Democrats in the Oregon legislature have shelved a hotly contested bill that would have removed an outspoken critic of the teachers’ union from the State Board of Education.
Kim Sordyl, a lawyer and mother of two children attending Portland public schools, was chosen last year by Secretary of State Dennis Richardson to represent him on the board, but the bill would have forced her to vacate the seat by requiring him to name a full-time state employee.
House Democrats approved the legislation last week on a party-line vote despite an uproar from her supporters, but the Senate Democratic leadership told news outlets that the bill won’t advance before the end of the session, which could come as early as this weekend.
Proponents argued that the legislation was needed to clarify the original intent of the 2009 bill adding two non-voting members to the board, while Mr. Richardson said the effort was “clearly designed to silence an advocate for our children’s education.”
This is a victory for our children, their education, and for transparency. It should be clear that bills designed specifically to silence an advocate for our children’s education is the wrong direction for our state. https://t.co/Wox5b1VjhD#orpol
— Dennis Richardson (@OregonSOS) March 2, 2018
Ms. Sordyl, a Democrat who has filed numerous complaints against school districts on behalf of parents, was appointed to the board by the Republican Richardson after he was elected in 2016.
The legislation was proposed by Democratic state Rep. Margaret Doherty, a 22-year consultant for the Oregon Education Association, which Ms. Sordyl has fought for years over rules designed to protect teachers that also make it more difficult to remove abusers.
Ms. Sordyl said Friday she hoped an ethics investigation would be conducted into what she described as Ms. Doherty’s “unethical and dishonest abuse of her position.”
“We should all be vigilant over the Representatives who voted in favor of silencing a voice for students,” she said in an email. “They appear to be loyal to union donors at the expense of student health, safety and education.”
Ms. Doherty, who no longer works for the OEA, had no immediate public comment, but she indicated last month at a committee hearing that she didn’t know Ms. Sordyl.
Republican political consultant Jonathan Lockwood called the bill’s shelving a defeat for the Democratic establishment.
“The system is broken and it was only after Oregon Democrats were found out for targeting an outspoken advocate that this legislation died,” said Mr. Lockwood in a statement. “This was a battle victory, but the war against Gov. Kate Brown’s status quo is not over.”
The State Board of Education has seven voting members appointed by the governor and approved by the state Senate, as well as two non-voting members, one named by the Secretary of State and the other by the State Treasurer.