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School board recall falters

An effort to recall four Medford School Board members in the wake of a teachers' strike appears to have failed.

Chief petitioner Blake Weller of Medford said Friday he did not expect to make Monday's 90-day deadline for gathering 4,521 valid signatures on each board member. The four targeted members were Sally Killen, Kim Wallan, Marlene Yesquen and Jeff Thomas.

"The people did not come forward in anger as we expected," Weller said. "We got around 1,500 signatures for each board member."

Weller initiated the effort Feb. 10 during the 11-workday union strike that sidelined nearly 500 teachers. Over the past few months, he recruited and trained about 35 volunteers who spent a total of about 1,000 hours gathering signatures, he said.

"Saying you support something is one thing, but going out and learning to be signature-gatherer and using your time is another thing," he said.

If the recall group had met the deadline with enough valid signatures, board members would have been given the option of resigning or providing a statement of justification to be reviewed at a recall election.

"I'm very happy there won't be a recall election," said Killen. "I was never going to resign. I was going to stick to my term."

Wallan's, Killen's and Yesquen's four-year terms end June 30, 2015. Thomas's is up in 2017.

"I'm not going to attempt another recall, but I will certainly be active in the campaigns when the board members' terms are up," Weller said. "We will recruit qualified and capable opponents and support them financially and with volunteer time to get rid of the board members we have."

Thomas expressed relief Thursday that the effort had come to an end.

"I respect the process, but I'm happy I'm not going to be recalled," he said.

Reach education reporter Teresa Thomas at 541-776-4497 or tthomas@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/teresathomas_mt.