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Petition filed to remove

By Staff | Feb 28, 2008

SPIRIT LAKE — Petitions have been filed in Dickinson County District Court calling for the removal of two persons from the Spirit Lake School Board.

The petitions, filed on Monday, call for the removal of board president Beth Will and vice-president Ann Goerrs, citing the two for “numerous, blatant and continual violations of the Iowa Code.”

The petition says violations have occurred “and are well documented even by the School District’s own independent auditor.”

Removal from office of an elected official is granted and allowed under Iowa Code.

The petitioners are Valentine K. Waltz, James M Naujock, Elizabeth W. Simpson, Jeanne M. Lathrop and Deborah L.C. Wise, all registered voters in the Spirit Lake School District. Wise has been a spokesperson for the Coalition for an Accountable and Responsible Educational System (CARES), an organization formed recently in the wake of the resignation of Spirit Lake High School Principal Jedd Sherman.

The school board accepted Sherman’s resignation, which he said was made under duress, on Feb. 5. Two days later, after students peacefully protested his ouster and CARES was formed, Sherman rescinded his resignation. The school board, however, stood by its decision.

Spirit Lake attorney Larry Stoller, who has spoken at CARES public meetings, said the petition is ill intended. “We’re disappointed this petition was filed,” Stoller said. “CARES was formed to be a voice for the community, to assist the school board and to avoid situations like this where citizens are filing petitions in small groups.”

Stoller said the school board should be more candid with the public when questions are asked about procedures and decisions. “People are very frustrated,” Stoller said. “The school board is not providing answers to questions. If the board was more forthright, we wouldn’t be having these problems.”

CARES president Joe Vanderlaan said the organization has not hired legal counsel. “CARES was formed basically to get information out to the public,” Vanderlaan said. “The petition was filed by citizens acting as individuals.”

Assistant county attorney Lonnie Saunders said the petition matter has been referred to the school district’s insurer, which will likely appoint counsel.

Both Will and Goerrs, on advice of counsel, had no comment.