Monday, December 11, 2023

Melanie Wood resigns school board position

| February 6, 2007 11:00 PM

By GWEN ALBERS Western News Reporter

Ken Foss's retirement as Asa Wood Elementary principal led to a Libby School Board member's resignation.

Trustees accepted the resignation of Melanie Wood, whose son-in-law plans to apply for the principal's job at Asa Wood. Wood wants to avoid a conflict.

Applications for a new school board member will be accepted until Feb. 14 in hopes of filling the vacancy during the Feb. 20 school board meeting. The new member would serve until the May 8 election and could keep the seat if elected.

Libby Public Schools superintendent Kirby Maki confirmed that Wood's son-in-law, middle school teacher Scott Beagle, is interested in the principal's job at Asa Wood. The position will be advertised within the district and outside.

A nepotism law makes hiring a school board member's relative more difficult.

If a relative applies for a job in the district, the board member must abstain from voting. The remaining six board members then must unanimously agree on a "major hiring," like promoting a teacher to an administrator.

In most cases, board decisions only need a majority vote.

Wood doesn't want her son-in-law to lose this opportunity.

"She's worried there could be a split vote," said school board chairwoman Teri Kelly. "Melanie's son-in-law has an interest in applying and she doesn't want to block his position."

Wood, who has served nine years on the board, said the decision to resign was agonizing.

"It was tough, really tough. I had a lot of sleepless nights," the 56-year-old homemaker said. "I was elected, and I felt really strongly that I needed to fulfill that, but at the same time, I didn't want an ethical problem."

She did not attend Thursday's school board meeting due to illness.

"I hate to see Melanie resign," said Libby High School principal Rik Rewerts.

School board member Lee Disney felt Wood was putting the "cart before the horse."

"She's got a reason, so I guess we need to honor that," Disney said.

Even if Beagle doesn't get the job, the matter could come up again, Wood said.

"I'm going to miss it in a lot of ways," she said. "When you get to my age, you feel like you want to do something to help the community. I won't quit working with the school."

Applicants for Wood's seat should call the administration office at 293-8811.