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Reaction mixed to recall petitions for D-11 school board

Reaction mixed to recall petitions for D-11 school board

bCOLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Wasson High School neighbors had mixed feelings about the recall petitions filed for the six D-11 school board members that voted to shut down Wasson High School and two elementary schools.

The decision to shut down the schools -- Wasson High School, Lincoln Elementary School and Bates Elementary school -- passed in a 6-1 vote at the beginning of February. The six school board members that voted to shut down the schools are Elaine Naleski, Nora Brown, Al Loma, Sandra Mann, Luann Long and Jan Tanner. The only board member who voted not to close the schools was Bob Null.

Several D-11 parents launched the recall petition drive. A recall of elected officials is a procedure that allows citizens to remove or replace officials before the end of their term.

The Clerk and Recorder's Office has seven business days to approve or disapprove the petitions. Once the petitions are approved, those who filed the petition will have 60 days to gather signatures. They'll need to collect at least 15,000 signatures for each board member they want to recall.

The Designated Election Official (DEO) with the Clerk and Recorder's Office has 15 days to verify the signatures. This is followed by a 15-day protest period. If a protest is filed, a hearing is set and heard by the DEO. If not, and the petitions are approved, a date is set for election.

"I would absolutely support the petition because Wasson needs to stay open. It's an awesome school.  I had two girls that graduated from there. I don't know why they would even suggest shutting it down," said Rebekka Kanzler.

Kanzler's son currently attends Wasson High School. She said he is excelling at school and she is impressed by the teachers' efforts to reach out to her family. She said she's reached out to the school asking if there was anything she and her family could do to keep the school open.

Wasson High School senior Bobby Gonzales said he would also sign the petition.

"I don't want them to be out of a job but if they're not doing their job correctly they deserve to be replaced in my opinion," said Gonzales.

He hopes the recall petitions will lead to a re-vote on closing the school. He said he and classmates are trying to make the best of their last year. He said even though he is graduating, the board's decision will still affect him.

"We moved into this neighborhood specifically to go to Wasson and now it's closing so we have to move somewhere else," said Gonzales. "It's going to be like that for a lot of people."

Yvonne Jacobs is Gonzales' neighbor. She doesn't have any students at Wasson High School but said the decision will impact the neighborhood.

"Closing Wasson High school doesn't give our neighborhood an opportunity to mature," said Jacobs. She said a lot of families with young children moved into houses in the neighborhood because of the school.

"It's safe, we like it that way so I don't think the school board looked at the situation from the parents and the residents point of view."

She was looking forward to sending her 8-year-old to Wasson High School because it's walking distance from her house.

"Nobody asked us about it. They didn't ask us, 'Hey where are your kids going to go to school later on?'"

Jacobs said while the school board made a poor decision, she isn't in favor of the recall petitions.

"I don't think a leader makes an easy decisions and should be replaced just because they did something that I don't like. We can't do that, that's not part of a democracy," said Jacobs.

She said there are alternative solutions.

"To fire them is a bit rushed. Maybe a little more accountability as to why they voted in that direction and the possibility of replacement at voting time," said Jacobs. "District 11 is huge. It's a little much. A petitions to fire them is inappropriate , I think there are other things to do."



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