Alan Fernandes was appointed by the School Board in early May. By state law, the vacancy created in early March, when Nancy Peterson resigned, had to be filled within sixty days or the county would be forced to call a special election. The appointed board member would then face election at the next regular election – in this case, in November.
But with three vacancies for a four-year term, no one apparently wanted to challenge Mr. Fernandes for the two-year seat. We now learn that, because Mr. Fernandes was unopposed, that the district is now compelled to appoint him permanently to fill out the remainder of his term.
At a special meeting yesterday, Mr. Fernandes was officially appointed. As the staff report explains, “Member Alan Fernandes was provisionally appointed May 5, 2014 to fill a vacant seat on the Board of Education until the next election on November 4, 2014. Subsequently, seeking to complete the two-year term, Member Fernandes filed his candidacy with the Yolo County Office of Elections. Since Member Fernandes runs unopposed for the two-year seat this means we are not required to hold an election for the remaining two-year term. Education Codes 5326 and 5328 require the Board to appoint Mr. Fernandes prior to the November 4, 2014 election.”
The staff notes, “The district was notified of this requirement after the regular October 14, 2014 agenda was posted. The resolution is being presented in this special meeting to meet the legal deadline.”
In a letter dated October 9, Yolo County Superintendent of Schools Jorge Ayala wrote to Superintendent Winfred Roberson, “This is to inform you that, if there were insufficient nominees to require an election in your district, you will be receiving a letter from the Yolo County Elections and a Certificate of Facts signed by the County Clerk regarding Education Code §§ 5326 and 5328 (see attached) requiring your Governing Board to appoint a qualified person(s), at a Board meeting prior to the November 4, 2014 election.”
Strangely, the letter goes on to note, “Your district may not have done this in the past, as this matter has just been brought to our attention. In the future, the Elections Office will issue the Certificate of Facts immediately following the deadline to file a Declaration of Candidacy, in order for your Governing Boards to have ample time to meet the above stated requirement.”
The resolution notes, “Education Code Section 5326 provides that if, by 5:00 p.m. on the 83rd day prior to the day fixed for the governing board member election, only one person has been nominated for any elective office to be filled at that election…”
It continues, “Education Code Section 5328 provides that if, pursuant to Section 5326 a district election is not held, the qualified person or persons nominated shall be seated at the organizational meeting of the board, or if no person has been nominated or if an insufficient number is nominated, the governing board shall appoint a qualified person or persons, as the case may be, at a meeting prior to the day fixed for the election, and such appointee or appointees shall be seated at the organizational meeting of the board as if elected at a district election.”
The resolution concludes, “Pursuant to Education Code Sections 5326 and 5328, Alan Fernandes, is deemed qualified to fill the vacancy on the Board of Education, and the Board hereby appoints Alan Fernandes to the Davis Joint Unified School District Board of Education.”
On July 27, the Vanguard published the commentary: “School Board Appointment Gives Fernandes a Free Seat.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting