BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Three school board members in the Benton Harbor Area Schools are being targeted for recall after voting to privatize transportation services, according to The Herald-Palladium.

Ronnie Brown, custodian and president of the district's service workers union, submitted language for proposed recall petitions to the Berrien County Election Commission, The Herald-Palladium reported. The school board voted 4-1 in May to hire First Student Inc. to provide bus service for the next five years, according to the report.

Board President Dan McGinnis, named in the recall, told The Herald-Palladium that privatization was the only alternative after service workers refused during contract negotiations to accept a less expensive health plan than one sold by the Michigan Education Special Services Association.

Brown said that McGinnis was "misinformed" about negotiations, The Herald-Palladium reported. Ultimately the union and district signed an agreement that moves workers to a non-MESSA plan, the report said.

"I voted my conscience because we're in a $7 million deficit and we're trying to save district money," Allene Smith, a board trustee also named in the recall, told The Herald Palladium.

A recall effort launched in June ended when the election commission ruled that the petition language was unclear, according to The Herald-Palladium.

SOURCE:
The Herald-Palladium, "Petitions seek recall of 3 board members," July 9, 2009

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "School Employees Union Shows School Boards the Whip," Nov. 24, 2008

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