Mount Pleasant bus driver resigns

She has pleaded not guilty to charge she stole money from district

By Ray Legendre, Columbian staff writer

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A veteran bus driver charged with stealing money from the Mount Pleasant School District has vacated her position, district officials said Wednesday.

Cheryl Randall, 59, resigned Tuesday, less than a week after entering a not guilty plea in Camas-Washougal Municipal Court to a third-degree theft charge alleging she used a district credit card to pay for $500 worth of gas for her personal vehicle.

Randall worked for the K-6 district for 27 years, but in recent weeks her employment became a divisive subject among Mount Pleasant School Board members.

Board member Thomas Schlatter decried what he believed were board president Dolores Nelson's attempts to cover up for Randall, who police said confessed to the crime. Schlatter also called for Randall's resignation, not her dismissal, as previously reported.

However, Nelson and Superintendent Linda Slattery maintained last week they were awaiting the state auditor's report before the district decided on Randall's employment. It was not immediately known Wednesday whether the district had received the report yet or why Randall resigned.

Randall declined comment when reached by phone Wednesday night. She is scheduled to appear in court June 28.

The school district has hired a temporary worker to replace her for the school year's final weeks, Nelson said.

The tension between the board does not appear to have lifted, though.

"It's at an all-time high right now," Schlatter said.

The district has hired Seattle-based attorney Don Austin to protect it from liability concerning Randall, Schlatter said. Attempts to schedule a meeting between the attorney and the board have been difficult, Schlatter added.

Nelson has the power as school board president to call a board meeting to speak with an attorney, Schlatter said. A board majority vote can also call a special meeting, but at this point the board is deadlocked about whether to do so, he added.

The board is operating with four members. Former member Phil Caldwell, a neighbor of Randall, resigned after accusations against her arose, Schlatter said.

"We're going to have some fireworks at that meeting," Schlatter predicted of the June 26 board meeting. Austin will attend the meeting, Schlatter said.

Schlatter's comments were news to Nelson, the board president said.

"I am not aware if they have (hired an attorney) or not," Nelson said. "No one has told me."

Board member Karl Kanthak declined comment Wednesday. Superintendent Linda Slattery did not return a phone call to her office Wednesday.

Ray Legendre: 360-735-4517; www.facebook.com/raylegend;www.twitter.com/#!/col_smallcities;ray.legendre@columbian.com.