A bill that would give Racine Unified Board of Education President Melvin Hargrove the ability to fill a vacant seat passed the state Assembly Thursday and is now headed to the Senate.

Members of the Assembly approved the bill with a 57-37 vote, a story in The Journal Times reads.

A senate committee will get first crack at the measure before it heads to the full Senate when lawmakers reconvene Oct. 20. If the bill is approved there, it heads to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk.

Sponsored by state Rep. Tom Weatherston, R-Caledonia, and state Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, the bill would affect every school district in the state except Milwaukee and directs school boards to set policies in the event board members can’t reach a decision on how to fill a vacancy. The bill also gives Hargrove, specifically, the ability to appoint a new board member immediately, but then the law would take effect in Racine after the April 2016 election.

Weatherston and Wanggaard said they felt compelled to do something because RUSD board members voted 35 times and were unable to reach a decision on who should fill the seat left vacant when Lisa Parham resigned in June. She gave up her seat over allegations that she was ineligible to serve because of past felony convictions that have not been pardoned.

Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, introduced two amendments to the bill that would have eliminated the RUSD-specific language and allow districts to hold special elections, but both were defeated, the story continues.

The Racine Unified Board of Education must set next year’s budget by Nov. 1, so Wanggaard’s office told the newspaper that they’ve asked the governor to sign the bill immediately so the district can meet that deadline.

 

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