OCONOMOWOC — A month and a half after Oconomowoc Area School Board members voted to use a cohort model to return to school, residents in the city have submitted the paperwork to begin the process to recall three members of the School Board.

The paperwork filed by Jason Baumann on behalf of the citizen group Oconomowoc Citizens Represented states the group seeks to recall board members Kim Herro, Scott Roehl and Juliet Steitzer — three of the five board members who voted for the model.

Steitzer is the only one of the three up for election in spring.

School Board members Dan Raasch and Rick Grothaus were not included in the recall papers because according to state statute, citizens can only recall elected officials who have served at least one year of their elected terms. Raasch and Grothaus have only served about

six months of their three-year terms.

Baumann said talks of recalling School Board members began as soon as the board voted on the back-toschool plan.

“People (are) showing up at the board meetings each month and not being heard,” Baumann said. “We feel the board has not represented us or what our values are and feel that it’s a majority of the parents in the district.”

According to the documents submitted to the district, the reason behind the effort to recall Herro, Roehl and Steitzer was “willful neglect of acting on behalf of the citizens of the district, to ensure that the district provides the best educational opportunities to maximize the achievement of students of the district.”

To go to a recall election, the petition to recall must contain the signatures of 25% of the votes cast in the Oconomowoc Area School District in the 2018 gubernatorial election.

Baumann said he anticipates around 5,500 signatures needed, but is hoping for around 6,000. He also said the district will get him the exact number in coming days when paperwork is finalized.

Baumann and the rest of Oconomowoc Citizens Represented have 60 days to get the signatures.

The OASD sent a survey to parents over the summer asking how they would like their children to return to school in June. According to results, over 70% of the survey results favored their children going back to school full time, face-to-face.

“These board members have repeatedly disregarded the will of a majority of the district’s parents by not providing a full face-to-face, five day a week, schooling option for intermediate and high school students,” a press release from Baumann states. “Our students’ classroom hours are clearly insufficient compared to neighboring school districts who have maintained full-time face-to-face instruction, leaving our community’s children at a disadvantage.”

Reaction from members Roehl said he doesn’t believe he has neglected parents or students in his decisions to have school return in the cohort model.

“While I wish people didn’t file recall paperwork, based on the emotions surrounding this decision, I am not surprised the paperwork was filed today,” Roehl said.

Roehl also mentioned he shares parents’ goal of getting students back to face-to-face learning, but differs in the approach.

“From my perspective, to ensure that we are not putting our students at risk, a soft launch to the school year will provide greater clarity as to the effects of the virus when our students are back in session,” Roehl said.

Roehl said he has spent dozens of hours talking with people about the back-to-school approach and is willing to engage with the community to discuss his decisions.

“If people are questioning my decisions, my rationale, or my motives, I ask people to reach out. It is my duty as an elected representative to respond to the best of my ability,” Roehl said.

Herro said she has never neglected the parents or students in her decisions on the board.

“I’m doing the best job I know how with the information I have,” Herro said.

She said many different emotions went through her head when she learned about the recall effort, but that asking to recall her and other members is the residents’ democratic right.

When asked why Herro believes she deserves a seat on the board still, she said “Because my constituents elected me.

“If my constituents decide to un-elect me, that is their right,” Herro said.

Steitzer said she didn’t have much of a reaction when she heard that her name was included in the recall papers, calling it a “democratic process.”

Steitzer said the OASD Board, staff and administration have all worked together to build plans “grounded in science and best practices laid out by the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and (Department of Instruction).”

“Anyone can open the doors, but keeping them open is harder. Our plans have the best chance at keeping kids in front of their teachers and had kids’ educational needs at the center of all of our decisions,” Steitzer said.

When asked if she still thinks she deserves a seat on the board, Steitzer said nobody is entitled to public office.

“I strive to to earn the position as a result of thoughtful decision making and professional conduct,” Steitzer said.

Events are being planned for people to sign the recall petition, the first of which will be Saturday at the Pabst Farms Town Centre. For more information, visit oasdrecall.com.