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Clerk verifies signatures in Platte Canyon school board recall

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Effort targeting all five members headed for November ballot

By Sal Christ

The Park County clerk has confirmed that the group seeking to recall all five members of the Platte Canyon school board collected enough signatures to force a recall election in November.

According to Clerk and Recorder Debra Green, Parents and Citizens for Education delivered a total of nearly 3,500 signatures to the county’s offices on Aug. 22 — more than the 3,220 total signatures needed to recall the five board members. The clerk’s office finished verifying signatures on the petitions to recall Chet Lawrence, Katie Spodyak, Katy Davis, Susan Carpenter and Jon DeStefano late Tuesday.

PACE needed 646 signatures for each board member it wanted to recall, and according to Green the group gathered:

 • 719 signatures to recall Lawrence.

•  684 signatures to recall Spodyak.

• 677 signatures to recall Davis.

• 678 signatures to recall Carpenter.

• 706 signatures to recall DeStefano.

Bryan Curtis, board president of PACE, said he was satisfied with the initial outcome of the group’s efforts and was “humbled at the willingness of people to step up and help out.”

“We are excited that we might be able to see some positive change in the school district. … The next phase is getting ready for the election, and PACE is willing to host ‘meet the candidate’ nights and debates between board member candidates,” he said. “We are anticipating some sort of protest from somebody, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens over the next couple of weeks.”

PACE has charged that the school district isn’t delivering on “high student achievement” in the form of ACT scores and graduation rates, and that the school board discourages public involvement in decisions. The group has also expressed concerns about poor management in the district and about water quality and emergency exits at Deer Creek Elementary School.

 

What happens next

Between now and Sept. 12, a 15-day waiting period will take place during which time anyone can lodge a complaint protesting the validity of the petitions or the conduct of those who circulated the petitions. In the event that protests are lodged, members of PACE will have to prove that the grounds on which they asked for a recall were accurate and not misleading.

In the event that the recall goes unchallenged, items will go on the Nov. 8 general election ballot. Text for that ballot, as well as candidates for any of the seats in which a board member is recalled, must be delivered by Sept. 27 to make the November ballot and avoid a later special election.

According to Green, the recall election will cost the school district an estimated $10,000, based on the number of registered voters in the county.

The seats of Lawrence, Spodyak and Carpenter are up for regular election next year. Curtis has conceded that the community has not been as engaged with the school district as it could have been — no board seats have been contested in elections since 2009.

 

Contact reporter Sal Christ at sal@evergreenco.com or at 303-350-1035.