Recall in wrong place (Clarkston News article, June 22, 2011)
June 22, 2011 - Activists seeking to recall Gov. Rick Snyder count schools among their allies. But using school property in Clarkston crosses a line, officials say.
"I called the Oakland County Sheriff's Department this weekend," said Superintendent Dr. Rod Rock. "They came over and asked the group to leave."
Petitioners set up signs and a table at the Sashabaw Road school last Friday and Sunday, which is when Rock took action.
As of Tuesday morning, Pine Knob Elementary continues to be listed on www.FireRickSnyder.org as one of the sites where Michigan voters can go on June 25-26 to sign a petition to recall the governor.
According to district Bylaw 7510, "a facility reservation must be completed and approved for each event scheduled after the normal school day, weekends, days when school is not in session, holidays and during the summer months."
The group made no action to reserve the spot. When asked on Friday about the petition signing, Rock said the district did not know about it.
"We have no knowledge of this event," he said. "We have not been contacted by the event organizers. We did not give them permission to use our facilities. We do not endorse the event. We will not take a position on this recall."
But some residents thought differently.
"The recall announcement on the district's own website proves they are aware of the event, chose not to stop it, and didn't make the same demands that were required of us to set up on school property to collect recall signatures (of Independence Township Supervisor David Wagner)," said Michael Powell of Independence Township.
The recall-Snyder event was posted on Clarkston school district's home page as a disclaimer – "Clarkston Community Schools is NOT endorsing nor has scheduled an event at Pine Knob Elementary School where the 'Oakland County Recall Rick Snyder' group is asking residents to sign their petition."
During the petition drive to recall Wagner last year, activists collecting signatures at Clarkston Junior High School were turned away, and police were called.
That decision was based on Bylaw 9700, which prohibits use of school property for "promoting the interests of any nonschool agency or organization, public or private" without school board permission.
At the time, district officials said they would not allow any solicitating for signatures for a recall or any other political action on school property.
Concerned residents called The Clarkston News about what they felt was a double standard in the recall-Snyder case.
Rock, who was not yet superintendent at the time of the Wagner recall, said it was not.
"We applied the same standard to both situations," he said, and explained he directed his team to put the disclaimer on the website.
Board of Education Secretary Joan Patterson agreed.
"We need to be consistent with the rules," Patterson said. "If you can't do it for one, you can't do it for the other."