Nyssa board accepting applications to fill open seat

People have until Friday, June 14, to apply for the open seat on the Nyssa School Board.

Nyssa board members on Monday, June 3, said they had received one application and passed out a couple to be returned to fill the vacancy left by Jeremy Peterson.

He resigned in April over a state requirement that public officials report to the state their primary income sources but not amounts. The purpose of the filing is to guard against public officials using their positions for personal gain. 

Peterson, who is a local farmer, was elected in 2019 and won a second term in 2023 that expires in 2027.

Those interested in applying for the seat can call the Nyssa School District at 541-372-2275.

Last year was the first time that school board members were required to file such statements with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission. Five of Nyssa’s seven members quit last year over the requirement.

When the majority of a school board quits, the Malheur Education Service District Board has the authority to appoint replacements. The service district’s board reappointed four of the five members, along with all five members of the Arock and Jordan Valley boards who had also resigned over the ethics law.

However, this year, Mark Redmond, the service district superintendent, said he encouraged school board members to complete the filing.

He told school boards he was concerned state officials would take away the service district’s authority to appoint board members if the ethics law was continuously circumvented.

Peterson said in April that the requirement to list significant income sources is an invasion of privacy, especially for his partners.

Board Chair Pat Morinaka considered stepping down but instead filed the required state disclosure form.

In April Peterson emphasized that he was not stepping down over the prospective petition to recall him and two other board members, Morinaka and Susan Ramos.

In March, Jacqueline Cuevas, a lifelong Nyssa resident with children in the Nyssa school system, filed petitions with the Malheur County Clerk’s Office to force an election to remove the three members because they voted to appoint Ryan Hawkins, the district’s superintendent.

County Clerk Gayle Trotter said Cuevas had not taken additional required steps to force a recall election.

Peterson said in April when he resigned that he was “not mad” about the recall and wished he could “stick around” to see how the process plays out. He said he respects the need for “checks and balances,” but, he said, he does not respect people that initiate recall efforts when they are based on “lies and false accusations.”

Cuevas said she was disturbed by the board’s failure to ensure migrant Hispanic families could be part of the superintendent review process.

School boards in Oregon set local district policies and hire and fire superintendents. Board members serve four-year terms, with elections occurring every odd year. Peterson was reelected to another term in 2023. He was first elected in 2019. The term expires in 2027.  Those interested in applying for the seat can call 541-372-2275.

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