Recall Effort Begins for 6 AAPS Trustees

Jody Huhn has submitted language to recall six of the seven trustees on the Ann Arbor Public Schools board of education: Simone Lightfoot, Susan Baskett, Irene Patalan, Glenn Nelson, Andy Thomas, and Christine Stead. Not named in the recall effort is board president Deb Mexicotte.

In documents submitted to the Washtenaw County director of elections, Huhn cites  four reasons for this recall [.pdf of recall petition language]:

(1) failure to demonstrate thoughtful consideration of constituent priorities; (2) failure to demonstrate transparency in decision-making; (3) failure to demonstrate cohesive and singular direction as evidenced by consistent split voting; (4) failure to provide sufficient backing and support for district superintendent position as evidenced by high turnover rate averaging 2.25 years per term.

Updated after initial publication: State election law prohibits the filing of a recall petition against elected officials who are in the first year of their term, if that term is longer than two years. Nor can such officials be recalled in the final year of their term, for terms longer than two years. Deb Mexicotte was re-elected to a four-year term in November 2012, for the only AAPS trustee position on that ballot – so she is still serving the first year of her current term. This particular recall constraint was part of broader amendments in state election law P.A. 417 of 2012, according to Ed Golembiewski, Washtenaw County’s director of elections. [.pdf of P.A. 417 of 2012]

Initial steps of a recall require that ballot language be deemed clear and factual by the board of election commissioners in the jurisdiction of the elected officials who are the target of the recall. Clarity is defined in terms of the ability of the officer whose recall is being sought and for electors to identify the course of conduct that is the basis for the recall. The Washtenaw County board of election commissioners are Donald E. Shelton, chief judge of the Washtenaw County Trial Court; Larry Kestenbaum, county clerk/register of deeds; and Catherine McClary, county treasurer.

The most recent AAPS superintendent, Patricia Green, turned in her resignation in early April after a little less than two years on the job. Her resignation took effect in mid-July.

Huhn is an AAPS parent who had supported Ben Edmondson for the superintendent’s position. Edmonson, principal at district’s Roberto Clemente Student Development Center, had been one of six semi-finalists selected by the AAPS board in its current superintendent search, but was not picked as one of the two finalists. Those two finalists – Brian Osborne and Jeanice Kerr Swift – are not internal candidates. The AAPS board is expected to make its final selection at a meeting on Friday, July 19 at 5:30 p.m. at the Balas administration building, 2555 S. State St. The meeting is open to the public.

Huhn submitted the recall documents on July 17. The Washtenaw County board of election commissioners will hold a clarity/factual review hearing on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 at 1 p.m. in the boardroom of the Washtenaw County administration building at 220 N. Main St., Ann Arbor. Without approval by the board, the recalls can’t move forward unless the decisions are appealed.