Recall Terri Cunningham-Swanson: Part 9

Within less than two weeks of the first petition just barely missing the threshold of signatures needed, another Plattsmouth resident filed a second petition. Terri and her folks were moving goal posts and adding to their rhetoric, while Sarah Slattery led a new charge to recall Terri Cunningham-Swanson.

Second Recall Attempt

During the first couple of weeks of September, Sarah Slattery filed a second recall petition while the superintendent fielded record requests (FOIAs) and Terri was interviewed by Scott Voorhees on KFAB on September 8, 2023.

When Plattsmouth’s leading Neanderthal, Rich Dreesman, decided to say something about his impression of the recall group, one parent threw Terri’s words from the interview back at him.

Dreesman calls recallers creepy witches


The community member who Terri saw fit to rally her supporters to mock on the basis of religion spoke at the September 11, 2023 school board meeting about the lack of adherence to the so-called “Code of Ethics.” As that community member (the wife of an Air Force veteran) stated:

It’s sad to see one person put together a faction that feels justified in hurting others. Sad to see people acting out in fear, when they aren’t even losing or gaining anything from it.

And I do get it. There’s something out there everyone in this room doesn’t agree with, and one of the hardest things is raising our children, only to have them turn out completely different than we hoped. But, also, it’s not our place to inflict our own pain on others. It’s not our place to force our way of thinking on anyone else.

All this fight over books is doing is hurting everyone in this small community by attempting to control the things some people fear. And seeing anyone dictate to others is especially painful to those of us who have given everything we can to uphold our nation’s freedom.

While Terri’s supporters claimed they were under attack for being Christian—something for which there is no documentation or proof—they ramped up their intolerance toward anyone who disagreed with them, and excused their attacks on a non-Christian with Bible verses. Once Terri received word that Sarah had filed a second petition to recall her, the Cass County GOP posted Sarah’s photograph, name, address and telephone number on their Facebook page on September 15. Once again, we see that people on Terri’s side are more than willing to attack women, especially single moms, and teenagers in the community. Why didn’t they do the same thing when Ryan filed the first petition?

Terri also posted on September 21 that while she was still not part of Moms for Liberty, it was a “great organization” and she was seriously considering joining them. While we aren’t aware of her signing their pledge, it had become clear to the people of Plattsmouth that her views aligned with theirs. It probably doesn’t matter if she is or isn’t part of the group that doesn’t understand the definition of liberty, considering book banning is the opposite of freedom.

Terri went on to schedule a “Town Hall” where anyone—preferably from Plattsmouth and certainly not press (KETV was kicked out of the event)—could attend to hear her point of view and ask her questions. While Terri worked 11-hour days and prepared for her town hall event, the superintendent and several board members attended the Nebraska Association of School Boards (NASB) Area Membership Meeting on September 24, 2023.

TCS has no levels


Community members were noticing her lack of involvement in any workshops or educational events intended for board members to learn and better themselves as elected officials.

Terri conducted her town hall on September 28, 2023. The Cass County GOP paid for ad placement in the Cassgram to publicize the event.

Though Terri and the Cass County GOP believed her town hall/Q&A session to be a resounding success, we leave that to you to decide. Some parents and community members felt it reaffirmed her intolerance for the LGBTQIA community, and that she dodged, ducked, dipped, dived and dodged straightforward questions.

After this event, Terri and her supporters started moving goal posts from “porn” to “literary erotica” while people supporting the recall kept their goal the same. Another move by the recall side was to start reading the books in question, so they could have a better understanding of each story as a whole.

Team Terri’s talk about “smut” and claiming they weren’t banning books continued, but also shifted to constant discussion about the “purity” and “innocence” of children. 

The second recall petition was made available on October 6, 2023 with the following statement of reason for recall:

Terri Cunningham-Swanson is a member of extremist groups & has a record of being anti-public education. Her proposed book ban goes against the First Amendment and is anti-American. Her ban will result in tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees that will inevitably be paid for by you. For these reasons, she is unfit for office.

Terri’s defense statement included two cherry-picked snippets of two studies:

“Exposure to sexually explicit media in early adolescence had a substantive relationship with risky sexual behavior…” PubMed Central.
“A study was conducted in 2013 to measure the effect of reading on the brain. It was found…when you read sensual scenes, your brain will MORE INTENSELY trigger your sexual desires.” Marela Bush 

Policy 6300 votes 8:0 first reading, 6:1 final.

Members of the recall group dug into both of these studies (linked above), and found that they didn’t support what Terri was trying to use them to prove.

This was also when the review committee’s recommendations were released regarding the 52 books they had read over the summer. Proponents of the recall were happy to see that the review committee, after reading all books in their entirety, unanimously recommended keeping 51 of the 52 books on the library shelves. The reason for removing one book was because its subject matter—middle-aged women navigating their midlife crises—wasn’t of interest to teenagers. The recommendations were part of the agenda for the October 9, 2023 school board meeting.

The meeting drew a crowd, all interested in how the board would vote on the recommendations. The director who led the review committee gave a detailed explanation of the review process, from the committee’s in-depth discussion of Policy 6300 and their understanding of it, to each book being read multiple times by different people. Five residents also addressed the board, 3 in favor of book banning and 2 against it.

What followed just after the 1 hour mark was a divisive moment in the meeting:

Terri of course, launched into an absolute diatribe about the review committee’s recommendations. She ignored the agenda, which forced the board president to use the gavel and call a recess. Upon coming to the agenda item, she read some spicy scenes and then forced a motion to table the vote until the November meeting. 

She also complained about the list of naughty words in Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe, a book destined for the restricted content section, along with 10 others. As Terri told one parent after the meeting, she still felt the book didn’t meet policy, even though the review committee didn’t see a reason for its removal.

TCS thinks Neanderthal does not meet policy


One parent reported to us that after the October meeting, another parent approached Terri and informed her that a minor had been in the room. This came up, because Terri had been claiming for months that the obscenity laws made it illegal for her to read such passages out loud to anyone under the age of 19. Terri then shrugged it off, as if it were not her fault that a minor heard the very words she had spent months claiming were illegal to read in front of anyone who was not yet 19.

With Terri’s motion to table the discussion after her outburst, the vote on the books was dead for a month. Conversation on both sides was lively as far as opposing perspectives about her behavior. Some applauded her for speaking out, while others found her behavior rude and disrespectful to staff, teachers, parents, and students, as well as other board members.

Email 1 about TCS conduct Email 2 about TCS conduct

With people calling out her actions, pushing back on her agenda, and asking important questions, Terri doubled down on her belief that the books were smut, pornography or literary erotica—whatever riled her followers and kept them worked up enough to keep flaming the recall side. She confirmed she wouldn’t bother attending the state education conference when asked.

At this time, we don’t know if it was because she sensed her days were numbered or she had more important things to do than become a better board member. Terri did, however, have plenty of time to respond to emails that reminded her to be cool and composed because the “liberal WOKE crowd hates that.”

Liberal WOKE crowd email

Terri hoped she would find some legal backup when she complained to the superintendent about Robert’s Rules of Order. But, in the end, the only violation of Robert’s Rules was her speaking out of turn, instead of waiting until the item was up for discussion per the agenda, and a motion to table is considered a violation of fair procedure.

More about Nico Emerson

Nicolette "Nico" L. Emerson is an observer of politics in small town Nebraska, especially as it pertains to education, school boards, and adults who want to decide the direction of the next generation.