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Recall elections fail in Idaho Falls and Pocatello/Chubbuck school districts

Education

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IDAHO FALLS — Recall elections failed in Idaho Falls School District 91 and Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 on Tuesday.

One board member in District 91 — Zone 4 Trustee Elizabeth Cogliati — was subject to a recall vote after a group of residents took issue with her stance on COVID-19 restrictions in Idaho Falls schools. During board meetings, Cogliati encouraged hybrid online/in-class learning and was a strong proponent of masks as a way to slow the spread of the virus.

In the statement on Tuesday’s ballot, the leaders pushing for Cogliati’s recall said the following: “An overwhelming number of citizens and parents have made their desires known to the Board of Trustees regarding the availability of in-person learning and the detrimental effects that the hybrid schedule adopted by the Board of Trustees on Wednesday, September 30, 2020, would have on our children. Despite the desires of we the parents, Trustee Cogliati has failed to place the needs and desires of students and parents first.”

RELATED | D91 recall efforts move forward; group files lawsuit over signatures

Cogliati defended herself in a statement also printed on the ballot. “When the pandemic hit, and Idaho’s governor locked down the entire state, D91 established multiple committees, including parents and teachers, to figure out how to reopen schools safely. I and others on the board followed their recommendations. Using broad public input and all available science, we have reassessed and adjusted whenever new data became available.”

The majority of voters Tuesday appeared to side with Cogliati’s handling of the situation.

For recall elections to succeed they must meet two criteria. First, a majority of voters in a given election must vote to recall the elected official. Second, the total number of people voting to recall the elected official must be higher than the number of votes they initially received when they were voted into office.

For Cogliati to be recalled, at least 221 people would have had to vote against her, and they would have to represent the majority of voters. Cogliati won on both counts. Of the 455 people who voted in the recall, only 40% (183 votes) voted to recall, while about 60 percent (272 votes) voted against the recall.

RELATED: Three PCSD 25 trustees will face recall election

The same thing happened in Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25.

Zone 1 Trustee Jackie Cranor, Zone 2 Trustee Janie Gebhardt, and Zone 5 Trustee Dave Mattson will stay in office. In each of the three races, over 50 percent of voters were against recalling the trustees.

The parents pushing for the recalls had very similar reasons to the parents in District 91. They felt the trustees were “showing an unwillingness to listen to the electorate that wants the school children to have the option of full-time in-school attendance.”

Similar to Cogliati, the trustees each had statements on the ballot that defended their actions as being on the recommendation of key stakeholders, including parents, students, staff, public health officials, medical experts and community leaders.

This won’t be the last recall election on this issue. Due to some issues with certifying signatures in District 91, there was a delay in getting Board Chairwoman Lara Hill on the March ballot. However, the legal issue was resolved and a judge ordered the recall election could move forward, but it would be pushed off until May.

For more information about the District 91 election results click here.

For more information about the District 25 election results click here.

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