The second attempt to recall school board member Robert Kirk has now begun in earnest.

On Thursday, the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters officially approved the petition to recall Kirk drawn up by fellow school board member Chris Bentley.

"The next step is off to the printer," to print up petitions to distribute, "then gather 7,687 signatures," Bentley said Thursday.

"Robert Kirk has created an atmosphere of fear," Bentley's petition reads in part, "Where long standing dedicated HUSD employees are fearful of losing their jobs if they cross him."

"The accusations in this recall attempt are personal in nature and have no foundation in fact," reads a portion of Kirk's response, which is part of Bentley's petition. "Please join me in defeating this absurd recall that will hurt kids, the district and the community."

Although it's taken more than two months from the date that Kirk was served with a notice of intention to circulate a recall petition, Bentley said nothing has changed since March.

"Absolutely nothing has been done to demonstrate that Mr. Kirk is willing to work in the best interests of students, rather than in whatever interests he seems to be serving," he said.

Taking an idea from those attempting to recall Assemblyman Anthony Adams, Bentley will be setting up signing stations near Interstate 15, so that voters can simply drive up, sign a petition stuck in through an open window and sign off. A stay-at-home father, Bentley said he'd also drive petitions to anyone who called him, asking for one.

"It's total grassroots, I guess," Bentley said.

Kirk has been down this road before, though, and has beaten another grassroots recall campaign that also sought to recall fellow board members Hardy Black and Lee Rogers. That attempt, headed up by former board member Lori Nielson, ended in April 2008, reportedly 1,500 signatures short of the number required. Like Bentley, Nielson also accused Kirk of being irresponsible with taxpayers' dollars.

"We're trying to do the hard work of the district during these tough budgetary times," Kirk said Thursday. "I think this is real non-productive and it's almost obscene that [one] board member would try to recall another board member."

Bentley acknowledges the difficulty of knocking Kirk off the board.

"I have no grand delusions about the process itself. It's a reverse election," Bentley said. "It's extremely difficult and time-consuming to do these."

"I think it's absurd and I think it's insane. It's just non-productive. We need to all be pulling together at this time," said Kirk. "Just kicking up dust is asinine."

Bentley has until Friday, October 2 to collect the required signatures in order for the recall question to be placed on the ballot of a special election, which would likely be held in early 2010.

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