PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Salem mother has filed a petition to recall three Salem-Keizer School Board directors after the group voted 4-3 to ban concealed weapons on school grounds on Aug. 9.

The petitions, which were submitted to the Marion County Clerks Office on Aug. 25 by Salem resident Casity Troutt, seek to recall Directors Osvaldo Avila, Ashley Carson Cottingham and Karina Guzman Ortiz — all of whom voted in favor of the concealed weapons ban. Director Maria Hinojos Pressey also voted for the ban, but was not named in the recall effort.

The petitions also criticize the aforementioned directors for opposing book bans in district libraries and implementing transgender-friendly policies on school grounds.

“[Carson Cottingham] is in support of graphic books in the district libraries that portray teenagers giving and receiving oral sex and having intercourse,” Troutt’s petition reads. “She voted to ban concealed carry on district grounds, is against renewing the School Resource Officer contract, and is in favor of the transgender policies that were created without parent input.”

Carson Cottingham called the petitions a distraction in a statement she gave to KOIN 6 today. 

“As a full-time working mother and volunteer Chair of our school board, I’m focused on Salem-Keizer schools having a successful school year for all kids,” Carson Cottingham said. “Distractions are not going to help get students prepared. Elections in May are where voters have a choice for change on school boards. I won’t let anything pull me away from working for better public education for our kids and youth.”

Guzman Ortiz also issued a statement to the Salem Reporter after the Marion County Clerk’s Office published the petitions last week.

“I am excited for the new school year ahead for thousands of children and youth, including my own,” Guzman Ortiz told the Salem Reporter. I am focused on my duty and commitment to serve and support all students. I simply don’t have time for politics.”.

The issues presented in the petitions are hot topics among parents and school boards around the country. In November of last year, Director Deborah Caldwell-Stone of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom addressed the national surge in book bans.

“We’re seeing an unprecedented volume of challenges,” Caldwell-Stone said last fall. “In my twenty years with ALA, I can’t recall a time when we had multiple challenges coming in on a daily basis.”

A national debate over guns in schools was also reawakened in May when an 18-year-old gunman entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas and killed 19 children and two teachers. Despite a quick response from 25 Uvalde police officers, 16 sheriff’s deputies and a number of neighboring law enforcement agencies, the gunman remained at large inside the school for more than an hour. Ultimately, a single border patrol agent, whose wife and daughter were in the school during the attack, entered the school and killed the gunman.

In July, a report issued by a Texas House investigative committee said the law enforcement response was rife with “systemic failures and egregiously poor decision making.”

The Salem-Keizer School Board’s decision to ban concealed weapons on school grounds, made possible by Oregon State Bill 554, was approved two months later. The decision sparked mixed responses from community members, and ultimately spawned a series of petitions aimed at removing the named directors from office.

Nearly 16,300 signatures must be collected for any of the petitions to prompt a recall election. If a petition were to acquire enough votes, it would result in a single recall election for that specific director’s seat. The election would be open to all registered voters within the Salem‐Keizer School District and would be independent of any general, primary or special elections. The petitioner has until Nov. 23 to collect the required number of signatures.