Tagschool board elections

Kansas school board recall election defeated

A recall election seeking to remove Amy Sudbeck from her position as the District 1 representative on the Nemaha USD 115 Board of Education in Kansas was on the ballot on Nov. 2. The majority of votes were cast against the recall, keeping Sudbeck in office.

The recall effort started after a majority of board members voted in April and May to keep the district’s policy to require mask-wearing due to the COVID-19 pandemic rather than changing the policy to say masks were recommended. The recall petition said Sudbeck failed to perform her duties and “violated Kansas Statute 60-5305 by not allowing parents to make decisions regarding the healthcare of their children when attending school.”

In response to the recall, Sudbeck said, “It’s unfortunate that this issue has caused division in our community. I voted with the majority to allow our kids freedom to participate in activities, stay in school and keep them out of a quarantine invoked by the health department.”

Three signatures were required to get the recall on the ballot, and the clerk verified eight signatures.

Sudbeck was appointed to her position on the seven-member board in 2020, and she sought re-election in 2021. She advanced from the primary on Aug. 3 and was on the regular election ballot in addition to the recall election ballot on Nov. 2. She won re-election.

Ballotpedia has tracked 84 school board recall efforts against 215 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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Jeffco County Education Association-backed slate wins election to Jeffco Public Schools in Colorado

The District 1, 2, and 5 seats on the Jeffco Public Schools school board in Colorado were up for general election on Nov. 2, 2021. Incumbents Brad Rupert (District 1), Susan Harmon (District 2), and Ron Mitchell (District 5) did not run for re-election. 

Danielle Varda defeated Jeffrey Wilhite in District 1. Paula Reed defeated David Johnson and Theresa Shelton in District 2. Mary Parker defeated Kathy Miks in District 5. Those victories maintained the board’s 4-1 majority of teachers’ union-backed members.

Varda, Reed, and Parker ran together as the Jeffco Kids Slate. The Jefferson County Education Association, the local teachers’ union, endorsed this slate. Another slate of candidates with no formal name, composed of Wilhite, Shelton, and Miks, was endorsed by the Jefferson County Republicans. According to Chalkbeat, the Jeffco Kids Slate prioritized staff hiring, teacher retention, and neighborhood schools, while their opponents ran on the issues of fiscal management and expanding school choice.



Paula Jones, Younass Mohamed Barkouch, and Natalia Ioffe elected to the Jersey City Public Schools school board

Paula Jones, Younass Mohamed Barkouch, and Natalia Ioffe won election to the three at-large open seats on the Jersey City Public Schools school board. As of 1:00 a.m. EST, Jones had received 23.6% of the vote, Barkouch had received 19.8%, and Ioffe had received 19.6%. None of the other six candidates had received more than 10% of the vote. 

Jones, Barkouch, and Ioffe ran on the Education Matters slate with an endorsement from the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA). Their election means that NJEA-backed candidates will maintain their 7-2 majority on the board. 

The three seats were open since three incumbents didn’t seek re-election—Mussab Ali, Marilyn Roman, and Joan Terrell-Paige. They were last elected in 2018 on the Education Matters slate. In 2020, the Education Matters slate won all three seats up for election. In 2019, the Education Matters slate won three seats and two members of the Change for Childrenslate won the other two up for election.

To read more about the Jersey City Public Schools election, click here.



All candidates for Academy School District 20 school board in Colorado complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

All 10 candidates for three at-large seats on the Academy School District 20 school board in Colorado have completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. The survey asks candidates questions aimed to help voters learn why candidates are running and what they hope to achieve in office.

Each of the candidates running in the Nov. 2 nonpartisan election responded to questions such as, “Please list below 3 key messages of your campaign. What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?” and “What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?” 

To read candidates’ responses to these and other questions, click here.

The Academy District 20 Board of Education consists of five voting members elected to four-year terms and one non-voting liaison to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Board members are elected at large. Elections are held on a staggered basis in November of odd-numbered years. Board members elected on Nov. 2 will begin their term on Jan. 1, 2022. One incumbent, Thomas LaValley, is running for re-election. 

Academy School District 20 is located in El Paso County, Colorado. The district contains 40 schools. 

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All candidates for Colorado Springs School District 11 school board complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

All nine candidates for four at-large seats on the Colorado Springs School District 11 school board have completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. The survey asks candidates questions aimed to help voters learn why candidates are running and what they hope to achieve in office.

Seven candidates are running in the Nov. 2 regular election for three at-large seats. The three individuals elected to these seats will serve four-year terms. Two candidates are running in a special election for one at-large seat. The winner of that election will serve a two-year term. Three incumbents are running for re-election.

Each of the candidates responded to questions such as, “Please list below 3 key messages of your campaign. What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?” and “What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?” 

To read candidates’ responses to these and other questions, click here.

The Colorado Springs School District 11 school board consists of seven members elected to four-year terms. Elections are held on a staggered basis in November of odd-numbered years.

The district is located in El Paso County, Colorado, and contains 55 schools.

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All candidates for Houston Independent School District school board District I seat complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

All three candidates running for the District I seat on the Houston Independent School District board of education have completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. The survey asks candidates questions aimed to help voters learn why candidates are running and what they hope to achieve in office.

Three candidates—incumbent Elizabeth Santos, Matias Kopinsky, and Janette Garza Lindner—are running in the Nov. 2 nonpartisan general election for the District I seat. Five seats on the board are up for election this year: Districts I, V, VI, VII, and IX.  

Excerpts from candidates’ responses to the question, “What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?” are listed below: 

  1. Elizabeth Santos: “I am passionate about demanding that all students have the opportunity to enrich their lives through public education. Our district–like many throughout the state–has structural barriers in its policy that prevent the stable development of arts programs in schools.” 
  2. Matias Kopinsky: “While the current HISD trustees have been responsible for a $2 billion budget, only half of that money has ever seen the classroom. The board continuously votes to decrease the percentage of money that is spent on its most valuable assets: its teachers. Educators are what make up the backbone of the district and should be compensated properly.”
  3. Janette Garza Lindner: “In addition to education, a few other policy areas I am passionate about include health care, especially removing the stigma from mental and emotional health services; agriculture and food policy, including improvements to ensure the nutritional value of our food supply is improved and regenerative practices are more widely used; and our country’s energy policy, especially innovation in generation, transmission and storage to meet our country’s needs for the next 100 years”

To read candidates’ full survey responses, click here

The Houston Independent School District Board of Education consists of nine trustees elected to four-year terms. All board members are elected by district. 

Houston Independent School District is located in Harris County, Texas, and is the largest school district in the state.

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School board recall elections in Kansas and Wisconsin on ballot Nov. 2

One Kansas school board member and four Wisconsin school board members are facing recall elections on Nov. 2. Supporters of both efforts listed the school board’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the reasons for recall.

In the Nemaha USD 115 in Kansas, District 1 representative Amy Sudbeck is facing a yes/no recall question. If a majority of voters cast ballots in favor of the recall, Sudbeck will be removed from office. If a majority of voters cast ballots against the recall, Sudbeck will retain her office.

The recall petition said that Sudbeck had failed to perform her duties and alleged that she had violated state statutes by voting to require masks in schools rather than allowing them to be optional. In response to the recall, Sudbeck said, “It’s unfortunate that this issue has caused division in our community. I voted with the majority to allow our kids freedom to participate in activities, stay in school and keep them out of a quarantine invoked by the health department.”

Sudbeck was appointed to her position on the seven-member board in 2020. She is seeking re-election in 2021. She advanced from the primary on Aug. 3 and will be on the regular election ballot in addition to the recall election ballot on Nov. 2.

Three signatures were required to get the recall on the ballot. The Nemaha County Clerk verified eight signatures, allowing the recall election to be scheduled.

In the Mequon-Thiensville School District in Wisconsin, four board members—Wendy Francour, Erik Hollander, Akram Khan, and Chris Schultz—are on the ballot. Cheryle Rebholtz filed to run against Francour, Charles Lorenz filed to run against Hollander, Kristopher Kittell filed to run against Khan, and Scarlett Johnson filed to run against Schultz. The candidate who receives the most votes in each recall election will win that seat.

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. The other three members of the board were not eligible for recall as they had not served in the office for at least one year.

In response to the recall efforts, a spokeswoman for the district said, “MTSD’s focus remains on advancing our vision and planning for a robust learning experience for all students for the 2021-2022 school year.”

All four members named filed challenges against the recall petitions. The challenges were sustained when it came to duplicate signatures but were not sustained on other matters. To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to collect approximately 4,200 signatures per board member in 60 days.

Ballotpedia has tracked 82 school board recall efforts against 212 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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Recall effort against Nebraska school board member submits signatures

An effort to recall Chris Waddle from his position as president of the Giltner Public Schools Board of Education in Nebraska filed petition signatures on Oct. 12. The Hamilton County Clerk’s Office has 15 business days to verify the signatures. If 119 signatures are verified, a recall election will be scheduled.

The recall effort was started by Jamie Bendorf, a resident of Giltner, in August. On the recall petition filing form, Bendorf wrote, “Christopher Waddle doesn’t hold the best interest of the patrons in the Giltner School District.” In a statement about the recall effort, Bendorf said parents felt like the administration had dismissed their concerns. She also said she was concerned about families leaving the district.

In response to the recall, Waddle submitted the following statement: “We have a strong administrative team, the finest teachers and staff, the highest enrollment of students in years and the district is in a good financial position for the future […] These things happen when you have a school board with the right vision for the future. A recall under these conditions is not in the best interest of our school.”

Ballotpedia has tracked 80 school board recall efforts against 207 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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Twenty-two candidates are running for 9 seats in Atlanta Public Schools elections

Nine seats on the Atlanta Public Schools school board—three at-large and six district seats—are up for general election on Nov. 2, 2021. Twenty-two candidates qualified to run in the race by the Aug. 20, 2021 filing deadline. If necessary, a runoff election is scheduled for Nov. 30, 2021.

Six incumbents are seeking re-election: Cynthia Briscoe Brown (At-Large District 8), Jason Esteves (At-Large District 9), Aretta Baldon (District 2), Michelle Olympiadis (District 3), Erika Yvette Mitchell (District 5), and Eshé Collins (District 6). Three incumbents are not seeking reelection: Kandis Wood Jackson (At-Large Seat 7), Leslie Grant (District 1), and Nancy Meister (District 4).

With one-quarter of APS students enrolled in charter and partner schools, standards for renewing and expanding charter schools have been a major issue in this race. In 2018, the board voted 5-4 to allow KIPP Metro Atlanta, a network of charter schools, to continue to operate until 2023 when the charter must be renewed or terminated. Of the incumbent candidates in this election, Esteves and Collins supported the KIPP charter, while Brown, Mitchell and Olympiadis opposed it.

COVID-19 response policies, including mask and vaccine mandates, are also an issue. In addition to implementing a school-wide mask policy and mandatory twice-weekly testing requirement for staff for the 2021-2022 school year, Atlanta Public Schools released a statement on Oct. 7, 2021, saying the school district would “continue to study the feasibility and need for a vaccine mandate in our district.”

The 2021 election is the last election when every board seat is up for election simultaneously. Georgia’s HB 1075 changed the state’s school board election process so that members’ terms are staggered. The candidates who win in odd-numbered districts will serve a two-year term ending December 31, 2023. Candidates who win seats in even-numbered districts will serve a four-year term ending Dec. 31, 2025.

Atlanta Public Schools is located in northwestern Georgia in Fulton County and DeKalb County. It is classified as a large city school district by the National Center for Education Statistics. The district served 52,377 students during the 2018-2019 school year and comprised 89 schools.



Loudoun County Circuit Court rules school board recall may advance to trial

An effort to recall Beth Barts from her position as the Leesburg District representative on the Loudoun County Public Schools school board in Virginia moved forward at a pre-trial hearing on Oct. 5. At the hearing, a Loudoun County Circuit Court judge ruled that the recall effort could advance to a full trial, denying Barts’ motion to dismiss the petition against her since it was not signed by an attorney.

The judge also granted the recall petitioners’ request to appoint a special prosecutor to take the place of Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj. Recall supporters said Biberaj was a friend of Barts’. The case will go to trial after the special prosecutor is named.

In Virginia, recall efforts are determined in circuit court rather than at the ballot box. Virginia also requires certain reasons to be met for a recall to move forward, including neglect of duty, misuse of office, incompetence, or conviction of misdemeanors related to drugs or hate crimes. Recall supporters must collect signatures ​​equal in number to 10% of the votes cast in the last election for that office. The recall effort against Barts needed 1,176 signatures. Recall supporters announced they collected 1,860. They submitted the petition signatures on Aug. 25.

Recall supporters are also circulating petitions against another four members of the nine-member school board. They said they launched the effort due to school board members’ involvement in a private Facebook group. They said the board members’ involvement in the group was a violation of Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act as well as the school board’s Code of Conduct because the members discussed public matters in a private setting. Recall supporters also alleged that the district was using Critical Race Theory in its employee training and student curriculum, which they opposed.

Interim Superintendent Scott Ziegler said the district uses a Culturally Responsive Framework that “speaks to providing a welcoming, affirming environment and developing cultural competence through culturally responsive instruction, deeper learning, equitable classroom practices and social-emotional needs for a focus on the whole child.” He said the district did not use Critical Race Theory in its staff training or student curriculum.

Barts was first elected to a four-year term on the board on November 5, 2019. She received 54.8% of the vote and defeated one other candidate. Though school board elections are nonpartisan, Barts is supported by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee.

Loudoun County Public Schools served 81,906 students during the 2018-2019 school year.

Ballotpedia has tracked 74 school board recall efforts against 192 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have ever tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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