CRIPPLE CREEK • A group dissatisfied with the school board of Cripple Creek-Victor School District RE-1 turned in enough signatures Monday to force a recall election for three of the board’s five members.
“We had to focus on a grassroots effort,” said organizer Patty Waddle, a former district employee. “It took a community working together for a common cause.”
The recall movement, dubbed “Erase the Board,” accuses board President Tim Braun, Treasurer Dennis Jones and Secretary Tonya Martin of “multiple violations of Colorado state statutes, school board policies and resolutions, Sunshine laws and the Colorado Open Records Act.”
The petition drive started in January, with about 50 volunteers in the
Coalition for Better Schools. They collected 444 signatures on Braun’s recall petition, 435 on Jones’ and 423 on Martin’s petition, Waddle said. They need 400 valid signatures to trigger a special election, in which district voters would decide whether to keep or recall the current members.
The signatures, submitted to the Teller County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, must be verified as being from eligible, active voters who live in the district and whose addresses match voter records, said Stephanie Kees, chief deputy clerk.
As of Monday, the RE-1 district had 3,253 active registered voters and 457 inactive voters, Kees said.
The petition signatures must be validated by April 1. If the number falls below 400 on any petition, gatherers have 15 days to get more signatures.
The subjects of the recall can contest the wording of the ballot proposal, which is limited to 200 words, Kees said.
If the petition effort succeeds, a special election likely would be held in June or July, she said.
Braun told The Gazette last month that a recall election would cost the district more than $8,500.
The discord in the small mountain district of 372 students started after Waddle, formerly the district’s Head Start director, challenged Jones for his seat in November 2017 and lost by 30 votes.
Waddle and her supporters say the three board members have covered up issues such as Jones’ residency as it pertains to board representation. She accuses board members of not accounting for certain checks in their system, not being transparent and not being responsive to residents’ concerns.
Former board member Bill Arrick said he joined the recall movement because he’s noticed a lack of transparency among board members for years.
“My big thing is that we just have been seeing a lack of respect from our school board members towards our community,” he said.
“You’re there as a public servant, and when you say we don’t answer questions to some people that we do to others, I have an issue with that.”
The three board members dispute all the claims in the recall petition and issued a 12-point “Stop the Lies” rebuttal.
Braun has told The Gazette that Waddle is a disgruntled former employee seeking retaliation. Waddle says she has documentation for her claims.
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