Beaufort County school officials say they felt no pressure to hire a Hilton Head Island Board of Education member who announced plans Tuesday to step down and return to the classroom.
Mike Sanz announced his resignation at Tuesday's Beaufort County Board of Education meeting.
Sanz, whose term expires in 2014, said he will fill a vacancy for a science teacher in the district's Gateway alternative-education program for middle school students with serious disciplinary problems.
He told board members he could be more effective in the classroom.
Alice Walton, the district's chief administrative and human resources officer, said Wednesday that Sanz's position as a board member had no bearing on his hiring.
"We did not treat his application any differently than any other," Walton said. "I didn't deal with the political part of it. I didn't deal with him as a board member, but (as) a qualified applicant. ... In no way did we feel obligated to hire him."
Terry Dingle, who oversees the Gateway program, agreed.
"It was a very smooth transition, and there was no pressure by anyone," Dingle said. "He is very adept. He has a lot of experience in the classroom and as an administrator and is very knowledgeable about science content. He will definitely be an asset to the team out at Gateway."
Sanz declined to comment Wednesday about his resignation and new position.
Teachers return to school Monday, a week before classes begin Aug. 19.
Sanz's hiring has not yet been approved by the school board. His contract is expected to be among a batch of those for teachers hired during the summer up for approval Sept. 3, according to board Chairman Bill Evans.
Sanz also has yet to submit his formal resignation to Evans, but said Tuesday he intended to do so by the end of the week.
State law prohibits district employees from serving as school board members.
Cathy Hazelwood, general counsel and deputy director for the State Ethics Commission, said state law does not prohibit school board members from applying for jobs within the district they represent -- so long as they resign once hired and do not use confidential information gleaned while serving on the board to gain a competitive edge over other applicants.
A special election likely will be in early December to fill Sanz's seat, Evans said.
State law calls for an election to be held on the 17th Tuesday after the vacancy occurs. Should Sanz resign by Sunday, the election would be Dec. 3, the same day as a special election to fill the County Council seat of Steve Baer, who resigned July 31. Evans said he spoke Wednesday to county officials, who agreed to try to hold both elections on the same day.
Baer and Sanz represent the same Hilton Head district.
Attempts Wednesday to reach Marie Smalls, interim executive director of the Beaufort County Board of Elections and Registration, was unsuccessful.
Sanz, who has 22 years of teaching experience, left his job as a science teacher at H.E. McCracken Middle School in Bluffton after the 2011-12 school year to start an anti-bullying program and write an as-yet-unpublished book on the topic. Before that, he served as headmaster at Heritage Academy from May 2005 to June 2008 and then as an assistant principal at Hilton Head Island Middle School.
He later taught science at Bluffton High School before moving to McCracken.
Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/IPBG_Tom.