ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Two Ottawa Impact-endorsed members of the Allendale Public School Board successfully pushed to change the school’s law firm and attempted to drop out of the Michigan Association of School Boards during its meeting Monday night.

Ottawa Impact — the political action committee pushing a conservative agenda in Ottawa County — put its weight behind local school board candidates during the last election, including Liz Ramey and Corey Mango. They both won seats with the Allendale Public School Board.

Mango is an engineer, while Ramey is a physical therapist. She said she started getting involved in school boards after school shutdowns and masking during the pandemic. 

Mango was named the school board president Monday night.

“Although I don’t have a lot of experience with it, I will be learning and educating myself as we move along,” he said during the meeting.

Ramey proposed removing the school board from the Michigan Association of School Boards. She accused the association of not representing parents’ rights.

“This organization does not align with principals of protecting parental rights as evidenced by their passing of G-5.20, by stating they recommend parents not be able to opt out their children if parents demonstrate concern over curriculum,” Ramey said.

Longtime board members said Ramey only emailed them about the potential change on Sunday, not giving them enough time to vet her proposed replacement, the National School Board Leadership Council.

“Do you think 24 hours to look into a new organization that could lead our board is enough time?” school board member and former vice president Kim Cannata asked.

The board ultimately narrowly agreed to push back that vote until the next meeting.

Ramey then proposed replacing the district’s longtime legal counsel, Thrun Law Firm, which represents school districts across Michigan, with Kallman Legal Group of Lansing.

Kallman Legal Group was recently hired by the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners.

“They are profound advocates for constitutionally protected rights of staff, students and parents,” Ramey said.

The previous school board president and vice president said they weren’t given enough time to review what they called a ‘huge change’ for the district.

“It’s improper. And I believe our board is doing a disservice to our school system our teachers our community,” Cannata said.

“Try and shove a law firm through? That’s not transparent. If you think it is, your integrity is very weak,” school board member and former president Josh Thurkettle said.

Mango defended the move. He said the voters are behind him.

“The people in Allendale voted for me in particular based on morals my principles and what’s been clearly stated for months,” Mango said.

The measure to replace Thrun Law Firm with Kallman Legal Group passed 4-3.

Some parents applauded the new board members’ push for change, saying they have the people’s mandate after being elected.

“We the people spoke and voted you in. And we support all that you’re doing. This is what bold looks like,” one person said during public comment.

Other parents blasted the Ottawa Impact-backed members.

“Our students and faculty in this district are more important than any of your personal politics that you have in your homes. Based upon what I’ve seen so far, I am deeply concerned for our district,” one person said.

Ottawa Impact also recently secured a majority on the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners, which made sweeping changes in a flurry of added agenda items in their first meeting on Jan. 3.

Commissioners ousted the county administrator and installed John Gibbs, the 3rd Congressional District nominee who was defeated by Rep. Hillary Scholten, D-Grand Rapids, last November. The board also eliminated the county’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Department, hired Kallman Legal Group, ousted its top health officer and changed the county’s vision statement from “Where you belong” to “Where freedom rings.”

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office has said it is looking into the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners’ actions.

— News 8’s Madalyn Buursma contributed to this report.