The attempted recall of three Hesperia Unified School Board members has failed.

Recall proponents managed to gather 5,149 signatures to recall Robert Kirk and Lee Rogers and 5,137 signatures to recall Hardy Black, according to recall spokeswoman Lori Nielson. To get the question of whether to recall the three school board members should be recalled on a special election ballot, they would have needed to have collected 6,919 signatures for each of the three board members by Monday, April 7 at 5 p.m.

Just under 75 percent of the number of signatures required to recall each board member ended up being collected: They needed 1,770 more signatures for Kirk and Rogers and 1,782 for Black. And that's assuming 100 percent of the signatures were from registered voters living within the boundaries of the HUSD. Nielson had previously said she intended to get an additional buffer of signatures, beyond the 6,919 required, should the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters throw some out.

"I never doubted the voters of Hesperia, that they were smart enough to see what this was, and the political work that was trying to be done there," Kirk said Tuesday.

"I realized the effort we had to go through to get people to come to the polls and vote" back in 2006, Black said Tuesday. To motivate voters to turn out outside of the normal election period, "that's almost an utter impossibility."

"I'm tired of all the negative feelings that flowed from this," Rogers said Tuesday. "They had to talk about this, they had to think about this. That takes up energy that we don't have."

"We didn't get the signatures, of course, we're disappointed," Nielson said Wednesday. "But on the positive side, but we've made the community more aware and hopefully they'll get more involved with the school board and their children's education."

The recall process began in July 2007, when the three board members were served during a meeting with a notice of intent to file a recall petition. Proponents accused the three targeted board members of spending $7 million in "unneeded additional fees" on their original plan to build Oak Hills High School, blasted them for their plan to hire a consultant to oversee the construction of Oak Hills, attacked their decision to turn the district's sixth grade-only schools into K-6 schools and "unnecessary expenditure of thousands of dollars" on a survey regarding a proposed change to the HUSD school calendar.

"All of their charges were lies," Black said. "We didn't spend $7 million, and we didn't do all of these things, and they persisted in saying these things."

"The board has done some wonderful things since we've been on," Rogers said, "The new continuation high school, the new elementary school, our building plan, our choice school."

"We feel we were able to stop [the board from hiring WLC Construction Services to oversee construction of Oak Hills High School]. We were able to keep the calendar the way the community wanted. We were able to stop the [$10,000 monthly] salary to [proposed Oak Hills construction management consultant] Margaret Sepp," Nielson said. "Hopefully, when these things come up, everyone will let their voices to be known."

Almost from the beginning, the recall effort hit snags, with the registrar of voter repeatedly rejecting drafts of the petitions, which had to be approved before recall proponents could even begin collecting the signatures. The first go-round of the recall ended in October, when Nielson was not able to get a draft of the petition back to the registrar under deadline. The recall began again a week later, and the registrar of voters approved the petitions for distribution in December. Despite a 120-day clock beginning at that point, recall proponents chose not to approach residents during the holiday shopping season, and did not begin to publicly circulate petitions until January, more than a month after the clock had started.

The precise number of approved signatures ultimately collected by recall proponents will never be known.

"The filing deadline was yesterday," said Registrar of Voters Kari Verjil. "If they would have turned those in, the law would have required that we had, at a minimum, looked at each page and do what we call a raw count. If they did not have the required signatures, we would have just handed them back."

And now, the signed petitions have been shredded, according to Nielson.

"We made a promise to the employees and the people in the community that their signatures would not be seen," she said.

Black, Kirk and Rogers have said since the beginning that the recall was not motivated by issues, but rather by the thwarted political ambitions of former school board members. Nielson was a school board member from 1991 to 2003. Fellow recall proponent Nellie Gogley was a school board member from 1991 to 1995 and 1997 to 2006.

"This is the second time the voters have said no to them, and I would hope they get the message," Kirk said.

"It was all personal agenda, in my estimation," Black said. "It's kind of a sad commentary on the fact that they would put the community and the school district through this for almost a year. ... On top of that, make it so it would be a special election, which would cost the district more than $200,000, from what I understand."

Nielson said she never wanted to return to office.

"I'd been out of office for three years," she said. "I had no intentions of running, I have no intentions on running. The only thing I've said that, if the recall succeeded, and we couldn't find three people who would run, I've said that I would consider running."

"I just want to put it behind, get on with business, and put aside all this monkey business," Rogers said. "It's over with now, so let's move ahead."

"I'm glad it's over with," Kirk said. "I was honored to be elected by the people of Hesperia and I'm honored that they continue to have faith in us and support in us. ... This thing was doomed from the start."

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.