Residents approved to begin recall for Board of Education member

Recall petition alleges Board member Hancock violated harassment and sexual harassment laws


By Justin Curto

At a signing gathering on Wednesday, April 15, district resident Stephanie Sharp fills out a petition supporting the recall of Board of Education member Scott Hancock. “I care about the school district and I’m familiar with how Mr. Hancock has handled himself,” Sharp said. “[I] want to make sure that we have the most responsive and professional public servants serving our students and patrons that we can and that’s not what’s happening now.”

Justin Curto, Mill Valley News editor-in-chief

Recall petition alleges Board member Hancock violated harassment and sexual harassment laws

A petition to recall Board of Education member Scott Hancock from office was approved by the district attorney’s office on Tuesday, April 7. Now, a committee led by district resident Anh-Nguyet Nguyen has begun collecting signatures for the recall petition.

In the petition, Nguyen alleges Hancock broke state and federal law through harassment. Nguyen and her committee, which also includes former district teacher Karen Wall and district resident Julianne Wright, will now have 90 days from the day the petition was approved to collect 1,000 signatures of registered voters in the district. Nguyen’s goal is to collect 1,500 signatures, to assure the petition will still meet its requirements if some signatures become invalid. If Nguyen collects 1,000 valid signatures by the end of the 90-day period, a recall election will be held between 60 and 90 days afterward.

The committee’s first petition was rejected because it cited Board policy violations, not law violations. A second petition citing alleged violations of harassment and sexual harassment laws by Hancock was approved.

According to Nguyen, a lawyer for Hancock sent a letter to her and the others on the recall committee, which she received Thursday, April 16, stating Hancock would pursue legal action if she did not withdraw her petition. Hancock did not return phone calls requesting comment on the action he would pursue.

Nguyen sees this as another attempt at intimidation by Hancock.

“It’s a threat,” Nguyen said. “[We’re doing] what we have a right to do.”

The petition’s approval validated Wall’s allegations that Hancock’s behavior was harassment and he violated harassment laws.

“I felt that it affirmed the charges that we had made,” Wall said via phone. “It confirmed what we believed from the beginning.”

However, Hancock dismissed all allegations against him, and said the petition’s initial approval does not prove much.

“The bar for a recall in the state of Kansas is very low,” Hancock said via email. “Proof of wrongdoing is not a requirement, only an allegation of wrongdoing. With that said, I categorically deny all the allegations.”

Initially, Nguyen said she did not want to file the petition, as she gave Hancock a chance to resign before filing.

“He was given an opportunity before I filed this petition to resign so that we wouldn’t have to file it because the charges in this petition are quite serious and I wanted to keep it out of public records,” Nguyen said. “His intention is to serve out his term and my intention is to see this through.”

Hancock said he wishes to stay in office to keep the district fiscally in check.

“My primary reason for running for the Board was, and still is, financial responsibility,” Hancock said via email. “I have been very vocal with my concerns regarding the financial burden that has been perpetuated by … bad business practices.”

Aside from recalling Hancock, the committee members have some other goals for the petition, according to Wall.

“One of my primary goals is to make all of us more responsible in our role [as district residents] and the necessity of us to be more involved,” Wall said via phone. “[Another] is to really champion or stand up or reiterate that everyone deserves to be treated with respect and no one should put themselves above the rules.”

In signing the petition, district resident Stephanie Sharp’s goal was to convince Hancock to resign instead of being recalled from office.

“My hope would be that the petition would show the interest of a large number of patrons in Mr. Hancock’s resignation and that he would resign rather than be brought to recall,” Sharp said. “It doesn’t seem that he has been accountable to the interests and to the voters of the district.”

Wall said the recall committee already has considerable support and, according to Nguyen, over 50 have signed the petitions since they were distributed to sponsor committees Tuesday night.

“There’s been, thus far, excellent response,” Wall said via phone. “I do believe that we have a very strong support.”

Hancock only sees the recall petition and allegations as a way to hurt his reputation.

“A good old-fashioned smear campaign has been undertaken by a select few,” Hancock said via email. “The result of [that] is the fraudulent allegations brought forth.”

Nonetheless, Nguyen urges other district residents to sign the petition because of the legal violations it alleges against Hancock.

“All personal reasons aside, he has broken federal law,” Nguyen said. “That in itself should be a reason to sign this petition and to recall him.”

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