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Conley resigns from school board

By Judy Reed

The question of whether Cedar Springs school board trustee Pamela Medford Conley can also serve on the Cedar Springs City Council will not go to court. After receiving a letter from Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth on the issue, Conley resigned from the board of education Monday night.

The city and school attorneys had asked Forsyth to issue an opinion on the matter.

Pamela Conley

Pamela Conley

According to a letter written by Forsyth, in which he cited the Public Offices Act, State Attorney General opinions and Supreme Court opinions, he noted that a person can serve on both if they do not negotiate or enter into contracts with one another, which the city and school do. “Of equal significance, an individual cannot avoid the incompatibility by abstaining from voting on resolutions…because abstention under such circumstances ‘is itself a breach of duty,’” he quoted. He specifically mentioned the city collecting the taxes for the school, and the city conducting school board elections.

He noted that her most expedient course of action would be to resign from either the school board or city council. If she decided to remain in both positions, the prosecutor’s office would then file an action in Circuit Court, and the judge would in all likelihood decide which office she would retain.

Conley read a statement to the board Monday night, saying that while she and her attorneys still maintain there is no conflict, recent events led her to the conclusion that to further challenge the matter would require a great deal of effort, and impede her ability to serve the residents effectively. She asked that she be allowed to remain an advocate for the school district legislatively as a non-board member. “I am thankful for having had the opportunity to serve and look forward to being active in the school in other capacities,” she said in her statement. A call to her home Tuesday evening was not returned.

School superintendent Ron McDermed said the board would begin its work to find a replacement. Residents interested may submit a letter of interest to board secretary Carrie Duddles in the District Office. Interviews will be held February 4 at 6:30 on the 3rd floor at Hilltop.

A school board election will also be held in May for three positions. A work session will be held January 20 to learn more about being a board member.

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