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Sutton resigns from Oregon Trail board

Move from Boring to Damascus prompts departure

Oregon Trail School Board member Mike Sutton resigned his position Monday night, two weeks after two board members publicly shared their concerns about his move out of the district.

Reading aloud from a prepared statement during the board’s regular meeting at Sandy High School, Sutton said he was “saddened” that he felt the need to resign.

He recalled how he was elected to Zone 2, which serves Boring, in May 2015, and in October, purchased a home in Damascus and soon moved there. He said he still has a driver’s license with his Boring address on it and travels there on a daily basis to his visit family. He noted his more than 30 years of service to the district, including his time as a principal.

In his statement, he said he had reviewed the school district’s policy on residency and also sought guidance from the Oregon School Boards Association on what he should do. After that, Sutton said he believed he was not in violation of any rules, only that the rules were not entirely clear.

Sutton said that he planned to resign in June and was disappointed that the board couldn’t discuss the situation before it escalated.

“I have taken my board position seriously,” Sutton said.

He added that personal agendas seemed to be at the heart of the matter.

Board chairman Terry Lenchitsky accepted Sutton’s resignation and thanked him for his service.

“I, as board chair, personally regret receiving this letter,” he told Sutton.

Lenchitsky said he conducted his own research regarding residency, and that he was still unclear about how it is established.

Oregon law says no person is eligible to serve as a director unless the person is a registered voter in the district and has lived there one year immediately prior to their election or appointment. But determining an voter’s status can be difficult, since people may live, work, pay taxes and receive mail in different towns, counties and even states.

The Clackamas County Clerk will ultimately decide where Sutton resides, said Lisa Freiley, legal counsel for the OSBA.

Dan Thompson (Zone 3, Welches) and Candice Lindberg (Zone 6, At-Large) were the two board members who initially raised concerns about Sutton’s residency. Thompson said two weeks ago that Sutton’s move out of the district and his ability to retain his seat could set an unwanted precedent of non-district residents running to serve on the board.

It was a position he repeated at Monday’s board meeting, and he sparred briefly with Lenchitsky on the issue.

“I don’t want to get into it,” Lenchitsky said.

“You don’t want to get into it because I’m right,” Thompson responded.

The board said Monday it would advertise for replacements for Sutton’s position. Interested parties will need to submit an application, and the board aims to fill the seat by the start of next school year.

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