FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- One resignation, six school board members on the hot seat and dozens of angry parents made for a tense night in Federal Way.
Embattled board president Tony Moore was arrested in September following an investigation in Portland that he stole tires for his salvaging business.
"I'm not running from the issue," Moore said as he walked into the board meeting Tuesday night.
Within three minutes of banging the gavel and starting discussion, a motion was seconded to oust Moore from his post as president. With the vote deadlocked at two each, for and against, Moore had to cast the deciding vote.
He voted to remove himself from leadership.
"And not to be a distraction, I choose to vote to resign," he said.
The odd vote was just prelude to a fiery public outcry over recent trips taken by the board and Superintendent Rob Neu.
The board spent more than $60,000 on overseas travel to England, Amsterdam, Finland, Australia, South Korea and Scotland. The district said the goal is to learn techniques for better education and to plan a global partnership program in other parts of the world.
Around two dozen parents jammed the board meeting room to voice concern about the trips.
"Spending public money on these trips is unacceptable," said Michael Kun.
Others like Paul Levy pointed out that Neu said money is not an issue in the district, but just allocation.
"By participating in these dubious trips, the board has demonstrated betrayal of our community," he said.
"We recognize the problems and we know the solutions do not involve international junkets," Levy said.
Moore insists the trips have not been wasteful, saying they give insight into the world stage. It also could lead to exchange programs that will make students well-rounded, he said.
"The trips that we've taken are going to be very fruitful for the kids of the district," he said.
Moore had planned to go on the most recent overseas trip, but he was arrested before he got to the plane at SeaTac International Airport.
He has hired a lawyer and plans to plead not guilty. He will remain on the school board.