SCARBOROUGH — A local political action committee that is aiming to unseat three school board members submitted recall petitions Monday at the Town Clerk’s Office.

Shortly after noon, the Road to Renewal group turned in nearly 3,300 signatures for each targeted board member, said Paul Johnson, one of the group’s leaders. The petitions seek the removal of board Chairwoman Donna Beeley and members Cari Lyford and Jodi Shea for “incompetence.”

However, the group, which has a public Facebook page, has said that its main objective is to force the resignation of Superintendent Julie Kukenberger and the reinstatement of Scarborough High School Principal David Creech in the midst of a rapidly evolving community controversy.

The group had 20 days to gather at least 2,622 valid signatures of registered town voters for each board member. The minimum number of signatures equals 25 percent of the local voter turnout in the last gubernatorial election.

Town Clerk Tody Justice said she has 10 days to review the petitions to make sure the group has collected enough valid signatures. If the petitions are successful, a recall election to remove the board members from office could be held as early as May.

While the group met the petition deadline, Johnson said it was no cause for celebration.

“There are no winners. This is not fun,” Johnson said as he and other group leaders met outside Town Hall.

Johnson, a lifelong resident who has a third-grader in one of the town’s schools, said longstanding dissatisfaction and frustration with the school district’s leadership has reached fever pitch and deeply divided the community.

“It feels like the public is constantly dismissed,” Johnson said. “It feels like we get stuck in the same pattern no matter what the issue is.”

Johnson said the petition drive drew support from residents with diverse political backgrounds and concerns, leading him to believe that “we can confidently say we’re on the right side of this.”

Johnson and other group members acknowledged there’s no guarantee that replacing school board members will bring the results they seek, including the group’s goal to reinstate Creech.

“We’re taking it one step at a time,” said April Sither, a group member who has a kindergartner and second-grader in town schools.

Creech resigned last month, effective June 30, without publicly saying why, although his wife and his lawyer say it was forced by the superintendent. He then tried to withdraw his resignation letter after an outpouring of public support, but Kukenberger and the school board have refused to accept his rescission.

If the clerk’s office certifies the minimum number of valid voter signatures, the Town Council has 30 days to hold a public hearing on the petitions. After the hearing, the town has 30 days to hold a recall election.

Depending on how the timeline works out, the town could be required to hold the recall election in advance of the June 12 school budget validation and primary election. Each special election costs as much as $5,000, Justice said.

Also, depending on how the petition signature review works out, town voters could see one, two or three board members on the recall ballot. That’s because voters signed the recall petitions individually and they would be asked to vote on the targeted board members individually.

So it’s possible that one or two of the targeted board members could be voted off and one or two could remain. A follow-up election would be held to replace any members who might be removed.

The targeted board members are three of the longest-serving on the seven-member board. Beeley’s term ends in November, and Lyford’s and Shea’s terms end in November 2019.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: KelleyBouchard

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