For the second time in less than two years, an effort to recall members of the Cupertino Union School District Board of Trustees has failed.

Recall supporters missed the April 6 deadline to collect 11,542 signatures to put the recall of three board members on the November ballot.

Recall CUSD Board did not meet the signature threshold necessary to put the potential recall of Lori Cunningham, Sylvia Leong and Phyllis Vogel before voters, despite claiming to be “very close” to their goal just a few days ago. According to the County of Santa Clara Registrar of Voters, the process for the petitions has ceased, and proponents cannot turn in any of the same documents already submitted as part of the current recall petition should they choose to continue their campaign. Election officials said putting the recall to a vote could cost the financially strapped district anywhere from $560,000 if it is added to a general election ballot to $1 million if it is a special election.

“The recall effort was an unfortunate distraction, not just for board members but for district staff who had to spend time countering the false claims about district resources and processes,” wrote Leong in an email to the Town Crier. “Just because the effort failed doesn’t mean there won’t be lasting effects of all the misinformation that was passed around. It’s my hope that the whole community can rally around our students as we move forward, towards a stronger, more stable district.”

As the Town Crier previously reported, the Recall CUSD Board team seems determined to achieve its goal, vowing to refile as soon as recall supporters have the opportunity. Aegean Lee of the Recall CUSD Board team also mentioned exploring legal avenues to secure a two-month extension due to the possible interference in signature gathering the omicron surge posed, but Michael Borja of the Registrar of Voters office told the Town Crier that the elections code does not allow for an extension of time to circulate a recall petition. 

It is currently unclear how many signatures were gathered during the effort. Lee said last week that “it’s going to be very close, but we need extra, as we know 10-15% won’t validate.” The petitioners did not end up submitting any signatures, likely because they did not gather the 11,542 to warrant a validation process. The Recall CUSD Board team has yet to release the actual number of signatures gathered, nor any proof that substantiates their claim of being “very close.”

"It’s nice to have this recall effort behind us," wrote Vogel in an email to the Town Crier. "It is time to move forward with our many plans for the students.  I believe we have community support because the recall petitioners were unable to collect sufficient signatures to put a recall on the ballot."

In a Tweet announcing the signature shortfall Wednesday (April 6), the group said to “stay tuned as the fight isn’t done yet.”

A previous recall effort to oust Cunningham failed last October, with fewer than 3,000 signatures collected of the 11,658 needed. The recall efforts stem from frustrations with the timeline of reopening schools and the board’s discussion and subsequent decision to close and/or consolidate three school campuses due to the district’s budget crunch.

If another petition is filed, the proponents would have another 160 days to gather signatures, putting the earliest possible election in the fall, just a few months before Cunningham’s term expires. Calling a special election would be billed to the school district, whose financial troubles are still of great concern due to declining enrollment.

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