Albion BOE appoints Marlene Seielstad to fill vacancy

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 October 2020 at 8:26 am

ALBION – The Albion Board of Education filled a vacancy on the Board of Education on Monday, turning to a former board member.

Marlene Seielstad was nearly elected this past June when there were seven candidates for three spots on the board. Seielstad came in fourth in the election, behind John Kast, Chris Kinter and Kurt Schmitt.

Margy Brown, a board member, said it makes sense and follows past practice in filling a vacancy to pick Seielstad. She had the most votes among those who weren’t elected in June. Seielstad also expressed interest in filling the vacancy and is familiar with the issues and interworkings of being on the board.

Seielstad, a real estate agent for 28 years, also served on the board for the Niagara-Orleans BOCES. She said in an email to the board that her career has given her experience in negotiations which will be needed as the board picks the district’s next superintendent.

She can start right away once she takes the oath of office. The board has a special meeting this evening to discuss the next steps in picking a new superintendent with its consultants.

Seielstad will fill the seat vacated by Elissa Nesbitt. Seielstad will be in the role until the next board election in May. The final two years of Nesbitt’s term will be then filled in the election in May.

Two board members, Board President Kathy Harling and Linda Weller, didn’t vote for Seielstad. They instead favored Joyce Riley, who had 12 fewer votes than Seielstad, 614 to 626, during the June election.

Riley was on the board up until June whereas Seielstad was last on the board in June 2017. Riley is also black and would bring needed diversity to the board, Harling said.

Victoria Elsenheimer also sent in a message to board for public comment. She urged the board to have more diversity. The nine members on the board are all white. They don’t reflect the diversity of the student body, Elsenheimer said.

Nesbitt resigned following public pressure when three families were upset she called 911 on three 10-year-old boys, saying they refused to get off a wall at Hazard Parkway. The families saw it as racial profiling.

Nesbitt has disputed that but didn’t want the issue to be a distraction for the board. She has apologized in letters to the families for misjudging the situation.

Harling said the district’s lawyer continues to investigate the situation and is expected to give the board a report soon.

Elsenheimer asked that the report be shared with the community. She urged the board to have training on being culturally competent.

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