Six school board recall efforts have petition filing deadlines this month

Six school board recall efforts must submit their petition signatures in August 2021 to move their efforts forward. The efforts are seeking to recall school board members in Arizona, California, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.

The effort in Arizona is against two of the five members of the Vail Unified School District Governing Board. The recall effort started after parents and community members held protests over the school district’s requirement to wear masks. To get the recalls on the ballot, recall supporters must collect 4,364 signatures per board member.

Two efforts started against school board members in California, two in the Benicia Unified School District and three in the West Sonoma County Union High School District. In Benicia Unified, recall supporters said the board members’ actions had negative consequences on students and that they failed to represent their constituents. In West Sonoma County, recall supporters said they did not agree with the board’s 3-2 vote to consolidate two high schools. The Benicia effort requires 3,915 signatures per board member, and the West Sonoma effort requires approximately 7,200 signatures per board member.

In North Dakota, recall supporters filed paperwork against four of the nine school board members. They cited school boundary line changes, mask mandates, treatment of teachers, hybrid schooling, use of federal funds, lack of communication, and the belief that some school board members want to incorporate critical race theory into the curriculum as reasons for the recall effort. To get the recalls on the ballot, supporters must collect 4,144 signatures per board member.

In Wisconsin, two recall efforts are circulating petitions against school board members. In the Mequon-Thiensville School District, four of the seven members were included in a recall effort. Recall supporters said they started the recall due to concerns about the school district’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, critical race theory, a decline in academic performance metrics, and an inability to get answers from board members. In the Waupaca School District, one of the seven board members was included in a recall effort. The board member’s behavior at a board meeting was listed as the reason for recall. The Mequon-Thiensville effort requires approximately 4,200 signatures per board member, and the Waupaca effort requires 1,701 signatures.

Between 2006 and 2020, Ballotpedia covered an average of 23 recall efforts against an average of 52 school board members each year. The number of school board recalls in 2021 has surpassed that average with 58 efforts against 144 members as of Aug. 12. This is the highest number of school board recalls Ballotpedia has tracked in one year since our tracking began in 2010. The next-highest was in 2010 with 39 efforts against 91 school board members.

Additional reading: