Group files petition to recall D-49 board member

June 3, 2011

A group angry with changes at Falcon School District 49 is trying to oust a school board member with a recall vote.

A recall petition against board Vice President Christopher Wright saying he ignores the will of parents, backs financial waste and is pushing for an “untested” management scheme was filed Thursday with the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder.

The clerk has until Monday to decide if the backers of the recall can begin gathering the 4,306 signatures required to trigger a recall election.

It’s the second time in three years that voter unrest has led to a recall effort in the district on the east side of Colorado Springs.

“It’s the next episode of ‘Survivor,’” said board President David Martin. “It’s sad, but it really is.”

If the petition is approved, the recall committee — Benjamin Gregory, Mike Waller and Kathleen Hoder — will have 60 days to collect the signatures. Only voters within District 49 boundaries are eligible to sign.

If the backers gather enough signatures, it remains unclear when a recall vote could be held, said Jeff Weston, the Clerk and Recorder’s Office assistant elections manager.

In their petition, Gregory, Waller and Hoder allege that Wright “intentionally ignored parental and public objections” and has wasted significant district funds on an “untested new management structure.”

“I want to see more facts,” Hoder said, adding that she hopes the recall bid will spur more discussion from Wright, District 49 and the school board.

Hoder said she wants to see more money for schools, but the board and the district lack trust from voters to pass bond issues.

The other committee members couldn’t be reached Friday night. Wright also couldn’t be reached.

The recall effort follows a controversial restructuring of management in the district. In January, the board unanimously approved the changes as part of a plan to achieve “innovation” status, which would let the district escape some state rules. District officials and board members say it gives more decision-making ability directly to those people closest to students.

Martin and board Secretary Tammy Harold were surprised by the recall drive.
“Here we go again,” Martin said, adding that the board finally felt they had a handle on things and were headed in the right direction.

“The folks doing the recall have to be careful in what they say or do, so they don’t lose credibility,” Martin said.

Rumors of a recall have been swirling in the district among parents and district employees for months. Even without a recall, however, the board faces change in the fall.

Three board seats are up for election in November. Martin is term limited. Board Treasurer Andy Holloman’s and board member Rusty Moomey’s terms also are up. Moomey was appointed to the board in the fall.

“Spending energy to get your candidates with your views elected would have been more beneficial,” said Harold, who was elected to the board following a failed recall effort.

The committee and its supporters have every right to pursue a recall, she added.

Contact the writer at 636-0162.

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