Traverse City News and Events

Recall Papers Not Yet Filed, TCAPS Transparency Revises Effort, Will Also Target Anderson

By Craig Manning | Nov. 8, 2019

Yesterday (Thursday), The Ticker erroneously reported that a nonprofit organization seeking to recall several members of the Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) Board of Education had filed recall petition language with Grand Traverse County. Though representatives of the TCAPS Transparency group had said papers had been filed, we should have verified with the County Clerk that indeed the documents had been.

“No one has submitted recall wording for anyone on the TCAPS board,” County Clerk Bonnie Scheele tells The Ticker in an email, though she adds she understands the papers will be filed soon. Justin Van Rheenen, one of the leaders of TCAPS Transparency, confirmed that the organization had not yet filed any paperwork with the county but was in the process of finalizing the petition language with its attorneys. Van Rheenen says the wording will be filed with the county today (Friday).

Van Rheenen says that ongoing conversations within the TCAPS Transparency group – as well as talks with lawyers and members of the local election office – have updated several plans reported in Thursday’s Ticker.

The organization will no longer seek the recall of Board Trustee Jane Klegman. Michigan election law states that a recall petition cannot be filed against an elected official in the first or last year of a four-year term. Klegman, who was elected in 2016, will enter the final year of her term on January 1, 2020. That date is also the first date that TCAPS Transparency could legally file a recall petition with the required community signatures. By law, those signatures must be submitted during the same calendar year that a recall election is to take place.

TCAPS Transparency has been in talks with the election office to determine whether the same rules apply to Board Vice President Jeff Leonhardt. Like Klegman, Leonhardt’s term runs through the end of 2020. Unlike Klegman, Leonhardt is not serving the traditional four-year school board term, having been elected last November to finish out the final two years of a term vacated by former Board Trustee Jan Geht. State law says that an elected officer serving a term of two years or less can be recalled so long as the recall petition is not filed in the first six months or the last six months of their term. Van Rheenen says that, unless the election office determines that Leonhardt’s role still qualifies as a four-year office, efforts to recall him will proceed.

Finally, Van Rheenen tells The Ticker that TCAPS Transparency decided on Thursday to pursue the recall of Board Treasurer Matt Anderson as well. So far, Anderson has mostly avoided public ire, but Van Rheenen says Anderson’s in-favor vote of the mutual separation agreement with Cardon, as well as his absence from two crucial meetings over the past month, ultimately merit his inclusion in the recall language.

“A lot of people feel as though Matt’s absence from meetings within the course of the last month has played a vital role in some of the decisions that have been made,” Van Rheenen says.

Anderson, along with Board President Sue Kelly and Secretary Pam Forton, was elected to a four-year term last November. Both Kelly and Forton remain prime targets for the TCAPS Transparency recall campaign.

County Clerk Scheele also tells The Ticker in a subsequent email that "The taxpayers cover the cost of a recall election, not TCAPS Transparency."

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