Recall of the Parchment School Board, Michigan (2012)
An effort to recall the entire school board from their elected positions on the Parchment, Michigan Board of Education was launched in May 2012. The recall effort was abandoned in July 2012. The seven members of the school board are President Dale Pominville, Vice President Nancy Lenz, Secretary Deb Coates, Treasurer Rhonda Newman and Trustees Tim Lasher, Joel Shaffer and Rob Thayer.
Reasons for recall
Recall organizers, who formed a group called the Parchment Concerned Parents Committee, initiated the recall action because they were upset by the way the school board handled the arrest of a school administrator. On April 4, John Thompson, the Parchment Middle School assistant principal and Parchment High School athletic director, was arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated. Thompson was apprehended by a police officer after a five-mile car chase that reached a speed of up to 120 mph. When Thompson was taken into custody, an open bottle of vodka was found in his car and his blood-alcohol content tested at 0.25, three times the legal limit. On April 23, Thompson was placed on paid leave.
The recall petition states, "following his arrest, the Superintendent kept Thompson in his job working directly with students from April 9th until April 23rd. The Board did not notify parents or the community of the incident at that time, and failed to incite the Superintendent to quickly remove Thompson from student interaction." At a school board meeting on May 21, Parchment parent Shannon Stutz told the board, "I think you fundamentally failed in your obligation to the community."
Path to the ballot
A clarity hearing took place before the Kalamazoo County Election Commission on May 17, and the petition language was approved. Recall organizers theoretically had 90 days to gather signatures, but because Coates and Shaffer have terms that expire on December 31, recall petitions for those individuals would have needed to be filed by June 30. That is because of a state law that says recall petitions cannot be filed during the last six months of an official's term of office. Recall organizers would have needed to submit signatures by August 3 for the other recall targets. In July, the leader of the recall effort, John Wagner, moved to a different city, and the recall effort came to an end.
- Kalamazoo News, "Parchment school board targeted for recall over handling of administrator John Thompson's drunken-driving arrest", May 4, 2012
- Kalamazoo News, "Movement to recall Parchment school board members fizzling out", July 25, 2012
- WOOD TV, "Police: 'Super drunk' AD invoked Supt.", April 25, 2012
- MLive.com, "Parchment residents offer criticism, praise of school board over handling of John Thompson's arrest", May 21, 2012
- MLive.com, "Parchment group seeking to recall school board has only a month to collect signatures for two of the seven trustees", May 30, 2012