District E will be without a voice on the Douglas County Board of Education longer than expected after the board did not formally accept Doug Benevento's resignation in a 3-3 vote at a special meeting Sept. 6. The district encompasses Lone Tree, Acres Green, Castle Pines and eastern Highlands Ranch.
Technically, the vacancy for the board position has not yet occurred since the resignation was not accepted.
Benevento announced Aug. 17 he was resigning effective immediately. He made his announcement public in a self-written opinion piece in a Denver media outlet as well as privately to school board President Meghann Silverthorn the same day. Benevento, who did not attend the Sept. 6 meeting, said he was resigning because he had accomplished what he set out to do in his seven years on the board and didn't believe there was much else that could be accomplished before the 2017 board election.
Silverthorn notified the other board members of Benevento's resignation via email the day she was notified but did not forward his one-sentence resignation letter, she said.
While Silverthorn, board Vice President Judith Reynolds and James Geddes voted to approve the resignation, board members Wendy Vogel, David Ray and Anne-Marie Lemieux voted not to accept it.
The three opposing board members expressed concerns that Benevento had given up his seat early in order to strategically give a replacement a year on the board and an advantage in the next election and said they had not received the resignation in writing, which they said did not follow board procedure.
Benevento could not immediately be reached for comment.
Three years into his second term, Benevento has been a strong supporter of school choice and pay-for-performance for teachers as a member of the reform-minded majority on the board, which includes Silverthorn, Reynolds and Geddes. Benevento, an attorney who lives in Highlands Ranch, was first elected in 2009 and re-elected in 2013.
During the Sept. 6 meeting, prior to the vote on the resolution to accept the resignation, Silverthon sent each board member the letter of resignation via email. She also had a physical copy that she offered to share with any of the board members.
"There is nothing that has been done outside of state statute or board policy," Silverthorn said. "He had resigned. He submitted a letter of resignation on Aug.17, and so that is where we find ourselves."
Silverthorn asked Vogel "what criteria would remove your concerns about this resolution?"
Vogel replied, "That we follow policy and we follow the law." Silverthorn said the resolution followed both.
"It's not about the wording of the resolution. It is about the procedure and how this went about in the sense that we did not get a written resignation from Director Benevento," Vogel said. "It is your duty as the president to get that to us when it was given to you by him."
When asked if she would support the resolution after being given the written copy of the resignation she said, "I'll see at that point when it comes forward."
The seat will now remain in limbo until the board both officially accepts the resignation and passes a resolution stating so, or three consecutive board meetings pass without Benevento attending, which would automatically trigger a resignation.
A replacement will be required to reside in the district and will serve out the remainder of Benevento's term, which expires at the end of 2017. Term limits would have prevented him from running in the next school board election in November 2017.
In the event that the board does not select a person to fill the vacancy by the end of the 60th day following the declaration of the vacancy, the president of the board will appoint a person to fill the vacancy as required by law.