Recall petition efforts stalled by lack of board quorum at Colorado Springs charter school

BY DEBBILE KELLEY The Gazette - Updated: March 5, 2014 at 4:53 pm • Published: February 25, 2014 | 6:35 pm 0

A group of parents from STAR Academy who want their school board president ousted were prevented from presenting a recall petition Tuesday night because of a lack of quorum.

Only three of the six seated board members showed up for the regular monthly board meeting, which was one member short, according to the Rev. Al Loma, president of the board.

Therefore, a formal meeting could not be held and was not immediately rescheduled because Loma said he did not have his calendar with him.

Angry outbursts from parents followed the announcement, which were countered with retorts from supporters from Loma's church who came to speak in favor of Loma's leadership.

Loma is one of the founders of the Space, Technology and Arts, or STAR, Academy. The K-8 charter school opened in 2007 to serve at-risk students and falls under the auspices of Colorado Springs School District 11.

According to the board's bylaws, a recall election must happen within 45 days of a petition presentation, which parents had intended to have happen Tuesday. If the petition had been presented, an election would have been held March 31-April 11.

Parent Pat Scotland, who has applied to fill a vacant seat on the board, said she has collected 138 valid signatures, or 30 percent of the school's 457 eligible parents. The board's bylaws stipulate that 25 percent, or 115, are needed to trigger a recall vote.

Critics say while Loma may be well-intentioned, he is leading the school in a direction they don't agree with.

Loma, senior pastor at Victory Outreach church, took over as president of the STAR board last September, two months prior to losing his seat on the D-11 school board.

The STAR board has been riddled with conflict ever since. One bone of contention is the school's contract for janitorial services. Clients from an addiction recovery program that Loma runs clean both STAR Academy locations, but parents and some board members say the work isn't sufficient and want the contract put up for bid again.

Another issue is that Loma wants the board to amend its bylaws to have members appointed by the board, not elected by the school community.

A lack of parent volunteers in the past has led to three director seats, in addition to Loma's, being held by members of Loma's church, which some have said unfairly skews the board's decision-making.

Loma has said he wants people with experience in education on the board, while parents say it's time they take over leadership, since the bylaws state "It is the intent of the founders of STAR that the board be parent dominated."

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