Scott Hancock’s future on the De Soto Board of Education will be decided Tuesday, as voters go to the polls in his recall election.
Polls will be open in the district from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters are being asked whether Hancock should be removed from his spot on the board before his four-year term expires in 2017.
Organizers of the recall drive have objected to what they say is a belittling attitude toward district administrators, particularly female administrators. They have said Hancock is disrespectful in board meetings toward women, calling them “missy” and “little girl.” Hancock denies those allegations. The encounters amount to a violation of federal law against sexual harassment in the workplace, say Hancock’s opponents. They also say he has made excessive demands on administrators’ time with requests for information.
Kansas law allows recall elections if there are allegations of wrongdoing, but it does not require petition gatherers to prove those allegations. Hancock has called the petition effort a “smear campaign.”
Hancock has been at the center of unrest among school district patrons since the resignation of two popular administrators last spring. Superintendent Doug Sumner and Jessica Dain, director of teaching and learning, both accepted other jobs in the area beginning this school year.
Hancock’s opponents trace those and 28 other administrator resignations to his actions on the board. Among other things, Hancock questioned the bidding process for $900,000 of technology equipment. Sumner ended up apologizing for the purchase, which had not been properly bid.
Hancock has said he was trying to be a good steward of taxpayers’ money.
After a heated school board meeting in March, Anh Nguyen of Shawnee called on Hancock to step down. When he did not, she, Karen Wall of Olathe and Julianne Wright of Lenexa started the recall drive. They collected 1,393 signatures, of which 1,190 were validated by the Johnson County Election Commission. At least 1,000 valid signatures were required for the recall.