County approves circulation of recall petition against two Idaho Falls school board members

A petition to recall two of the five members of the Idaho Falls School District 91 board of trustees in Idaho were approved for circulation on October 16, 2020, by the Bonneville County Clerk’s Office. The petition named board chairman and Zone 3 representative Lara Hill and Zone 5 representative Hillary Radcliffe. Zone 4 representative Elizabeth Cogliati is also included in the same recall effort, but the petition against her had not been approved for circulation as of October 23.

The effort began after the board of trustees voted 3-2 on September 30, 2020, to move high schools in the district from in-person instruction five days a week to a mix of in-person instruction two days a week and online instruction the other three days due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hill, Radcliffe, and Cogliati voted in favor of the change in instruction, while trustees Paul Haacke and Larry Haws voted against.

Superintendent George Boland said the goal for the change in instruction was to reduce the number of coronavirus cases and related quarantines and absences at the high schools. The school district had reported 90 coronavirus cases among students and staff between the beginning of the school year and October 9, 2020. Recall supporters said the district’s online classes were low quality and putting students at a disadvantage.

Hill was first appointed to the board of trustees in September 2018 and later elected in November 2019. Radcliffe was appointed to the board in June 2019, and Cogliati was elected to the board in November 2019.

To get the recall against Hill on the ballot, supporters must collect at least 480 signatures from registered voters. To get the recall against Radcliffe on the ballot, supporters must collect at least 1,400 signatures. If the petition against Cogliati is approved for circulation, supporters will need at least 280 signatures to put the recall on the ballot. The number of signatures needed is equal to 50% of the votes cast at the last election in the zone the trustees represent. 

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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