WELCH - The number of validated signatures on a petition to impanel a grand jury to investigate a Welch school board member has fallen short of the required number.

Last week, Welch Citizens Allied for Responsible Education (WE CARE) announced that the group had provided the court with 542 signatures - 500 are required to impanel a grand jury.

Monday, 59 of the signatures were ruled invalid by the election board for a variety of reasons.

Hours later, petitioners announced that five of the names were returned to a “valid” status.

“ We are confident that there are indeed 12 more valid signatures already gathered and submitted to the court,” said Tyson Wynn, a Welch High School graduate and an advocate of the petition.

Wynn said attorneys representing WECARE continue to review the petition.

“My client was always planning to contest the grand jury anyway,” said McCord's attorney Erik Johnson. “Now he doesn't have to.”

WE CARE members say any statement of finality regarding the petition are premature.

“As usual, Mr. Johnson is a bit veracity-impaired,” Wynn said. “Nothing has been certified to the court as yet.”

Wynn said that, once the count is certified, members of WE CARE will be reviewing each invalidated signature very carefully and exploring every legal option they have.

McCord is accused of verbally assaulting, cursing and threatening retaliation against Welch Superintendent R. Clark McKeon and a softball coach after a family member did not log much playing time.

At its May 13 meeting, the board of education upheld the superintendent's recommendation that McCord be issued a six-month suspension and be banned from school property, with the exception of board facilities during board meetings.

Petitioners say they are not giving up their fight to ensure that McCord is no longer able to “bully” and “intimidate” teachers, coaches and administrators.

Johnson said this is another triumph for his client.

“Mr. McCord is proud to continue service as a Welch school board member and looks forward to completing his term,” johnson said. “It is our hope that Trudy Hankins and WE CARE spend as much time trying to improve the Welch School District as they did trying to remove Mr. McCord from office.”

An effort to improving the Welch School District is what Hankins said started the petition effort.