Clark County citizens group plans to run candidates for school board

jwarren@herald-leader.comJune 21, 2012 

A citizens group that has been complaining about Clark County Public Schools says it will recruit candidates to run for seats on the school board in this fall's general election.

"We're looking for people to serve on the board who will stand up for the county and the schools," Patti Columbia, a leader of the group Stand Up Clark County, said Thursday.

Columbia contended that current board members would not make changes that Stand Up Clark County wants, such as giving county residents first priority for jobs in the school district.

Three seats on the school board will be up for election in November: District 2, held by William Swope; District 3, held by vice chairwoman Debbie Fatkin; and District 5, held by Deanna Wolfe.

Swope, the only board member who could be reached Thursday night, said that given recent, continuing complaints by the citizens group, he wasn't surprised to hear that an effort to unseat board members might be under way.

"I would be surprised if it wasn't coming," Swope said.

Stand Up Clark County came together during the past several months around complaints about December's firing of Paul Columbia as football coach at George Rogers Clark High School. The organization recently expanded its campaign to include more general concerns about the school system.

The group tried to submit a list of 10 demands to the school board Tuesday, including a call for the resignations of Wolfe and board chairwoman Judy Hicks. But Stand Up's spokeswoman Joan Graves ran out of speaking time and was ruled out of order before she could submit the list. [More about Tuesday's meeting]

Patti Columbia, Paul Columbia's wife, previously had called for Superintendent Elaine Farris to resign or be fired.

Now, the ground is ready to take its campaign into the political arena, Patti Columbia said Thursday.

She said the organization was actively seeking candidates to run for the three board seats. Those wishing must file by Aug. 14, according to the Clark County clerk's office.

Meanwhile, there were reverberations from Tuesday night's school board meeting.

Patti Columbia said she asked Winchester police to patrol her street Thursday after seeing a posting online following the school board session.

Someone posted anonymous, obscenity-tinged comments, stating "paul u will get yours soon," and "colby road will be lite up."

Patti Columbia said she contacted police because she was alarmed by the posting.

During Tuesday night's meeting, the school board gave Farris her annual evaluation.

She received scores in the excellent range on standards such as curriculum and development and policy and governance. Her lowest score was in communications and community relations.

Farris told board members afterward that she has no plans to leave the Clark County post, adding, "I love my job."

Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255.

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