SANDPOINT — Following a controversial proposal to arm school staff, a group of local parents is planning to proceed with a recall of trustee chairman Steve Youngdahl.
School board discussions over armed Lake Pend Oreille School District staff have quieted since Superintendent Shawn Woodward announced at the end of October the option was no longer under active investigation. Nevertheless, several local parents still feel Youngdahl misrepresented data and misled local residents when he launched discussions at the end of September. According to Tom Bokowy, one of the parents who organized the recall effort, he and his associates intend to file signatures collected over the past several weeks at the Bonner County Clerk’s Office.
An effort begun in mid-October, the recall was organized by Bokowy, his wife Jacinda Bokowy and Stephanie and Bill Aitken, who was recently appointed to the Sandpoint City Council. The parents launched the recall out of objections to Youngdahl’s data supporting the effectiveness of armed civilians in stopping mass shootings. Bokowy and recall advocates said the data was collected through unscientific means by a biased blogger — information that wasn’t properly relayed to the community.
Bokowy said the group has about 120 signatures attached to the recall petition at this point, exceeding the 105-signature requirement to bring the issue to ballot.
However, they will likely collect a few more signatures just in case some of the petition-signers turn out to not be registered voters within the school district’s Zone 5. They have until Dec. 27 to make the deadline and plan on sending the petition in for county inspection this Friday. If the petition passes muster, the recall election will occur in early March.
However, there’s still time for group members to change their minds, Bokowy added. He said they’ve recently talked with Youngdahl, who offered to set up a conversation with the unnamed Homeland Security agent who he said verified his data. That conversation hasn’t taken place yet, Bokowy said, but he isn’t ruling out any possibilities, either.
Youngdahl, meanwhile, defends his research and investigation into armed staff members as one mandated by the school board in January. It was a proposal he felt deserved consideration by community members. He said that opponents of the measure unfairly characterize him as trying to force an armed staff policy onto the public and believes a majority of voters will support him at the polls if a recall election occurs.