Kowalko: Delaware school board legislation is a ‘travesty’

Delaware State News | Opinion | by Rep. John Kowalko

On occasion, legislation is written and offered that is so obviously misguided in its intentions and presents such an overt attempt to manipulate the legitimacy of the democratic voting process that it is incumbent upon me to expose it to the public.

Any other reaction could result in an injustice being perpetrated on the voting public compromising its wishes expressed at the ballot box. This recent piece of legislation circulated for signatures is a prime example of such a travesty. I feel it is my responsibility as an elected public servant to expose such patently flawed and misdirected attempts to the public so that they might speak up against such intrusions on their rights.

I suspect that this proposed legislation may impose a constitutionally challenged contradiction to decisions made by the voters of Delaware. To suggest that an executive branch (governor-appointed and unelected) board should have the authority to overturn the decision of the voting public disregards both separation of powers and constitutional rights of those elected.

If either of the two sponsors or the promoters of such a piece of legislation have a problem with individual board members (as seems to be the case here) then they should come up with a lawful process attended to by lawful entities. This is the type of overreach that causes the public to doubt the sincerity and legitimacy of the laws we create and pass.

I hope the sponsors of this proposed legislation will quickly withdraw this legislation. I would also ask the sponsors of this legislation to explain to me and my fellow legislators what has provoked them to solicit sponsors to support such draconian action.

Perhaps Rep. Baumbach can give us examples of purported or actual wrongdoing by former or current board members. I would also suggest that the sponsors divulge who solicited such legislation/authority. That might allay suspicions that this is simply an effort to coerce and silence board members, specifically board members who have criticized some of this administration’s plans.

I would gladly sit down and have a dialogue with my colleague about creating a recall mechanism that has a legitimate “due process” factor and would apply to all Delaware elected officials. It must not be focused only on a limited number of office holders (e.g. school board members) who could be intimidated or coerced by such a fanciful contrivance, as this proposal that appears to seek control over the electorates’ wishes.

It would have to involve input from the public (e.g. petition signatures), contain due process guarantees and apply to all elected offices and all appointed school board members (e.g. charters and state boards)

Editor’s Note: Rep. John A. Kowalko Jr., a Democrat, represents the 25th District in Newark in the Delaware General Assembly.

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