EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) — The Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation has officially decided that board member Amy Word will take a leave of absence without pay. Monday night was the first board meeting since her arrest during a drug investigation on Franklin Street.
The school board president asked Word to resign last week, but instead we’re told she agreed to a leave of absence. Police say Word, who also owns Lamasco Bar on Franklin, was aware of drug activity at the bar.
She was charged with maintaining a common nuisance. Police say no drugs were found on her during the arrest and she has since been released from jail.
Word posted on social media today saying she has also passed two drug tests. Law enforcement agencies say at least twenty-five people have been arrested in this investigation.
Our Eyewitness News crew was given a letter at the meeting that showed Amy Word’s request for a leave of absence. It read:
TO: Chris Kiefer, President, EVSC Board of School Trustees
FROM: Amy Word, Board Member
RE: Temporary Leave of Absence
Due to recent events and attendant publicity falsely accusing me of legal violations of which I am innocent. I do not wish for my current circumstances to disrupt or distract the work of the Board, the EVSC or our students. I am devoted to the best interest of our students and the educational endeavors of the EVSC.
After consultation with my attorney and the attorney for the EVSC, I am requesting the Board grant me a temporary leave of absence from my responsibilities as an EVSC Board Member, until such time as I have resolved the issues prompting the request.
By its approval of this request, the Board agrees that my absences at School Board meetings and/or non-participation in Board matters and related activities shall not constitute nor serve as the basis for any claim that I have abandoned or committed nonfeasance with regard to my elected position as a Member of the EVSC Board of School Trustees, as I believe this leave of absence will only be temporary. Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to rejoining the Board soon in my full capacity.
APPROVED AND ADOPTED by the majority vote of the EVSC Board of School Trustees at its regular meeting held August 8th, 2022.
Some people in attendance at the meeting gave their personal opinions on the matter. Before the meeting, Ken Colbert of Evansville said, “she is an elected official. She does represent the community. She’s within her rights not to step down at this point, although that’s not the consensus of what’s out in the community at this point. I think anyone that has integrity about themselves and in lieu of even the challenges, true or not, would think about what’s best for our community and the children and then resign without causing so much controversy within the community.”
Ann Yates and Theresa Finn both spoke during the public comment section of the meeting. Yates said that she and others she knows would like to see Word’s complete removal from the board or if that is not possible, “we expect an unpaid, UNPAID, leave of absence.” She proceeded to ask everyone who agreed with her to stand.
Finn told the board, “we’re not here to take a stand against you all. Let me make this very clear. We are here to make a stand for our kids and for what is right for them. This is not right for our children.”
EVSC attorney Patrick Shoulders and President of the Board of Trustees Chris Kiefer both stated that per Indiana law, the school board cannot remove a board member. The only way a member can be removed is by a judge if the member is convicted of a felony, and if the member abandons their position, which neither apply.
Amy Word entered a not guilty plea last week. Her leave of absence is for an undetermined amount of time.