The race for Portage School Board has revolved around the firing of Superintendent Marcia Wells.
Melanie Kurdys has been the leading critic of Wells on the board. She is also a strong conservative Republican and advocate of government accountability. Kurdys was initially alone in criticizing Wells, and the other members of the board were critical of her persistence. But as the composition of the board changed, Kurdys won over those who had initially been hostile or skeptical, including Hollenbeck.
So why did Wells deserve to be fired? It has become clear that she is an autocrat who opposed any transparency or accountability for her actions. In particular, the board directed her to provide information on administrator contracts, and she outright refused to comply with that policy. She should have been fired right there. No further argument about Wells' conduct is necessary.
There was more, though. Wells made false allegations against the then-president of the board, Dale Posthumus, that led him to resign in disgust. She chose to hold a performance review in public, hoping to intimidate the board into not airing criticism in public. (This backfired.)
Given Wells manifest 'rule or ruin' tactics, the board made the decision to buy out her contract rather than fire her outright. While a firing for cause would have been justified and viscerally satisfying, the board likely made the right choice. Critics of the board are objecting to the expense, but fighting a lawsuit would also be expensive, and would drag out the controversy. (The situation is reminiscent of the firing of Judy Bailey.)
Wells has attracted a small band of supporters. Two of them, Eddy and Hartridge, are also running for the board. They are running on the bizarre platform that the board should not hold the administration accountable for its actions. While they criticize the buyout expense, they don't want to hold the administration accountable for its expenses.
Kurdys and Hollenbeck should be reelected.