Recall vote for Chatham School Board members set for Nov. 20

Three elected officials face removal in special election

Posted: Thursday, October 11, 2007

After a glitch in the signature gathering, petitioners seeking to recall three members of the Board of Education in the Chatham School District have succeeded in setting a special election for Nov. 20.

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Some Angoon and Tenakee Springs residents wish to remove school board members Ed Gamble Sr., Irene Paul, and Shelly Wilson from their elected positions.

"Some people are pleased to get the chance to vote. Some people feel the need for change," Lillian Woodbury, petition sponsor and Angoon resident, said.

The petition claims that the three board members hired two unqualified women as district administrators. Petitioners also claim the board failed to implement the proper evaluation system for teachers and administrators, violated the state Open Meetings Act by not posting the subject of executive sessions, and failed to adequately supervise the district superintendent.

Wilson said her understanding was that the two people hired were not administrators, but coordinators, one for data collection and testing information and the other for reading.

Wilson denied the claim that the community was not given a chance to evaluate teachers and administrators. She said all parents received the evaluation survey but that some community members did not because of costs.

"We have always used an evaluation tool," she said.

Wilson said that when she first joined the school board, announcements of executive sessions did not list the subject.

"It's corrected now," she said.

Initially, many of the signatures on the recall petition were not accompanied by a full legal address. Election Coordinator Lauri Wilson said many signatories left Angoon off and only gave a street address. Petitioners went back and gained the relevant information, she said.

After the recall petition passed legal review in August, the petitioners had to collect 59 signatures to recall Gamble, 62 to recall Paul and 67 to recall Wilson.

According to Whitney Brewster, director of the Division of Elections, November's recall of elected officials is just the sixth in state history. The decision to allow the recall to go forward on legal grounds was hers, she said.

The school district could not provide contact information for Paul, and Gamble hung up on three recent phone calls seeking comment.

Wilson said she'd like to continue serving on the board. She said the board is moving forward in its attempts to keep the rural school district above water.

"Difficult decisions have been made," she said.

• Contact Greg Skinner at 523-2258 or

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