For the second time in less than four months, the majority of the School District 9 Board of Directors voted to censure board member Jim Mannenbach. Beyond censuring a majority of the directors voted to ask Mannenbach to resign his position effective immediately.
Mannenbach was a no-show for the 5 p.m. special meeting held Wednesday, Sept. 1. The meeting was delayed eight minutes waiting for Mannenbach. Board Chairman Scott Grissom placed a call to Mannenbach, but the call went unanswered. Grissom told those present that all members had been verbally advised of the special meeting at the conclusion of the Aug. 18 workshop and Mannenbach was notified via e-mail as well.
Board member Ted Dole, who like Mannenbach has been on the board since July 1, 2009, said Mannenbach has said there was simply a personality conflict. It is much more than that, noted Dole, who went on to say his actions have not benefitted student achievement.
A motion was made to censure Mannenbach’s action that violate board policy and the oath of office. The vote was three “yes” with Mark Bateman on the speaker phone while on vacation in Montana. When asked, Bateman said he heard some of the conversation and heard the board wanted to censor Mannenbach, to which he voted “no.”
A letter to Mannenbach, signed by Grissom, was read into the record by Vice-Chair Mary Ann Olson to enable Bateman to hear it. In the letter eight of the 22 Board Member Standards of Conduct violation were cited and violated repeatedly, according to the letter. These included:
• Comply with Code of Ethics for public officials provided in state law
• Understand that the board makes decisions as a team
• Respect the right of other board members to have opinions and ideas which differ
• Recognize that decisions are made by a majority vote and should be supported by all board members
• Insist that all board and district business is ethical and honest
• Be open, fair and honest- no hidden agendas
• Recognize that the superintendent is the board’s advisor
• Give the staff the respect and consideration due skilled, professional employees
Grissom said it appeared Mannenbach’s loyalty was with EPEA (Eagle Point Education Association) rather than with the District 9 community. Mannenbach retired last year after 30 years as a teacher in District 9.
The next item on the agenda was a resolution asking Mannenbach to resign his position immediately.
“This is serious. It is not a game,”said Grissom. “Jim Mannenbach was my friend,” and he said” that may change as a result of this meeting.” Grissom addressed his comments to Bateman via the speaker phone. “The same goes for you Mark. I encourage you to start thinking for yourself, put kids first. “ Grissom went on to say he was surprised Bateman did not want to censur Mannenbach. At this point, Grissom asked Bateman for a response. There was absolute silence. He asked Bateman again, and there was no response. The board voted 3-0 asking Mannenbach to resign immediately.
Whether Mannenbach resigns or stays on the board is his decision. The board’s action does not mean he has to resign. This reporter attempted to contact Mannenbach at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday evening after the board meeting only to hear a recording that said the “mailbox was full and not enough room to leave a message.”
The meeting concluded with Grissom reading Mannenbach’s oath of office taken July 8, 2009, wherein he swore to support the Constitution of the United States and of Oregon and to adhere to the Code of Conduct for Board members. Furthermore, he promised to uphold Oregon law and to faithfully and honorably conduct himself as a board member.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent