An effort to recall three Boulder Valley school board members is over after petitioners failed to return signatures by Monday’s deadline.
The recall was based on concerns about decisions made by the school board about the coronavirus pandemic, including requiring face coverings. Named in the recall were Kathy Gebhardt, Richard Garcia and Lisa Sweeney-Miran.
Organizers had 60 days to gather 15,000 signatures for each petition. The Boulder County Clerk’s Office announced on Twitter that none of the three petitions had been returned with signatures by Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline.
“Our office now considers this recall effort over,” according to the tweet.
Garcia said the news came as a relief.
“We don’t have to hassle with it any more, and we don’t have to spend all that money on a recall,” he said. “I really think the Boulder community would have voted it down, even if they had collected enough signatures. They know we were just following the orders of the health department and will continue to follow the orders of the health department.”
The estimated cost for a school board recall, whether for one board member or all three, was about $670,000. The school district’s current mask requirement aligns with a Boulder County Board of Health mandate for all students and staff in all schools and child care facilities to wear masks to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
In a written statement, Sweeney-Miran said she’s thankful for the district’s partnership with Boulder County Public Health, the leadership of Superintendent Rob Anderson and “the wisdom of our Boulder Valley community in declining to sign this failed recall effort.”
“I look forward to continuing to focus on the important work of our school district and on continuing to put the best interests of our community first; there are so many exciting things that we’re working on in BVSD,” she wrote.
Gebhardt thanked the community for their support by not signing the petitions.
“I will continue to listen to all voices as we work together to address the impacts of this pandemic,” she said in a written statement. “We will now be able to continue using our resources to support our students, faculty and staff rather than to the costs of another election.”
The petitions listed eight reasons for the recall, including ignoring dissenting opinions, demonstrating a “callous disregard” for students’ physical and mental health by mandating masks and promoting coronavirus vaccines authorized for emergency use.
The nine petitioners provided a joint written statement Monday in response to the end of their effort.
“Although we fell short of the required 15,000 signatures needed on each petition, we succeeded in bringing much needed scrutiny to Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) policies that previously were going largely unchallenged,” the statement read. “We also rightfully questioned the wisdom of school board officials who kept children out of school for a full year and continue to ignore opinions that dissent from Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) dogma.”
The statement went on to say the recall effort resulted in “many thousands” signing the petitions, adding the petitioners experienced harassment during their efforts.
“We and our new-found supporters will actively stand up to any new policies that dare to push parents aside and jeopardize students’ physical and mental health,” according to the statement.
Two of the original petitioners, Melanie Gisler and Will Gaw, were replaced on revised recall petitions approved Sept. 30 by the Boulder County Clerk’s office. The new petitioners, both listed on the petition to recall Sweeney-Miran, were Karen Cobble and Mark Leslie. The other petitioners were Kirsten Leslie, Michael Gaeta, Margaret Arnett, Carolee Corey, Athena Mills, Carlos Torrico and Michele Van Fleet.
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