West Ada moving forward following school board recall

Following Tuesday’s recall elections, West Ada School District leaders hope to identify and appoint two new trustees within a month.

If all goes as planned, the three remaining school board members could appoint new members during a June 10 meeting, district spokesman Eric Exline said Wednesday.

“We will hold two special meetings (to vet applicants), then the three remaining board members will then select which applicants they want to appoint to the board,” Exline said.

After the recall results are certified, board vice chairman Philip Neuhoff, who was just appointed in February, will take over as acting board chairman.

A year of chaos and turmoil within the district came to a head Tuesday, when patrons voted to recall trustees Tina Dean and Carol Sayles.

Russell Joki and Julie Madsen had resigned earlier this year, under the threat of a recall.

Mike Vuittonet
Mike Vuittonet

Trustee Mike Vuittonet, who saw a recall campaign targeting him dropped before it reached voters, expressed support for Tuesday’s recalls.

“A lot of times you hear the term ‘public mandate,’ and it is used pretty loosely, but this was a public mandate,” Vuittonet said. “Obviously we’re extremely pleased with the outcome — it’s what we were hoping for.”

Vuittonet, a supporter of previous Superintendent Linda Clark, was active with the group Concerned Citizens of West Ada for Trustee Recalls.

More than 62 percent of voters supported the recalls, but the ouster will not become official until next week, when Ada and Canyon counties certify election results, Exline said.

The board has a special meeting and budget workshop scheduled for Thursday — and Sayles and Dean will be eligible to participate and vote, Exline said.

On May 24, or once the recall is certified, district officials will post applications on the West Ada website for any residents who wish to apply for the board vacancies.

Potential applicants must be registered voters who are  at least 18 years old; they also must live within the zone of the recalled trustee they hope to succeed. The new trustees’ terms would end in 2017, and the board spots would be up for grabs in the May 2017 election.

Under state law, a district has 90 days to search for replacement trustees within a recalled trustee’s zone. If no replacement is identified, the district can look elsewhere in the district for successors.

Until the board appoints at least one new member, state law prohibits it from holding closed-door executive sessions. Boards hold closed meetings to discuss a range of topics, from personnel matters to student discipline.

“Based on what I’m aware of that is out there, I think we’re fine (not being able to go into executive session),” Exline said. “I don’t think we have any imminent personnel issues that require some board action. I think we will be fine until (June 10).”

Even with three members, the board will be able to conduct business in open session, as normal.

With the recalls settled, Vuittonet said the district has an opportunity to restore stability, and for the new-look board to begin to regain residents’ trust.

“If you’re looking for some rainbow anywhere, our public, our citizens and our patrons are now very well aware of what this school board means to the community,” Vuittonet said. “They are very well aware of the responsibility that is taken on by school board members with multimillion-dollar budgets and curriculum. I think that part of it is important.”

Through the recall process, Exline said new Superintendent Mary Ann Ranells, school administrators and educators concentrated on children.

“Really our focus has to be — and has been — on operating the schools on a daily basis, making sure kids get taught, the bus is rolling, food is getting served and supplies get ordered,” Exline said. “We’re preparing to open two new schools on top of all of our daily work, and that is what our focus is on.”