School board uncertain on length of Tawresey’s leave

He’s gone. But for how long is anyone’s guess.

Bainbridge Island School Board President Patty Fielding said it’s uncertain how long the voluntary leave of absence for Board Director John Tawresey will last.

In a letter to the school board late last week, Tawresey told his fellow directors he was stepping down temporarily because a “recent personal experience poses a risk to board work and processes in the near future.”

Tawresey did not mention that he had been arrested the night before and booked into jail for driving under the influence and hit-and-run.

Fielding said she spoke briefly with Tawresey, but they did not go into details of the incident that led to his request for a leave.

“Mostly our conversation was around the fact that it was an unfortunate incident,” she said.

Fielding also said that what happened last week was not related in any way to Tawresey’s work for the school district.

“This is an incident that occurred that didn’t have anything to do with his function as a school board member,” she said.

“What we have tried to do is to stay as separate as possible from this.”

Although the school board has a policy that says repeated absences from meetings must be excused by the board, Fielding said the board is limited in what it can do, as Tawresey is an elected official.

District officials have praised Tawresey as a respected colleague, an advocate for students, and an expert on the district’s capital projects.

“I have to say John has been a tremendous asset to our board,” Fielding said.

It’s unknown how long the leave of absence will last, Fielding said, or what his next steps will be.

“Everybody’s expectation is that it will be fairly short-lived,” she said. “We’re hoping there will be a resolution in the next week or two.”

“For John to be on a leave of absence, the thought of his resigning is a hard thing,” she added. “It’s a very sad thing to the community. He’s been a tremendous representative and always has had the best interest of the district and the kids and the community at heart.”

Fielding said she spoke with her fellow board members about Tawresey’s sudden departure.“I think everybody understands the ball is pretty much in John’s court,” Fielding said.

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