Insufficient valid signatures needed to initiate a recall election of three members of the Cripple Creek-Victor School District RE-1 Board of Education have sent former district employee Patty Waddle and her supporters back to the streets.
Waddle and others behind the “Erase the Board” movement submitted signatures March 11 of voters who want board President Tim Braun, Treasurer Dennis Jones and Secretary Tonya Martin ousted.
The petitioners claim “multiple violations of Colorado state statutes, school board policies and resolutions, Sunshine laws and the Colorado Open Records Act,” according to Waddle.
Targeted board members say they can prove the accusations are false statements perpetrated out of vindictiveness.
The petitions needed 400 valid signatures of active, registered voters per board member but fell short on all three, said Teller County Chief Deputy Clerk Stephanie Kees.
Unregistered names, addresses that don’t match voter records, people who don’t live in school district boundaries, duplicate signatures and other discrepancies were found, according to the Clerk and Recorder’s Office.
The group has until April 10 to make up the difference, Kees said.
Of 444 signatures submitted to recall Braun, 106 were rejected, leaving the drive 62 short, Kees said.
For Martin’s recall, 120 of 423 submitted signatures were rejected, so 97 more are needed. And of the 447 submitted for Jones, 119 were rejected, leaving a shortfall of 72, Kees said.
The Clerk and Recorder’s Office will have 15 days to verify the signatures after April 10.
Waddle said Tuesday that she’s confident volunteers in the effort will reach the goal.
“It’s a lot of hard work to get this done, but it looks like we’re moving right along, and we anticipate meeting our deadline,” she said.
If the drive should succeed and a special election is scheduled, likely for June, the ballot measure would have a 200-word claim of why each board member should be recalled and a 300-word rebuttal against the accusations and in defense of the board member, Kees said. The positions would be provided by the recall group and the targeted officials.
Board members claim all of Waddle’s accusations are untrue.
“My concern is that people have been signing these petitions, which contain complete falsehoods, without knowing the truth,” Jones said. “People are being duped. This has nothing to do with kids and everything to do with a personal vendetta.”
Waddle launched the recall movement in January, with complaints ranging from poor test scores to claims of missing checks and board disrespect of community members.
She ran against Jones for the school board in May 2017 and lost by 30 votes. Several months later, terminated former Superintendent Les Lindauer claimed Jones did not live in the district he represented.
Jones said he was appointed to the school board in 2012, after being recruited and told by an election official that he lived in the director district. He was elected to the seat in 2013 and again in 2017, under the election official’s determination and certification that he did live in the district.
Jones said his neighbors also live in the same district he had represented for five years until voters changed board representation in 2017 to three at-large seats and two by boundaries.
“There’s no proof of her claims,” Jones said. “I was duly elected. To say there’s been fraud or collusion is a false statement.”
Jones says Waddle has a vendetta against the board not only for losing the election, but also for being placed on paid administrative leave while then-superintendent Lindauer investigated her conduct.
Waddle, formerly the district’s Head Start director, said she never was told why she was placed on eight months’ leave before she retired and was never given information about the action.
Jones said at least 20 complaints were made about her conduct leading the Head Start program.
Waddle said she wasn’t informed of problems, and board members never have proven that her claims leading to the recall drive are untrue, such as her accusations that 57 checks are missing from district accounting ledgers.
Jones said an auditor verified at a recent public board meeting that no checks are missing.