CASTLE ROCK, Colo. — A Castle Rock businessman is spending $100,000 of his own money in an effort to recall four members of the Douglas County School Board.
Nate Ormond, founder of Well States Healthcare, said the current board isn't showing leadership.
"Six months ago, I couldn't even tell you the name of the superintendent," Ormond said. "I couldn't tell you the names of any of the folks on the board."
Ormond said he began attending school board meetings because board members kept switching back and forth between hybrid learning and full remote. During public comment periods, Ormond expressed concerns about statistics, "not just around COVID, but around suicidal thoughts, mental health and child abuse."
"Schools are the number one place where child abuse is detected, and when the kids aren't in school that's not detected," Ormond said. "Schools are the number one place where hearing loss is detected, where vision problems are detected, and that's not occurring."
Four Board Members Targeted
Ormond said he wants to replace Susan Meek, Elizabeth Hanson, Christina Ciancio-Schor and David Ray. He's organized a group called "Road to Recall." He said his goal is three-fold.
"First, get these kids back in school as quickly as possible," Ormond said.
There's enough research to show it can be done safely, according to Ormond.
"Other districts have done it," Ormond said. "Other schools have done it."
Ormond also wants a new school board to hire the new superintendent.
"I don't trust this board to make great decisions," Ormond said.
But some parents have a different take.
"I don't agree with that. I think we should engage in conversations," Nara Altmann said.
Altmann said board members are trying their best to balance between parents who favor the hybrid model, as she does, and those who prefer full-time remote learning, or full-time in-person learning.
"We were one of the first districts to go to hybrid at the start of the pandemic. I don't think the solution is, 'let's get rid of, and let's start over again.' I think the solution is to keep talking."
Other parents and students have also weighed in both during protests and at school board meetings.
"We're tired of this," Jamie Wooleridge said earlier this month. "Enough is enough."
Woolderidge wants an end to remote learning.
But Ethan Reed said not so fast. He told the school board on Tuesday a new variant of the virus is taking hold in Colorado.
"We all have a responsibility in reducing the threat of this virus, which is why I would like to urge you to keep us remote until it is safe for us to return," Reed said.
In a statement emailed to Denver7 on Monday, Jan. 25, School Board President David Ray said: "We have not received notice that this effort has been officially recognized. However, we are fully aware that emotions are running high with regards to the best educational delivery for our students. We will continue to listen and consider all diverse perspectives (students, staff, and parents) while adhering to public health guidance. Our focus will remain on students as we work with district leadership to implement the most consistent, effective, sustainable and safe educational delivery possible for our students in the midst of a pandemic."
Ormond said he will submit language for a recall petition to the County Clerk next week.
"We'll have 60 days to collect signatures," Ormond said. "We need 80,000 — that's 20,000 per candidate."
Ormond said a number of people have expressed interest in running for a board position, and he's seeking others who feel the same way.
He said if enough signatures are collected, the election would likely be held in April, and the new board would meet the first week of May.