Middleton parent group starts process to recall two school board members over decision to remain virtual

Published: Oct. 8, 2020 at 5:42 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A group of parents in the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District (MCPASD) started the process to try and recall two school board members over their decision to keep learning online.

On Thursday, 'Parents for Change’ filed the recall registration papers, allowing them to start collecting signatures. The group takes issue specifically with board members Bob Hesselbein and Minza Karim, who voted in favor of all-virtual schooling. Organizer of the recall, Angela Rachidi, said virtual learning does not support an equitable education and represent the wants and needs of the community.

“When you couple that with a very robust safety plan that our district school staff came up with, it just seems like there was no good reason to offer in person instruction knowing what we know just about the benefits of being in person," she said.

In a 5-4 decision on Sept. 28, the board voted all students will continue with virtual instruction until Public Health Madison Dane County metrics are met. The other option on the table would have allowed PK-2 students into schools in a hybrid model starting on Nov. 2.

Hesselbein defended his vote against the hybrid option, detailing with the rise in COVID-19 cases across the county and state, safety had to come first. He said he did not feel the hybrid model could offer that at this point in time, but understands families’ frustrations.

“For some it’s an economic challenge, quality of education, but that doesn’t stop us from having to be responsible for the lives of those in our district, in our communities," he said.

The other board member listed in the recall effort, Minza Karim, sent NBC15 a statement saying quote: “My reason to stay in virtual learning is because of the COVID numbers rising statewide, field hospitals being built to add capacity for hospitals, for the sake of safety and health for the students, staff and the entire community. I was provided with two options and I felt this was the right choice to make.”

Hesselbein said the board will revisit what format school will be in during the Spring semester at the Dec. 7 meeting.

The number of signatures required to trigger a recall is 25 percent of the number of votes cast for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election within the MCPASD district. Rachidi said they are estimating that to be about 5,000.

Rachidi said they will have 60 days to gather the signatures needed to force a recall election. She said more than 200 people have joined the group’s Facebook page.

“Many other schools in the area have tried it, they’ve had a few bumps in the roads, but they worked through it. In the end, they are giving their children in their community all of the options that they need," she said.

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