Incumbents survive divisive school board recall in Wisconsin

Empty classroom desks

MEQUON, Wis. (AP) — School board members who survived a recall effort that garnered national attention in a suburban Milwaukee district were looking ahead Wednesday to reuniting voters after a divisive campaign.

The recall against four Mequon-Thiensville School Board members failed to unseat any incumbents Tuesday, handing organizers a stinging defeat in an effort that attracted nearly $50,000 in donations and was one of several high-profile school board races across the country that were dominated by debates over masks, vaccines, race and history.

One of the four incumbents, Chris Schultz, said board members will need to “find ways to heal our community and heal from this process.”

“We need to bring everybody together and make sure everybody knows that they are heard, and that we value everybody’s opinion,” Schultz said.

Recall organizers had pushed the message that academic achievement was declining in the district, arguing that the district’s pandemic safety measures and commitments to equity were contributing to that decline, the Journal Sentine l reported.

Standardized test scores have declined statewide over the past two years as the coronavirus pandemic disrupted classroom learning.

Megan Kuehn said the recall group’s messaging wasn’t clear “on what they stood for.”

“If it was about academic performance, we could have handled this in a more constructive way instead of wasting taxpayer’s money on a recall election in the middle of everything,” Kuehn said.

Each of the incumbents won over 58% of the votes in their races, according to unofficial results posted by the district Tuesday.