Friday, October 17, 2008

Board is the final authority for its own violations.

[Mark Zandberg]

One year ago, you had an exchange of emails with a member of the community that forwarded the communication to me. It was an exchange regarding the status of a school board member in the Edmonds School District. The member was Bruce Williams and your advice was to take up the matter directly with the District.

The issue was raised and the board member ultimately resigned on September 11, 2007. He violated board policies and lied to the County Auditor when he filed as a candidate. He used an address that was not his actual residence.

Thank you for your direction in that case.

Presently, there is another issue of which you may not be aware. Gary Noble ran for re-election in November 2007. In July 2007, I contacted the school board to inform them that Mr. Noble was ineligible to occupy the seat and running for re-election demonstrated an utter disregard for board policies. Mr. Noble was in violation of a provision in board policies that prevented spouses and dependents of district employees from serving on the Board. My comments were disregarded. No action was taken at that time to revise the policies.

I continued to express concerns regarding the candidacy of Mr. Noble and in September 2007 sent a formal letter to the Board and the Superintendent. They responded in October 2007 through legal counsel expressing that Washington State law prevailed and essentially dismissed the validity of all board policies.

I then contacted the State Auditor who immediately added the issue to their list of audit issues for January 2008. When the State Auditor concluded their annual evaluation, they specifically directed the school district to follow board policies or revise them. The direction was included in their Exit Conference dated April 23, 2008.

In September 2008, the school board took action to revise board policies allowing conflicts of interest to occur. While the Board is well within their rights to modify or revise their policies, it does not change the fact that Mr. Noble was ineligible at the time of his "re-election".

On October 6th, 2008, two weeks after the board policy was revised, the State Auditor contacted me and suggested that I take up the matter with the County Auditor. That is the purpose of this letter.

I am concerned that the Board blatantly disregarded their own policies in allowing Mr. Noble to seek re-election when he was an ineligible candidate already.

The revised policy makes it possible for Mr. Noble to run for the position during the next election cycle, but his current status is in question.

I am gravely concerned about the many highly-qualified people that did not run for the board position because board policy prevented it. I am also concerned about the other candidates that expended personal funds to contest the election against an ineligible candidate.

Perhaps I am mistaken to believe that rules mean something, but when so many other people disqualified themselves in reading board policies, how can we allow an ineligible candidate to serve on the Board.

Again, changing the rules in September 2008 makes him an eligible candidate from that day forward but it does nothing to correct the injustice of an unfair election.

I seek corrective action from the County Auditor, as recommended by the State Auditor. The election of Gary Noble needs to be reversed and the options, in my humble opinion, include the following; 1. declare the election of Gary Noble invalid and declare the position vacant pending the next election cycle in 2009, or 2. declare the other candidate as the successful contender and move to have him seated immediately.

It warrants mentioning that the recent revision passed by the Board prevents the appointment of any replacement. All future board members must be elected.

Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Four days later...

[Mark Zandberg]

One small point of clarification. When the Board voted to revise their policies on September 23, 2008, allowing future conflicts to occur, Mr. Noble abstained from voting. The reason he abstained is because voting to allow his current conflict would have been a conflict.

Clearly, Mr. Noble is fully aware that his status violated board policy prior to the election of November 2007 and continues to be in violation - despite the recent revision.

The State Auditor and the Attorney General's Office have reviewed this issue and have recommended that I take the matter up with the County Auditor. If you prefer to take no action, I would like to know as soon as possible.

Please contact me if you have any questions.

[Carolyn Weikel]

Thank you for your e-mail regarding your concern over some of the actions by the Edmonds School Board. I would be interested in having a copy of the state Auditor's findings to try and determine why they would refer you to the County Auditor for corrective action. There is no statutory authority delegated to the County Auditor to invalidate a candidate and to declare a position vacant. There are statutory procedures to challenge a candidate's eligibility but there are specific timelines associated with that process which have currently all expired. In addition, any challenge to a voter's or candidate's eligibility based on residency must be initiated by a registered voter or by the Prosecuting Attorney not the County Auditor. If Mr. Noble was in violation of any school board policy that issue needs to be addressed directly with the school board not this office. If you wish to continue to pursue this action the only possible avenue I can think of would be to file a recall petition. (RCW 29A.56)

[Mark Zandberg]

It would appear that you agree with the District's legal counsel, that school board policies do not actually mean anything.

A recall petition is not a viable option. I am not seeking to remove a legitimately elected member of the school board.

Attached is the letter from the State Auditor's representative.

Fun Factoid: The State Auditor notified the Board of Mr. Noble's lack of eligibility on April 23, 2008 and directed them to adhere to existing policies or revise them, but the State Auditor waited until two weeks after the revisions were adopted to respond to my concerns in writing. The County Auditor is now saying that violations of board policy must be "addressed directly with the school board, not [the County Auditor's] Office."


Anonymous said...

Well that's a fine kettle of fish.
--Oliver Hardy

Anonymous said...

It seems as though the ESD Board will just REVISE the By-Laws to meet their needs as issues arise. Mark is correct, Mr. Noble was in VIOLATION of the rules & regs. of the School Board at the time of his re-election. I am certain "they" will find a way around this issue just like "they" have in the past, sort of like just "sweep in it under the rug" kind of thing.

Anonymous said...

Zero accountability.

Liar: Williams
Cheater: Noble
Thief: Shields

I wonder what the others are up to.

Anonymous said...

This is why the "Founding Fathers" revolted against British rule. The people in power have the exclusive power to stay in power. This is also the inherent reason Americans distrust government. Those of you readers on the right flank should be particularly annoyed by these actions. Regan actually didn't quite get it right; it isn't the government that is the problem, it's the people who want to use the government for their own purposes and gain, whether on the right, left, or in the center.

Anonymous said...

I'm just wondering who ran against him? I'm sure they would be, they would be in a great position to be pretty ticked off. said...

Jon Howeiler

Anonymous said...

I think jon should sue.
Nick, its time for you to step out and down.
These people need mental health help.
These people: nick, the quick can't find my coffee cup, the board, of dysfunction and marla, here have a piano.

Anonymous said...

I thought about running for the board but I am a district employee and I thought that would be against board policy but now I see I could have run. Darn! Oh well maybe next time.

Anonymous said...

Well, Well, we have a union organization that is rewriting their by-laws to meet the needs of the "New" president. Guess she is following the leader!!! Whoa that statement blew me away because it is happening in our OP Chapter.