Seating of New Board Member Raises Legal Issue for PC

A vocal challenge and legal question arose Monday as the Putnam County School Board held a brief swearing-in ceremony of Jason Judd as a new member. He replaces Kristina Popurella, who resigned.

A legal problem faced the board when filling the position, said Judy Hopkins, who served on the board from 2005 until 2013. She presented information at the meeting regarding the board policy defining the residency of the new candidate in filling of vacancies.

She specifically cited a board policy that stipulated a replacement must be chosen who is a resident of the same congressional township as the person who held the position.

She said Judd was a resident of Township T32N R2W (Hennepin Township), but the vacant position had been held by Popurella, a resident of Township T32N R1W (Granville Township).

She cited Illinois school code which says in part, “the successor whether elected or appointed by the remaining members (of the board) or a regional superintendent shall be an inhabitant of the particular area from which his or her predecessor was elected.”

Hopkins also submitted the communications between herself and school board president James Gibson in which Gibson informed her of the pending decision to seat Judd as the new board member this week. Hopkins replied, cautioning him to review the documents she submitted and questioned legality of the pending action.

Gibson replied on Oct. 12 that he had consulted with the Regional Office of Education and the board attorney and would be seating Judd.

Hopkins attended the board meeting on Monday night after Judd was seated. During the meeting, she again questioned the legality of the board’s action.

“This is not my personal agenda. You have violated the law,” she said.

She raised the same points as written in her communications with the board.

She urged the board to reconsider their action.

“It’s where he lives is the issue,” she said. “This is an important legal issue.”

She urged the board to “abide by school policy and school code.”

“We looked at the policy,” Gibson replied.

It happened at an open meeting on Oct. 2.

Hopkins insisted on knowing when the board voted to suppress board policy since she had been out of the country.

Gibson asked the board to vote on the recommendation for Judd to fill the vacancy and the board approved.

“This is not a dead issue,” said Hopkins in her final remarks.

Board member Laurie Glenn then addressed Hopkins, saying, “We have done what we had to do. We should be happy to have people step up.”

Later in the meeting, board member Adriane Shore returned to the objections voiced by Hopkins.

Shore urged the board “to get another opinion on what we did.”

“If right, then terrific. If not, get another opinion. If wrong, fix it. I’m OK if we’re OK. If not we have to fix it,” she said.

Following her remarks, the board approved a motion to have Gibson seek the advice of another lawyer.

Source: News Tribune