Oregon school board members P.J. Kapfhammer and Jeff Ziviski will not return to their committee assignments, from which they had resigned earlier this year.
Kapfhammer, in an e-mail to board president Dick Gabel on Feb. 27, said he would like to be removed from all committees to which he had been assigned. “I believe that anything I do or say at these committee meetings will and are being used against me,” he stated in the e-mail. “I will not attend any meetings at the administration building due to everyone fearing me there. I don’t want our employees to feel uncomfortable because of me.”
Ziviski, in a Feb. 27 e-mail to Gabel, also requested to be removed from committees to which he had been assigned.
“I am not happy with the public attack geared towards me recently that I have not attended any committee meetings,” stated Ziviski in the e-mail. “Since it is logistically not possible for me to make these meetings due to my work schedule and the scheduling of these meetings, it makes more sense for me not to be on any, moving forward. This way it cannot be used against me to slander my reputation as a board member. If my schedule works out and I can at tend one, I will contact that committee chair and work something out.”
There are only two board members assigned to each of nine committees. Without Kapfhammer and Ziviski, there are not enough board members to adequately fill seats, according to Gabel at a board meeting on April 17. He urged Kapfhammer and Ziviski to reconsider their resignations.
“There are three of us who are chairing all of the committees and we can’t property get the business done because you two are left out,” said Gabel. “We make the decisions. You’re not in on the decision.”
Kapfhammer said he won’t reconsider. He said he communicates with committee members every week.
“As a board member,” said Gabel, “you are elected by the people. You have to learn to get along.”
“So do you, Dick,” said Kapfhammer. “Of course, it comes back to the two renegades being at fault.”
Kapfhammer’s campaign for a seat on the board last fall was almost derailed after fliers that noted several brushes he had with the law, mostly while he was young, were distributed just before the November election. He was able to defend himself against his past by saying he is now a successful businessman with a family who contributes time and money to youth programs.
“I resigned because it was brought to my attention that everyone was scared of me at the administration building and they needed a police presence if I was going to be around,” said Kapfhammer at the meeting. “So I resigned. There are people who are supposed to work in that building and I didn’t want them to feel uneasy if I came in that building.”
Kapfhammer and Ziviski earlier this year had questioned the need for police officers to be present at board meetings. Kapfhammer at the time said he believed the board had asked police to come to the meetings to throw him out if discussions on the board became too heated.
Gadus and Gabel had said the police were at the meetings to provide security because board members had received threats in the past from the public.
Kapfhammer and Ziviski had campaigned last fall against the board approving raises for administrators at a time when busing for Clay High School students had been eliminated. Many in the community were irate about the raises. The board later approved shuttle bus service for high school students.
Also at the April 17 meeting:
• The board voted 3-1 against a motion to approve compensation for Gadus for her attendance at the Leadership Institute on April 13 and 14 in Columbus. The board had already approved Gadus’s expenses for the trip, but Gadus is requesting $250 for her time, which equates to a board member’s compensation rate of $125 per board meeting. Gadus said board policy allows for such a stipend. Kapfhammer, Ziviski and Gabel voted against the compensation, and board member Carol Molnar voted in favor. The board wanted more information and expect to vote on the matter again at a future meeting.