Organizers of the recall campaign against Cupertino Union School District board member Lori Cunningham have gathered 2,000 signatures to date, short of the 11,000 signatures required by Oct. 4 to call a special election.

The lack of signatures and the looming deadline mean it is unlikely organizers of Recall CUSD Board will reach their goal. The group initiated the recall against Cunningham, a Los Altos resident, in February, citing her reluctance to reopen schools amid the pandemic.

In their petition, recall supporters said Cunningham “failed to represent all children of CUSD and uphold CUSD’s value of ‘choice’ by solely prioritizing distance learning at the expense of providing a timely option for in-person learning, in lieu of the recommendations of multiple health organizations.”

Despite the gap in signatures, Recall CUSD Board organizers remain hopeful, believing they have support from the parent community. Logistics played a part in the low response – when restrictions were lifted in June after a year of lockdown, the team did not want to ask parent volunteers to run signature collection booths over the summer.

“The fact that we got over 2,000 signatures via mail-in only to our PO Box is a testament to how much this community believes that Lori Cunningham should be removed,” said Valentin Ryabov, recall organizer and Los Altos resident, via email. “Mail-in ballots as a percentage of total ballots is typically around less than 5% and so we know if we ran signature booths and door-to-door collection, we would have succeeded.”

Moving forward, the team plans to focus on making Recall CUSD Board a platform where parents can voice their concerns, and from there, the team can raise them to the district level.

“We receive numerous tips and emails and more from our parent community which has been amazing,” Ryabov said. “Our mailing list is in the thousands and we are not afraid to push back and publish (Public Records Act) materials or raise concerns of parents being ignored.”

CUSD received approximately $14 million in COVID-19 relief funds. Although the district is required to document and publish how the funds are used, Recall CUSD Board organizers said few people can comprehend them.

“Multiple parents have asked for human-readable spreadsheets without all of the school-specific acronyms ... but that has not been delivered,” Ryabov said. “We hope this is something they can do better with.”

Cunningham acknowledged the challenges the pandemic created, but noted that no individual board member has greater say or power than any other, and all decisions are made in partnership with the superintendent and her staff. They have “valued listening to the diverse input from all members of our community throughout,” Cunningham added.

“I remain focused on our students, moving foward to ensure that all of our children can continue to experience an excellent, safe and high-qualty education in CUSD,” she said.

By

Staff Writer

Angela Tam covers local schools as the Town Crier's education reporter.