Tue, Jan 11, 2022 9:34 AM
By Abbey Smith | Ballotpedia via The Center Square, The Center Square
Recall elections against Dave Brown and Brian Shannon, the Zone 6 and 7 representatives on the Newberg School District school board in Oregon, respectively, are being held on Jan. 18. To get the recalls on the ballot, supporters had 90 days to collect signatures equal to 15% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election in the board members’ respective zones
The recall effort against Shannon started after the board voted 4-3 on Aug. 10 to remove Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ pride flags in district schools. The ban also included political signs, clothing, and other items. Shannon wrote the motion for the ban and was joined in voting to approve it by Brown, Trevor DeHart, and Renee Powell. The board voted 4-3 on Sept. 28 to approve a policy banning all political symbols and images from schools. The same four members voted to approve the policy. In the same meeting, the board rescinded the previous policy that specifically mentioned Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ flags. The recall petitions said in part, “Brian Shannon has overreached, driving his ideological agenda in a manner that is both ethically and legally questionable. He does not represent the majority of us. Brian Shannon must be recalled.”
At the school board meeting on Sept 28, Shannon said, “This policy is so innocuous. It just says that teachers can’t display political symbols at work while they’re on school time. That should not be controversial.” He also said that the district needed to support all students. “It still goes back to the fact that we have a lot of kids that are impacted by this positively or negatively,” Brown said. “As a school board, it’s our job to make decisions that are going to be there for every single kid at Newberg High School, not just the kids that are represented in just one group – it has to be all kids.”
The effort to recall Brown began after the board voted 4-3 to fire Superintendent Joe Morelock without cause. Brown initiated the motion and voted in favor of firing Morelock. Morelock had been under contract through June 30, 2024. Recall supporters said the decision to fire Morelock “will cost the district hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
When asked about his decision to vote to fire Superintendent Joe Morelock, Brown talked about the number of students who were leaving the school district. “We’re well past 250 on our way to 300 students, minimum, and it’s growing,” Brown said. He said the district loses approximately $9,000 to $11,000 for each student who leaves. “For a lot of people who have left our school district – they’re a part of this bigger portion that doesn’t feel like they’re being listened to or talked to. And I feel like the culture is going to be the best thing for the student, staff member or parent,” Brown said.
Both Brown and Shannon were elected to the seven-member board in 2019.
Ballotpedia tracked 91 school board recall efforts against 235 board members in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.
In 2021, Ballotpedia covered a total of 346 recall efforts against 535 elected officials. This was the highest number of recall efforts and officials targeted since we started compiling data on recalls in 2012.