- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 15, 2014

CENTRAL CITY, Neb. (AP) - Voters have recalled a longtime member of the Central City school board who participated in the firing of the high school football coach.

In unofficial results from Tuesday’s special recall election, 666 people voted against Kent Malm, while 372 voted to retain him. Malm had been on the school board for more than 25 years and was re-elected in November 2012.

“I appreciate the people who elected me to this position for so many years,” Malm said earlier Tuesday, according to The Grand Island Independent. “I don’t have any regrets for decisions that I’ve made, I’d make the same decisions again.

Kip Lenhart, of Central City, who filed the paperwork for the recall drives against Malm and two other board members, has said the effort wasn’t based solely on the April firing of Central City High School football coach Darin Garfield.

The recall petitions said: “We believe that recall of (the board members) is warranted due to lack of responsiveness to concerns raised by public and staff, lack of oversight and failure to require accountability from administrators, failure to provide leadership to improve our school.”

Officials have declined to say why Garfield was fired as football coach.

“There is still a lot of work to be done. We can’t just stop now,” Lenhart said Tuesday, noting that the board will appoint someone to the seat and an election for three board members will take place in November.

The recall petitions against board members Dale Palser and Steve Belitz were deemed invalid on Aug. 13. Merrick County Clerk Marcia Wichman said petitioners hadn’t complied with a requirement that each page must state whether those circulating the petitions were volunteers or paid circulators.

Wichman also said that because Palser and Belitz are up for election next year, they couldn’t be subject to recall within six months of the incumbent filing deadline for the office. The last date they could have been subject to recall was Aug. 16.

Malm was re-elected in November 2012 and wasn’t up for election next year.

Lenhart said Tuesday that he’s heard that the Central City recall drives have made school board members across the state think about what they are doing and why.

“Our biggest thing was we wanted to hold our school board accountable for what our school administration was doing, and I think other schools are looking at that the same way,” he said.

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