Archive for Thursday, January 30, 2003

Errors compound filling deadline mistake

January 30, 2003

Last week's filing deadline fiasco doesn't reflect well on the De Soto USD 232 Board of Education.

With only hours remaining before the candidate-filing deadline, Curtis Allenbrand attempted to file for re-election to the Board's Postion 3 seat. When he did, Allenbrand learned he no longer lived in the district.

Actually, rediscovered would be the correct word. When the Board redrew its boundaries last fall, Allenbrand was aware he no longer lived in Position 3's boundaries. It was assumed at the time he would file for the Board's at-large Position 7 seat. In the three months since the realignment, Allenbrand forgot that detail.

At the very least, the miscue suggests the Board isn't paying attention to its own actions. Worse, it will inevitably lead some to the conclusion the Board manipulated the confusion surrounding its actions.

We don't take a conspiratorial view. With the scarcity of candidates for the School Board, it is hard to criticize anyone who signs on to a time-consuming, thankless job.

Still, we think actions that followed Allenbrand's discovery open the district employees to the charge they are appointing their bosses.

Allenbrand was the only person in the know the morning of the deadline who had any business alerting fellow Board member Sandy Thierer. Instead, Thierer said she learned of the incident through a phone call from the district's superintendent, board clerk and community relations director. The question has to be asked why Thierer was any more privy to the information than any number of other residents of Position 3.

Early on, Allenbrand announced his intention to seek another term for the Position 3 seat. That intention could have been a factor in the decision of those considering running for the seat. After all, the Allenbrand name is very respected in Johnson County politics. Potential candidates might have made a different decision if they knew Thierer was to be their opponent.

That is not to knock Thierer, a hardworking Board member who last year attended the 200 hours in seminars and training necessary to earn a certificate of merit by the Kansas School Board Association. Rather it is a simple recognition that all Board members are perceived differently.

From here, it would seem Thierer should have run for the Position 3 seat as a write-in candidate. With her connections with district activists and parent groups, she would probably win the seat with the same effort she gives to her coming campaign. But a write-in candidacy would have removed the suggestion of inside information that gave her an advantage over any potential opponent.

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