Stanwood-Camano parents call for board president resignation

The group accuses school board leader Al Schreiber of tinkering with upcoming board elections.

Al Schreiber

Al Schreiber

STANWOOD — A group of Stanwood-Camano School District parents is calling for the resignation of school board president Al Schreiber for endorsing a board candidate who has withdrawn from the Nov. 5 election.

They believe Schreiber intends to sway the vote to give the board a chance to appoint its own pick.

In July, Keith Pappas dropped out of the race to represent District 2 on the board because his father was diagnosed with cancer. But it was too late to take his name off the ballot.

His statement on the voter’s pamphlet, which was mailed out to those in the district, reads “Due to unforeseen circumstances I will not be running for this position.”

On Monday, a customer at Pappas’ auto parts business handed him a card that recommended Pappas as the “best local candidate” for position 2. Pappas said he was shocked.

“The district knows I’m not running,” Pappas said. “They’ve known this for about three-and-a-half months.”

Others reported receiving a similar card at the homecoming parade in downtown Stanwood earlier this month.

The candidate who actually wants the seat is Charlotte Murry.

“I’m really disappointed in how the school district is handling this,” she said.

Murry has been the high school band booster president for five years.

She thinks some members of the board have held their seats for too long.

“I think they’re out of touch with the needs of our students and what they’re dealing with these days,” she said. “I don’t know if that feels threatening to them, that I don’t necessarily follow the same mental philosophies that they do and want to see some things change in our school district.”

Pappas’ absence from the race was announced at a candidate forum on Oct. 16.

The entry for Keith Pappas in the Secretary of State’s 2019 Voters’ Guide. (VoteWA)

The entry for Keith Pappas in the Secretary of State’s 2019 Voters’ Guide. (VoteWA)

But after the forum, district residents reported emails and social media posts by Schreiber endorsing Pappas.

One message from Schreiber’s personal gmail address dated Sunday, Oct. 20, was sent to a school employee.

“Many people have (asked) me for a recommendation on the school board positions,” it read.

He listed Pappas for position 2, Miranda Evans for position 3, Ken Christoferson for Position 4 and Natalie Hagglund for position 5.

Schreiber posted the same information on his personal Facebook profile and a community group page, though he later deleted it.

If Pappas won, but stepped down, the position would be handed to the board for them to appoint their choice, county Auditor Carolyn Weikel said.

District parent Melissa O’Neill believes the board has a vested interest in Pappas winning the election.

“This is not acceptable,” O’Neill said Thursday.

But she fears the misinformation may have already caused damage.

“I’m really worried that people may have gotten that ballot and recognized Keith’s name and assumed he is still in the running and vote without ever knowing,” she said. “Especially when a school board president is out there promoting that vote.”

O’Neill and a group of like-minded parents have plans to file a recall petition to get Schreiber removed from his seat. But first, they’re writing a letter demanding his resignation. If he doesn’t respond by Monday, O’Neill said they’ll file the petition.

“I am just determined that we are going to clean up the school district and get it going in the right direction,” she said.

Megan Dascher-Watkins, whose two eldest children graduated from Stanwood schools and whose youngest is a sophomore, said a call for school board accountability has been a long time coming.

“I’m relieved we have something tangible to get rid of these people,” she said. “They just don’t care.”

Schreiber has not responded to calls or emails requesting an interview.

When he learned of the posts and emails earlier this week, Pappas said he sent Schreiber an email asking him to stop the endorsements.

“That’s all I wanted done, and I could move on,” Pappas said. “The only thing I’m worried about is winning this election.”

But if the endorsements garnered him enough votes to win, Pappas said he’d step up to the plate rather than allow the board to appoint their own member.

“I’m not interested in letting them pick,” he said. “If I win, they’ll get me.”

Julia-Grace Sanders: 425-339-3439; jgsanders@heraldnet.com.

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