Blaine County School District Trustee Kevin Garrison resigned from his post this week, three days after he was arrested on a pair of alcohol-related misdemeanors Friday night.
The Zone 5 representative stepped down in a letter to Chairman of the Board Ellen Mandeville sent Monday afternoon.
“I was taught from a very early age that a person in a leadership role or in a position of authority should lead by example,” Garrison wrote. “An instance happened this past weekend which was an example that was completely inappropriate in my current role as Trustee and one that I deeply regret. As such, I am voluntarily stepping aside.”
Garrison was charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence and possession of an open alcohol container in his vehicle on Oct. 18. He was released from custody later that day, and as of Tuesday afternoon had not been arraigned.
“For me, this is a matter of honor and responsibility,” Garrison told the Idaho Mountain Express. “Regardless of the outcome, anything that makes the district look bad is inappropriate.”
The remaining members of the school board convened to accept his resignation and discuss his successor during a special meeting past press time Tuesday night. Under Idaho law, the board must formally declare the seat vacant before working to fill it; then, it has 90 days to appoint a replacement.
Garrison’s term would have expired at the end of the year. After two-and-a-half years on the board, he was not running for re-election in November. His seat is all but filled, though: Hailey businesswoman Lara Stone is the only name on the ballot for Zone 5.
In his letter to Mandeville, Garrison called it an “honor” serve on the school board, and said he is “extremely proud” of the board’s accomplishments during his time—including improved financial oversight, the district’s rising graduation rates, and the establishment of the “unique” middle school offering at the Hemingway STEAM School.
But in an interview with the Idaho Mountain Express, Garrison was also frank about his struggles with alcoholism, and the personal toll the anxieties of office took on him outside the board room.
“Other people can deal with it in better ways,” he said. “People with the disease of alcoholism deal with it with alcohol. For me, an easy way to make it go away was to pick up a few cans of beer. I need to get back to the program that led to my successes—and I hope stepping back from the board is part of that.”
In separate statements, Mandeville and Superintendent Gwen-Carol Holmes praised Garrison’s work with the School District.
“Kevin cares greatly about youth, education and the future of our community,” Mandeville said. “I appreciate his work on the school board and wish him all the best.”
It’s mutual, Garrison said of his former colleagues, even though rising, sometimes scornful scrutiny of district operations from the outside strained relationships within the board itself.
Partnership, he said, is the key to an effective school board. When things went best during his tenure, Blaine County’s had it. Right now, it doesn’t—though Garrison told Mandeville he’s optimistic that will change.
“I hope to see this teamwork continue,” he said, “as I now take a position cheering for your success from the sidelines.”