Board quarrels over leader


The Mirror

Should Charlie Hoff be president of the Federal Way School Board?

That was the basic issue beneath a board debate Tuesday night over a proposed policy to rotate the president’s position annually between the five elected officials.

Needless to say, the board wasn’t in accord.

At first, the board and audience members didn’t speak directly about Hoff. But as the debate wore on over 30 minutes, those who spoke got closer and closer to outright saying what was on their minds.

It was the opinion of some citizens and board members that Hoff should be the next president. Others said they never want Hoff to lead the board.

Hoff said in an interview he feels qualified to lead the board and is ready if the opportunity arises.

Board member Evelyn Castellar said since each member’s vote has equal weight, each should have an opportunity to serve as a board officer if they wish. She proposed the legislation, unofficially called the “fairness policy,” to unify the board and avoid the politicking that sometimes occurs when elections for officers are held.

Voters elect who serves on the board, but it is the members who select a president, vice president and legislative liaison. The nomination and voting of the board officers happens in November, after the general election. The president leads the board’s meetings and determines the agenda with the school district superintendent’s assistance.

Ed Barney is the current president and Hoff is the vice president. Castellar is the legislative liaison.

No board positions are up for election this year.

Hoff is the longest-serving member, since 2000. His current term expires in 2007.

Board members Earl VanDorien Jr. and Bob Millen said the policy proposed by Castellar could be detrimental to the district.

VanDorien said the current system works effectively. He added there are flaws in the Castellar proposal, including how the board would act if several new members were elected, breaking the rotation schedule.

Barney spoke in favor of the suggested policy, saying inhibiting the growth of board members by not allowing them to serve as officers in turn can hurt the district by not getting the most from elected officials.

However, Millen said being a board member doesn’t necessarily qualify someone to be a good president.

It is arrogant to make that judgement, Castellar countered.

But Millen said there are some board members he would never support to become president because “key” district employees might leave and a poor perception of the board would develop in the community.

“If that’s arrogance, I call it good decision-making,” Millen said.

VanDorien said he doesn’t want a board president who would criticize the district’s students, staff and teachers. VanDorien has criticized Hoff publicly for Hoff’s comments about students’ test results and refusing to attend high school graduation ceremonies in protest of students’ academics and behavior.

VanDorien also is critical of Castellar’s attendance record at board meetings.

He and Millen attempted to table Castellar’s “fairness” proposal, but Barney, Casteller and Hoff voted to revisit it on a future agenda.

People in the audience Tuesday gave their opinions on the board officer issue.

If the proposed fairness policy were in effect, Nancy Papineau said, she doubts a complaint she made to the board in the past

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