Recall efforts against four Gwinn School Board members have hit a roadblock. On Wednesday morning, the Marquette County Election Commission met to rule on the clarity and factuality of the recall petitions.
The commission is made up of three members: Marquette County Probate Court Judge Cheryl Hill, Marquette County Clerk Peter Dishnow and Marquette County Treasurer Anne Giroux. All three voted to reject the language, citing it as vague and a matter of opinion.
The four school board members targeted by the petitions were President Gloria Bigelow, Secretary Cindy Filizetti, trustee Michelle Dolby and trustee Ronald Libey. All four spoke at the meeting, as did the petitioner, Leesa Misterly.
The four separate petitions all included the same wording. They made no mention of the controversial closing of Gilbert Elementary that is slated for the end of this school year.
Hill read the petition language aloud at the beginning of the meeting. It read: "This member should be recalled for malfeasance and/or nonfeasance of the duties incumbent upon a person elected to a public school board in the State of Michigan. This school board member breached his/her fiduciary duty by failing to become properly informed in issues concerning the school district prior to voting on said issue, resulting in the Gwinn Area Community Schools having a negative operating budget for the 2012-13 school year and virtually no fund balance. This school board member further breached his/her duty by failing to properly oversee the actions of the school's administration, resulting in a financial crisis; poor or non-maintenance of buses, buildings, and other school infrastructure; and a failure to institute a long term and sustainable plan to adequately provide new text books and other learning aides for classrooms. For the welfare of the Gwinn Area Schools, this member should be recalled."
The group behind the petition has planned a meeting for Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. at the Gwinn VFW to determine what to do next.
"This wasn't all of our decision," Misterly said. "The recall wasn't the total decision that we were making. We are trying to come up with ideas, and we plan to go forward to the board and give them our suggestions. This is not to just condemn people, it's to say, 'We're all willing to help, but we have to figure this out or we're not going to have a school.'"
Bigelow said the board is focusing on preparing Gilbert students to move to Sawyer Elementary.
"We are also going to be working on other areas in our budget so that we can have a balanced budget on June 30th," she said.
The decision can be appealed in Marquette County Circuit Court ten days. A new petition can also be submitted at a later date.