JEFFERSON CITY — A bill allowing for the recall of local school board members was inspired by Columbia Public Schools.

State Rep. Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport, presented the bill Tuesday to the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee.

Basye did not hide the fact that parents’ disdain for CPS had inspired the bill.

“To be totally honest, initially it was” targeted at CPS, Basye said. “I agreed to carry this on behalf of those parents.”

However, since work on the bill began last year, Basye, who represents part of Columbia, has heard similar concerns from parents in other districts. Parents are especially critical of their school boards’ reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

Rep. Ian Mackey, D-St. Louis, has criticized CPS in the past. But Mackey said that he was unsure if he could support the bill. His main point of contention was that, with board member terms only being three years, recalls may be carried out hastily or be politically motivated. One concern was that a losing candidate would immediately begin a recall campaign against the winner.

“The timeline and the cost right now just don’t make sense to me, though I understand the intent,” Mackey said.

Basye said he believed the requirements for a recall — gathering signatures totaling at least 25% of votes in the last school board election — is high enough to prevent members from being recalled for unjustified reasons. The bill would also prevent board members from being recalled within 30 days of taking office and 180 days before the end of a term.

“It’s going to take an awful lot of work to recall someone,” Basye said.

Rep. Maggie Nurrenbern, D-Kansas City, questioned whether 30 days was long enough.

“They could be recalled after their first meeting,” Nurrenbern said.

Basye made clear he did not think being on the school board was a simple job.

“I know the school board is trying to do the right thing, and I’m not targeting any member,” Basye said. “It’s a tough job, and they don’t get paid, so I really feel for them, but I feel this is an appropriate bill.”

The Missouri School Board Association opposed the bill.

  • State Government Reporter, Fall 2020 and Spring 2021. Studying Print & Digital News Reporting and Religious Studies. Reach me at wickerperlis@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 573-882-5700

  • Mark Horvit is the state government editor. Call me at 817-726-1621 with story ideas, tips or complaints.

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