Michigan school board recall approved to circulate petitions after earlier rejection this year

A petition seeking to recall Margaret Weertz and Chris Lee from their positions as members of the Grosse Pointe Public Schools Board of Education in Michigan was approved for circulation by the Wayne County Election Commission at a clarity hearing on September 16, 2020. This approval came after an earlier petition against the same two board members had been rejected on June 30 at another clarity hearing.

Both recall petitions were filed by Monica Palmer, a resident of Grosse Pointe Woods. On the new petition, the reasons for recall included the two board members voting in favor of the district’s reconfiguration plan, voting to approve a $2.1 million construction contract for the district’s Rocket Fiber project, and voting in favor of extending Superintendent Gary Niehaus’ contract. The reasons for recall listed on the prior petition had included the same votes. Palmer said, “There’s a handful of people that feel enough is enough. There’s a lot of them in the community feeling like they’re not being heard. They’re not liking the way the administration is taking the school system. That is the Board of Education’s job. They are supposed to be directing the administration.”

In reaction to the new recall effort, Lee said he had no intention of giving up his seat and planned to run in the recall election if it went that far. “There’s a group out there that are doing everything they can to bring down the school system. They get some delight in making trouble. This is not right,” Lee said.

Weertz said, “I never met Mrs. Palmer, and I don’t know what she has against me. It would be common courtesy if she called and told me her grievances. I actually believe this is a well-funded group that wants to undo the democratic process.”

Weertz was elected to the board in 2014 and re-elected in 2018, and Lee was first elected to the board in 2018. To get the recall on the ballot, supporters must collect 7,646 signatures.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

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