On May 5, driven by anger and very personal agendas, an application for the Recall of myself and Ms. Chrystal Chaffin was filed with the Maricopa County superintendent of schools to invalidate the voices of our Dysart community members by canceling their 2020 vote through a recall election.
The deadline to file the necessary signatures to prompt a recall was Sept. 2. As predicted, the effort failed.
For the sake of this district and the students we serve, I am thankful that this recall failed early in the process due to the inability to garner enough interest to prompt an election. Having said that, I want to thank the many teachers, parents and community members who offered words of support and appreciation for my Board service. In the 2020 election, 36,404 Dysart community members “spoke” when they elected me to this Governing Board for my 4th term. The failure of this recall attempt exhibits loud and clear that even when given the opportunity to change their vote, I am still the person that this community wants to represent their voice in this district.
Aside from the very public and unfounded attacks on my character from members of this recall group, equally as disheartening has been learning of current board members collaborating with this group’s various hate driven efforts, which served only to perpetuate division and destruction, as opposed to maintaining professionalism and focusing on the work they were elected to do.
During this recall process, people associated with this recall effort have also been linked to sending hate letters to my home filled with rage, attempts at intimidation, as well as obscene sexual references to my children. I’m sure these individuals find pleasure in this, but unbeknownst to them, their recent efforts have been wasted, as letters are now being filtered directly to the Surprise Police Department, and I no longer have access to their contents. To put this in perspective and better understand the caliber of individuals I am referring to, harassing an elected official via the US Postal Service is a Class 5 Felony. Due to concerns for the safety of my family and my well being, the Surprise Police Department has suggested that they increase their presence in the vicinity of my home, as they are taking these actions very seriously. Although necessary, it is unfortunate, as it requires them to take time away from other pressing issues within our city. I am a proud supporter of law enforcement, and I have every confidence that justice will be served, and I intend to fully cooperate with the police in pressing charges for these egregious acts.
It is my hope that the failure of this recall attempt has sent a clear message that I stand behind the decisions I make because they are based in principle. Decisions based in principle do not fall victim to the attempts of intimidation or threats of recall. It is my hope that this community can have comfort in knowing that I will stand firm for what is “right” even in the face of adversity. I had no doubt that the residents of this district were
intelligent enough to quickly recognize that the recall effort was driven by anger and personal agendas, rather than merit. There is no found correlation between a “likable board member” and student success. This community wants individuals on the board who have a proven track record for taking action to drive academic achievement and support student success. Obviously the residents of our district recognized that reality. The failure of this recall attempt illustrates it beautifully and for that I am most thankful.
Individuals driving this failed recall attempt proclaimed a “mass exodus” and tried to ignite fear by saying that staff would be “leaving in droves.” To date, our vacancy rate is 8.4%, which is far from illustrating any mass exodus. This district is thriving. Aside from filling our vacancies with highly qualified and deeply motivated new staff, in just 4 short months, our current administration has re-emphasized its focus on academic accountability, which has already resulted in increased fidelity in program implementation, specifically in grades 6-12 writing instruction. Furthermore, our new administration has put forth tremendous efforts in renewing its focus on increasing safety standards districtwide, making vast improvements in protecting our students and staff. Finally, the valued work of our teachers, staff and administrators was illustrated with recent Board approved monetary increases, because their work ethic is second to none. So despite the efforts of some to cause this district to stumble, conversely, we persevered, and will continue to do so because that’s what’s best for our students, and our Dysart community.
In conclusion, I will continue to have hard conversations, ask tough questions, and fiercely advocate for our students and community, despite any external pressures to do otherwise. I was elected by the people to represent the best interests of this district; not serve special interest groups that expect Board Members to do their bidding. When the hate filled personal agendas of special interest groups attempt to interfere with the operations of this district and the betterment of our students, I will be persistent in voicing concerns, advocating for needed change, and protecting this district from the unscrupulous behaviors of those who threaten its stability, and the welfare of our students.
My decisions may not always be popular, but I can sleep each night because I know that every vote I cast is based solely on what is in the best interest of the children of our district. Those who know me, know that to be true, because you know my heart.
Thank you Dysart community, for walking alongside me as we continue our important work in this district. With 4 successful elections and 2 failed recall attempts, it is very clear that I stand with the support of my community in representing that “WE” are Dysart.
Editor’s Note: Christine Pritchard is the president of the Dysart Unified School District governing board.