Will Smith recall, Santa Maria-Bonita School District, California (2012)

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An effort to recall Will Smith from his position on the school board of the Santa Maria-Bonita School District in California was launched in May 2012.[1] The recall effort fell short in October 2012.[2] Smith was elected to the school board in 2010.

Reasons for recall

Glenn Goldin led the recall effort against Smith. Smith is a former teacher in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District. He was suspended eight times from his teaching position before eventually resigning and reaching a settlement with the district. Reasons for his suspensions included the use of corporal punishment, serious misconduct, dishonesty, misuse of a district computer and intimidation of a student. Smith has said the allegations against him have never been proven. He said he is confident that he is fulfilling his duties as a board member by raising issues about excessive district spending, buildings that aren’t seismically sound, and the need for a Spanish interpreter at board meetings.[1] Smith's disruptions at school board meetings have resulted in several recesses being called and multiple calls to police. Smith has filed a number of lawsuits against the district.[3] Goldin says, "it just is not the behavior that we should expect from our leaders. We do not need to have people on the board who are trying to bring the board down. The reason that we’re here is because everyone deserves the right to be heard.”[3] The district teacher's union voted to support the recall effort.[4]

School district officials said the 47 separate legal actions between the school district and Smith have cost the school district $864,000 in legal fees.[5]

Smith is censured

On June 6, the Santa Maria-Bonita School District board voted to censure Smith due to unethical behavior. Smith will not be removed from the board, but the censure shows that the other school board members do not approve of his conduct. The censure was the result of findings from an ad hoc committee that compiled 2,300 pages of evidence against Smith.[4]

Path to the ballot

Recall supporter Glenn Goldin collected 14 signatures to initiate the recall process. Smith was served with the notice of intent to recall on May 16.[4] Recall organizers had 120 days to gather the signatures of 20% of the district's voters. That amounted to about 4,800 signatures.[6] The deadline for submitting signatures was October 29, 2012.[5] On the signature submission deadline, recall organizers announced that they had collected 4,383 signatures, which was 586 signatures short of the amount necessary to force a recall election.[2]

See also