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Columbus School Board Taps Old Hand To Fill New Vacancy

Columbus City Schools District Office.
Nick Evans
Columbus City Schools District Office.

The Columbus City School Board has chosen former member Bryan Steward to serve as a stopgap while members review the more than 50 applications received for a newly vacant seat.

State law requires the school board fill vacancies at its next meeting and it also mandates a window of time—at least 10 days, and no more than 30.  But with so many applicants, Columbus City School Board President Gary Baker said the board chose a temporary placeholder to give members more time to review candidates.

“State statute doesn’t allow us the time that we need to thoroughly vet 55 applicants,” Baker said after the meeting. “We were pleasantly surprised to receive 55 applicants so we want to vet those candidates with the respect that they deserve.”

Steward, who served on the board from 2009-2015, offered his candidacy on “short-term, interim basis” according to the letter of interest he sent to the board. Baker said there’s no specific timeline, but the board is shooting for a permanent pick by the end of November.

"No specific length of time has been set for Mr. Steward's service on the board though it is expected to last no longer than through the end of November at the very latest.” Baker read from a prepared statement after the vote. “Mr. Steward has indicated that he is not seeking the permanent position."

The scramble started after former board member Dominic Paretti abruptly resigned his elected post and his job as a legislative aide in the Ohio House of Representatives amid allegations of sexual harassment.