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Richland 44 residents petitioning to recall three school board members

COLFAX, N.D. - A group of residents are trying to recall three Richland 44 School Board members while the district's superintendent remains on paid administrative leave.The North Dakota Secretary of State's Office on March 8 approved the petition...


COLFAX, N.D. – A group of residents are trying to recall three Richland 44 School Board members while the district’s superintendent remains on paid administrative leave.

The North Dakota Secretary of State’s Office on March 8 approved the petition form for circulation, which started a 90-day window to get signatures, according to Elections Specialist Lee Ann Oliver. Organizers have until June 6 to submit petitions to Kendra Dockter, Richland 44 School District’s business manager.

The petitions say organizers are requesting a recall because of “fiscal concerns.” Any qualified voter in the district can sign, Dockter said.

The recall efforts target three of the board’s seven members: Sarah Myers, Josh Mjoness and President Lisa Amundson. Amundson and Mjoness declined to comment, while Myers couldn’t be reached for comment on Friday, March 23.

Oliver said the issue now falls to the district because the Secretary of State’s Office only verifies that petition forms follow the rules.


Dockter said the number of signatures to force a recall varies, and amounts to 25 percent of the number of voters during the election that elected the member in question.

For Myers and Mjoness, both elected in 2017 when there were 159 votes, organizers would need 40 signatures per petition. Amundson, meanwhile, was elected in 2016, when there were 277 voters, which means at least 70 signatures are required, according to Dockter.

Once the petitions are submitted, Dockter said she would have 30 days to verify the documents. If everything meets requirements, a recall election could happen about 90 to 100 days later.

The district’s superintendent, Tim Godfrey, has been on paid administrative leave since March 1.

Richland 44 is in the midst of several investigations into alleged sexual misconduct involving boys at its junior and senior high schools that first came to light in late January. In the weeks since, the Richland County Sheriff’s Office announced that five boys are facing several charges, including hazing, sexual assault and felonious restraint, and the boys have been referred to juvenile court.

The Bismarck Police Department is also investigating alleged offenses that occurred there. In addition, the district launched its own investigation into the offenses in January, and the School Board agreed last month to launch another independent investigation.

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