Freshwater: Only a partial recusal

Update: Full text of Thompson’s letter below the fold.

In an update to my recent post on Board members recusing themselves from participating in the Board’s decision-making on the Freshwater matter I said that Steve Thompson, Freshwater supporter and former (apparently) fund-raiser, had decided to recuse himself in the same manner as Paula Barone. That now appears to be false. In a Feb 25 story in the Mt. Vernon News we learned that

Board member Steve Thompson also recused himself from discussing and voting on existing litigation.

He did not recuse himself from the administrative proceedings relating to Freshwater’s contract termination.

In other words, he’s planning to participate in the Board’s action on the outcome of the administrative hearing. That puts him squarely back in the conflict of interest soup and puts the Board at considerable litigation risk.

Hat tip to phred on

The full text of Thompson’s letter partially recusing himself from the Freshwater affair:

Date: February 24, 2010

To: (All members of the Board of Education, listed by name)

Dear Board Members:

I am seeking permission from the Board of Education to remove myself from discussing and voting on existing litigation regarding the Freshwater matter. At this time, I am not recusing myself from administrative proceedings relative to Mr. Freshwater’s contract termination. I will remain fully engaged, as a member of the board, in all other matters.

Thank you, in advance, for your understanding of this request.


Steve Thompson, Member
Mount Vernon Board of Education

Copies to Superintendent Steve Short and Treasurer Barbara Donohue

He’s left himself a little wiggle room with the “At this time” phrase, which echoes that in Paula Barone’s letter recusing herself, but it seems clear that in spite of his significantly greater ethical problems he intends to participate in the Board’s actions regarding the referee’s recommendation based on the evidence heard in the administrative hearing.

His recusal does mean that he won’t participate in Board discussions and votes on potential settlements of the federal suits, which is interesting.