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Email sent to Charlo school staff

Email sent by Steve Love to Charlo School District 7J Staff, April 18, 2019. Image Courtesy of Randy Doty.

A Charlo resident wants to see the town's recent school district election voided for election law violations.

Earlier this spring, three seats on Charlo’s school board were contested in a race with several ugly turns. One of the candidates, Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Terry Rosenbaum, had recently reached a $67,500 legal settlement with the district. His sister-in-law Cari Rosenbaum and resident Randy Doty put up large signs and mailed out hundreds of flyers denouncing the current school board. Superintendent Steve Love then emailed staff, calling the allegations “outlandish,” and writing that the two incumbents in the race, Adrian Roylance and Tracy Olsen, were “doing a good job as board members.”

"They do not have an agenda," he wrote. "There is a third seat open and I will leave it up to you as far as who you support."

After the election, in which both Roylance and Olsen won re-election, Love said he stood by that email, and noted the "I will leave it up to you" statement.

But Randy Doty saw a problem in that message. In a complaint filed May 17 with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices, he argued that "Steve Love clearly stated in his email that he wanted the school staff to support Adrian Roylance and Tracy Olsen, to encourage others to do the same and that as far as the 3rd seat he would leave it up to them who they supported."

He argued that Love’s email, and other messages he sent to school staff and families, violated a Montana law that bars public employees from electioneering on the job, among other statutes and school district policies. Doty also alleged that these actions had directly impacted the election's results. Under state law, if a court finds that to be the case, it may void the election.

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"I would like to see them replaced," Doty said, "because they've done so much damage."

Love wrote in an email that he would not comment on a pending matter. Previously, he's defended the school administration's and board's management of the district. He also called the critics "hypocritical" for not including state-required funding information on their signs and flyers.

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