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Recall petitions target three Appleton school board members

Recall petitions target three Appleton school board members, Sept. 30, 2020. (Photo Courtesy of Ann Deegs)
Recall petitions target three Appleton school board members, Sept. 30, 2020. (Photo Courtesy of Ann Deegs)
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APPLETON (WLUK) -- Frustrations over schooling during the coronavirus pandemic have boiled over in Appleton.

A parent is trying to have three school board members removed from office. Erik Hansen submitted the documents to the Wisconsin Elections Commission on Tuesday. They name Appleton school board president Kay Eggert, vice president Leah Olson, and treasurer James Bowman.

The language on each document says the school board members, "willfully neglected to act on behalf of families in the Appleton Area School District. In addition, (their) negligence to ensure that Appleton Area School District provides the best educational opportunities to maximize the achievement of our students will have a significant negative and lasting effect on our school district, and the Appleton community."

“This is our Hail Mary pass to try to get some change to happen,” Hansen said.

That Hail Mary pass? Filing statements of intent to circulate recall petitions for the three school board members.

“Our really only choice is to change the school board,” said Hansen.

Hansen says, the recall efforts stem from the school board’s unwillingness to listen or work with parents on a plan to offer some in-person learning. Appleton students have been learning on an all-virtual model for the entire year.

And Hansen is not the only one who’s frustrated.

A Facebook group now called AASD Parents and Students Looking for Change has grown to more than a thousand members in less than a month.

Members have marched and started a YouTube channel, hoping to get some answers from the district.

Hansen says, Monday night's school board meeting was the last straw.

“There weren’t any new glimmers of hope, so to say, of us being back anytime soon, or really any glimmer of hope on the horizon,” he said.

Parents say, they’re willing to hold marches, like the one that took place at City Park Sunday, knock on doors, and even go as far as recalling school board members, if that’s what it takes to get their voices heard.

FOX 11 reached out to the members targeted in the petitions. Eggert declined our request for an interview, saying it would be inappropriate for her to comment. Treasurer James Bowman has not responded. Olson gave us this statement:

I understand why some people are upset and angry. Things are really tough right now. I'm sad people thought we weren't listening to their concerns.

But she also says:

This is not the right time for our students to return to the classroom, but that does not mean that the current conditions of the pandemic will continue inde?nitely.

“Yeah, we have to be cognizant of what’s happening around us, with the virus, nobody’s asking to not do that, but let’s have a start,” said Hansen. “Sitting on our hands and doing nothing is not an option for our kids.”

Hansen says he needs about 7,000 signatures to be successful in recalling the board members.

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Appleton's school board has seven members. State law prevents three of them from being removed before April. Hansen says Deb Truyman is the only member he would not try to remove, claiming she is the only member who has made an effort to work with parents.

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