School board to vote on resolution to remove Curt Rude

Published 7:20 am Friday, February 5, 2010

Controversial board member Curt Rude could be removed from the school board following a meeting Monday night.

The board will vote on a resolution to remove ex-police captain Rude, who is currently suing the district and former superintendent Candace Raskin, during its monthly meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the city council chambers.

“We are voting on this due to a conflict of interest that has arisen due to a law suit,” superintendent David Krenz said.

Email newsletter signup

Rude sued the district and Raskin 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 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 in March.

“It would be a very easy thing, to resign,” Rude said. “There is a certain degree of a perceived conflict of interest, but we need to remember that I would be excluded from all meetings where the lawsuit, knowledge of it, or any strategy are discussed.”

Rude has already been excluded from several private legal strategy meetings of the board under attorney-client privilege.

Rude said he is ready to consider all opinions on the matter, but through his own legal counsel, and reference to media reports, he is under the impression that he has a right to remain on the board.

According to Minnesota Statute 123B.09, the school board will need a vote of at least four members for the resolution to pass Monday. However, this would not immediately oust Rude.

If the resolution passes, an Independent Hearing Officer will review evidence and hear Rude’s defense on Feb. 16. At the regular monthly meeting in March, the board would receive the Independent Hearing Officer’s recommendation and vote on Rude’s removal.

If Rude vacates the board, his seat will be filled by a board appointee, pursuant to the state statute. This person would serve through the duration of Rude’s term that expires in December of 2011.

Rude was convicted on a felony drug count in November and was officially terminated from his police department job weeks ago.

He had been on leave since 2007, the year that he was elected to the school board and later charged with the crime.

Some board members and Raskin voiced their dissent when Rude was sworn in as a board member in 2008 while facing charges.

The board could have recommended he be removed from his position at that time, which would have also taken at least four votes. Some have charged that Rude was part of a four-member bloc, and he was instead elected as clerk.

“I do feel that sitting on a board while suing that board may create a conflict of interest,” board chairperson Richard Lees said Thursday.

Previous Austin Daily Herald reports indicate that Lees originally recruited Rude to run for election. Lees claimed he did not recruit Rude.

Board member Kathy Green, who said in 2008 that Rude should step down while facing charges, said she will not be able to comment on this resolution until it faces the board Monday.

“I was voted in and I take that patriotic duty very seriously,” Rude said. “I just hope this is a thorough process, and all sides are presented and all sides find peace.”