Officials in Colorado City, home of the nation’s largest polygamous community, have canceled an emergency bond election intended to raise $1.5 million for a public school system already under scrutiny for its spending policies.
“All I know is that a person from Colorado City came in to my office and notified me that they did not meet some kind of deadline and they cannot hold the election,” said Allen Tempert, director of elections for Mohave County.
Tempert said he was notified of the cancellation late last week shortly after The Arizona Republic reported the Colorado City Unified School District had filed papers to hold the election in November.
The Arizona Auditor General’s Office formally notified state education officials Aug. 20 that the school district failed to meet legal deadlines for reporting how it spent state and federal funds last year. At their next board in late September, education officials have the power to withhold up to 10 percent of the district’s funding until the reporting guidelines are met.
Besides failing to meet reporting deadlines for last year’s spending, the Colorado City school district is the subject of a broader audit requested 13 months ago by Tom Horne, state superintendent of public education.
The school board, like everything in Colorado City and neighboring Hildale, Utah, is controlled by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a breakaway religious sect that teaches women are property and men must have at least three wives to reach the Celestial Kingdom.
Authorities in three states have said they are investigating a wide range of allegations against the sect and its leaders.
Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophet of the FLDS, has been accused in two lawsuits filed in Salt Lake City in the past month of sodomizing his 5-year-old nephew years ago, covering up serial child molestations by fellow church leaders for decades and of using “terroristic threats” to force hundreds of adolescent male followers of his sect into exile so older, loyal disciples of the sect can have greater access to young brides.
Jeffs has denied the allegations through his attorney.
Attempts to contact Alvin Barlow, superintendent of Colorado City schools, were unsuccessful. His secretary said he was in Phoenix and unreachable.
The school board’s attorney for the bond election, Michael Cafiso of Greenberg Traurig in Phoenix, said he was unable to discuss the matter without his client’s permission. He said he tried to contact Barlow, but often had difficulty reaching him.