Public school teachers seeking to recall Gov. Bobby Jindal and Louisiana House Speaker Chuck Kleckley said Thursday that they failed in their efforts to oust the Republican leaders.
Angie Bonvillain and Brenda Romero, the two Calcasieu Parish teachers leading the recall campaigns, wrote in an email that they didn’t get enough people to sign petitions to force a recall election.
The deadline to meet the benchmark was Tuesday.
“We deeply regret we were unable to reach the required number of signatures,” the teachers said in the email sent by Bonvillain. “It is our wish that should there be another recall, it will succeed where ours did not.”
The teachers were angered by Jindal’s education reform that will push more students into private and charter schools.
The hurdle to recall a governor is 950,000-plus signatures, while the benchmark for forcing a new election in Kleckley’s district was estimated to be about 13,000 verified signatures.
Bonvillain and Romero didn’t say how many signatures were collected, and they said they didn’t file the signed petitions they received.
“Because several people who signed one or both of the recall petitions expressed fear for their names to be seen by either Gov. Jindal or Rep. Kleckley, the petitions will not be submitted for review,” they wrote. “It was determined that there is no need to expose anyone to the ugliness of possible retribution from the Governor’s Office for having signed the recall petitions.”
Teachers involved in the effort said Jindal’s education laws, passed by the Legislature earlier this year, will siphon dollars from traditional public schools without ensuring improved quality or educational standards for students. They said Jindal ignored teacher concerns.
The changes created a statewide voucher program to use tax dollars to send students to private and parochial schools, offered new ways for charter schools to be created in Louisiana and expanded opportunities for online courses.
Jindal’s education overhaul also did away with the statewide teacher-salary schedule and made it tougher to reach the job-protection status known as tenure.
Two statewide teacher unions have filed lawsuits seeking to have the laws thrown out as unconstitutional, but Bonvillain and Romero said the teacher unions didn’t contribute money to the recall effort.
As they sought support, the teachers promoted the recall campaigns on Facebook and websites, held signature drives in several parishes and printed T-shirts and bumper stickers.
In Kleckley’s district, they walked door to door and put up yard signs, while the state Republican Party spent thousands of dollars in TV ads to combat the campaign against the House speaker.
Four previous recall efforts against Jindal have failed since 2008.
To force a recall election requires signatures from one-third of registered voters in the official’s district within 180 days.
Other Republican lawmakers have been targeted by recall petitions in St. Tammany and St. Bernard parishes, but those deadlines haven’t yet passed.