Recall targets Gwinn school board

MARQUETTE – A recall petition filed against four Gwinn Area Community Schools board of education members will be reviewed May 8 by the Marquette County Election Commission.

The hearing will take place from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. in the Probate Courtroom located on the ground floor of the Henry A. Skewis Courthouse Annex at 234 W. Baraga Ave. in Marquette.

Seated on the election commission are Marquette County Probate Judge Cheryl Hill, Marquette County Clerk Peter Dishnow and Marquette County Treasurer Anne Giroux.

The group will rule on the clarity and factuality of recall language against GACS board President Gloria Bigelow, Secretary Cindy Filizetti, and trustees Ron Libey and Michelle Dolby.

Board members not being targeted by the recall campaign are Vice President Ruth Spade, Treasurer Ron Lauren and trustee Bill Nordeen.

The recall petition was filed with the Marquette County Clerk’s office by Gwinn resident Leesa Nordeen Misterly.

Recall language against all four board members reads as follows:

“This member should be recalled for malfeasance and/or nonfeasance of the duties incumbent upon a person elected to a public school board in the State of Michigan. This school board member breached his/her fiduciary duty by failing to become properly informed on issues concerning the school district prior to voting on said issue, resulting in the Gwinn Area Community Schools having a negative operating budget for the 2012-2013 school year and virtually no fund balance. This school board member further breached his/her duty by failing to properly oversee the actions of the school’s administration, resulting in a financial crisis; poor or non-maintenance of buses, buildings, and other school infrastructure; and a failure to institute a long-term and sustainable plan to adequately provide new text books & other learning aides for classrooms. For the welfare of the Gwinn Area Schools this member should be recalled.”

If the language is approved by the commission, Misterly will have 180 days to gather at least 801 signatures in order to place the recall on a ballot.

The 801 signatures represent 25 percent of the number of votes cast for governor in the 2010 election by voters in the Gwinn Area Community School district.

Dishnow said only signatures that are less than 60 days old from the date of filing will be accepted.

From there, Dishnow said his office will have at least 95 days to review the signatures before an election can be held.

Recent changes to election law mean a successful petition creates a vacant seat on the board rather than forcing a recall election. The collected 801 signatures would allow for an open election on the newly vacated seat. The former board member could run for re-election.

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.