Government & Politics

Vote to recall De Soto school board’s Scott Hancock set for Aug. 18

Voters in the De Soto School District will go to the polls Aug. 18 to decide whether to recall Scott Hancock from the board of education. Hancock’s term would normally end in 2017.

Recall supporters gathered 1,393 signatures, of which 1,190 were validated, according to the Johnson County Election Commission. At least 1,000 valid signatures were needed.

The recall stems from discontent by some in the district over the resignation of two popular district administrators, Superintendent Doug Sumner and Jessica Dain, director of teaching and learning. Both have accepted jobs with other districts in the area.

Hancock’s demeanor toward administrators has been blamed for their departure. Hancock, who joined the board in 2013, questioned the bidding process for some $900,000 of technology equipment. Sumner ended up apologizing because the purchase was not competitively bid. Recall supporters also point out that 30 administrators have resigned since March.

Petition organizers have said Hancock has been disrespectful of administrators and staff and has violated federal law against sexual harassment in the workplace by calling female administrators “missy” and “little girl.” That alleged violation of federal law is the basis for the recall. Organizers also say Hancock makes excessive demands on administrators’ time with numerous phone calls and requests for information.

Hancock emphatically denied he has done any of the things petitioners claim, calling their allegations “outright lies.” He said no complaints have been filed by any district employees against him.

He also objected to the fact that the recall petitioners are allowed to make damaging claims against him without having to furnish proof.

“When did character assassination by innuendo, rumor and hearsay become an acceptable means for challenging the fitness and service of an elected official?” he asked in a written statement. “I’m proud of my past two years of service on the school board. I’ve always acted in the best interests of the school districts’ students, patrons and taxpayers by insisting on financially sound business practices and accountability. I look forward to continuing to do so,” he said.

Karen Wall of Olathe, one of the recall organizers, said Tuesday she had nothing new to add to the allegations already made. “I felt like we accomplished what we set out to accomplish,” she said. The rest will be up to the voters and the county election officials. She said she does not anticipate campaigning before the vote.

People can request a ballot to mail in.

Advance voting will be one week prior to the election and only at the county election office, 2101 E. Kansas City Road, Olathe.