Tagschool board

Voters defeat Wisconsin school board recall, keep member on board

A recall election against Gary Mertig, one of the five members of the Butternut School District school board in Wisconsin, was on the ballot on December 14, 2021. Nate Pritzl filed to run against Mertig in the election. Mertig received 53.7% of the votes in the election, defeating Pritzl and retaining his seat.

Recall supporters said Mertig lied when he said community members would have input on the school district’s COVID-19 policies. Supporters said they were promised a meeting with all parties involved but that when the meeting was held, parents were not allowed to offer comments or ask questions.

Mertig said the community was allowed to speak at two out of the three meetings on the policies. The third meeting did not allow public comment because it was not listed on the agenda. “You have to be careful with the law. If it’s not on the agenda, you can’t talk about it,” Mertig said.

The recall petition required 126 signatures to be put on the ballot. It was signed by 130 residents of the district.

Mertig alleged that the way the recall signatures were collected violated state law. He submitted a letter to the Wisconsin Election Commission saying that at least eight residents who signed the recall were not witnessed by the petition circulator and that at least five people who signed were not residents of the school district. Mertig said those signatures should not have been counted, which would have stopped the recall election from being scheduled.

Wisconsin Election Commission Administrator Megan Wolf ruled that the recall election could proceed because Mertig did not file his complaints against the petition with the school district within the 10-day time period set by state law.

At the time the recall began, Mertig had been serving on the board for 31 years.

Ballotpedia has tracked 90 school board recall efforts against 233 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 our most recent recall report, which covered recalls from January to June 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 165 recall efforts against 263 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.

Additional reading:



Signatures submitted to Loudoun County Circuit Court against school board member Atoosa Reaser

Supporters of a recall against six of the nine members of the Loudoun County Public Schools school board in Virginia submitted signatures against Vice Chairwoman and Algonkian District representative Atoosa Reaser on Nov. 18. Supporters said they filed 1,859 signatures. A total of 1,213 signatures are required to move the recall forward.

The signatures were submitted to the Loudoun County Circuit Court, where the petition will be reviewed by a judge. If the case is accepted, a trial will be held. At the trial, recall supporters must “demonstrate the officer engaged in neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance” in order to remove Reaser from office.

Reaser’s petition was the second to be filed this month. Recall supporters submitted signatures against Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan on Nov. 9.

At-large representative Denise Corbo, Blue Ridge District representative Ian Serotkin, Broad Run District representative Leslee King, and Leesburg District representative Beth Barts were also included in the recall effort. All six members were supported by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee in their last elections. The effort against King ended with her death on Aug. 31, and the effort against Barts ended with her resignation effective Nov. 2. Recall supporters had filed enough signatures to advance Barts’ recall to a trial, but she resigned before the trial took place, making the case moot. Petitions against the other two members have not been filed.

The recall effort is sponsored by the Fight For Schools political action committee (PAC). The PAC is led by Ian Prior, who previously worked for the Department of Justice under the Trump administration and for the National Republican Congressional Committee. Recall supporters 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. 

A group called Loudoun For All formed a political action committee to counteract the recall effort. “There is no reason equity in our schools should be this controversial,” Rasha Saad, president of Loudoun For All, said in a statement.

Reaser was first elected to a four-year term on the board on Nov. 5, 2019. Loudoun County Public Schools served 81,906 students during the 2018-2019 school year and comprised 92 schools.

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.

Additional reading:



Signatures submitted to Loudoun County Circuit Court against school board member Brenda Sheridan

Supporters of a recall against six of the nine members of the Loudoun County Public Schools school board in Virginia submitted signatures against Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan on Nov. 9. Supporters said they filed 1,859 signatures. A total of 803 signatures are required to move the recall forward.

The signatures were submitted to the Loudoun County Circuit Court, where the petition will be reviewed by a judge. If the case is accepted, a trial will be held. At the trial, recall supporters must “demonstrate the officer engaged in neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance” in order to remove Sheridan from office.

At-large representative Denise Corbo, Algonkian District representative Atoosa Reaser, Blue Ridge District representative Ian Serotkin, Broad Run District representative Leslee King, and Leesburg District representative Beth Barts were also included in the recall effort. All six members were supported by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee in their last elections. The effort against King ended with her death on Aug. 31, and the effort against Barts ended with her resignation effective Nov. 2. Recall supporters had filed enough signatures to advance Barts’ recall to a trial, but she resigned before the trial took place, making the case moot. Petitions against the other three members have not been filed.

The recall effort is sponsored by the Fight For Schools political action committee (PAC). The PAC is led by Ian Prior, who previously worked for the Department of Justice under the Trump administration and for the National Republican Congressional Committee. Recall supporters 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. 

A group called Loudoun For All formed a political action committee to counteract the recall effort. “There is no reason equity in our schools should be this controversial,” Rasha Saad, president of Loudoun For All, said in a statement.

Sheridan was re-elected to a four-year term on the board on Nov. 5, 2019. She assumed office in 2011.

Loudoun County Public Schools served 81,906 students during the 2018-2019 school year and comprised 92 schools.

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.

Out of those 215 board members who were included in recall efforts this year, 16 faced recall elections. One was removed from office in the election, while 15 kept their seats. Five board members will face recall elections scheduled in 2022. Another eight board members resigned from office after recall efforts were started against them. Efforts against 122 members did not go to the ballot, while efforts against 64 members are still ongoing.

Additional reading:



Signatures submitted to Loudoun County Circuit Court against school board member Brenda Sheridan

Supporters of a recall against six of the nine members of the Loudoun County Public Schools school board in Virginia submitted signatures against Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan on Nov. 9. Supporters said they filed 1,859 signatures. A total of 803 signatures are required to move the recall forward.

The signatures were submitted to the Loudoun County Circuit Court, where the petition will be reviewed by a judge. If the case is accepted, a trial will be held. At the trial, recall supporters must “demonstrate the officer engaged in neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance” in order to remove Sheridan from office.

At-large representative Denise Corbo, Algonkian District representative Atoosa Reaser, Blue Ridge District representative Ian Serotkin, Broad Run District representative Leslee King, and Leesburg District representative Beth Barts were also included in the recall effort. All six members were supported by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee in their last elections. The effort against King ended with her death on Aug. 31, and the effort against Barts ended with her resignation effective Nov. 2. Recall supporters had filed enough signatures to advance Barts’ recall to a trial, but she resigned before the trial took place, making the case moot. Petitions against the other three members have not been filed.

The recall effort is sponsored by the Fight For Schools political action committee (PAC). The PAC is led by Ian Prior, who previously worked for the Department of Justice under the Trump administration and for the National Republican Congressional Committee. Recall supporters 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. 

A group called Loudoun For All formed a political action committee to counteract the recall effort. “There is no reason equity in our schools should be this controversial,” Rasha Saad, president of Loudoun For All, said in a statement.

Sheridan was re-elected to a four-year term on the board on Nov. 5, 2019. She assumed office in 2011.

Loudoun County Public Schools served 81,906 students during the 2018-2019 school year and comprised 92 schools.

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.

Additional reading:



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.



Majority of voters decide to keep incumbents in Wisconsin school board recall

Recall elections seeking to remove four of the seven members of the Mequon-Thiensville School District Board of Education in Wisconsin were held on Nov. 2. A majority of voters cast ballots in favor of keeping board members Wendy Francour, Erik Hollander, Akram Khan, and Chris Schultz in office, defeating all four recalls. Cheryle Rebholtz ran against Francour, Charles Lorenz ran against Hollander, Kristopher Kittell ran against Khan, and Scarlett Johnson ran against Schultz.

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.

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.”

Recall supporters filed recall paperwork on June 21. To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to collect approximately 4,200 signatures per board member in 60 days. The number of signatures was equal to 25% of the votes cast in the 2018 gubernatorial election in the school district. Supporters submitted more than 4,400 signatures on Aug. 23. The petitions were found to be sufficient on Sept. 21.

The candidate filing deadline was Oct. 5. If more than two candidates had filed in any race, the Nov. 2 election would have become a primary, and a general election would have been held on Nov. 30.

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.

Additional reading:

https://ballotpedia.org/Recall_campaigns_in_Wisconsin

https://ballotpedia.org/Political_recall_efforts,_2021

https://ballotpedia.org/School_board_recalls



San Francisco school board recall elections scheduled for Feb. 15

Recall elections against three of the seven members of the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education in California have been scheduled for Feb. 15, 2022. Petitions to recall board members Gabriela López, Alison Collins, and Faauuga Moliga were certified in October 2021.

Recall supporters said they were frustrated that schools in the district remained closed for nearly a year in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. They also said they were upset that the board had spent time voting to rename 44 buildings in the district rather than focusing on opening schools. At a board meeting on April 6, 2021, members unanimously voted to rescind the approval of the renaming process. At the same meeting, they voted to return students to full-time in-person instruction at the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

All three board members named in the recall petitions were first elected to the board on Nov. 6, 2018. They received the most votes in an at-large election, defeating 16 other candidates. The other four members of the board were not eligible for recall at the same time as López, Collins, and Moliga as they had not served in their current terms for six months. They were elected or re-elected to the board on Nov. 3, 2020.

To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had 160 days to collect signatures from 10% of registered voters in the city. The total number of signatures needed was 51,325 per board member, and the deadline to submit them was Sept. 7. If a majority of voters cast ballots in favor of the recall on Feb. 15, the mayor of San Francisco will appoint replacements.

Ballotpedia has tracked 81 school board recall efforts against 209 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.

Additional reading:



Beth Barts, subject of Loudoun County school board recall effort, resigns from office

Beth Barts, the Leesburg District representative on the Loudoun County Public Schools school board in Virginia, announced her resignation from office on Oct. 15. Her resignation will be effective Nov. 2.

Barts was the subject of a recall effort that included five other members of the board. Her petition was the first one filed with the Loudoun County Circuit Court. At a pre-trial hearing on Oct. 5, the circuit court judge ruled that the petition could advance to a full trial. The judge also granted the recall petitioners’ request to appoint a special prosecutor. Stafford County Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Olsen (R) was appointed to serve in that position.

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.

In her resignation announcement, Barts said, “This was not an easy decision or a decision made in haste. After much thought and careful consideration, it is the right decision for me and my family.” Her attorney said he expected the recall case against her to be declared moot. He said if she had fought against the case, he expected her to have won.

Recall supporters 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 Nov. 5, 2019. She received 54.8% of the vote and defeated one other candidate. Though school board elections are nonpartisan, Barts was supported by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee.

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

Ballotpedia has tracked 81 school board recall efforts against 209 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 overall. 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.

Additional reading:



Hearing on Loudoun County school board recall effort scheduled for Sept. 13

Supporters of an effort to recall Beth Barts from her position as the Leesburg District representative on the Loudoun County Public Schools school board in Virginia submitted petition signatures on Aug. 25. The hearing on those petitions has been scheduled for Sept. 13.

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.

Recall supporters are also circulating petitions against another six 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’ attorney filed a motion to dismiss the petition against her since it was not signed by an attorney. He also asked the circuit court judges to recuse themselves from the case because it involved local officeholders.

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 62 school board recall efforts against 158 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.

Additional reading:



Two Arizona school board recall efforts fail to qualify for the ballot

Efforts to recall school board members in the Vail Unified School District and the Litchfield Elementary School District in Arizona did not submit the required signatures to get on the ballot.

In the Vail recall effort, two of the five school board members were named in the recall petitions, Board President Jon Aitken and Clerk Claudia Anderson. To get the recalls on the ballot, recall supporters would have had to collect 4,364 signatures per board member by Aug. 27.

The recall effort started after parents and community members held protests over the school district’s requirement to wear masks. Recall supporters said that under Aitken’s and Anderson’s leadership, “the mental, emotional and physical health of the Vail students has steadily declined to an alarming level.” 

After a school board meeting was canceled in April 2021 due to a protest, Superintendent John Carruth said, “This past year has been incredibly intense and emotional. Providing education during this pandemic has produced an endless series of new challenges that must be overcome.”

In the Litchfield recall effort, two of the five school board members were named in the recall petitions, Kimberly Moran and Melissa Zuidema. To get the recalls on the ballot, supporters would have had to file petitions with 6,856 signatures per board member. The petition against Zuidema had to be filed by Aug. 27, and the petitions against Moran had to be filed by Sept. 1.

The recall effort started after the board voted to approve an equity statement in December 2020. The statement outlined how the district’s administration could make the district more inclusive and successful, according to The Arizona Republic. After the vote, board member A. Jeremy Hoenack sent emails to district parents and community members, accusing his fellow board members of adopting critical race theory. Groups of community members who opposed and supported the district’s equity statement and goals attended school board meetings throughout March and April 2021. In April 2021, the district announced it would revise its equity goals and seek feedback through the end of the 2020-2021 school year. The recall effort was started by two district parents who opposed the district’s equity goals.

In response to the recall effort, Moran said, “It’s been challenging to receive emails or feedback from parents or students or community members who have very different sources of information that they believe to be factual.”

The Vail Unified School District is located in Pima County, and the Litchfield Elementary School District is located in Maricopa County. Vail Unified served 13,392 students during the 2018-2019 school year, and Litchfield Elementary served 11,566 students during the 2018-2019 school year.

Ballotpedia has tracked 62 school board recall efforts against 158 board members in 2021, which is the highest number of school board recalls that we have ever tracked. The second-highest number of school board recall efforts—39—was tracked in 2010.

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.

Additional reading: