School board approves resolution in attempt to oust Rude

Published 7:02 am Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The school board moved Monday to pursue ousting member Curt Rude.

Rude’s was the sole vote cast against the resolution to remove him at the board meeting.

“I see how everyone feels,” Rude said after the vote.

The passing of the resolution makes way for a hearing later this month where an independent officer will listen to Rude’s defense. At the regular board meeting in March, the officer will present a recommendation to the board who will then vote on whether to officially dismiss Rude.

If Rude is dismissed, it would be the first time in Minnesota state history that a school board has kicked off a fellow member.

The board seeks to remove the ex-police captain based on the presumption that a conflict of interest because of a pending lawsuit affects his ability to fairly serve, superintendent David Krenz said.

According to Minnesota Statute 123B.09, the votes of four members of a school board can begin this removal process providing there is proper cause.

Rude sued former superintendent Candace Raskin and the district in November, alleging that statements made by Raskin up to two years ago were defamatory and damaging. He seeks at least $50,000, the minimum required in a civil suit. Austin Public Schools has already denied all allegations and asked that Rude recoup any expenses incurred. The district and Raskin will seek a dismissal of the case during a motion hearing on March 3.

The final school board vote is scheduled for March 8, meaning the board could potentially vote to remove Rude five days after his case is dismissed.

“Board members, and his friends, stepped back, looked at the law and did what they thought was best.” Krenz said after the resolution passed Monday.

Rude is currently excluded from all meetings of the board regarding the lawsuit. These meetings have been closed to Rude and the public in respect of attorney-client privilege several times.

Rude has the right to elect that his hearing be closed to the public, but said during the meeting that he will opt to keep it open.

He has up until the actual hearing to change his mind, Krenz said.

“It would be a very easy thing, to resign,” Rude said last week about the then pending motion. “I was voted in, and I take that patriotic duty very seriously…I just hope this is a thorough process, and all sides are presented and all sides find peace.”

Krenz said the board is pursuing the motion under the legal advisory of district attorney Margaret Skelton and the Minnesota School Boards Association.

Rude was convicted on a felony drug count in November but his sentence was stayed, providing he completes five years of probation and performs 200 hours of community service. Had his sentence been executed, keeping the felony on his record, he would have been ineligible to serve on the school board.

Contrarily, by Minnesota law, a police officer’s license is automatically revoked upon a felony conviction alone, and Rude was officially terminated from his police department job weeks ago.

Independent hearing officer Richard John Miller has been selected from a pool to hear Rude’s defense on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 10 a.m. in the district conference room, located in Austin High School. The next regular meeting of the board, where final votes will be cast regarding Rude’s removal, is March 8 at 6:30 p.m. in the city council chambers.