Idaho Falls trustees face recall after shift to hybrid learning

Some parents in the Idaho Falls School District are pushing to recall three trustees over their votes to move high schoolers to a hybrid learning model.

Learning remotely three days a week is “killing” some high schoolers in the district, said Brian Zollinger, a former Statehouse representative who helped organize the recall effort.

From left: Hill, Radcliffe and Cogliati

Zollinger joined local group D91 Students Come First to gather signatures aimed at ousting trustees Hillary Radcliffe, Elizabeth Cogliati and board chair Lara Hill. Recallers say they want the option to send their kids full time. Bonneville County elections supervisor Branda Prudent confirmed the recall effort Thursday.

The push follows the board members’ recent votes to take instruction partially online for students at Compass Academy and Idaho Falls and Skyline high schools.

That decision followed reports that the district’s high schools have seen a disproportionate number of cases of COVID-19 and student absences during the pandemic.

Zollinger said the move has strained students whose parents both work or who lack needed support to learn remotely at home. He pointed to students on his son’s football team who say their grades have taken a hit since the change.

“We’re just saying give the parents the option,” Zollinger said.

Neither Radcliffe, Cogliati nor Hill immediately responded to a request for comments about the recall effort.

It’s too late for the initiative to show up on the November ballot, but it could come before voters as early as March — if enough signatures are gathered.

  • At least 480 registered voters in Zone 3 would have to sign on to put a recall initiative on the ballot for Hill.
  • At least 280 registered voters in Cogliati’s Zone 4 would have to sign on.
  • At least 1,400 registered voters in Radcliffe’s Zone 5 would have to sign on.

The county has approved the signature-gathering process in Zones 3 and 5, Zollinger said. He is working on getting a county notary to get the process going in Zone 4.

If enough signatures are gathered, the county would verify them by checking names, legal residences and matching up signatures, Prudent told EdNews Thursday.

The deadline for getting initiatives on the March ballot is around Jan. 27.

Hill was appointed to the board of trustees in September of 2018. Radcliffe and Cogliati were elected to the board in June and November 2019, respectively.

Further reading: Trustees across Idaho are facing blowback for back-to-school decisions:

Devin Bodkin

About Devin Bodkin

Reporter Devin Bodkin covers education issues in East Idaho. He is a former high school English teacher who specializes in stories about charter schools and educating students who live in poverty. He is a 2019 Solutions Journalism Network fellow and the Idaho Press Club's 2019 print reporter of the year. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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