MARION — This summer has been an interesting one for leaders of Marion Public Schools.
After weeks of accusations regarding pension violations from the Michigan Office of Retirement Services, the district and former Superintendent Mort Meier agreed to his retirement and separation from the district effective July 1. Now it appears one board of education member is being targeted for recall.
On July 2, Osceola County Clerk Karen Bluhm said a recall petition was filed against board member Linda Raymond by Christie Prielipp. In the recall petition, Prielipp said, "As a elected member of the board of education for the Marion Public Schools Linda Raymond recorded a closed session of Marion Board of Education in clear violation of the Michigan Open Meeting Act."
During the board's June 20 meeting, the violation, in which Raymond was found to be recording a closed session at a previous meeting, was discussed. At the time, Raymond was told she would not be facing any repercussions at the board level, but it was put into the record stating she agreed to erase the recording in question.
After the June 20 meeting, Raymond said she forgot to turn off the recorder when the board entered into closed session as she was recording the regular portion of the meeting.
"It was an oversight on my part — I erased it at the table (when it was brought to her attention that she was recording)," Raymond said on June 20.
Raymond still maintains the recording was an oversight and said nothing had been discussed during the time she was recording the closed session.
"It was about four minutes on there, but we weren't in the meeting yet because we were waiting for the room to clear," Raymond said. "Mort (Meier) and (high school principal Danyel Prielipp) hadn't even returned yet."
Raymond said when Meier returned to the room and started handing out papers, Board President Monica Cox asked her if she was recording. Once Raymond noticed it, she said she immediately stopped it and was in the process of deleting the recording when Cox asked her to delete it.
The Cadillac News consulted with Michigan Press Association general counsel Robin Luce Herrmann who said she was unaware of any case that said an inadvertent taping of the nonsubstantive portion of a closed session was a violation of the OMA.
Bluhm said it was her understanding that the goal is to get the recall on the November election ballot, but a few things have to do done before that takes place.
First, Bluhm said a clarity hearing must be held before Christie Prielipp can begin to collect the required signatures to have the recall placed on the ballot. The hearing is scheduled for July 20, Bluhm said.
"She can't get signatures until after the clarity hearing approves the petition. Then she has to get a certain amount of signatures. Then it comes in, we have to approve the signatures and then (Raymond) has a certain amount of days to challenge the signatures," Bluhm said. "Everything has to be completed by Aug. 3 to appear on the November ballot. If that deadline isn't met, then we will be looking at May 2019."
Bluhm said during the clarity hearing, the election commission doesn't have to determine "the truth of the matter," and people are not going to testify because it is not a court case. Basically, Bluhm said the respondent has to be able to defend and understand what they are defending.