SLV School District Perspectives
Analysis of the Recall Intent Notice
by Laura Dolson
Calling for an extra election to remove someone from an office to which he or she has been democratically elected is a drastic action. California law allows the process to be initiated almost on a whim, so it remains for each voter to determine when a recall is in our best interests, with the costs outweighing the benefits. The costs include both the expense of the extra election and the prolonged disruption of the normal governing process, due both to the distractions of the election and the ramp-up period of a new board. Since these costs are considerable, the benefits need to be even more so.
In my opinion, the recall process is one that should ideally be undertaken only with a very complete understanding of the issues involved, when other options have been exhausted, and when an official has demonstrated such gross dereliction of duty that it is an affront to the democratic process to allow the official to remain in office. In fact, the performance of the elected official should be so bad that almost any replacement would be an improvement (because we have no idea who the alternative candidates will be).
This is the standard against which I believe it is responsible to assess the grounds for recall set for in the Recall Intent Notice targeting four of the five current school board members. The following is my personal, section-by-section response to this notice.
Please note: My response is intended as a jumping-off place for discussion. There are four pages in this analysis. Please participate in the discussion by clicking on the link at the bottom of the page that contains the points you want to discuss. If you want to discuss points on more than one page, please send separate emails. This way, we can keep the various discussions separate and clear.
Read the Full Text of the Recall Notice Here - includes grounds for the recall and the list of proponents
There are 12 proponents publicly advocating this recall election. Simply reading their names and addresses brings a couple of concerns to mind.
First, all but one are from Boulder Creek, and ten of them live in the section of Boulder Creek formerly served by Redwood Elementary School. This does not represent a cross-section of the district.
Second, a majority of these people do not appear to have direct firsthand knowledge of the running of the district. The school board carries on most of this work in full view of the public. To be fair to the trustees, and to truly understand the context in which certain decisions were made, I think it's important to have attended many meetings at the very least. Unfortunately, I don't believe this is the case with a majority of the proponents. I'm not sure that many of them have seen this board in action more than a couple of times, and some not at all. From what I can tell, they haven't even spoken with the trustees they are initiating this action against. This leads me to suspect that they may have relied on secondhand, possibly negatively-biased information before becoming the chief proponents of this drastic and expensive action. This impression is further reinforced in reading some of the grounds for recall.
The Recall Notice makes a number of specific allegations. I now examine these one by one.
The proponents state that the four targeted trustees are guilty of the following:
Failed to fulfill prime function of the Governing Board by not assuring development of an adequate strategic financial plan to insure the District's fiscal integrity.
The current strategic plan of the district is over 12 years old, a fact that was recognized by this board last winter when they called for the development of a new strategic plan. They are the first board to do so in many years. They decided that they needed to carefully consider the makeup of the committee that will develop this plan. They also realized that the community was very tied up in the school closure process at that time, and that it might not be good timing to add the strategic plan as well. They therefore decided to delay the process of developing the strategic plan until fall.
I find it interesting that the proponents appear to be unaware of this. It makes me wonder what else they don't know about how this board has performed. And it brings up another issue. This board has inherited a lot of old baggage from former administrations and school boards. Is it fair to expect them to correct all of these problems within six months, all the while dealing with the school closure process and major budget issues?