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Park City School District

Park City School District refuses to provide names of applicants for open seat

PCSD Park City School District Building Ben
Ben Lasseter
/
KPCW

On Tuesday afternoon, the Park City Board of Education is interviewing applicants to serve on the board through the end of the year. But the district won’t provide the list of who’s applying.

Following the death of Board Member Kara Hendrickson earlier this month, the school board is tasked with appointing someone to fill her District 4 seat for the duration of the term, which ends Dec. 31.

The seat is up for election this year, and two of the three candidates running — Josh Mann and Meredith Reed — announced they would not apply to be appointed.

In a joint statement, Mann and Reed said such an appointment may be seen as the board’s endorsement of a candidate and might give the person an advantage in the election.

They called on all three candidates for the seat not to seek the appointment “to preserve the integrity of the democratic process and ensure that the voters choose the next school board member.”

The third candidate who’s filed, Mandy Pomeroy, said she has applied for the position. She said she respectfully disagrees with Mann and Reed, and encourages them to “do their homework, or at the very least, a quick Google search” about the legally required appointment process.

Pomeroy said the appointment by the board could be an advantage in the election, as Mann and Reed claim, or it could be a disadvantage. She said she wants to serve on the school board and didn’t see a reason not to apply.

Four hours before the board was set to interview applicants, it was unknown who else had applied for the seat. District officials, including the superintendent and Board of Education, did not respond to multiple requests for a list of the applicants.

Under Utah law, records are considered public unless they are expressly classified as protected.

Jeffrey Hunt, a Salt Lake media attorney, said he wasn’t aware of an exception in Utah code for applicants to a board of education. Furthermore, state law requires the board to interview candidates in an open meeting, which the Park City board is set to do Tuesday afternoon.

“It would make no sense to conduct public interviews, but not release the names and application materials of the candidates,” Hunt said.

The board is scheduled to appoint the new member at its April 25 meeting, during which there will also be a public hearing about the board’s plan to issue $42 million in bonds for facilities projects.

The June 28 primary election will narrow the field of candidates for the District 4 seat from three to two, with the winner decided in November.