Recall petitions circulate for 2 on Ellicott school board

June 6, 2011

For the second time in two years, a group is attempting to recall school board members in Ellicott School District 22.

Gary Lake and Stef  Dickinson were named on recall petitions approved by the El Paso County Elections Department. The recall committee began circulating the petitions this past weekend.

The committee has until Aug. 1 to collect enough valid signatures to advance their effort. The group needs at least 236 signatures each for Lake and Dickinson.

“It’s on again and people are madder than they were before,” said recall committee member Gary Dahn.

Last year, a recall committee collected enough valid signatures to authorize a recall election for Dickinson, Lake and two others, Todd Schainost, and Sherri Jorgensen. However, the county clerk denied the effort last November after a hearing, saying that some petitioners had shared misleading information.

“We got the numbers last time, but they took it away,” Dahn said. “We are lawyered up this time, and people gathering signatures will not go outside the boundaries in their conversations.”  He and his son Michael Dahn, and Chuck Howarth are named as committee leaders on the petitions.

The petitions argue that the board members have shown poor fiscal oversight, failed to improve education performance in the district, have not addressed a teacher retention problem and do not communicate effectively.

Dahn said people are especially upset because the board requires those who want to speak at a public meeting to sign up and submit questions 24 hours in advance. None of the other 16 districts in the Pikes Peak region require advance notice. Dickinson said Monday the system gives the board time to research the correct answers.

Lake and Dickinson deny the other allegations, and point out that CSAP scores and student growth are improving.

“This is getting old. They are trying to bully us. If they would put as much positive energy as they do negative into the district, it would make a lot of difference,” Dickinson said.

Dickinson and Lake have two years left in their terms. Jorgensen and Schainost are scheduled to stand for re-election in November. Dahn said the recall committee has no quarrel with the fifth board member, Bea Twiss.

Dahn said the committee hopes to recruit four candidates: Two to replace Lake and Dickinson if recalled, and two to unseat Jorgensen and Schainost.

If the recall petitions are validated, the recall might be scheduled for November ballot, or it might be scheduled for another date, depending on several election law time lines that need to be met, said Jeff Weston, assistant elections manager for El Paso County.

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