Two members of the Browns Elementary School Board of Trustees were recalled in a special election last week.  

The new members that will replace them, as well as two others recently elected in the November midterms, officially take their positions at tonight’s meeting.

In a district with about 500 registered voters total, 228 people – or 42 percent of district voters – cast ballots during a special election on Dec. 4 to recall board members Carrie Peterson and Travis Barker. The departing members will be replaced by Krysta Wanner and Corey Bridge, respectively.

“Two individual petitions were filed earlier this year trying to recall two board members. Those petitions were successful in getting (the recall effort) placed on the ballot, but the time of the petitions being filed required a special election,” said Donna Johnston, Sutter County clerk-recorder. “We did it as an all mail-in ballot election, but we also had a drop center or polling place at the East Nicolaus Fire station.”

One parent of a Browns Elementary student that led the recall effort – Rebecca Moore, who also ran for one of two available seats on the board in November but was defeated by Tiffany Bean and Daniel Bendure – said there were a number of negative events involving the recalled board members over the last several years that led community members to take action.

“It was a combination of things. These board members had been there quite a while, but nothing was working out. The atmosphere they created was negative. We lost so many students in the recent past, we just needed a clean slate,” said Moore, who submitted recall petitions to the county back in the spring.

Moore alleged the board members were insulting toward teachers during negotiations over a new contract, threatened to fire a lead negotiator for the teacher’s association during contract talks leading to the teacher quitting, and created a high-paid dual position and filled it with a “known colleague.”

“In the last five years, the school has seen 12 teachers leave because of the board’s actions,” Moore said. 

Neither Peterson nor Barker could be reached for comment before publication.

The effort to recall Peterson passed by only six votes – with 117 voting yes and 111 voting no. Barker’s recall vote saw 117 voting yes and 109 voting no.

Johnston said the new members, as well as the two elected during the November midterms, will officially take over the positions at the next board meeting, which is scheduled on the school’s website for tonight at 6 p.m.

The new board will be comprised of Bendure, Bean, Bridge, Wanner and remaining member Joe Dickson.

“We are just hoping to see positive changes come from this. As a parent of a student at the school, I have high hopes for these people,” Moore said. 

Browns Elementary School is located in Rio Oso and has served the community in south Sutter County for over 150 years.

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