The process to select someone to fill a vacant position on the Clinton City Schools Board of Education began Friday morning, as the board members met to discuss how they will make the appointment left open with the recent passing of E.R. Mason.
“Last week we celebrated the life and legacy of our very own Mr. E.R. Mason in a home-going service,” board chairwoman Carol Worley said as she opened the meeting and before holding a moment of silence. “It’s time we come together on one accord as a five member board and appoint someone to fill the vacant seat.”
According to board attorney Adam Mitchell, the law doesn’t offer much in the way of guidelines to follow when filling a vacant seat on a school board, but does state that whomever is appointed should serve in that capacity until the board’s next election.
In the case of the Clinton City Board of Education, that election comes May 8, just a day after the appointment could possibly be made. To that end, Mitchell said he has talked with the State Board of Elections and State Board of Education and both agree, it would be impossible for that newly appointed member to be a part of the 2018 election process.
The discussion and decision about the board’s choice must both be done in open session. From a legal prespective, Mitchell said the board should want to get the word out to the community that the vacancy exists and ask for letters of interest be sent for board members to review.
Those letters, for anyone interested in filling the vacant board seat, are due to the Central Office by Monday, May 7, at 4 p.m., just prior to the board’s monthly meeting.
“We need those letters to get to the point,” board member Randy Barefoot said. “The person needs to be very tactful and pin point themselves to us as a board.”
Once letters are received, the board will review those letters and if necessary, hold open interviews during the May 7 board meeting. These interviews will be 3-4 minutes of open comment from the candidate. Board members are hoping to announce the replacement during that meeting.
“We will have an opportunity to hear from folks directly,” Worley shared.
According to Mitchell, the board has a 30-day window to fill the vacant seat. If for some reason the seat isn’t filled within the window of given time, the State Board of Elections could make the decision to fill the vacant seat.
Most likely, Mitchell said, it will not come to that solution.
“In all my years I have never seen this happen,” he added.
While the board had the authority to appoint someone to the board without any type of official process, board members agreed that they all wanted to have a formal process to give everyone an equal opportunity at the seat on the board.
“We could appoint someone today, but we want to go through the process,” board member Mike Lanier said. “We want to involve the community.”
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.