislation is being abused.
In the fundraising web page I’m setting up I explain how this Minnesota state law works:
Minnesota’s laws for removing locally elected officials generally require proof of nonfeasance or malfeasance. However, the state altered its laws regarding the removal of school board members. The reason for this change is not clear but now an elected board member can be removed at the majority’s whim. This is what has happened in Duluth.
Ironically Minnesota has never given voters the power to recall elected officials unless nonfeasance or malfeasance has been proven. Thus voters have a much more difficult hurdle to jump before removing a disagreeable School Board member than his/her fellow school board members have. They don’t even have to pay attention to a judge’s recommendation that the errant board member be allowed to stay. After the hearing they can disregard the judge.
What the current statute says:
123B.09, subdivision 9.Removing board members.
The board may remove, for proper cause, any member or officer of the board and fill the vacancy; but such removal must be by a concurrent vote of at least four members, at a meeting of whose time, place, and object the charged member has been duly notified, with the reasons for such proposed removal and after an opportunity to be heard in defense against the removal.
Currently this language is being addressed in Senate File 539 which will treat elected school board members like other locally elected officials. It will take more than grudges and old scores to settle in order to remove a school board member.
Last week this bill had yet to find a sponsor but its now in the hopper.