MARQUETTE - Recall petitions filed against four Gwinn Area Community Schools board members were denied by the three-member Marquette County Election Commission this morning for not being of "sufficient clarity and factuality."
"When I looked at the language, I found that there were matters of opinion in the language, as opposed to straight facts," said Marquette County Probate Court Judge Cheryl Hill, who sits on the commission. "There are facts in there, but, specifically, I circled the language that says 'failure to become properly informed' and 'failing to properly oversee the actions ...' those to me were matters of opinion, not matters of fact."
Both Marquette County Clerk Peter Dishnow and Marquette County Treasurer Anne Giroux agreed with Hill, saying they were unable to judge the factual basis of much of the petition, believing it to be opinions rather than facts. The vote was unanimous to not approve the language.
The recall petitions, submitted by Gwinn resident Leesa Misterly on behalf of a larger group of citizens looking to recall board President Gloria Bigelow, Secretary Cindy Filizetti, and trustees Ron Libey and Michelle Dolby, read as follows:
"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 2012-2013 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 & other learning aides for classrooms. For the welfare of the Gwinn Area Schools this member should be recalled."
The commission heard testimony from each of the four board members named in the petitions as well as from Misterly and school district resident Amanda Filizetti before making its ruling.
For more on the story, see today's print edition of The Mining Journal
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.