WAVERLY – The Waverly School Board will hold a recall election in January after petitioners received the 88 signatures needed to force a vote to remove school board president Andy Grosshans.
The recall offer was tabled by Rebecca Kellner-Ratzlaff following the board’s extension in July of a resolution that gives Waverly Public Schools Principal Dr Cory Worrell the power to make decisions about the district’s COVID-19 response without waiting for a scheduled school board meeting or calling a special meeting.
“By passing this resolution, Mr. Grosshans is silencing the representation he was elected to defend by his constituents,” Kellner-Ratzlaff wrote in his request for petitions filed Sept. 7.
Grosshans’ defense statement included in the petition reads: “For over 12 years, I have worked hard to make informed decisions to provide the students of District 145 with a safe environment in which to receive an exceptional education. In these difficult times, I hope to continue to show understanding and patience as we use key resources and experts in the field to do what is in the best interests of all students.
The resolution was developed and approved at the start of the pandemic in April 2020, and the school board voted on July 5 to extend the resolution for the duration of the 2021-22 school year.
Grosshans said school attorney Justin Knight estimated that 90% of school districts in Nebraska passed similar resolutions in the 2020-21 school year, and about 40% re-passed resolutions for the current school year. Knight told Grosshans that many school districts felt the worst of the pandemic was over and they could “let their guard down” for 2021-2022.
“We didn’t feel like it was over yet and that we could afford to do it,” Grosshans said. “We thought it was important that Dr Worrell had the ability to make quick decisions. These things with COVID can happen very, very quickly, and if we have to rely on calling a meeting where there are days off, then sometimes we are wasting precious time. ”
The risk of COVID-19 transmission in Lancaster County is still high, according to the Lincoln-Lancaster County Department of Health Risk Number.
In August, Worrell exercised his authority granted by the resolution, choosing to follow an LLCHD recommendation that children under 12 wear masks in school. Masks are currently mandatory for all Kindergarten to Grade 12 students in District 145.
On September 6, parents in District 145 attended the regular school board meeting to voice concerns over the decision to require masks at school. A parent, Angie Stara, co-founded a Facebook group called “Unmask Our Dist. 145 Kids, “and wrote in an email to The Waverly News after the meeting explaining that the group’s goal was” to get school board members to take back the power they gave the superintendent in July. , decisions only by itself.
The next day, Kellner-Ratzlaff filed for a recall of Grosshans. She was part of the “Unmask Our Dist. 145 Kids ”and in August had actively filed a petition against the school board’s initial decision to require masks for the 2021-22 school year. Kellner-Ratzlaff could not be reached for comment.
Grosshans said he understands why citizens are frustrated, but he said the district’s COVID-19 response was aimed at ensuring students receive in-person education.
“I’m like everyone else, I don’t like wearing a mask more than anyone else,” Grosshans said. “But I have a responsibility to the students and staff in this district to do everything possible to ensure the safety and health of the people while providing the best option for a quality education.”
Grosshans was a written candidate for the seat of the Waverly School Board in Ward 4 in the 2020 election. He had previously served on the school board since 2008 but had no plans to run for the seat in 2020. No other candidate has come forward. presented before the deadline of March 2, 2020, and the pandemic had its first impact locally that month.
“I was like, well, I’ll go ahead and try to serve another term to help get through this really tough time,” Grosshans said. “At this point, I had to run as a candidate in writing, and by its very nature, that’s going to attract a lot less votes.”
He won the election with 101 votes out of 249 in total. For a recall petition to be sufficient under State Law 32-1303 (1), it must receive signatures totaling at least 35% of the number of votes cast in general elections. Rounding off, 35% of 249 equals 88.
Now the nearly 1,400 voters in Ward 4 will receive mail-in ballots stating, “Should Andy Grosshans be removed from his post on Lancaster County School District 55-145 board of directors, Waverly School District 145 a / k / a? ? ”Voters will then tick“ Yes ”or“ No. ”The ballots must be returned to the Lancaster County Election Commission by 5:00 pm on January 11.
Sam Crisler is a reporter for The Waverly News. Contact him by email at [email protected]