Rickey Mallett is officially off the Murray Board of Education after several weeks of uncertainty about how long he would continue to serve since he no longer lives in the district he was elected to.

The board has 15 days from Monday, Feb. 20 — the day the governor’s office accepted the resignation — to appoint a replacement for District 1.

Mallett, the lone Democrat, said he’s enjoyed his nearly four years on the board and believes he’s taken more heat in the community than he otherwise would have because of his role in pushing the school board to pursue nonpartisan elections. That change awaits approval from the state Legislature.

“I think the Murray County school system is in excellent hands,” he said. “The board that’s in place and (Superintendent) Dr. (Vickie) Reed and (her office) are doing a wonderful job. I just wish the public could understand what goes on and what it takes to run a school system because there are some wonderful people there who really do an excellent job.”

Messages left for board chairman Greg Shoemaker weren’t immediately returned on Tuesday, and school system spokesman Mike Tuck said he didn’t know whether anyone had applied to be on the board. Those interested in serving are asked to promptly contact Vickie Hobbs at (706) 695-4531.

Mallett attended and voted at Monday’s school board meeting, the same day governor’s office spokeswoman Stephanie Mayfield said Gov. Nathan Deal accepted the resignation, making it official.

“Our office never received this letter certified mail,” Mayfield said Tuesday afternoon of the letter Mallett signed Jan. 6. “However, the governor’s office yesterday received Mr. Mallett’s resignation via email, which means his resignation has been accepted.”

Mallett said his votes are valid because he didn’t learn about the governor accepting his resignation until Tuesday afternoon. Besides, he added, all the votes from the Monday meeting were unanimous.

Tuck acknowledged the resignation in an email sent at 4:12 p.m. Tuesday and declined a phone interview, saying through a secretary he preferred to answer questions through email. He did not immediately respond to a message asking whether Mallett’s votes at Monday’s meeting were legal or would have to be redone. Voice messages left late Tuesday afternoon for Reed, whom Mallett said had verified that his votes were binding, were not immediately returned.

During an interview Tuesday morning, Mallett said he would resign as soon as the governor’s office officially accepted his resignation and that he participated in Monday’s Board of Education meeting because his resignation hadn’t become official.

“Until the governor signs it and sends it back, I’m still a board member,” Mallett said then. “Just as soon as the governor sends it back, I’ll be glad to leave ... I’ve done everything legal.”

Whomever the board appoints will serve until the end of this year. Mallett said he does not plan to run against Shoemaker in his new district, District 4, because he believes the chairman is doing a good job.

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