Recall petitions submitted against three school board members in Idaho

Petitions to recall three of the five members of the Pocatello-Chubbuck School District No. 25 board of trustees in Idaho were submitted on November 30, 2020. The county has until December 21, 2020, to verify the signatures.

The effort began on September 18 when recall supporters filed paperwork with the Bannock County Elections Office. Zone 1 representative Jackie Cranor, Zone 2 representative Janie Gebhardt, and Zone 5 representative Dave Mattson were named in the recall petitions after the board unanimously voted to continue using a hybrid teaching model (two days in-person and three days online) for middle school and high school students for the remainder of the first trimester of the 2020-2021 school year. The district continued using the hybrid model into the second trimester. The district started the hybrid model due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recall supporters said the board was not fully representing the electorate on the topic of hybrid learning and other issues. The school district released a statement saying that the board weighs a number of factors when making decisions and that majority opinion does not always rule.

To get the recall effort against Cranor on the ballot, supporters had to collect 164 signatures from registered voters in Zone 1. To get the recall effort against Gebhardt on the ballot, supporters had to collect 351 signatures from Zone 2, and to recall Mattson, they had to collect 206 signatures from Zone 5. All of the petition signatures had to be submitted by December 1. If the board members face the recall election, at least as many voters who first put them in office must vote to recall them in order for the recall election to be successful. The recall against Cranor would need 279 votes, the recall against Gebhardt would need 417 votes, and the recall against Mattson would need 278 votes.

Cranor, Gebhardt, and Mattson were also included in a 2018 recall effort against all five members who served on the board at the time. That effort started after the board voted to end the district’s 20-year-old open enrollment policy that allowed students to choose which high school they attended. The leader of that recall put the effort on hold before the deadline to submit petitions.

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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