NORTH CREEK-A Johnsburg Central School Board of Education member apologized to the public for tearing down campaign fliers prior to the school budget/board vote on May 17, and fellow board members accepted his apology.
Mark Richards - an 11-year veteran on the School Board and a physical education teacher at the Wells Central School - openly admitted during the May 23 regular board meeting that he tore down campaign fliers for three write-in candidates: Anthony Moro, Carmine Bellotti and David Braley. They are all members of the Johnsburg Central School Citizens Budget Committee, which is critical of the school board.
The write-in candidates, who filed their paperwork too late to become registered candidates, were trying to get voters to write their names on the ballot and oust three incumbents - Erwin Morris, Thomas Ordway and Tara Sears - who were re-elected May 17. Moro had caught Richards in the act May 14 in downtown North Creek with some Citizens Budget Committee campaign fliers in his hand.
Near the end of the meeting, Richards addressed the crowd of more than 30 residents, saying he let his passion and concern for the school children of the district "cloud some of my judgment," and he apologized for hurting or disappointing anyone.
School Board President Bill Connor added that the board does not condone Richards' behavior and deems it "unacceptable." However, Richards has "owned and apologized" for the action, he said. The board is not taking any recommendation for Richards to resign, taking into consideration his many years of service to the Johnsburg Central School District. The public apology is "sufficient at this point," Connor said.
When contacted last week about the incident, Johnsburg Central School Superintendent Mike Markwica said Richards' actions did not violate any school district code of ethics and left the matter in the hands of the school board.
Moro, a leader of the Citizens Budget Committee, was present at the May 23 meeting but did not speak publicly on the Richards matter.