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Washington school board candidate who suspended campaign gets most primary votes, re-enters race

Kristi Schmeck, who suspended her campaign for a seat on the five-member Sequim School District Board of Directors in the late spring, rejoined the race after receiving the most votes in the Aug. 2 primary. Schmeck received 28.85% of the vote for the Director at Large, Position No. 4 seat, while Virginia R. Sheppard, the candidate with the second most votes, received 28.58%. In Washington, the top two vote-getters in a primary advance to the general election.

Incumbent Brandino Gibson did not file to run for re-election.

The Sequim School District spans Clallam and Jefferson counties in Washington and is located in the westernmost part of the state on the Olympic Peninsula. Clallam County has the nation’s longest unbroken record of voting for the winning presidential candidate, going back to 1980.

According to the Sequim Gazette, Schmeck said on June 1 that she was attempting to remove her name from the ballot for personal reasons. S

he was unsuccessful, as she tried to withdraw her name after the May 21 filing deadline.

The Peninsula Daily News reported on Aug. 23 that Schmeck wrote in an email that she changed her mind about the race after seeing the primary results.

Schmeck and Sheppard will appear on the general election ballot on Nov. 2. In a candidate statement submitted to the Washington Secretary of State, Schmeck said she’d been an “educator/coach for over 25 years” and Athletic Director at a charter school. She received a bachelor’s in physical education and completed a teaching credential program and health science credential at Chico State University in California.

Schmeck wrote, “As a Mother and Grandmother, I’m committed to the health and future success of our youth. For over 25 years, I have worked as a school teacher, basketball and track coach. Empowering student’s success is the driving force in my life. Running for School Board gives me the opportunity to bring my passion and years of experience to the next level, and collaborate to make positive changes that are visibly needed in our schools.”

In her candidate statement, Sheppard said she operates Generations Boutique, a small business, and has worked as a corporate collections coordinator and construction assistant. She attended Santa Monica City College and Port Angeles High School.

Sheppard wrote, “Experience matters! I am a mother, grandmother, and a great grandmother. I find the need to step up and speak for the children of today and the future. I have had to sit back and watch our schools fail to teach our children the full history of America. Now we are told that American History must give way to Critical Race Theory, a largely untested proposition that assigns blame for many of society’s ills to one race of people, as if the cure for racism was another type of racism.”

In an email to the Peninsula Daily News, Schmeck wrote “[a]s a school board member our responsibility is to represent the community, parents and our students. My main concerns are the implementation of Critical Race Theory, the new adopted sex education program (CSE), and parents rights.”

The Director at Large, Position No. 4 seat is one of two seats on the Board up for election in 2021. Brian Kuh, the Director District No. 2 incumbent, declined to file for re-election. One candidate—Patrice Johnston—filed to enter that race.



Colorado school district filing deadline is this week

The filing deadline to run for election to Colorado school boards is on Aug. 27. Ballotpedia is covering prospective candidates who file to run in the following school districts:

  1. Academy School District 20
  2. Adams 12 Five Star Schools
  3. Aurora Public Schools
  4. Bennett School District
  5. Cherry Creek School District
  6. Cheyenne Mountain School District 12
  7. Colorado Springs School District 11
  8. Denver Public Schools
  9. Douglas County School District
  10. Falcon School District 49
  11. Harrison School District Two
  12. Jeffco Public Schools
  13. Manitou Springs School District 14
  14. School District 27J
  15. St. Vrain Valley School District
  16. Widefield School District 3

The general election is scheduled for Nov. 2.

These 16 school districts served a combined total of 533,272 students during the 2016-2017 school year. 

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Petition to recall Virginia school board member dismissed in court

Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Richard Gardiner on Aug. 20 granted a motion to dismiss a recall petition against Fairfax County Public Schools school board member Elaine Tholen, ending the recall effort against her.

The petition against Tholen, the board’s Dranesville District representative, was initially deemed sufficient on July 23 to go to a court hearing. Tholen’s attorney filed a motion against the court’s decision to deem the petitions sufficient, and the hearing on that motion was held on Aug. 13. Gardiner said he granted the motion to dismiss “upon the Commonwealth’s position that the petition is not based on facts establishing probable cause for removal.”

The recall effort against Tholen and two other members of the board—Springfield District representative Laura Cohen and at-large representative Abrar Omeish—began in October 2020. The effort started in response to the district’s concurrent instruction program, which allowed students to choose between learning fully online or a hybrid option that included both online and in-person instruction. The program was started in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The petitions against Cohen and Omeish have not yet been submitted to the circuit court.

Recall supporters said that not being in the classroom adversely affected students. A spokeswoman for the school district said the district stood by its concurrent instruction program and that it had been well received.

Virginia requires certain reasons to be met for a recall to move forward, including neglect of duty, misuse of office, incompetence, and 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. Tholen’s recall was submitted with more than 5,000 signatures.

All three board members were elected to four-year terms on the board on Nov. 5, 2019. Tholen won the open Dranesville District seat on the board against two opponents, receiving 58.7% of the vote. Cohen won the Springfield District seat after defeating two opponents, including the incumbent, with 50.5% of the vote. Omeish won one of the three at-large seats, receiving 20% of the vote in a six-way race.

Ballotpedia has tracked a total of 89 recall efforts related to the coronavirus or government responses to the pandemic that were started against elected officials in 2020 and 2021.

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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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.

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22 states allow for the recall of school board members

Of the 39 states that allow for the recall of elected officials at some level of government, 22 specifically allow for the recall of school board members. School board recalls are the process of removing school board members from office via a public effort before their term is completed.

Six of the states that allow school board recalls require specific grounds to be met in order for a recall effort to move forward, such as malfeasance or misfeasance in office.

The number of signatures required to get a school board recall on the ballot varies by state. Common factors for calculating the signature requirement include the size of the board member’s jurisdiction and the number of votes cast in a previous election. In all but one of the states, recall elections are held if enough signatures are collected. Virginia is the exception. If enough signatures are collected in that state, a trial is held at the circuit court level.

The amount of time recall petitions are allowed to be circulated also varies by state. Georgia, Nebraska, and North Carolina have the shortest petition circulation time with 30 days. Out of the states that have a time limit for circulating petitions, Washington has the longest with 180 days. New Mexico, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Virginia do not have a time limit for petition circulation.

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 57 efforts against 143 members as of Aug. 3. 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.

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29 candidates file for 14 school board seats in Manchester, New Hampshire

On July 23, the filing deadline passed to run for elected office in the Manchester School District in New Hampshire. The primary is scheduled for September 21, and the general election is scheduled for November 2, 2021. 

Candidates filed for all 14 of the school district’s Board of School Committee seats–two at-large seats and 12 ward-specific seats. Ten incumbents are running for re-election, including two at-large members and eight ward-specific members.

The Manchester School District served 13,452 students during the 2018-2019 school year. 

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Candidate filing deadline for school board positions in Ohio is Aug. 4

Candidates interested in running for their local school board in Ohio have until Aug. 4 to file, unless the district held a primary earlier in the year. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 2, and new board members will take office on Jan. 1, 2022.

Ballotpedia is covering elections in 20 Ohio school districts in 2021. Columbus City Schools’ filing deadline was Feb. 3. The remaining 19 districts are:

  • Berea City School District
  • Canal Winchester Local School District
  • Cincinnati Public Schools
  • Dublin City Schools
  • Euclid City School District
  • Gahanna-Jefferson City School District
  • Groveport-Madison Local School District
  • Hamilton Local School District
  • Hilliard City Schools
  • Maumee City School District
  • New Albany-Plain Local School District
  • Olentangy Local School District
  • Pickerington Local School District
  • South-Western City Schools
  • Sylvania City School District
  • Toledo Public Schools
  • Washington Local School District
  • Westerville City School District
  • Worthington Schools

These 19 school districts served a combined total of 220,070 students during the 2016-2017 school year. 

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New Maryland superintendent of schools took office on July 1

Mohammed Choudhury took office as the new Maryland superintendent of schools on July 1. He replaces Karen Salmon, who stepped down at the end of her term on June 30.

The state board of education appointed Choudhury to a four-year term on May 29. “When we set out on our search for Maryland’s next superintendent, our goal was to identify and hire the highest caliber candidate to build the future of education for all Maryland children. Considering Mr. Choudhury’s outstanding transformative accomplishments, we are completely confident that we have hired the right person, one who deeply cares about children,” said Board President Clarence Crawford.

Choudhury previously served in various roles in the San Antonio and Dallas school districts. He also worked as a teacher in Los Angeles. He earned his M.Ed. from UCLA and completed graduate work at California State University in Northridge.

Salmon’s term was originally set to end on June 30, 2020, but it was extended for one year due to the pandemic.

The superintendent of schools is a statewide office responsible for overseeing and coordinating the state’s elementary and secondary schools. The position exists in all 50 states; it is elected in 12 and appointed in the remaining 38. Of those 38 states, the state board of education appoints the superintendent in 18, the governor appoints the position in 18, and the state board of regents appoints the superintendent in two.

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Maryland Superintendent of Schools

Superintendent of Schools (State Executive Office)



Ballotpedia’s mid-year recall report shows school board recalls on the rise

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.

For the first time since 2015, school board members drew more recall petitions than any other group. A total of 48% of officials who faced recall campaigns in the first half of 2021 were school board members. City council members—the officials who drew the most efforts from 2016 to 2020—accounted for 25% of officials. Between June 2016 and June 2020, school board members accounted for 15% to 27% of officials named in recall efforts.

For the fifth time in the past six years, California had the most officials facing recall efforts of any state with 78. However, Alaska had the most recalls per 100,000 residents with 0.55. By that metric, California had the 10th-most recalls with 0.11 per 100,000 residents.

Last year, Ballotpedia began tracking recalls related to the coronavirus and government responses to it. As of this report’s publication, 77 such recall efforts had been tracked throughout 2020 and 2021.

In this report, Ballotpedia also highlighted five noteworthy recalls: the effort against California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), the two efforts against Arizona Rep. Mark Finchem (R), the effort against Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, the two efforts against San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, and the effort against six of the nine school board members in the Loudoun County school district in Virginia.

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Recall elections defeated in 2 Idaho school districts

Two Idaho school districts held recall elections for school board members on May 18. In Idaho Falls School District 91, voters were asked if they wanted to recall Zone 3 representative Lara Hill, and in the Nampa School District, they were asked if they wanted to recall Zone 4 representative Kim Rost. Both recall efforts were defeated.

In order for recalls to be approved in Idaho, a majority of voters must cast ballots in favor. The total number of votes cast in favor of recall must also be higher than the number of votes cast for the official in his or her last election. In Nampa, a majority of voters cast ballots in favor of recalling Hill, but they did not meet the 591-vote threshold to remove her from office. In Idaho Falls, a majority of voters cast ballots against the recall.

The effort to recall Hill began after the Idaho Falls board of trustees voted 3-2 on Sept. 30 to move high schools in the district from in-person instruction to a mixture of in-person and online instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Superintendent George Boland said the goal was to reduce the number of coronavirus cases and related quarantines and absences at the high schools. Hill voted in favor along with Elizabeth Cogliati and Hillary Radcliffe. 

Recall supporters also attempted to remove Cogliati and Radcliffe. The effort against Radcliffe did not collect enough signatures to put the recall on the ballot. The effort against Cogliati was on the ballot on March 9. A majority of voters cast ballots against the recall, defeating the effort.

Supporters of the effort to recall Rost said she was not representing the majority of her constituents in the Nampa School District and had demonstrated a lack of leadership. Rost said her volunteer service for the district had been unwavering for 16 years and that transparency and accountability had been at the forefront of her goals as a trustee. 

A separate recall effort was on the ballot in the Nampa School District on March 9. The recall asked whether voters wanted to remove Zone 2 representative Mike Kipp from office. A majority of voters cast ballots against the recall, defeating the effort.

Hill was first appointed to the five-member Idaho Falls board of trustees in September 2018 and was later elected in November 2019. Rost was elected to a four-year term on the five-member Nampa board of trustees on May 16, 2017.

In 2020, Ballotpedia covered a total of 227 recall efforts against 279 elected officials. Of the 49 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 29 were recalled for a rate of 59%. That was higher than the 52% rate for 2019 recalls but lower than the 63% rate for 2018 recalls.

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