Questions arise about board member’s absences

‘I think that this board runs very nicely with six of us. I just don’t think it should have to.’ — Trustee Kathy Bedikian

By BROOKE STEVENSON
Sunday Times Newspapers

 

WYANDOTTE — A Board of Education member’s recent meeting attendance record drew some attention this week.

 

Trustee Kathy Bedikian said Tuesday that she was concerned with Trustee Jerry Kupser’s absenteeism at scheduled board meetings. That night’s meeting was the seventh consecutive one that he has missed.

 

“I think the discussion we had about our finances (see related story) indicates that we really need to be living up to our oath of office and being here, present and accounted for,” Bedikian said.

 

She considered making a motion to “censure his behavior,” but ultimately determined it would “not do any good.”

 

“I guess I wanted to express my dismay,” she said. “Seven consecutive meetings that he was responsible for coming to, that’s better than 50 percent since the beginning of the year.”

 

There is no written policy on attendance for board members, besides a newly reaffirmed ethics policy, and there is no policy for reprimanding members because they are elected officials.

 

The ethics policy, reaffirmed on March 17— a meeting Kupser did not attend — states that all board members shall “attend all scheduled board meetings insofar as possible.”

 

“I think that this board runs very nicely with six of us,” Bedikian said. “I just don’t think it should have to.”

 

She added that the recent election proved there are others in the community who would like to serve. Seven ran for four seats during the May 5 election.

 

“If Mr. Kupser is not willing to be here and do his work, then I would ask that he either resign or change his behavior,” she said.

 

Dave Shalda, who ran for a board seat in the recent election and lost, said he fully supports Bedikian’s concerns about the absences.

 

“I think that if he is not going to show up for meetings and not going to have the district at heart, let’s put somebody in there that could do it,” he said.

 

Kupser’s current term expires in 2011. He was first elected in 2001, he ran in 2005 and lost. He then ran again in 2006 because the district held yearly elections at that time, and his term was set to end in 2010. However, because of a change in the election cycle, his term was extended a year.

 

Calls to Kupser seeking comment for this story were not returned by press time.

 

“It’s very frustrating to me when we’re talking about things that are upsetting to this community and to our school district, our teachers, staff and children,” Bedikian said, “and we don’t have a board member that thinks it is important enough to even show up.”

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