Earlier this year a number of recalls were launched against several mayors, a city council mayor, and Governor Brad Little.
None of those recalls were successful in garnering enough signatures to place a recall on the ballot.
Now even more recalls are underway including one in Pocatello and another one in Boise, both against school board members. If either group is successful in getting enough signatures to try a recall election, the election itself would likely be in March.
Idaho Dispatch spoke with Linsy Heiner, one of the individuals helping with the West Ada School Recall effort to find out where the group was with the recalls.
The group attempting the recall of the school board members is called, “Recall West Ada.” When they launched the effort, they intended to recall all five members of the school board.
However, Vice-Chairman school board member, Steve Smylie, resigned at the end of October so his recall is no longer taking place.
At the meeting where Smiley resigned, he said the following:
I think it’s just time for me to move on. Because I can’t do what ten people tell me.
During his remarks, Smiley discussed his time working in education and what he tried to do as a board member. Smiley expressed frustration at the current division over how to educate students with the Coronavirus issue and said too many people are telling him to do different things. Smiley said that the stress was enormous and he wants to finally retire and spend more time with family.
Smiley’s replacement was chosen by the existing board members and her name is Sheena Buffi.
Idaho Dispatch asked Heiner about the other school board members and where the signature-gathering effort was at. She said that they are still gathering signatures against school board members in Zones 1 (Ed Klopfenstein), Zone 2 (Amy Johnson), and Zone 5 (Rene Ozuna).
Heiner did say that Recall West Ada has gathered the necessary signatures to place Dr. Philip Neuhoff (Zone 4) on the ballot.
First, the signatures must be verified with the Ada County Election’s office to ensure the signatures are valid. Heiner said they gathered even more than the required number of signatures just in case some of the signatures were invalidated.
If the signatures are verified, Neuhoff has five business days to resign or face a recall election at a future date.
Idaho Dispatch reached out to Neuhoff to ask if he intended to resign or if he would face the recall election if signatures are verified. Neuhoff has not yet responded to our inquiry.
Heiner told Idaho Dispatch that they have until December 28th to collect the necessary signatures to put the remaining school board members on the ballot and they feel confident they are on track to do so.
According to Heiner, there are three main reasons that the recall effort was launched.
First, the recall organizers said they were frustrated by the lack of transparency from the school board. Heiner told Idaho Dispatch,
The School Board does not represent West Ada parents. The recall petition was filed only after many attempts by West Ada parents to work toward solutions with the school board. A working parent group created a reopening plan for West Ada School District and presented the plan to members of the West Ada School Board on multiple occasions. A request to present at a West Ada School board meeting was denied.
Second, Heiner said parents are frustrated by the board not having a clear and concise plan for getting students back to school and told Idaho Dispatch,
The West Ada School Board has not provided leadership during COVID. The lack of leadership was evident in April 2020, May 2020, during fall 2020, and still no definite plan is in place for middle shool and high school. We understand that no one saw COVID coming, but other districts have provided clarity, have invested in and effectively rolled out plans, and are in school. West Ada leadership is systematically flawed and COVID is the catalyst that brings this all to light.
Finally, the recall effort was launched because Heiner said the board is not delivering education to all West Ada students. According to Heiner,
There is not fair and equitable education delivered to all West Ada students, as some students with at parents at home during the day, reliable internet, access to personal devices when district technology fails, and have a clear advantage over kids without such resources.
The debate about whether kids should be back in school is continuing across the state.
Some people want to get kids back into school and they say that the risk of Coronavirus to kids is extremely low and that the mental anguish kids are facing is much worse than the Coronavirus.
Other people argue that a longer lockdown and stay-at-home order is needed to get the Coronavirus under control and therefore kids should stay home from school. Still, others argue that there should be something in between both of those options.
What do you think the schools should be doing currently in how they operate?
Let us know in the comments below!
Tags: Amy Johnson, Boise, Ed Klopfenstein, Governor Brad Little, Linsy Kleiner, Philip Neuhoff, Rene Ozuna, Steve Smylie, West Ada School District