360 Fireworks Party

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


by Michael Monks 
Three of five seats on the Covington School Board are up for election in November and ten candidates have filed to be part of the race. Interestingly, an eleventh candidate also filed but instead of seeking one of the three seats up for regular election, Mark Young hopes to compete in a special election to fill the vacancy left by Denise Varney who resigned earlier this month. Since Varney's resignation Covington Independent Public Schools has followed the appropriate process to prepare for an appointment to fill the vacancy that would be made by Kentucky's Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday. However, Young contends that Varney's resignation should require a special election per Kentucky law. The statute in question reads:
Any vacancy in any board of education shall be filled by the chief state school officer within ninety (90) days after the vacancy occurs. The member so chosen shall meet the eligibility requirements as established by KRS 160.180 and shall hold office until his successor is elected and has qualified. The local board of education may make nominations and any person may nominate himself or another for the office.
Any vacancy having an unexpired term of one (1) year or more at the next regular
November election after the vacancy occurs shall be filled for the unexpired term by
an election to be held at the next regular November election after the vacancy occurs. The elected member shall succeed the member chosen by the chief state
school officer to fill the vacancy.
Varney was elected in 2010 and her resignation leaves two full years attached to her seat, seemingly requiring a special election. At the Kenton County Clerk's Office Tuesday afternoon, Young's request to file for the special election was denied because there is not a special election listed, and instead an office worker lumped him in with the other ten candidates who filed for the three seats up for regular election. Young left saying that he intends to file a lawsuit Wednesday morning that would demand a special election take place.
A representative from the Kentucky Department of Education seems to think that the law is on Young's side. "Everything revolves around the filing deadline for an election," John Thompson, the Commissioner of Education's designee for local school board appointments, told The River City News Tuesday. "When we have a vacancy, if that county clerk places this vacancy on the ballot and someone files for the vacancy and it is a valid filing," the election process takes precedence over the appointment process, Thompson said.
Thompson said that he had been away from the office for a lengthy vacation and that he was unaware of a resignation in Covington but hoped to learn more when he returns to work on Thursday. Meanwhile, Young, a founding member of the Fix Covington Schools Facebook group, intends to have a lawyer file a lawsuit on his behalf Wednesday morning. "My reading of the Kentucky statute led me to the conclusion that an election to fulfill Denise Varney's unexpired term must be held this November," Young said. "I tendered my paperwork to this effect with the Kenton County Clerk. Surprisingly, the Clerk's office, for reasons beyond my understanding, had no knowledge of this fairly straightforward matter, though they accepted my paperwork. We will almost assuredly seek adjudication of this matter as it appears that the current attempts to appoint a replacement for the entirety of Denise's unfulfilled term are illegal."

A sticking point in the case could be whether the Commissioner of Education has accepted Varney's resignation. It is upon that move that the ninety day window for appointments begins. However, at last Thursday's school board meeting, Superintendent Lynda Jackson told the public in attendance that one of two advertisements would run the following day in the Cincinnati Enquirer as required by law. Thompson said that the running of that ad may be enough for Young to have a case. "If there has been an advertisement of this vacancy then the person that wanted to file seems to have some standing to file because there's a vacancy and that's what the law says and the election process takes precedence over the appointment process," Thompson said again. Young said that he would remove his name from the ballot for November's regular election.

A request for comment from the attorney for Covington Independent Public Schools has been made to the district.
Two incumbents, eight challengers file for race

In what is believed to be among the most crowded fields in recent school board history, two incumbents and eight challengers will appear on the ballot. Current School Board members Glenda Huff of Wallace Woods and Mike Fitzgerald of Latonia will seek reelection. Board member Krista Powers did not file for reelection. The challengers, in alphabetical order, include: Joyce Baker of Peaselburg, Christi Blair of Licking Riverside, Everett Dameron of Licking Riverside, Kerry Holleran of the Westside, Tom Miller of Helentown, Rebecca Pettigrew of Peaselburg, Joseph Petty of Latonia, and Jo Rogers of Old Seminary Square.
Board member Jerry Avery is not up for election this cycle and has two years left in his term.

1 comment:

  1. Michael, like him or not, Mark did take action. As for me, I have realized there were problems for about two years because I have grandchildren in CIS. That's what got me started on this path. Since that time I have regularly attended BOE meetings and witnessed how they continue to WASTE money, skew statistics and squander taxpayaer money. Instead of your knee jerk reaction, why don't you take the time to read about what is going on.