Thursday, September 14, 2023

School board recall petitions are rejected by county

Petitions to recall three of the seven members of the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools Board of Education were rejected by members of the Wayne County Election Commission last month.

The petitions, seeking the recall school board members Lauren Christenson, Patrick Kehoe, and Shawn Wilson were filed Aug. 7 and rejected for lack of clarity on Aug. 17. The remaining three board members were too recently elected to be subject to recall by state law. 

According to election commission documents, the petitioner was Howard L. Ring.  The recall campaign was reportedly prompted by objections to the school board members' 6-1 vote to retire the Canton High School arrowhead logo and eliminate the name "Chiefs" in response to possible claims of cultural appropriation. Trustee Sheryl Picard cast the sole dissenting vote against the measure.

The change of logo and name was unpopular with several parents and district alumni who protested the measure during a fractious July board meeting. The change was prompted by a student presentation to the board members last year arguing that the arrowhead logo and Chief's name were disrespectful to Native Americans. Despite results of a May 2023 community school district supported survey - with 6,206 respondents - which showed a majority of community respondents in favor of keeping the Chiefs name and image, the board members approved the change.

To get a recall on the ballot in Michigan, recall supporters must collect signatures equal in number to 25 percent of voters in the jurisdiction in the last gubernatorial election. They have 60 days between the collection of the first signature and the collection of the last signature on the petition.