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Petition to recall Tony May continues, brings signing events

Courtesy of petition website

Garfield County residents and those beyond may be familiar with the community backlash surrounding Garfield Re-2 school district school board president Tony May. Earlier this year May was the originator of a proposal to use American Birthright Standards for the Re-2 social studies curriculum, and a lengthy process found that a decent amount of staff and community members were at odds with that proposal. The social studies curriculum has been put to bed for now, but some Re-2 community members have lost patience with May. For KDNK News, Hattison Rensberry has more.

Several teachers and organizers have been making efforts to recall Tony May, so far with a variety of in-person signing events that travel along the school district’s service area in the past two months. Leanne Richel, is an elementary school teacher for Garfield Re-2 and an organizer for this campaign. Richel also served on the committee created to investigate the different social studies options Re-2 considered earlier this year. 

Richel: ”His actions as a board member and board president are very partisan. He is very much bringing his political ideals and beliefs into his position as school board president in doing these things. He's ruining relationships within our school, our school district, our community. It's just compromising all of these relationships with people that we should have good relationships with.

He has repeatedly bullied and belittled community members, staff members, at board meetings. It's embarrassing that we have someone in his position that treats people like that. And nobody, nobody deserves to be talked to the way that Mr. May has talked to these people."

Complaints about May’s behavior in meetings are not unusual among constituents of the Garfield Re-2 School District, and some are frustrated with his interest in replacing current district superintendent, Heather Grumley[Grum-Lee]. Richel says that she is unaware of any open opposition to the petition, and her organization is working with the local branch of the teachers union on the issue. However, some staff have expressed concerns over ramifications if they sign the petition and are reluctant to get involved.  

Richel: “It's just that I get a lot of concern from our staff about retaliation. They're fearful of signing this petition, fearing retaliation by Mr. May, when everything is said and done"

A Colorado law that passed this year provides protections for public sector employees, like those in school districts, in regards to employer retaliation in cases of “concerted activity” which are activities that could improve working conditions. These protections have been in place for employees in private sectors for much longer. Richel is concerned that May’s continued behavior in this role could cause even more staff turnover, in a district that is experiencing the same educator shortage as the rest of Colorado. 

Richel: “That he would listen to the social studies committee and letting the district's purpose committee together. And then trying to yank that presentation off the agenda because it didn't align with what he wanted...
He's wasting precious time and resources of our district, which as everybody knows, schools have no money. Anyway, there's no need to have somebody in a position like his. Doing the things that he's doing.”

More information on the initiative is at:
The next events held at local libraries by the petitioners will be from 10 til 2 on Saturday, December 16th in New Castle, and 10 til 2 on Sunday, December 17th in Rifle.  
If the petitioners hope to succeed, they must collect nearly 2,400 signatures total by January 26th of 2024.

Hattison Rensberry has a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design and Drawing, but has worked for newsrooms in various capacities since 2019.
She also provides Editorial Design for the Sopris Sun.