The Sweetwater Union High School District is embroiled in controversy involving an alleged pay-to-play scheme.
The effort to recall school board members in the South Bay began Monday night.
Organizers began collecting signatures for two of the three board members who are the subject of a recall effort.
The petition for the third board member, John McCann, has not yet been certified by the County Registrar's Office. Still, organizers, who held a news conference Monday night say they want to get started.
The recall efforts were sparked by the December 2011 raids of several board members’ homes. Four of those school boardmembers targeted in the raids have been charged in an alleged pay-to-play scheme.
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis called it the largest public corruption case the DA's office has ever prosecuted. All current and former board members charged have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Board members John McCann and Jim Cartmill are not charged in the case and their homes were not searched, but the committee that authored the petition accused them of contributing to a history of corruption in the school district.
"[McCann and Cartmill] have been inattentive and dismissive of community members who have demanded they put a stop to the corruption," read a statement from the Committee to Recall Sweetwater Union High School District Trustees Cartmill, McCann, Ricasa 2012 -- "Occupy Sweetwater" for short.
McCann issued a statement in response to the efforts:
"Since January a small group named Occupy Sweetwater has been set on wasting over a million dollars of taxpayer money for a special election by diverting it away from our children's education, while supporting candidates like Bertha Lopez whose home has been raided by the District Attorney. After being elected a little more than a year ago, I have led successful efforts to reform the district, increase test scores and balance the budget."
The committee said its efforts to recall Ricasa stem from a long-held suspicion that "Ricasa and her fellow board members have not been responsible stewards of Proposition O monies, provided by the taxpayers."
Board member Bertha Lopez, whose home was raided but who was never charged, and Pearl Quinones are not targets of the recall effort because they will be up for re-election on the November ballot.
Organizers are hoping to have the issue on the November ballot to avoid a special election.
Monday, Cartmill and Ricasa said they do not want to comment at this point, since the recall is just being launched. But in papers filed with the registrar's office, they have said this is politically motivated, by disgruntled former employees.
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