PORT ANGELES — Susan Shotthafer, who blazed her own trail during two years in elected office, has resigned her position on the Port Angeles School Board in a move accepted Thursday by the board.
Shotthafer resigned effective Nov. 5, she said in a seven-page Nov. 5 letter to the School Board and schools Superintendent Marc Jackson.
Board President Sarah Methner said Tuesday that Shotthafer’s resignation was not made public after Shotthafer sent her letter because the board could not accept it under board policy until the next regular meeting, which was Thursday. The board’s last regular meeting before then was Nov. 2, with a special meeting Nov. 29.
“I have decided that my time spent on board duties is not adequately productive,” Shotthafer said in the letter.
“Though I might be able to fill the role of school board in some other state, doubtlessly, you will willingly agree that on this board (picture if you will), I am like kangaroo in the Arctic.
“I am the elephant in the room,”she said, using italics to emphasize her point.
Shotthafer defeated former national park ranger Jerusha Henson 55 percent to 45 percent in the Nov. 3, 2015, election.
Henson said Tuesday she is considering applying for the vacancy.
“I’d like to do it if I can make it work,” Henson said.
Shotthafer did not return calls or email requests for comment Tuesday.
Often the lone no vote in 4-1 School Board decisions, she voted against the district establishing a student health center, later asserting July 8 that students could be prescribed “carcinogenic contraceptives.”
Contraceptives increase the risk of some cancers and decrease the risk of others, according to the federal National Cancer Institute.
Shotthafer also was on the losing side of a 4-1 vote Sept. 14 on capital improvements, saying she “philosophically” opposes the simple majority vote required for a levy.
Methner said Tuesday that the School Board will select a replacement in January after publicly interviewing applicants for the remaining two years of Shotthafer’s term.
“Honestly, I think that her purpose on getting on the School Board was to change the way public schooling was occurring,” Methner said Tuesday.
“I think that she found some amount of frustration that she wasn’t able to really convince the rest of the board to go along with that.
“She often spoke of the tyranny of the majority, and I often felt that she felt she was tyrannized by the board in a similar way.”
In Shotthafer’s letter she blasted the federally funded free and reduced National School Lunch Program, said her freedom of choice, speech and association had been compromised as a School Board member and criticized welfare programs for causing “extensive disintegration of the traditional family unit.”
She said she became a School Board candidate “to serve freedom” but without realizing “how greatly state and federal funding influences board decisions.”
She said Jackson and the board have “good intentions” and praised administrative staff and teachers. But she said a low point in her experience was when a School Board member she did not name disapproved at a board meeting of a speaker’s religiously oriented comments.
“Weren’t his good intentions to bring our awareness of the need for God (or a higher power) and the teaching of virtues, the primary educational objectives of our Founding Fathers?” she asked.
She followed that comment with one of more than 20 references in the letter to internet sites and YouTube videos, this one titled, “Was America Founded to Be Secular?”
Shotthafer also criticizes the Washington State School Directors’ Association for an “arrogantly perverse mindset” under which school boards are urged to speak “with one voice” following policy decisions and with a “disregard for natural rights to freedom of speech.”
Had she known more about WASSDA, “I would never have become a candidate,” Shotthafer said.
She took issue with the district’s free and reduced-price lunch program, saying such government programs create dependency.
“Without free lunches, would parents truthfully be unable to provide lunch for their children? How do we really know? Are dependent people free and happy people.”
She compared such programs to illegally feeding animals at Yellowstone National Park.
“Making animals dependent is illegal because doing so gradually causes them to forget how to care [for] and feed themselves,” she said.
“In the past, bears that became dependent on campers also became aggressive and more dangerous, as though they thought they were entitled to human’s food.
“Of course, only humans are vulnerable to thinking this way if they become accustomed to an easier, though unfulfilling or happy life of relying on others for basic, essential needs.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].