CENTRAL CITY — Petitions are circulating in an attempt to recall two Central City school board members.
Dale Palser and Steve Belitz, president and secretary of the school board, are the targets of the recall attempt.
The community has been in turmoil since the April dismissal of Darin Garfield from his position as the high school’s head football coach. School board meetings have been filled with community members asking for his reinstatement.
Kip A. Lenhart of Central City filed the paperwork June 24 to start the recall process, according to Marcia Wichman, Merrick County clerk.
“School board members are entrusted to ensure school’s responsiveness to community values, beliefs and priorities,” the recall reads. “We believe that recall of school board member (Dale Palser/Steve Belitz) is warranted due to lack of responsiveness to concerns raised by public and staff, lack of oversight and failure to require accountability from administrators, failure to provide leadership to improve our school.”
The reason was the same for both recalls.
The school board members responded to the recall saying that they were “saddened” that people have thought it needed to come to this and noted that decisions that leaders have to make are not always popular.
“I am saddened to hear that some believe that I have lack responsiveness, leadership and oversight. I have always placed the needs of our students first and I have done my best to help the district through incredibly difficult times,” Belitz wrote in a response to the recall. “Though these recall efforts are unfortunate, I sincerely appreciate the concern shown by the citizens of our district.”
Palser also responded to the recall, “My values center on faith and family. (My) priorities are striving for a fiscally-responsible and positive learning environment for student achievement. Responsiveness to concerns has to ensure my responsibility to uphold proper protocol and not legally compromise the district. (I) work with administrators and the public for the common good. Leadership by making tough decisions that may be unpopular.”
Wichman said the petitions were picked up Monday evening. Petitioners need to collect 449 signatures for each petition by Aug. 16 to trigger a recall election. She said the number of signatures needed is 35 percent of the highest number of votes cast in the last election, 1,282.
A group calling itself “Time for Change, Time to Move Forward” is circulating the petitions and has invited supporters to the Gazebo in downtown Central City from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday to sign the petition.