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Bill to oust Portland parent from State Board of Education sputters

The Senate Majority Office confirmed Friday that a bill that would have effectively ousted Portland Public Schools parent Kim Sordyl from the State Board of Education is dead for this year.

PAMPLIN FILE PHOTO - Kim Sordyl, Portland Public Schools parent and non-voting member of the State Board of EducationSALEM — A bill that would have effectively ousted education advocate Kim Sordyl from the State Board of Education has been laid to rest for this year, according to Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick's office.

Rep. Margaret Doherty, D-Tigard, proposed House Bill 4013 in January after staff members at the Oregon Department of Education attempted to force Sordyl off the board with recommended board policy changes. Sordyl is a non-voting member of the board, designated by Secretary of State Dennis Richardson.

The bill would have required the two non-voting State Board of Education members designated by the secretary of state and state treasurer to be employees of those respective offices.

Sordyl is a former attorney and stay-at-home mother who has been active and vocal in Portland Public Schools for several years and worked for Richardson's campaign in 2016. Richardson appointed her as his designee on the education board more than a year ago.

Her outspoken criticism of union influence and leadership decisions in the local and state public school systems on social media and in public has attracted fans and foes. Some have credited her with spurring positive change, while others have shunned her unapologetic approach.

The Board of Education was scheduled to vote on rules in September that would have removed Sordyl from the board. The matter was tabled after Steve Elzinga, counsel for the Secretary of State's Office, raised concerns that the proposed rules violated state law and reached beyond the board's authority.

Doherty argued her bill to restrict eligibility for the secretary of state and treasurer designees was intended to clean up a law that had veered from legislative intent. She claimed that the legislation did not target Sordyl, even stating that she didn't know who Sordyl was, according to a report by Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Senators involved in the initial law, including Sen. Lew Frederick, D-Portland, testified that the designees were intended to allow the secretary of state and treasurer's offices to give input on improving civic and financial literacy education in schools.

The bill passed the House last month and was referred to the Senate Rules Committee Feb. 28.

The committee does not plan to take action on the bill because of lack of time before adjournment of the legislative session, said Rick Osborn, spokesman for Senate Democrats. Legislative leaders are planning to adjourn the session as early as Saturday.

"It's too bad it took national humiliation to kill this retaliatory bill," Sordyl said in a message to the Pamplin/EO Capital Bureau. "I hope an ethics investigation is opened into Rep. Margaret Doherty's dishonesty and abuse of power."

Paris Achen
Portland Tribune Capital Bureau
email: pachen@portlandtribune.com
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