Pasco School Board member Jeffery Dong has resigned his position, having not physically attended a meeting in more than a year because of poor health.
Assistant Superintendent John Morgan turned in Dong's resignation letter to the board Tuesday. Dong said he had sought to stay informed of board matters during his absence but he did not anticipate being able to return.
"Please know that I will miss being with you but know my support for the staff and students of Pasco School District will continue," Dong wrote in closing.
Board members accepted Dong's resignation during their regular meeting with sadness at the loss for the board and the district.
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"Hopefully we replace him with someone with so much wisdom and love for children," said board member Ruben Peralta.
The board now must move to fill Dong's seat. Applications will be available on the district's website and at its administrative offices beginning today. They must be returned by 5 p.m. March 8 to be considered.
A new board member is scheduled to be sworn in by the end of March following the board's review of applications.
Dong taught at Pasco High for 40 years, serving as a tennis coach and adviser to the school's Key Club and student government, before retiring in 2007.
He was elected to the school board in 2010. However, he hasn't attended meetings since late September 2011. He last participated by phone in a board meeting in March during a work session, according to district officials. His term runs until 2015.
Dong reportedly was receiving care and treatment in Portland before deciding to return to the Tri-Cities to continue his rehabilitation. He has declined to speak about his condition.
Board members cited his passionate interest in education and his commitment to his students. Board member Bill Leggett recalled riding to board meetings with Dong when he was in better health and how Dong had provided financial assistance to needy students in the past.
"I think Mr. Dong exemplifies what Pasco School District is all about," Leggett said.