Douglas County schools

Board doesn’t accept Benevento’s resignation

Two-term director announced last month his intention to step down

Posted 9/6/16

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 …

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Douglas County schools

Board doesn’t accept Benevento’s resignation

Two-term director announced last month his intention to step down

Posted

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.

Comments

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Correction.

A correction is needed in the very first sentence of this article. District E is not without a voice. Every district seat is voted on by the residents of the entire county. District E, along with districts A, B, C, D, F, and G, are represented by all six remaining board members. Board members do not only listen to and advocate for the residents of the district in which they live, they listen to and advocate for residents of all seven districts. At least the good ones do. Which means, district E has more of a voice now than it did before Benevento's resignation, when the majority of seats were still held by directors elected in 2013. At least now, it's 50/50, holdover directors from 2013, and the new will of the people, directors elected in 2015.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016
Correction

There is no requirement from the State nor from the District that a resolution must be adopted to accept a resignation. When Meghann Silverthorn received the resignation, it was accepted in the eyes of the law.

The resigning Director is only required by State law to submit a letter of resignation to "the board" - not all directors individually. No board policy exists stating each director must receive a letter of resignation "in writing" either. In any event, the vacancy occurs solely based upon State statute, not Board policy.

In addition, two Directors - David Ray and Anne-Marie Lemiuex posted immediately about Dir. Benevento's resignation and informed the public about the upcoming meeting to discuss the existing vacancy and the process to fill it.

The District is currently in violation of State statute for not adopting a resolution announcing the resignation (again, not accepting it, but announcing it) during the first board meeting following the vacancy. The resolution does not create the vacancy, nor does it begin the 60 day window. The vacancy occurred when Dir. Benevento submitted his resignation to the Board President, and the president received it. The 60 day window given to the district started on Aug. 17th.

Thursday, September 8, 2016
Brian

I see the clown show that is the Douglas County School Board continues unabated.

As a parent of two DCSD students I am continually disgusted by the pathetic actions of our school board. You are all an embarrassment and the best thing that could happen would be for an entirely new set of board members to take office that actually put the needs of our children first instead of their political BS.

Thursday, September 8, 2016
Michael Arnold

Colorado law requires that a school director’s resignation be “duly accepted by the board of education" (CSR 22-31-129-1-c). For the resignation to be “dully accepted” there has to be a recorded roll call vote of the members (C.S.R. 22-32-108-6). The September 6 vote to accept the resignation failed on a 3-3 vote. Therefore, Doug Benevento’s resignation has not been duly accepted by the board and there is no vacancy at this time.

| Thursday, September 8, 2016