Recall campaigners seek signatures during canceled WSCUHSD board meeting time
By Camille Escovedo, Staff Writer, , August 21, 2021
Not everyone stayed home after the West Sonoma County Union High School District (WSCUHSD) announced the board’s first meeting back in person was canceled for the evening of Aug. 18.
Unexpected medical emergencies prevented two trustees from being able to attend in Sebastopol, forcing the meeting to be canceled and rescheduled to the coming Wednesday, Aug. 25 because the board lacked a quorum.
Still, two district parents and a senior at West County High School (WSCHS) who used to attend El Molino High School took their places at a booth outside WCHS with clipboards and hand sanitizer. That way, anyone who came out because they hadn’t heard the news could sign their petitions to remove WSCUHSD Board President Kellie Noe and Vice President Jeanne Fernandes from office.
Meanwhile, another woman waved signs at drivers passing the school on North Main Street.
“This smooth transition — it’s been anything but smooth,” said Amy-Beth Gellett, one of the recall campaigners. She had already planned to set up an hour before the board meeting to get more signatures before they’re due next week for the recall.
She and Ame Nultemeier, Forestville residents and El Molino alumni themselves, shared their concerns with West County High’s first days and their goals with passerby. Gellett’s daughter is a sophomore at the newly consolidated school where Nultemeier’s daughter, Mackenzie, is a senior.
Nultemeier is also the event fundraiser for the Community Alliance for Responsible Education (CARE), bringing the lawsuit against the district over the decision to consolidate El Molino and Analy High School in terms of the California Environmental Quality Act.
“But we feel like we have a good case,” Nultemeier said. “We might have to go through a transitional year, which is what we’re going through now, and our long-term goal here obviously is to get these students back on two separate campuses and have two different programs and even potentially break away from this district and have our own district.”
Few stopped at the booth, but the recall campaigners picked up some signatures against the two trustees scorned for voting to carry out the consolidation of Analy High School and El Molino High School in March of this year.
Laurie Fadave, the third trustee facing the recall effort, resigned as of late July. Fadave said the recall did not play a role in her decision to leave the board.
“It’s rough,” Mackenzie said regarding the first days of school so far. “Nobody knows where we’re going, everybody’s lost, a lot of people have an ‘I don’t care’ attitude, everything’s up in the air, nobody knows the answers to anybody’s questions.” There might be one former El Molino student in a classroom, according to Mackenzie, but the rest are former Analy students who she described as friendly.
“They’re fine. They know where everything is, they know everybody on campus, nothing’s really much different for them other than their name, but for El Molino kids, it’s an entire new world,” she said. “It’s stressful because I’m just trying to walk and find my friends and I’m bumping into everyone.”
“These are teenagers. These are 13-year-olds through 18-year-olds and they’re not equipped to handle this. This is way too much on top of fires, floods, bad air quality, pandemics, then to shove everybody in the middle of the pandemic into one school and say, ‘Wing it,’” said Nultemeier. “They are all at their breaking point and it’s not going well. It’s not going well at all.”