UPDATE: The following blog post originally appeared on October 12. After posting, I contacted T/E Region District 2 school board candidates Kyle Boyer (D) and Doug Anestad (R) and chair of Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee Kathleen Keohane, offering to post responses to the post. I received responses from Doug Anestad and Kathleen Keohane and those responses now appear at the end of the post. (See Below). There was no response to my email from school board candidate Kyle Boyer.
Based on the colorful campaign yard signs sprouting in our neighborhoods, we know that the countdown to Election Day 2017 is underway.
While it should be a given that the the upcoming Municipal Election on November 7 for township supervisors and school board directors is important, we know that historically turnout on a non-presidential year is not good. In an attempt to encourage interest in our local races, I wrote a post earlier this year after the candidates filed their petitions, listing all the supervisor and school board candidates.
In that March 8 post, I commented about the T/E Region 2 school board race between Democrat Kyle Boyer and Republican Doug Anestad; asking if a current T/E School District teacher (Boyer) could run for the T/E School Board. Although intended as a “procedural question”, there were a few comments that suggested I was biased in this race because I knew Mr. Boyer’s opponent (Doug Anestad). My point wasn’t to advocate or side with one candidate over another — it was simply seeking an understanding of the situation from a legal/procedural standpoint.
I subsequently learned that a candidate (in this case Kyle Boyer) can run for T/E School Board as a T/E School District teacher. The candidacy is not the problem; the difficulty arises should the candidate win the election … as a currently employed District teacher cannot also serve as a member of the District’s school board. However, it was stated in March that Boyer intended to leave the District and work as an administrator in another school district and that his departure would be long before the November election or the 60-day requirement of notification to the District. It was assumed that the situation would resolve itself.
Between the Trust’s 13th Annual Historic House Tour in September and a trip to Seattle to see our first grandchild Audrey last week, I have admittedly been distracted from local issues the last several weeks, including the upcoming municipal election. I have now learned that the situation with the T/E Region 2 school board candidate Kyle Boyer has not resolved itself.
Mr. Boyer did not resign from his position with the T/E School District and remains in the classroom as a T/E Middle School teacher. The deadline for candidates to withdraw their name from the election was August 8 and Mr. Boyer did not withdraw. We have a T/E School District teacher with his name on the ballot as a candidate for the T/E School Board yet he cannot serve the District as a member its school board and as a District teacher. Now what??
The following email was received from Neill Kling, chair of the Tredyffrin Republican Committee regarding the Kyle Boyer issue, stating “what had been a troubling potential conflict of interest has now become a legal question …” I will contact the chair of the Tredyffrin Township Democrats Kathleen Keohane and T/E School Board Region 2 candidates Kyle Boyer (D) and Doug Anestad (R) for their comments on this matter. If responses are received, the post will be updated accordingly.
The local T/E School District Region 2 race just became a lot more interesting!
We know that T/E school district employees are forbidden by law from serving on the T/E School Board because that creates an obvious, immediate and irreparable conflict of interest. Nevertheless, one of the candidates for School Board in Region 2, Kyle Boyer, is currently a teacher at Valley Forge Middle School. While this may technically be permitted (so long as he leaves his position in time to serve — see below), it obviously creates a similar conflict of interest, particularly at this moment of District/Teacher contract negotiations.
However, I learned over the weekend that Mr. Boyer did not notice his resignation as a teacher in the T/E School District by October 6 and, to my knowledge, still has not done so. That is critical, because, as I understand PA law, a teacher must give 60 days notice of their resignation before it takes effect. I presume that rule is to protect the smooth transition of instruction for the students being deprived of a teacher, and give the district time to identify a proper replacement. In any event, should he be elected School Board Member, Mr. Boyer will not be able to assume the office on December 4, 2017, which is when the new school board sits. Thus, what had been a troubling potential conflict of interest has now become a legal question: is Kyle Boyer eligible to be on the ballot given that he will not be able to serve at the appointed time? And that raises other troublesome questions, such as: 1) By whom would a waiver of the 60-day rule be given and on what basis? 2) Could such a waiver be given conditioned on his election? 3) Is there some deal in the works whereby Mr. Boyer has already been promised such a conditional waiver? 4) Has he asked for one? 5) If Mr. Boyer’s name remains on the ballot and he gets the most votes, but withdraws from the race or is unable to serve, who decides upon the person to serve on the School Board in his stead, and under what criteria? 5) Should the parents of Mr. Boyer’s students have been told what the potential status of his employment is?
The PA state law for school directors can be found athttp://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/LI/US/HTM/1949/0/0014..HTMunder ARTICLE III. SCHOOL DIRECTORS. The prohibition against an employee serving as school board member is Section 324. The language requiring teachers to give 60 days notice can be found in ARTICLE XI. PROFESSIONAL EMPLOYEES. Section 1121.
We are currently looking into these questions but I would appreciate your putting this up on the CM website to generate valuable discussion among community members.
Chair, Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee
UPDATE: Below is the response to the post above from T/E School Board District 2 Candidate 2 Doug Anestad (R):
It is telling that neither Kyle Boyer nor Kathleen Keohane have responded for four days, and is a clear indication that they don’t have a good explanation. I am sure they will come up with something, but it will not answer the fact that teachers are required by state law to give 60 days notice to resign, or that teachers cannot serve on the school board of the district in which they work.
There are only two possibilities here if Kyle Boyer wins:
1) He violates state law and resigns with less than 60 days notice before the December 4th swearing in date. All signs point to the fact that – because he has violated the law and not resigned in time – he cannot serve on school board.
2) He does not resign as a teacher and simply cannot serve on school board.
This looks increasingly likely as Mr. Boyer has already missed two important dates this year in regards to resigning.
Now, no matter what explanation is provided, it must be noted that Mr. Boyer and his party leaders have already lied to the public about this issue.
On March 14, 2017, Kathleen Keohane stated on Community Matters that, “Kyle will have left the District long before the November election or the 60-day requirement.” He has not.
If Mr. Boyer were absolutely certain he was going to resign, he would have done so with the proper legally required notice, and in time to be seated on December 4th. Again, he has not.
As noted by Mr. Kling, the legal problems run even deeper. The same law that says a school district employee may not serve on school board in that district also says: “No school director shall, during the term for which he was elected or appointed, as a private person engaged in any business transaction with the school district in which he is elected or appointed, be employed in any capacity by the school district in which he is elected or appointed”
The important phrase there? “During the term for which he was elected.” This means that if Mr. Boyer were to win, he could not teach in T/E for the next four years unless he received special treatment from the board. Nor could he serve for the next four years as he violated the resignation notice requirements.
Finally, if Mr. Boyer were to win, he would be taking away the voice of Region 2 residents. Remember: he can’t serve. That means that the remaining school board members choose who would take his spot – some of the same people who ignored our Region 2 community in the past would be the ones to pick our representative.
Mr. Boyer’s actions have put residents, the school board and even his students in an untenable position. A position that was avoidable had he and his party leaders just kept their word. But they didn’t.
As for me, I will continue to run on my record and background as an active and involved citizen fighting for our schools. For example, after I found out that our region was underrepresented by almost 50%, I pushed for, and got, new boundaries for the voting regions for school board that are equal in population size. I was a voice for our parents and community in the Valley Forge Middle School fence issue. I fought to bring technology education to our middle schools. And, I have helped protect taxpayers by stopping wasteful school spending. If elected, I will continue to do the same.
The following is the response to the October 12 blog post from Kathleen Keohane, chair of the Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee:
Once again it is political season and some members of our community have sought to infuse false narratives into a local school board race that should be non-partisan and focused on the issues. Posted as a blog statement, last Thursday’s letter from Neill Kling, chair of the Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee, calls into question Democratic school board candidate Kyle Boyer’s fitness to serve. Neill chose not to post this letter on his party’s website or in a letter to the editor but on a local blog, which allows for anonymous comments.
All voters should continue to focus on the facts:
Kyle Boyer is fully entitled to run for T/E school board as a resident of the district. He is aware of and appreciates the requirement that he resign his teaching position and leave the district if and when he is elected on November 7, and is fully prepared to do so. As for the 60-day provision in the PA Code, it gives districts the latitude to hold teachers for sixty days. However, there is solid precedent that the T/E school district has released professional staff with much less notice.
Further, T/E School District Regulation 4031, which governs all district employees, states:
The District will accept, without prejudice, the resignation of any employee provided written notice is given at least two (2) weeks in advance of the planned resignation date.
In late winter, Kyle Boyer informed his supervisor of his intention to run for T/E School Board. He did so out of respect for his colleagues and the school district, knowing that it would become public information after nominating petitions had been certified. That initial conversation and the public knowledge of his candidacy constitute over 8 months’ notice of a possible vacancy in his position at Valley Forge Middle School. It is safe to assume that school administrators have planned for that possibility.
Kyle has chosen to continue working as a teacher in the district until voters select him to represent them on the school board. He is a native of T/E, graduated from our schools, and most importantly, is committed to serving our community. Parents have found him to be an excellent teacher and role model for their children. They see him participating in the community (he is a member of FLITE’s advisory board and a member of the Tredyffrin Parks Board). They know him as a person of integrity who has shown he cares about all T/E residents.
Regarding the suggestion of a conflict of interest, Kyle would be serving as a former teacher – with all the experience that entails. As others have pointed out, his opponent also is a former teacher, along with current school board vice- president, Scott Dorsey. Former school board members who worked as teachers and administrators include Rich Brake, Karen Cruickshank, Sandi Gorman, Kris Graham and Pat Wood, who resigned as TESD Coordinator of Community and Volunteer Services after her election to T/E’s school board. All have brought an appreciation for the educational process and the systems in which they operated.
Lastly, in response to anonymous comments about Kyle Boyer’s relative youth, remember that Debbie Bookstaber was elected to the T/E school board in 2009. She was 27 years old, a short-time resident of T/E, and had never attended public schools. The TTRC willingly supported her candidacy.
At 29, Kyle is an example of TESD’s great success at preparing its students well to succeed, and to serve their community. With a B.A. from the George Washington University, an M.S.Ed. and M.P.A. from University of Pennsylvania and his principal’s certification from Immaculata University, Kyle has successfully spent his career teaching. An ordained minister, he currently is pursuing a third Master’s in Divinity from Lutheran Theological Seminary and serves in the local faith community as well.
As one Valley Forge Middle parent commented online, “We should be debating the fitness of the candidates for their prospective positions, not procedural minutiae that are irrelevant to most.” I agree.
Sandi Gorman, former T/E school board member and head of T&E Care has endorsed Kyle Boyer. She writes, “I’ve honestly never known anyone more qualified and dedicated to the causes he follows. How lucky for the TESD that he believes that the good of our kids is a cause he’d like to champion!”
Sandi has served the best interests of the children and families of this community for thirty years and has earned our respect and appreciation. She clearly knows the facts and the law. A long-time Republican, she is supporting Kyle. All Region 2 voters should consider doing the same.
Chair, Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee