West Ada group drops recall of new board chair and vice chair

A group of West Ada parents is dropping recall efforts targeting two school board members, signaling the turmoil in the state’s largest district may be subsiding.

Members of the Recall West Ada committee announced Thursday they are suspending the recalls that targeted board chair Amy Johnson and vice chair Rene Ozuna.

Amy Johnson

Earlier this week, West Ada’s board reorganized its leadership team after a series of board shakeups that began in October. Johnson and Ozuna were appointed to the top two spots.

On Tuesday, Johnson sounded a call for the board to find more alignment with parents and stakeholders and Ozuna emphasized her priority to have all students return to school for in-person learning as soon as possible.

In a news release, Recall West Ada said it dropped the recall after Johnson and Ozuna met with their members in recent weeks.

Rene Ozuna

“We believe they are listening to families, advocating for students and working to find solutions to this learning crisis our district faces,” Recall West Ada said in the news release.

Parents launched the recall effort this fall, targeting all five board members serving at the time.

Since the recall launched, former trustees Steve Smylie and Philip Neuhoff resigned. Ed Klopfenstein resigned as board chairman Oct. 13, but he retained his seat on the school board.

Recall West Ada will continue the recall efforts targeting Klopfenstein, Recall West Ada chair Morgan Wigle said. If the group gathers enough signatures, the earliest a recall would appear on the ballot is March.

It has been a bumpy fall as West Ada navigates the coronavirus pandemic and a series of board leadership shakeups.

  • The district delayed the start of the school year and began with full online instruction, only to have technology and connectivity issues frustrate parents, students and staff alike.
  • The district then began moving elementary students back for in-person learning gradually.
  • Meanwhile, parents launched the Recall West Ada campaign after saying they were frustrated with the reopening plan and upset board members did put forward plans to have middle and high school students return for daily  in-person learning.
  • In October, hundreds of teachers requested sick days en masse after saying they did not feel safe teaching in-person learning while classified in the highest coronavirus risk and transmission levels. As a result, West Ada was forced to suddenly cancel school Oct. 19-20 before teachers agreed to discontinue the sick out so school could resume.
  • On Nov. 18 West Ada’s board appointed parent and human resources professional Sheena Buffi to fill the vacancy created by Smylie’s resignation.
  • On Tuesday, the board accepted Neuhoff’s resignation and posted notice of the board vacancy.

Recall West Ada leaders said they are pleased with the changes to the school board since launching their recall, calling it a great success.

“The recall group and parents throughout the district will continue to work toward the goal of ensuring the board is representing students, listening to parents and holding the district administration accountable,” Wigle said in a news release. “This is a long-term commitment toward achieving excellence and representation.”

West Ada is the state’s largest school district, serving more than 38,000 students K-12.

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