Date of Conferral





Lucile L. Wake, S.A.


The problem

The purposes of this study were (1) to review the history of school-district recall laws in California, (2) to enumerate the legal steps in the recall process, (3) to survey a school district where recall election had taken place, and (4) to present community feelings and effects.


A search was made of all laws and official records pertaining to school trustees' recall elections in California. A questionnaire designed to elicit respondent attitudes and feelings was mailed to all who voted in the school district recall election of December 3rd, 1970. A preliminary number of questionnaires were mailed first to determine the quality of the questionnaire and responses. Post office boxes were rented in the two most popular communities for a better percentage response. Within two weeks after the complete mailing of questionnaires, 33 percent returns were received. The responses to the twenty questions were then tabulated with explanations of each. The open-end questions, to supplement the overall analysis of the survey, and a map of the school district showing voting precincts, percentage graphs, and other relevant information giving a cross reference to the tabular aspect of the survey were used.


Selected findings are:

1. The California State Legislature developed a body of law to remove members of school district trustees by recall.

2. Procedures for initiating a recall movement are set down by state law in both the election and school codes.

3. A few highly motivated, well-organized people can initiate a successful recall election.

4. In a small school district with small populated communities, a word-of-mouth, door-to-door campaign by proponents of a recall, can win an election. This method is considerably more effective than any media.

5. Proponents of a recall movement generally put forth considerably more effort than do opponents.

6. Older people are more interested in School Board of Trustee recall elections than younger people.

7. That after a two-year elapse of a successful recall movement the feelings of discontent and suspicion toward members of the school board are still evident.


1. Electors in a newly created city located within an old established school district might be more apt to initiate a recall movement than those of an older town.

2. Any area within a school district voting a very high percentage in favor of the recall can win the recall election.

3. School board members up far recall were not well known by the majority of the electors.

4. Removing members’ f'rorn a school board by recall, where exact reasons were in doubt, has lasting effects in the school district.


1. All members of a School Board of Trustees should make themselves and their actions known in the district in order to eliminate the necessity for recall.

2. Issues in a recall movemeny should be completely explained to the voters especially by members up for recall.

3. School-board members should be positively responsive to new land and housing developments within the school district.

4. A non-partial committee, possibly from the State Department of Education, be formed to recommend steps that might be taken by a community and school district to eliminate the necessity of a recall election.

5. Leaders of all communities should be encouraged to attend school-board meetings regularly to recognize school problems as they develop and search for means of solutions.


Research information on this subject is limited. However, this dissertation points out that recall of School Board of trustees in California is of importance. Because a community can initiate recalls, changes within a school district may take such a form that could drastically reshape the whole school program.