School Board member calls for chairman’s resignation

Published 9:51 am Wednesday, July 20, 2016

An Albert Lea School Board member called for the immediate resignation of Chairman Mark Ciota Monday.

Jill Marin directly addressed Ciota during the meeting, and claimed he had allowed and participated in her being bullied and abused over the last few months.

Jill Marin

Jill Marin

“I believe I have been treated unequally, bullied and abused during the first few months of this year alone,” Marin said, before requesting Ciota’s immediate resignation that was met with some clapping from the audience.

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She described her recording of the April 4 meeting placed online that initially included School Board member Linda Laurie and Albert Lea Area Schools secretary Ashley Mattson discussing personal information.

Marin said she received concern about the part with Laurie’s and Mattson’s personal conversation, so she edited that portion of the recording out and reposted the recording of the meeting.

The board expressed concern at its April 18 meeting over the possibility of a lawsuit pertaining to the recording.

Board member Linda Laurie said at the meeting that she felt shocked and violated when she had discovered the recording had been put on Facebook as part of Marin’s recording.

Mark Coita

Mark Ciota

Marin said the measure was put on the April 22 agenda at the last minute, and claimed she knew what was going on when a local television station showed up late and set up across from her. She described the television piece as sensationalized and said it was picked up by a Rochester radio station.

She claimed she made herself available to meet Ciota and Vice Chairwoman Julie Johnson, but said no meeting was scheduled.

She said at the meeting she was portrayed as having participated in illegal activity and denying basic human rights to others.

“These are false statements,” she said.

She said concerns she expressed at the April 18 meeting were met with claims of “two wrongs don’t make a right” and that she was retaliating.

She said she has been told by the community that she has been portrayed as being non-compliant with the investigation.

“Another false statement,” she said, noting she thinks there have been defamatory and nearly slanderous accusations made against her.

Marin also claimed she was targeted at a Jan. 19 closed session.

The legality of the closed session at the meeting for a self-evaluation has been discussed since early this year.

No action was taken on Marin’s request, and Ciota declined to comment after the meeting.

Superintendent Mike Funk said personal attacks should be left out of the board room, noting he wants to focus on teaching and learning.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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