Recall for Board of Education member goes to election

In August, district voters will be asked whether Board member Scott Hancock should be recalled from office for allegedly violating harassment and sexual harassment laws

Board+of+Education+member+Scott+Hancock+listens+during+a+Board+meeting+on+Monday%2C+March+9.+On+Tuesday%2C+Aug.+18%2C+registered+voters+in+the+district+will+decide+whether+to+recall+Hancock+from+office+for+allegations+of+harassment+and+sexual+harassment.
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Recall for Board of Education member goes to election

Board of Education member Scott Hancock listens during a Board meeting on Monday, March 9. On Tuesday, Aug. 18, registered voters in the district will decide whether to recall Hancock from office for allegations of harassment and sexual harassment.

Board of Education member Scott Hancock listens during a Board meeting on Monday, March 9. On Tuesday, Aug. 18, registered voters in the district will decide whether to recall Hancock from office for allegations of harassment and sexual harassment.

By Clayton Kistner

Board of Education member Scott Hancock listens during a Board meeting on Monday, March 9. On Tuesday, Aug. 18, registered voters in the district will decide whether to recall Hancock from office for allegations of harassment and sexual harassment.

By Clayton Kistner

By Clayton Kistner

Board of Education member Scott Hancock listens during a Board meeting on Monday, March 9. On Tuesday, Aug. 18, registered voters in the district will decide whether to recall Hancock from office for allegations of harassment and sexual harassment.

Justin Curto, Mill Valley News editor-in-chief

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District residents will vote on whether to recall Board of Education member Scott Hancock from office in a special election on Tuesday, Aug. 18, after a petition aiming to recall him surpassed its requirement of 1,000 valid voter signatures.

Hancock did not respond to multiple requests for comment. According to the Johnson County Election Office, he also did not file a response to the recall effort by his deadline of Tuesday, June 16.

A recall committee comprising district residents Anh-Nguyet Nguyen and Julianne Wright and former district teacher Karen Wall began collecting signatures on the recall petition after alleging Hancock violated state and federal laws through instances of harassment and sexual harassment as a Board member. The committee submitted the petition with 1,393 signatures on Monday, May 13, and the Election Office found 1,190 signatures valid. The Election Office sent letters to both Hancock and the recall committee on Wednesday, June 3, to notify them of the petition’s validation.

Although she initially aimed to collect enough signatures to get the petition validated, Nguyen said she and the committee still have work to do in the recall effort now that the petition was validated.

“This was our goal, but now we still need to get people out to vote,” Nguyen said. “It’s not like, ‘I got this far, now I can just kick back and relax.’ We still have work to finish.”

The recall election is a special election, meaning it does not occur at the same time as voting for other elected officials. Registered voters in the district will receive a postcard with information on how to vote in the recall election 3-4 weeks before the election. There will be eight polling places in the district, and residents can vote in advance starting Tuesday, Aug. 11, at the Election Office. According to the Kansas Legislative Statutes, the ballot will ask, “Should Scott Hancock be recalled from the office of De Soto Board of Education Position 4?”

The election will cost the district roughly $3-$4 per voter who votes, according to the Election Office, and this money goes toward paying for election workers, training, paper ballots and other printed material, polling place rental, equipment delivery and other direct election expenses. According to director of administrative services and community relations Alvie Cater, this will come from the district’s contingency fund, which is used for unforeseen expenses. Cater estimates the election will cost the district around $10,000-$15,000.

“That’s why we have a contingency fund, for unexpected and unplanned expenses,” Cater said via phone. “You have to have a conservative budget to account for [unexpected costs].”

By paying for election costs, Cater said the district is just following Kansas laws and statutes.

“This whole process that we’re dealing with is put in place by the state of Kansas … and the school district is going to comply with whatever we [have to do],” Cater said.

Currently, there are just under 21,000 registered voters in the district. In 2015, 2,420 residents voted in district elections, and 2,500 voted in 2013. The recall election will be decided by majority vote. The last recall election to occur in Johnson County was successful, according to Election Office records, with a majority of Gardner residents voting to recall City Council members John Shepherd and Mary Peters.

Nguyen believes that if those who signed the petition will vote in the election, the recall will be successful.

“Hopefully the people who signed will also go out and vote,” Nguyen said. “If the 1,400 [who signed], or even the 1,000 [required] would come out and vote, I think we’d be sufficient.”

If a majority of voters vote to recall Hancock in the election, he will remain in office until the Board of County Canvassers certifies the election on the morning of Monday, Aug. 24. Hancock would then be removed from office Tuesday, Aug. 25, the day after the certification. Nguyen said this is the committee’s new aspiration for the recall effort.

“To vote to successfully recall him — that’s my goal, that’s our hope,” Nguyen said. “Hopefully we’ll never ever ever have to do this ever again.”

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