“I believe the best way to serve all students is to defuse speculation and end further distractions so that the board may carefully deliberate the findings of the district’s report,” Nancy Peterson read to her colleagues who were not expecting this move. “Therefore, I resign my position as a trustee for the Davis Joint Unified School District, effective immediately.”
“It is no secret that the victim at the center of the complaint is my daughter, a student in this district,” Ms. Peterson continued “Over the years, countless families have expressed fear about the perils of challenging staff when wrongdoing is perceived. Most do not speak up and I can understand their choices to remain silent.”
“This is a precedent-setting moment for our district. The result will set the tone for students and family engagement now and into the future,” she read. “Moving forward, may we become more sensitive to and forever mindful of those who have not yet discovered the strength of their voices. My sincere hope is that one day, this district can create and sustain a culture of advocacy and responsibility absent of fear.”
Board President Gina Daleiden told the Vanguard that none of the four members of the school board nor Superintendent Winfred Roberson knew that this was coming.
Now pursuant to Board Bylaw 9223, the DJUSD Board of Trustees must pursue one of two courses of action to fill the vacant seat, either by special election or provisional appointment.
According to the staff report, “Board bylaw 9223 explains that the DJUSD Board has 60 days to fill the vacant seat by either special election or provisional appointment. The candidate who is elected or provisionally appointed to the vacant seat would serve until the seat is filled during the next regular election cycle, November 2014. Starting November 2014, a two-year term will remain on the current vacant seat.”
It becomes clear which course will be preferred. First the staff reports indicate that while a “special election would cost between $100K (and) $300K,” a “provisional appointment would incur the cost of advertising the vacant seat in the local media.”
The agenda item also contains a form that is a sample for an applicant for appointment to fill out. Tentatively the form states, “Please complete and return by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 15, 2014, to the Superintendent’s Office of the Davis Joint Unified School District, 526 B Street. Application forms received after the above time and date will render the applicant ineligible for consideration of the position of Board member.”
The form contains seven questions that the board asks be filled out in no more than “four typewritten pages.”
1. In what school or community committee or activities have you been active? Describe your contributions.
2. Why do you want to be a Board member? What about this district motivates you to apply for the position?
3. What is your vision for the Davis Joint Unified School District? Describe the characteristics you would like to see in an ideal school district.
4. What are the three most important issues facing the Davis Joint Unified School District at this time? How would you gather accurate and complete information from district staff and assess what parents and community members are thinking?
5. What attributes do you feel are important for a Board member? Describe your own skills and interests in relation to these attributes.
6. What should be the relationship between Board members and the administration in handling local school concerns and/or District concerns?
7. Identify any potential conflict of interest you might have and state how you would handle that conflict.
According to Bylaw 9223, “When a vacancy occurs less than four months before the end of a Board member’s term, the Board shall take no action.” However, “When a vacancy occurs longer than four months before the end of a Board member’s term, the Board shall, within 60 days of the date of the vacancy or the filing of the member’s deferred resignation, either order an election or make a provisional appointment, unless a special election is mandated…”
In this case, the appointee would simply run for reelection in November during the election for the three other board spots.
The policy also provides, “When authorized by law to make a provisional appointment to fill a vacancy on the Board, the Board shall advertise in the local media to solicit candidate applications or nominations. A committee consisting of less than a quorum of the Board shall ensure that applicants are eligible for Board membership and announce the names of the eligible candidates. The Board shall interview the candidates at a public meeting, accept oral or written public input, and select the provisional appointee by a majority vote.”
They add, “Within 10 days after the appointment is made, the Board shall post notices of the actual vacancy, or the filing of a deferred resignation, and the provisional appointment. The notice shall be published in the local newspaper pursuant to Government Code 6061 and posted in at least three public places within the district.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting