I am writing in response to Mr. Mark Cromas’ letter to the editor published in the February 3, 2021 edition of the Tri-City Times. In his letter, Mr. Cromas makes some statements that are inaccurate.
While it is true that Matt Parsch was the candidate receiving the highest number of votes in the November 3 election, it is not true that he resigned from office. Mr. Parsch was unable to take the oath of office and be seated on the Board due to a change of residence, disqualifying him from accepting the office altogether. This disqualification resulted in a Board vacancy. By law, a Board vacancy must be filled within 30 days.
The Board has filled several mid-term vacancies in the past due to illness, death, or a change in employment or residency. Those mid-term vacancies were filled by posting a notice of the vacancy, conducting interviews of all interested candidates, and then selecting the desired candidate through a majority vote of the Board.
There is another legally acceptable/advisable method of filling a Board vacancy. According to advice from knowledgeable school attorneys, a Board may vote to adopt a resolution to fill a vacancy by appointing the individual who earned the next highest number of votes from the school community during the school Board election. Matt Parsch, Laura Zelenak, and Alex Lengemann received the highest number of votes in the November 3 election. Following them, in order of the number of votes received, were Kaylee Kaeding, Bill Lengemann, Marcel Lamb, and Carm Ross.
The Board believed the most efficient, transparent, and common-sense way to honor the wishes of our voting community was to appoint Kaylee Kaeding, who received the fourth highest number of votes in the November Board election. The Board took action on this appointment at a public meeting held on January 11, 2021.
The Imlay City Board had not previously utilized this method of appointment because it is designed to aid in the filling of a vacancy due to failure to accept office immediately following an election—a situation that had not presented itself previously. Had it presented itself, this method would likely have been utilized in those instances, as well. Was this a different method of filling the Board seat than has been used in the past? Yes! Unique circumstances do call for unique solutions.
It is not true that there is an available mechanism to allow votes to be “split” between various candidates after the fact, as Mr. Cromas suggests, would be the “common sense and fair play” way to proceed. The Imlay City Board of Education utilized a mechanism for filling the vacancy that was in full compliance of the law, transparent, and efficient, given the limited time frame in which to fill a vacancy. That being stated, the important takeaway from this letter is that honoring the will of the voters and the votes they cast was the driving factor in the Board’s course of action in filling this vacancy.
President, Imlay City