Several Anderson County School District 2 board members walked out of a meeting Monday night. They said the board meeting was possibly illegal.
The conflict stemmed from another board member’s resignation. Board member Stu Shirley sent an email about a month ago saying he was resigning effective immediately. Monday, the acting chair of the board, Bonnie Knight, shared legal opinions saying Shirley couldn’t leave his post that easily.
It was standing room only at the meeting. After a rauous last meeting, at least five deputies were on hand to escort anyone unruly out of the building. However, the only people who made an exit were school board members.
“I refuse to participate in this board meeting in protest that we could be subject to a lawsuit,” said board member Kevin Craft.
Craft and Phil Ashley walked out. Jimmy Ouzts, who called in from vacation, hung up.
The move came after the acting chair of the board, Bonnie Knight, read opinions from the state attorney general’s office and another attorney, saying board member Stu Shirley’s resignation was not valid.
“The informality of an email does not suffice, and they are to give the date 30 days before their date of exit from a board,” Knight said.
Opponents of the move said this exposes taxpayers to potentially pricey litigation.
“You are putting this school board at a risk of a major lawsuit,” Craft said to Knight.
“I remind you that the attorney general’s office is the highest legal representative office in the state,” Knight said.
The meeting continued without Craft, Ashley, and Ouzts. They said the meeting isn’t valid because if Shirley isn’t considered reinstated by a court, enough board members aren’t present to meet the law’s requirement.
“There’s no quorum,” Craft said.
The board’s divisions run deeper than Shirley’s resignation. Craft and others told 7 News that there is also infighting about the future of the superintendent, Dr. Richard Rosenberger. Some on the board had previously tried to oust him, while the three who walked out Monday night are trying to keep him onboard.
Craft said he wants to see a judge make a final decision on whether Shirley is a legitimate board member after he announced his resignation. Knight said the board will not pay to go to court over the issue unless a majority of the board agrees to it.