School Board meeting abruptly adjourned over conflict of interest concerns
November 23, 2015
Steamboat Springs — A meeting of the Steamboat Springs Board of Education was called to recess, then abruptly adjourned Monday after a community member initiated a discussion about board member conflicts of interest.
Rich Lowe, husband of recent school board candidate Anne Lowe, shared concerns during the public comment period about what he called conflicts of interest concerning each of the board's new members, particularly Michelle Dover.
"All three board members have failed to disclose very clear conflicts of interest," Lowe said. "You guys are not off to a great start."
During the board's most recent meeting Nov. 16, each of the members disclosed any real or perceived conflicts of interest with their position on the board.
At that time, Dover disclosed she was a substitute teacher in the school district and agreed before the end of the meeting to resign the position and remove herself from the district's list of available substitutes.
Sam Rush disclosed her role as a Colorado Mountain College administrator, and Margaret Huron disclosed her daughter was a member of the district's collaborative bargaining team.
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During Monday's meeting, Lowe said he felt Dover's role as an employee, even if she had resigned in the past week, made the election of officers the prior week unofficial, because the conflict, he said, would have invalidated her role as a board member.
Last week, Dover nominated Huron as board chair, and Huron was elected by a 3-2 vote.
Dover said she had emailed her resignation to her supervisor immediately following last week's meeting.
The comments initiated a discussion among the board, with board member Roger Good saying he thought the issues brought up were worthy of discussion and member Joey Andrew expressing reservations about proceeding with important decisions later in the meeting if a concern exists for the validity of the election of the officers.
"I don't feel comfortable moving forward," Andrew said.
Good said that, while the hiring and resignation of substitute teachers aren't typically included on the board's consent agenda, he felt a noteworthy resignation such as Dover's should be on a board consent agenda for approval.
Superintendent Brad Meeks suggested a 15-minute recess to confer with legal counsel, which the board voted unanimously to undertake.
After the recess, Huron said that, upon the advice of legal counsel, the meeting would be adjourned, and the board would reconvene next Monday, Nov. 30.
Meeks said the lawyer had suggested a conservative approach to the situation, leading to Huron's announcement that the meeting would be reconvened next week.
Meeks said the board would essentially go through all of the decisions made Nov. 16 again, including the election of officers, and then move forward with the agenda from Monday.
"We'll basically redo the meeting from last week," Meeks said.