Michigan voters upset with mask mandates and other school-board actions can organize recall efforts, as Mount Pleasant Public Schools parents are now doing.
Three directors of that central-Michigan school district could be electorally removed owing to public backlash over a requirement that all students up to the age of 12 wear masks in school. Those targeted for recall are Courtney Stegman, Wiline Pangle, and School Board President Amy Bond. Should voters fail to recall them, they will serve their full terms which end in December 2024.
While 39 states have processes for recalling at least some elected officials, only 22 permit recalling school board members. Section 8 Article II of the Michigan Constitution bestows the authority upon citizens to proceed with such elections. It does not require specific grounds to seek a recall of school directors, only that the text of a recall petition stating a reason to seek a politician’s removal be “factual” and “clear.”
Recall petitioners must first file their petition with the appropriate entity — in the case of school directors, the county election commission. After gaining approval by the commission, the petitioner must gather a number of signatures equalling a full quarter of the number of votes cast in the most recent general election held in the district of the public official who the petitioner hopes to remove.
From the point at which the first signatory signs his or her name, the petitioner has 60 days to collect all needed signatures. He or she must submit the signatures within 180 days of the petition’s approval by the election commission.
The commission clerk has 35 days after receiving the signatures to approve or reject the signatures based on the signers’ voter-registration statuses. Upon approval, a recall election will be scheduled to coincide with the next general election.
The mask issue that spurred parents to pursue a recall in Mount Pleasant has been a contentious one. A survey of over 1,600 Mount Pleasant community members was communicated to school directors last month. It indicated that 68 percent of those polled oppose forcing any students to wear masks.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended “universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.” Pangle told ABC 12 earlier this week that she was relying on these recommendations when she voted in favor of a mask mandate.
“I stand by my position on masking children that do not have yet access to the vaccine, following guidance by the CDC, the [American Academy of Pediatrics], and our local health department,” she said.
Despite the alarm federal and state officials have sounded regarding COVID’s spread in the Great Lake State, the seven-day moving average of daily new deaths resulting from the disease has stayed in the single digits since early July. That moving average was five on Wednesday, August 11, according to the widely cited data aggregator worldometers.info.
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