Debate on policy language delays filling a vacant seat on Joplin School Board

Debate on policy language delays filling a vacant seat on Joplin School Board
joplin boe latest.jpg

Some debate on policy language regarding appointing new board members delays filling a vacant seat on the Joplin School Board.

With one approved vacancy and two pending resignations, the four present members of the seven-seat Joplin School Board are facing some hurdles in taking action.

Monday morning, board president Jeff Koch sent an email to the board secretary requesting Jim Kimbrough be sworn in as a board member.

However, board attorney Norman Rouse made the decision not to swear in Kimbrough.

Vice president Lynda Banwart says she was not aware Koch was requesting Kimbrough to be formally sworn in this week, and feels the county commission should be responsible for filling vacancies.

“I support Mr. Rouse’s decision that it was not a board directive,” Banwart said. “It was more from individuals.”

Those who voted to appoint Kimbrough are hopeful he will be sworn in soon, and say the hold up revolves around board policy.

“Our policy is maybe not clear in some respects,” said Jennifer Martucci, board member. “It’s specific in some areas, and it’s nonspecific in others.”

Board members say there is some dispute as to whether appointing Kimbrough requires a majority of the quorum, three out of the four, or a majority of the board, all four members in unanimous agreement.

“We really think that we had a majority at the May 26 meeting,” Martucci said.

“I prefer if things are going to take place that it is a full board decision,” Banwart said.

The school board president and board attorney did not return our calls on Monday, but the board members we did speak to say legal counsel is being sought to clarify the board’s policy.

“I am very confident that we’ll work it out,” Martucci said. “Whichever way it goes, we will fill those seats.”

“I hope they’ll be filled by the June 23 meeting so we can move forward with board business,” Banwart said.

Board members say they hope to formally accept the two pending resignations, and take further action on filling vacancies at the next board meeting on June 23, or even sooner, should a special board meeting be scheduled.