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Douglas County Students Oppose Parent's Effort To Recall School Board Members

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) - More than half of the Douglas County School Board has been targeted in a recall effort. A Castle Rock business man and group of parents announced plans for the recall last week, after the school board abruptly postponed the return to the classroom for middle and high school students.

Nate Ormond, who is leading the charge, pledged $100,000 of his own money to get the effort started.

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"That inconsistency has really impacted teachers," said Ormond. "They can't plan for their lessons appropriately. They can't plan how they're even going to be engaging with their students appropriately. Obviously, it impacts the students and their learning tremendously."

Ormond tells CBS4 the group has been working on getting the effort going for weeks. It focuses on four members of the board: Susan Meek, Elizabeth Hanson, Christina Ciancio-Schor and David Ray. The long-term plan is to replace all seven board members.

On Monday, School Board President David Ray issued the following statement on behalf of himself and Directors Ciancio-Schor, Hanson, and Meek:

"We have not received notice that this effort has been officially recognized. However, we are fully aware that emotions are running high with regards to the best educational delivery for our students. We will continue to listen and consider all diverse perspectives (students, staff, and parents) while adhering to public health guidance. Our focus will remain on students as we work with district leadership to implement the most consistent, effective, sustainable and safe educational delivery possible for our students in the midst of a pandemic."

"In November, we're going to target the remaining board, but the most efficient way to recall right now is technically to target just four of them," Ormond said.

In a matter of days, Ormond plans to submit the petition to the county clerk and begin collecting signatures. His goal is to collect 80,000 signatures so an election can be held in April.

"We have over 50 candidates that have raised their hands to be replacement board members," Ormond said.

Until the 2020-2021 school year, Ormond said he never paid attention to the school board, but for the last few months he's grown frustrated with many of the decisions being made, regarding COVID-19 and in-person learning. He calls the latest decision to not allow older students to return to in-person learning, poor leadership.

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"This school board, for whatever reason, has not been able to figure out how to do that and execute that strategically, and I think that just shows a broader lack of leadership on all sorts of issues," Ormond said.

While parents have been vocal in criticizing how the return to in-person learning has been handled, some students are wanting to weigh in.

Ethan Reed, a senior at Legend High School in Parker, said he was happy with the decision for older students to continue remote learning for now.

Recently, Reed has helped start a district-wide Snapchat group for students to communicate and share concerns about the 2020-2021 school year. This past week, several of them spoke up at the recent school board meeting, and they plan to do it again next month.

"We all want to go back full in-person, but when it's safe to do so," Reed said. "Our biggest concern is the lack of resources right now and just how fast they're trying to push this on us."

Reed tells CBS4 he disagrees with the new recall effort and believes it doesn't include the voices of many students.

"If there were a recall petition, I would say that students should be the ones leading that, because we are the ones being affected by this," Reed said. "I just think it's not the right time to right now."

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Reed says the students he has spoken with share a wide range of concerns about returning to the classroom. While some are concerned about getting family members sick, others are worried about new variants of the virus.

Moving forward, Reed and his DCSD classmates hope to keep reaching out to other students to hear their perspectives. They also plan to speak at the next board meeting to urge members to hold off on returning to in-person learning.

"These actions taken by the directors, they're directly affecting us, so that's why we really need a voice at the table too," Reed said.

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