South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Hassler, Pretto appointed to fill vacancies left by their disqualification

One BOE member sworn in, two board vacancies filled
Jeff Wolman

The Mehlville Board of Education swore in a returning member, selected its president and vice president, and filled two vacancies at its meeting last week.

Director Scott Huegeirch was absent from the school board’s April 13 reorganization meeting to swear in incumbent Director Jeff Wolman, who ran unopposed for the board in the municipal elections April 4. The seats carry three-year terms. Wolman has served on the Board of Education since 2020.

In addition to swearing in Wolman, the board also tapped Peggy Hassler and Jean Pretto to fill two vacancies on the board — the result of Hassler and Pretto being disqualified from the April 4 election.

There were three open seats on the board up for a vote in the April election and all three incumbents — Hassler, Pretto and Wolman — filed to run again; all three were unopposed. However, Hassler and Pretto were disqualified April 3 from the April 4 election for failing to submit necessary paperwork to the Missouri Ethics Commission on time, resulting in the two vacancies.

Board policy BBE-1 outlines the process to follow in the event of a vacancy, stating that the board will go through a notification, interview, review and selection process to appoint new members to the board, giving a minimum of two weeks for residents to apply for the vacancies from the time the vacancies are announced. The same policy also allows the board to vote to use a different process rather than BBB-1 due to the timing of the vacancy or other relevant reasons, which the board discussed April 13.

“Jean and Peggy have more experience than anyone else on this board and their opinions during the implementation of Prop E are extremely important. Furthermore, the implementation of Prop E should be done in a timely manner, rather than spending over two weeks interviewing candidates during a time when big decisions need to be made and we will be actively trying to onboard our new superintendent,” Director Patrick McKelvey said, referring to the district’s 31-cent tax rate increase, Proposition E, that voters approved April 4. “These things require our full attention. This is simply an anomaly … This is a board member of six years and a board member of nine years asking to have the seats that would have otherwise been declared theirs on election night … This is an example of why the policy of BBE-1 is written the way that it is.”

Wolman concurred with McKelvey, telling the others “it would be pointless” to have two board members with over 15 years of combined experience unable to serve “when it’s obvious the public has a solid opinion that they’re the right people for the job.”

“It’s obvious they both have the passion and the drive to take this district in the correct direction and have been doing so for their previous terms of service,” Wolman said.

The board voted unanimously to waive the BBE-1 process and to appoint Hassler and Pretto to fill the vacancies. They will be sworn in at the next Board of Education meeting April 27.

Board names officers

The board also selected Tori Behlke as president and McKelvey as vice president at the April 13 meeting.

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