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D-15 Legal Bill Raises Questions

Former District 15 board member Mark Bloom resigned on Jan. 14. The resignation led to the appointment of Dave Seiffert to the school board.

A billing invoice from District 15's attorney has raised questions about the timing of former board member Mark Bloom's resignation.

Bills from District 15's law firm show that a series of consultations occured between Dec. 14 and Dec. 21 regarding the legal issues surrounding a potential resignation by a board member. Bloom resigned from the board a month later on Jan. 14.

The timing of Bloom's resignation is significant because it determined how his seat would be filled. If Bloom had resigned by Jan. 7 there would have been a special election to fill the seat. Instead the school board was able to appoint someone to finish the two years left on his term.

"I think there was obviously an attempt to talk to the attorney a month before Mr. Bloom resigns to figure out what the timing and what the rules were," said school board member Sue Quinn. "So it was very carefully investigated and selected ahead of time."

"I think somebody wanted to know exactly what the timing was," Quinn added.

Bloom missed the district's November meeting. District 15 Superintendent Scott Thompson said that before the board's December meeting, Bloom told school board president Gerald Chapman his new job might prevent him from fulfilling his duties as a board member. Thompson said Chapman told him about the discussion and he took steps to be prepared in case Bloom resigned.

"It was totally up to Mark Bloom when he resigned," Thompson said. "I don't think anyone tried to influence him. He was a good board member who was committed to the district."

Thompson said Bloom had been unsure about whether he would need to resign.

"For me, as a superintendent, if I hear that there is the possibility of an opening, I want to be prepared," Thompson said.

Attorneys billed the district for nine conversations related to legal issues surrounding a potential resignation. The total cost of the consulations was $923.

Among the legal issues examined by the attorneys was what would happen if a candidate in the April 5 election applied for the open seat, Thompson said. Ultimately, a candidate, Dave Seiffert, did apply and was appointed.

Even though Seiffert now is finishing Bloom's term, he remains on the ballot for the April 5 election. If he were to win a four year term he would resign Bloom's seat and the board would again have the chance to appoint someone.

Among the candidates in the April 5 election are Chapman and school board vice president James Ekeberg, both of whom voted to appoint Seiffert. Seiffert was chosen from among 14 applicants.

"I learned about [Mark Bloom's] resignation the same day as everyone else," Chapman said. "I found out the same time as the other board members. The person who made the decision was Mark Bloom."

Bloom could not be reached for comment for this story. When he resigned from the board, Bloom cited work related conflicts that had forced him to miss two board meetings.

The first candidates for the April 5 election filed their paperwork to be on the ballot on Dec. 13. The school district's attorney began looking into the legal ramifications of a possible resignation on Dec. 14. The final day candidates had to turn in election petitions was Dec. 20, the final attorney consultation occurred on Dec. 21.

Aside from Chapman, Ekeberg and Seiffert, the other candidates in the April 5 election are Manjula Sriram, Scott Herr, and Gerard Iannuzzelli. The six candidates are vying for three seats on the school board.

Wise February 11, 2011 at 02:22 PM
When did Sieffert submit his petitions? Not before the board attorney had examined whether he could be appointed AND run in April ! Hmmmmm
Louise February 11, 2011 at 03:45 PM
There have been comments on D15 articles complaining of negativity. I agree. I am going to do something about it and vote for Herr, Sriram, and Iannuzzelli on April 5. Spread the word and get people to the polls.
Concerned Resident February 12, 2011 at 04:49 AM
The newspaper only knows half of the positioning and behind the scenes scheming that is orchestrated by our D-15 Board president and cohorts. Thank you to the reporters for investigating and starting to scratch the surface. If Chapman loses and Sieffert gets voted in, who do you think will be appointed back in? How can you hold a position on a board and be on the ballot for that same board? Do the right thing Mr. Sieffert...
Kathy O. February 12, 2011 at 12:54 PM
I agree with you Concerned Resident. If Seiffert was already appointed to finish a two year term he should NOT be allowed to run for the 4 year seat. Take your name off the ballot now Mr. Seiffert and run in two years after the community sees how you handled yourself as a board member.
celtic citizen February 17, 2011 at 02:49 AM
Wow, conspiracy theorists abound. Mrs. Quinn is certainly busy working against the members of the board against whom she has personal agendas- she has been very divisive during her entire tenure on the board, and when she found out what hard work it really was to be a board member, decided not to run again. Stepping down from the Board is the best public service Mrs. Quinn is providing for District 15. Complaining about the Superintendent consulting with attorneys is ridiculous- of course he is going to consult with them with someone like her on the Board. She is complaining because she didn't get her way. Goodbye and good riddance to Mrs. Quinn. (The three candidates she is so vocally supporting have automatically lost my votes, by the way.)
Concerned Resident March 06, 2011 at 03:40 PM
Let me get this straight Celtic Citizen ... If you don't take campaign donations from a Union, you will someday be negotiating with, you some how have an agenda? Hmmm.... I thought the School Boards were founded to represent the residents.... Which by the way is what Sue Quinn did very well...
Kathy O. March 06, 2011 at 07:59 PM
Celtic Citizen, STOP with the "conspiracy theory" ridiculous argument. The board majority's actions have been very suspect in a number of ways. There is nothing wrong with Mrs.Quinn bringing issues to light. Celtic Citizen, why are you so afraid of open discussion?
Louise March 08, 2011 at 12:29 AM
Celtic – You are so off base. To anyone watching what has gone on with the school board over the last 4 years it is clear Sue Quinn has the best interests of the students and community at heart. She advocates for improving student achievement on so many fronts, insists upon decisions made openly and thoughtfully, fosters discussions among the board members (it is too bad most will not participate), is very supportive of administration and staff, and is a careful steward with taxpayer dollars. She prepares for board meetings unlike so many of the others. She recognizes that adults need to say No sometimes, especially with out of proportion spending and crazy bond proposals. You should look at Mark Bloom who is the quitter (Sue blew it with his endorsement in 2009) and Jim Ekeberg who does nothing but talk about all the training he needed because he did not know much when he joined the board 4 years ago (boy is this obvious!). We will all be worse off with Sue Quinn’s retirement.

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