The Ontario School Board of Directors is not seeking to fill its fifth seat at this time due to a technicality over a resignation.
Director Derrick Draper verbally resigned “effective immediately,” from his Position 4 seat, the term for which ends in June, during an executive session on April 19. The board addressed the matter in open session that night, stating that while Draper’s resignation was acknowledged, it was not asked for nor expected.
However, since then, it has been discovered that Draper’s resignation was not official. Additionally, Draper is still officially in the running for the coming election, in which he has filed to keep his seat, according to Malheur County Clerk Gayle Trotter.
Even if Draper officially resigns from his seat, the county clerk clarified that resignation would only be for the term he is currently serving in, with a new term possible in July.
“If he wins, he could accept it and be right back on the board,” Trotter said in a phone interview on Tuesday, adding that it was something people might not be aware of.
Additionally, because his resignation was not official, per board policy, Draper could still be attending meetings through the end of his term on June 30.
However, since his unofficial resignation, the board has met twice, and Draper has not attended. The first was a regular meeting on April 26, the second was an executive session on May 6, in which Draper may have declared a conflict of interest if he had attended, as the board was addressing a complaint against an administrator from his wife, Kate Draper.
Board Chairwoman Renae Corn during a phone interview on Tuesday morning said she had informed Superintendent Nicole Albisu that Draper had planned to attend the executive session as a board member based on a confidential tip she received ahead of the meeting. Although she nor the board heard from Draper directly, Corn said she relayed the information to Albisu per the agreement between the board and superintendent.
In turn, Albisu informed the newspaper that Draper was planning to attend the meeting as a board member that night, which was further confirmed by Taryn Smith, public information officer for the Ontario School District, who stated that Corn would allow him to attend if he showed up. Draper ultimately did not show up.
In a phone interview this morning, Corn explained why Draper would have been able to attend, saying she had consulted with an attorney over the possibility.
Even though Draper gave his verbal resignation, the board’s policy BBC is that a written resignation is required, which Corn said she also confirmed with Trotter. Once written notice is accepted, typically done at the next regular meeting, the board is then required to “develop procedures as are necessary to fill the vacant position.”
Only two regular school board meetings with accompanying work sessions remain in Draper’s current term, one in May and one in June, in which the board will be adopting the district’s 2021-22 budget. The board, which normally has five members, is set to pass the Ontario School District’s 2020-21 budget in June. Corn said she is not concerned about whether that will impact its ability to pass the decision if there were a 2-2 vote.
She commented that she had served on the school board in a four-person capacity previously and that it can be “workable.” In previous years, the school board had gone “several months” in that capacity. It is noteworthy, that the May 18 election will see voter’s choosing candidates for four vacancies on the Ontario School Board of Directors.
Since Draper has not officially resigned nor been inactive for two months, the board can not seek to fill his seat. Other reasons a board member could be removed from office by the board include death, being declared void by judgement or decree of any competent court, no longer residing in the district boundaries or by means of a voter recall.
Multiple phone messages left with Draper requesting comment were unreturned by press time.