Intent to circulate recall petitions have been filed for Calaveras Unified School District Board of Trustee President Sherri Reusche, and Area 3 Trustee Dennis Dunnigan according to documents obtained from the Calaveras County elections office.
Two notices, both filed on Oct. 23, seek to remove Reusche, who represents Area 1, and Dunnigan from their seats. The recall notices claim that the trustees have failed to complete the duties of their offices, which the notice included consideration of the concerns and views expressed by the community regarding educational programs and policies implemented by the district.
Furthermore, the recall notices claim that both Reusche and Dunnigan “remain complacent in maintaining these failed programs and policies rather than advocating for, and promoting the community’s interest.”
The notices were filed by Lauren Milmore, a parent who lives in the district.
On Monday, both Reusche and Dunnigan had filed responses with the county elections office.
In her response to the notice, Reusche called the accusations both false and unsubstantiated.
“To say I do not listen to my constituents or abide by the policies of CUSD is ridiculous,” said Reusche in the response.
In her response, she mentioned starting Trunk or Treat in 2003 as a fundraiser, and continued fundraising efforts at Jenny Lind Elementary School. She also served on the Jenny Lind Safety Committee and chaired Fine Arts Day. She is currently the president of the San Andreas Rotary Club.
She also served as a San Joaquin Delta College liaison for Calaveras County from 2014-2016 and was vice president of the California School Board Association in 2015.
“I continue to serve my community and county to the best of my ability,” she said.
Dunnigan said in his response that he was concerned that the proponents of the recall lack the experience or training to negotiate the fiscal responsibilities facing the district and are making emotional and subjective decisions.
“It appears that (I am) being held accountable for the correction of programs and policies that preceded (my) service by years, if not decades,” Dunnigan wrote in the response.
His response also notes that the board is to represent students, certificated teachers, classified employees, nonunion employees, parents and taxpayers.
Reusche has served on the board since 2004 and was re-elected most recently in 2016. She was appointed to replace Karan Bowsher as board president after Bowsher stepped down for personal reasons earlier this year. Reusche’s term expires in 2020.
Dunnigan was elected during the same election in 2016. He has yet to complete his first year on the board.
The recall notices come on the heels of a four-day strike staged by the Calaveras Unified Educators Association, the district’s teachers’ union, that mostly shut down operations at Toyon Middle and Calaveras High schools. Outside of the district office as teachers and parents picketed, flyers detailing the recall were distributed. Milly said that the recall would have happened regardless of whether the strike occurred.
“I am only one of five board members,” said Reusche. We all have to make collective decisions. We are very happy we have settled and now it’s time for healing and to get back to serviging our students, our parents and our staff.”
Zerrall McDaniel serves on the board with Dunnigan and Reusche and said that she was disappointed that any member of the community would move forward with a recall.
“We have no personal agendas and both Sherri and Dennis are dedicated members of this board, only making decisions that are in the best interest of kids and the district,” McDaniel said in an email. “I am deeply saddened and disappointed that teachers and all other staff are supporting these actions by their silence and inaction.”
Now that the responses have been filed, the clock begins ticking. State law requires recall documents be filed with the Secretary of State’s office within 10 days after responses are filed after the notices of recall are submitted. The Secretary of State has 10 days to determine whether the documents meet the necessary standards.
Milmore said that she has already prepared the recall documents for submission.
After submission, supporters of the recall efforts will have 60 days to collect enough signatures for the recall and resubmit the notice to the elections office, after which, the signatures will be authenticated and an election date will be set.
It would take 833 signatures to force a recall of Dunnigan and 830 for Reusche, according to county Elections Coordinator Robin Glanville.
The recalls are the second and third recall notices to be filed within the past two months in Calaveras County. In September, a recall notice was filed against Calaveras County District 3 Supervisor Jack Garamendi.