Updated: September 11, 2009 at 12:00 am
A Falcon School District 49 school board member who narrowly survived a contentious recall effort resigned his position this week after taking a job out of state, prompting swift action by the board to appoint his successor.
Kent Clawson submitted his letter of resignation Tuesday, and the board made his departure official at its regular meeting Thursday night. Board members then appointed his successor: Andy Holloman, a Colorado Springs insurance agent who was active in a successful push in 2004 to secure a tax increase to fund new schools and most recently served as the chairman of the board’s long-range planning committee.
The surprise appointment raised questions among some D-49 parents about how the board went about choosing Holloman and why there was no effort to solicit applicants. School board member Mark Shook said Clawson recommended Holloman in his resignation letter. Holloman’s close working relationship with the board and his ability to work with people from across the political spectrum made him a “shoo-in” for the job, Shook said Friday evening.
Shook, who made the motion to appoint Holloman, said he would rather let voters decide among those who have already declared their candidacy for the three positions that will be open this year, his own included.
In any case, Clawson said, naming Holloman to the board fell within school board policy. According to the Colorado Association of School Boards, there are no state laws that govern appointments.
“The statutes are silent on it,” said Kathy Shannon, legal and policy counsel for the association.
Clawson, who was elected to the board in 2007, said he was laid off from Colorado College in April when his position was eliminated in a round of cost-saving cuts. He began a new job Sept. 1 at Tennessee Technical University in Cooksville, Tenn., and said he wanted to make sure the new job was a “good fit” before he resigned from the school board to make his move to Tennessee permanent. He was not at Thursday’s board meeting.
Clawson and another school board member, Dave Martin, recently survived a recall effort triggered in the spring by the board’s move to fire two popular high school principals. The principals kept their jobs, but critics proceeded with their attempt to remove Clawson and his colleague, saying the board conducted too much of its business in secrecy.
Earlier this month, El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Bob Balink announced that the recall petition to remove Clawson fell just seven signatures short. The petition to remove Dave Martin was 134 signatures short.
Holloman, a long-time friend of Martin, has been active in the school district for years. He worked for the 2004 Campaign for Kids, which pushed for a tax increase for new schools in D-49, and he had a controversial stint on a nonprofit school district board of homebuilders and developers.
The nonprofit board formed before the 2005 election to donate money to the then-overcrowded school district, in part to show taxpayers that homebuilders and developers were willing to share at least some of the burden created by new homes and the families they were attracting to the district.
Shortly after his appointment to the board, though, Holloman resigned after secretly working with Martin and then-Superintendent Steve Hull to start a similar group to cater to competitors of the homebuilders’ efforts.
Holloman said Friday that he did not believe there was any “continuing consternation” over the matter and that he looked forward to working with the school district to help plan for future growth.
He said he hopes the experience he will get on the school board will help him determine whether to run for election when his term expires in 2011.
“I think this is a good time to see if this is an opportunity to move the school district forward,” he said.