Nate Easley recall, Denver Public Schools, Colorado (2011)
In late March 2011, about 6,000 signatures on recall petitions were submitted to election officials. After election officials scrutinized the signatures for validity, they were found to not contain sufficient signatures to trigger a recall, and therefore, no recall election took place.
Easley was first elected to the school board on November 3, 2009.
Easley and his supporters fought back against the recall.
93,441 registered voters would have been eligible to vote in the recall election, if one had taken place.
Supporters of recall
- John McBride filed the recall petition with the Denver Elections Division on January 20, 2011. McBride ran in 2007 as an at-large candidate for the school board. McBride said he started the recall because Easley was "not performing [on] promises he made." McBride's objections to Easley's work on the board were in part related to Easley's vote for the turnaround changes proposed for the schools located in the far northeastern part of Denver.
- A 527 political group called "Friends of Education" was formed to organize the recall.
- The registered agent for "Friends of Education" was Nicolas Weiser. Weiser worked on the unsuccessful school board campaign of Christopher Scott, who also supported the Easley recall.
- Some believed that school board members Andrea Merida, Arturo Jimenez and Jeannie Kaplan were behind the recall, along with the teacher's union.
- A group called Democrats for Excellent Neighborhood School Education (DeFENSE) was also in favor of the recall.
Opponents of recall
- Gov. John Hickenlooper, whose name was listed on a "Decline to Sign" flyer.
- Wellington Webb, a former mayor of Denver, recorded robocalls urging voters not to sign the recall petition. Webb said, "We're going to fight like the dickens to make sure Nate continues to be a member of the Denver school board. He's making tough decisions for what's in the best interest of our kids."
- State legislators Michael Johnston, Angela Williams and Beth McCann.
The Denver Post was opposed to the recall, writing in an editorial on January 23, 2011, "The effort to recall Nate Easley Jr. from Denver's school board is a joke. It's the unfortunate byproduct of the rancorous relationship between education reformers in Denver and those who seek to thwart change. If the recall effort is successful, it will set back education reform in Denver and the reverberations will be heard across the country."
The Post's editorial board went on to say that those leading the recall thought that Easley was going to be a "reliable vote for positions backed by the teachers union, which has a history of objecting to plans that involve charters and magnets," whereas Easley has shown openness to involving charter and magnets in the mix of options to fix Denver's worst schools.
Teacher's unions, according to the Post, "dumped a lot of money" into the effort to get Easley elected, and therefore were very upset when Easley voted to support a plan put forward by Superintendent Tom Boasberg to overhaul schools in the Montbello and Green Valley Ranch areas in far northeastern Denver.
Easley's campaign issued a statement in late March 2011 that said:
"At a time when our school district is facing incredible financial hardships, I feel that it is the exact wrong time to be forcing us to divert over $100,000 from our classrooms to pay for this politically motivated recall election,” read the statement. “At this time, it seems very unlikely that proponents of this politically motivated recall election have been able to gather enough support to force an election. However, if they are successful in forcing the district to expend precious resources on this, then I welcome the opportunity to debate our choices Ń do we step backward, and accept the failed status quo, or do we move forward, and embrace the challenge of doing whatever is necessary to ensure that every child in Denver has the opportunity to attend a great school? I am confident that voters in my district will join me in moving forward with positive changes to improve DPS."
Path to the ballot
To force a recall vote, recall organizers had to collect 5,363 signatures from registered voters in the 60-day window that began on January 26, 2011, when the recall paperwork was approved for circulation. The figure of 5,363 signatures was calculated by taking 40% of the 13,408 votes that were cast in Easley's District 4 school board election in November 2009.
In late March 2011, about 6,000 signatures on recall petitions were submitted.
The Denver Elections Division had 10 days to review the signatures.
Cost of election
The administrative costs of holding a special recall election was estimated by the Denver Elections Division to be $100,000.
- Recall campaigns in Colorado
- Andrea Merida recall, Denver Public Schools, Colorado (2010)
- School board recalls
- Laws governing recall in Colorado
- Easley for Better Schools
- Take Back Our Schools, campaign finance reports for pro-recall group
- Easley 4 Better Schools, campaign finance reports for anti-recall group
- Denver Post, "Recall effort begun against DPS board president," January 20, 2011
- The Denver Daily News, "Not easy for Nate Easley," March 30, 2011
- Denver Daily News, "EASLEY RECALL BALLOT INITIATIVE DEEMED INSUFFICIENT," April 14, 2011
- Westword, "Andrea Merida's classroom behavior has earned her a seat apart on the Denver school board," September 23, 2010
- Westword, "Nate Easley recall: DPS board president fights back with fliers, robocalls, political allies," February 16, 2011
- The Denver Daily News, "Recall election would be costly," March 29, 2011
- Denver Post, "The campaign to boot DPS's Nate Easley is on," February 7, 2011
- Denver Examiner, "Denver school board members who skipped public forum add fuel to the fire," February 18, 2011
- Denver Post, "Editorial: School board member's recall would be a setback," January 23, 2011
- Letter authorizing circulation of recall petitions
- Ed News Colorado, "Recall organizers meet signature deadline," March 29, 2011
- Denver Post, "Recall election for DPS board president Nate Easley could cost $100,000," February 23, 2010
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