A candidate for the Omaha school board might be ineligible to hold the office because she is a principal in the district.
LeDonna White York, principal at Beals Elementary School near 48th and Center Streets, is one of five candidates vying in Subdistrict 1.
Under state law, no member of a school board “shall be engaged in a contract to teach ... with the school district which he or she serves as a board member.”
The law clearly prohibits teachers from serving on their district board, and Omaha Public Schools Interim Superintendent Virginia Moon said there is “a very good chance” the law also prohibits administrators.
“We have checked into it, and it appears there is at least a probability that she would not be able to hold both the office and a position as an administrator or an employee in the district if she's elected,” Moon said.
OPS has no policy that would prohibit York from serving, Moon said.
York had not informed anyone in the district's leadership of her intentions if elected, spokesman David Patton said late Friday.
York could, if elected, assert that the law doesn't apply to administrators, in which case someone would have to mount a legal challenge to determine whether she's barred from serving.
Or she could resign from her principal job to avoid running afoul of the law.
Thursday night, York said she was aware of the state law but did not want to talk about it. She did not show up for a scheduled interview Friday afternoon.
York has been principal at Beals, 1720 S. 48th St., since August 2007. She has been with OPS since August 1995.
Although the section of law, Nebraska Revised Statute 79-544, does not specifically mention administrators, it contains a reference to other sections of law dealing with both teachers and administrators. Whether an administrator has “a contract to teach” could be subject to interpretation.
Within a school organization, Moon said, an administrator is a distinct employee, represented by a separate bargaining group from teachers. Administrators are all certified to teach, however. And they can be called into a classroom to teach at any time.
Moon said that the law is “a little bit unclear” and that district officials were seeking further advice from election officials.
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