The school board of Albany County School District No.1 voted Wednesday night to appoint Laramie resident Jamin Johnson to fill the board’s vacant spot.
Johnson told the Laramie Boomerang that he expects both his personal and professional experience will add value to the school board. He is the child health program manager for the Wyoming Department of Health.
“I’m a life-long resident of Laramie and have had to privilege to attend schools in the Albany County school district,” he said.
Johnson earned an undergraduate degree in child development and early children education, and then pursued a master’s degree in community health education.
He’s now the father of two boys in the district. When his children entered school, Johnson said he was “comforted by the knowledge that faculty and staff care deeply about my children.”
One of his sons has special needs, and Johnson said that experience should help bring another perspective to the school board.
“Having navigated the world of special services that’s complicated and challenging, I’ve been really appreciative of the level of support that’s been provided to my family,” he said.
Through his work on child health for WDH, Johnson said he knows that it’s “incredibly important that children have access to quality care and a lot of that care is provided to students in a school-based setting.”
“I want to be a voice that can support school nurses, acknowledging the role mental health plays in schools and support the school counselors in what they do,” he said.
He also stressed that his decision-making on the board will be completely independent of work at WDH, and he will not be representing WDH positions while on the board.
The school board hosted a special meeting Wednesday for the purpose of selecting a replacement for Michele Mitchum, the former vice chair of the board who resigned in February.
Johnson was selected to fill the seat from pool of eight candidates, including Micaela Myers, Chris Rynders, Lawrence Struempf, Rachel Suarez-LeBeau, Laurel Ballard, Jason Satkunam and Robert Mobley.
Both Satkunam and Mobley unsuccessfully ran for school board in the 2018 election season.
When former board member Ruth Castor resigned from her seat in January 2017 two months after an election, the school board opted at the time to publicly discuss the possible candidates that might replace her.
The board opted to appoint Lawrence Perea to fill Castor’s seat. He had been the next-highest vote-getter in the 2016 election, and board member Jason Tangeman said at the time the Pereaa’s appointment would “reflect … the will of the people.”
Mobley noted in his letter of interest that he had been the next-highest vote-getter in the 2018 election.
Having earned more than 4,000 votes, Mobley suggested board members should appoint him to “execute the will of the people.”
The board opted to go a different route this time than in 2017. While many of the candidates waited in the school board’s meeting room, board members adjourned into an executive session Wednesday to consider who would fill the vacant seat.
Under Wyoming’s statutes, the school board can meet behind closed doors “to consider the appointment, employment, right to practice or dismissal of a public officer, professional person or employee.”
After a half hour, the board members returned and voted unanimously to appoint Johnson.
Chair Janice Marshall told the crowd that all candidates have “wonderfully qualified individuals” and she “looks forward to having (them) around our district in the future.”
Johnson’s term will expire Nov. 30, 2020.