School board ousts O'Brien as president; votes to fight state takeover
By Adam Allington, KWMU
St. Louis – The St. Louis Public School board voted unanimously Thursday to remove Veronica O'Brien as president.
O'Brien has been a controversial figure for her support of a state takeover of the district and her repeated swipes at Superintendent Diana Bourisaw.
Bill Purdy is Vice President of the board and will direct board meetings until new officers are chosen in June.
"There's been a lot of controversy about the board of education and since it's a new day, a new group has been assembled, a brand new team of board members," Purdy said. "It just seems that it's better to have a fresh start and hopefully keep ourselves off the front pages of the newspapers."
O'Brien did not attend Thursday's meeting, but she will continue to serve as a regular seated member of the school board.
In a statement, O'Brien called the vote a decision by "six people with a vendetta".
Also Thursday, the board voted to fight a state takeover of the district.
Prior to the recent election, the board did not have enough votes to oppose a state takeover.
On Thursday they voted to appeal the removal of the district's accreditation, and also to use district funds to fight a takeover in court if necessary.
Katherine Wessling is one of two new board members. She said it was a tough decision to use district money to pay for lawyers.
"I have struggled with that, but I believe the potential damage of this takeover by the state is a great enough risk that we need to invest some funds in that," Wessling said.
As it stands now, the new school board will only have authority over the district until June 15.
That's when an appointed, three-member transitional board is scheduled to take control.