Rebellion roils Mount Pleasant school board

Upset by driver's theft, Mount Pleasant panel struggles for leadership

By Ray Legendre, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 

The Mount Pleasant School Board's summer of discontent continues.

One month after board members unsuccessfully urged her to resign, Dolores Nelson's status as president of the five-member school board will be up for review at Tuesday night's meeting. Board member Thomas Schlatter said Friday that the agenda will be revised to include the vote after the meeting begins.

"I want the leadership of the board to go in a different direction for the sake of the school," he said.

Schlatter had sought to put a vote on the board presidency on the preliminary agenda but, Superintendent Linda Slattery said, Nelson used her status as board president to block it.

Tuesday's forecast for fireworks is nothing new for the tiny Mount Pleasant district in Washougal, which sits on the Clark-Skamania county line.

Nelson refused Schlatter's requests to resign at a contentious meeting in June that focused on why longtime bus driver, maintenance worker and recess aide Cheryl Randall kept her job for eight months after allegations arose that she stole $500 from the district. Randall resigned in May and has since pleaded guilty to third-degree theft.

The K-6 district has four full-time employees, three part-time workers and 55 students, according to a recent state auditor's report that alleged Randall stole $1,020 worth of gas from the district. Randall will be sentenced Aug. 3.

On Friday, Schlatter said he still believed Nelson attempted to cover up Randall's actions by intimidating the first-year superintendent.

Nelson did not return a phone call Friday seeking comment for this story. At the June meeting, she said Slattery's accusations of verbal abuse were "lies," and said the superintendent had the power to fire Randall but did not.

The board discord has cast a shadow over the district, not only affecting the work relationships of all involved but also causing at least one bus driver candidate to turn down Randall's old job.

Schlatter said he believes Nelson needs to be removed for the district's long-term good. If Schlatter gets his way, he said Friday he would nominate vice-president Karl Kanthak for president and Tanis Morris as vice-president. The board appointed Morris to fill a vacancy at its June meeting.

Nelson, meanwhile, has stated repeatedly that she plans to finish her year as board president. Peggy Carroll, Nelson's lone vocal support on the board, criticized Schlatter for his persistent push to remove her.

"All it's going to do is bring negative feelings," Carroll said. "De Nelson only has four more meetings (as board president). I think she's done an excellent job."

Carroll expressed frustration with Schlatter for not discussing his proposed vote with her.

"I might have to go hog-tie that man," she said.

Whether board members hog-tie other board members or not, Slattery noted that school district business -- namely, a recommendation on the hiring of a new school bus driver -- would be conducted Tuesday.

Ray Legendre: -735-4517; http://facebook.com/raylegend; http://twitter.com/col_smallcities; ray.legendre@columbian.com.