School board recalls remain high compared to pre-2020 average

Ballotpedia had tracked 30 school board recall efforts as of June 15, 2023, which, at roughly halfway through the year, was higher than the average of 27 school board recall efforts that were tracked per year between 2009 and 2020. 

In 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 92 school board recall efforts. That fell to 53 in 2022, which was still high compared to the average from 2009 to 2020. The two years accounted for the highest and second-highest number of recalls that Ballotpedia has ever tracked. The increase both years came from COVID-related recalls.

Ballotpedia began tracking recall efforts related to COVID-19 and government responses to the pandemic in 2020. That year, 10 of the 29 school board recall efforts included reasons related to the pandemic, which accounted for 34% of all recalls in that office type. In 2021, 54 of the 92 (59%) school board recall efforts were related to COVID, and in 2022, 22 of the 53 (42%) school board recall efforts were COVID-related.

In 2023, the number of COVID-related school board recalls decreased to one. With 30 efforts tracked midway through the year, that accounts for 3%. Despite being on track to match or exceed 2022’s second-highest number of school board recalls that Ballotpedia has tracked, COVID has not been the reason petitioners are collecting signatures this year.

Of the 30 school board recall efforts Ballotpedia has tracked so far in 2023, eight efforts listed conduct unbecoming of a public officer as a reason for recall, while four listed decisions to fire a superintendent or not fill a superintendent position in a timely manner. Another three efforts listed support for gender identity or transgender policies, and two listed financial trouble or mismanagement.

The reasons listed on the 13 other efforts in 2023 varied from curriculum decisions and mascot changes to pleading guilty to misdemeanors and poor academic performance.

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