New plan to recall Seattle school board

Oct 8, 2010, 3:01 AM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:46 pm

The people who tried to toss several Seattle School Board members out of office earlier this year are back with a new recall attempt to prove four of the directors violated laws.

Last month a King County Superior Court judge rejected a recall effort against five board members.

“What the judge said the first time around was that we had failed to identify the particular state laws that were violated and to show when those directors violated those state laws,” says Dan Dempsey, with a group that calls itself the Shadow School Board.

He says they’ve done their homework and will file a new case next week against board members Peter Maier, Steve Sundquist, Harium Martin-Morris and Sherry Carr.

“They did not go through a competitive bid for an $800,000 contract,” Dempsey claims. “They did this twice and the first time they didn’t even read the contract that they had approved.”

The group has a number of concerns about the board, but is going after them on one specific issue that Dempsey thinks is a “strong case.”

“We’ve identified a state law that was violated. We can show when they violated the law and how they did it,” he says.

According to documents in the case against Maier, the issue involves two votes – one taken on February 3, the other on April 7 – taken to award a contract for support services for Cleveland High School’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) program. The board says the contract did not need to go up for competitive bids because they have a standard provider for project based learning support.

The four board members named in the documents didn’t know about the legal action until I told them about it. Most have no comment. But Maier says he’s “saddened to hear” of the plans to file another recall petition.

“Recall petitions do not help improve education,” says Maier. “I’m focusing my efforts on working hard to see that all 47,000 Seattle Public School students get the fine education they need and deserve.”

Dempsey is not named as one of the four Seattle citizens who will formally file the complaint. In 2007, Dempsey ran unsuccessfully against board member Steve Sundquist, who is targeted for recall. The four named in the legal documents all voted in favor of the $800,000 contract.

If a judge finds there is sufficient evidence for a suit, the next step is for the King County prosecutor to issue a recall petition. The citizens would then have to gather 32,000 signatures before a recall election of the board members would be scheduled.

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New plan to recall Seattle school board