School board recall proponents drop bid
Proponents of an effort to recall three school board members who voted to implement an anti-gay bullying curriculum in Alameda’s elementary schools have called a halt to those efforts.
“S.E.R.V.E. Alameda, proponents of the Recall of (Tracy) Jensen, (Ron) Mooney, & Neil (sp) Tam, are withdrawing from our signature-gathering campaign, thus no longer seeking to recall these three Board Members,” S.E.R.V.E.’s Kevin and Kellie Wood wrote in a letter to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.
In a press release delivered to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters on December 23, the group said their efforts pressured the School Board to develop a more comprehensive anti-bullying plan, and they vowed to help further those efforts. A book list to go along with the enhanced set of lessons is still to be developed.
Kevin Wood said he realizes the community “needs healing” after the bruising debate over the lessons, and he said he is “desperately searching for ways to improve the performance of the schools.”
Still, he said that if the matter isn’t resolved to his satisfaction, he’ll campaign against any new parcel tax placed on the ballot. Another committee is working to develop a new parcel tax to replace the district’s two existing ones.
Kevin Wood said the recall effort had strong support at the outset, but he said the group lost a lot of its support along the way. He said the remainder of the group “soldiered on” in order to put pressure on the board.
Wood declined to say how many people signed the group’s petitions to get a recall on the ballot. The group would have needed to have gathered the signatures of 20 percent of Alameda’s registered voters, or about 8,600 people, by the end of the day today in order to qualify the recall for the ballot.
Wood said the group is in the process of destroying the signature petitions so those who did sign can’t be identified and so they won’t face reprisals for their decision to sign.
Two of the three board trustees who faced recall, who sounded palpably relieved when a reporter told them the recall efforts had ended, said they’re glad they can move on to work on other issues the district is facing.
“All I can say is, I’m happy to be past this and that we can continue to work to have safe schools,” Jensen said.
Mooney said he’s glad to be able to focus more of his energy on the district’s master plan, though he said he wasn’t surprised the recall effort failed, calling it the work of “a small group of people upset that we discussed anything about homosexuals in our schools.”
Tam could not be reached for comment.
The three trustees cast the deciding yes votes in a May 26 decision to include anti-gay bullying lessons as part of the district’s existing elementary school anti-violence curriculum. Hundreds of people turned out to speak both for and against the lessons, which became fodder for the national media and the subject of both the recall and a lawsuit seeking an opt-out for parents who didn’t want them taught to their children. (An Alameda County Superior Court judge denied the request, but the parents’ attorney has said he will appeal.)