Proposed Law Would Allow School Board Members To Be Removed By Recall Petition
Beverly Cantrell - February 11, 2022 9:16 am
A proposed state law would allow school board members to potentially be removed from their position through a recall petition. Oklahoma currently has no law to recall any elected official, from the Governor all the way to school board members.
Senate Pro Tempore Greg Treat authored the bill and it was introduced during the start of the legislative session. Treat says the idea is to give parents more say in public education.
The bill currently calls for any recall petition to be signed by only 10% of the total amount of voters in the last election. School board races traditionally have lower voter turnout.
Broken Arrow, one of Oklahoma’s largest school districts, had only 803 total voters in the most recent school board election. Only 81 signatures would be needed to petition for the removal of a school board member if this bill were to become law.
In smaller districts like Sperry, only 275 voters took part in the last school board election, meaning only 28 eligible signatures would be needed.
If a recall petition were to reach the appropriate amount of signatures, the bill states school boards must issue a new election date within 10 days. There are some exceptions, including no elections until a board member has been in office for 180 days and no elections within 180 days before the next election.
Sen. Treat authored the bill after he says parents were left in the dark during the pandemic.
“When schools were shut down, when everything went electronic, there was some good reason for that, but there was no accountability of how the decision was made,” said Treat.
Dr. Shawn Hime, the executive director of the Oklahoma State School Board Association, says he is an opponent of the bill in its current language.
“Prior to two years ago and still today, I believe people believed in their local schools, you didn’t have this controversy, you didn’t have the unrest,” said Dr. Hime. “A lot of it comes from more of those partisan national issues to where we’re talking about mask or no mask, virtual or in-person.”
Dr. Hime told News On 6 all elected officials should, at the least, be held to the same standard.
“If they’ll put in legislators and city and county and other officials, we’d be happy to make sure that school board members live by the same rules that our other elected officials do,” said Dr. Hime.
Both sides call for higher voter turnout in these elections. Sen. Treat has authored a separate bill calling for the movement of school board elections to take place at the same time as other elections.
“If you think only a hundred [people] are going to cause a recall, really encourage people to participate in these elections,” said Sen. Treat.
The bill currently sits in the education committee awaiting a second reading.