De La Cerda replaces Tony Vang on Fresno Unified board

The Fresno BeeNovember 7, 2012 

Fresno Unified School District trustees chose a former teacher and parent of three children Wednesday evening to replace Tony Vang, who resigned in September after months of public scrutiny over allegations that he lived outside the school district.

Christopher De La Cerda, 47, will be sworn in at the board's Nov. 14 meeting to represent the McLane High area. He will serve until 2014.

De La Cerda said at the end of the three-hour special board meeting that he wants "to be able to communicate and to collaborate" with his fellow board members. But his appointment was anything but harmonious.

Two other applicants --Eluterio Escamilla, a Fresno State director of student support services, and Kay Bertken, a part-time Fresno State lecturer, received nominations that died in three-to-three deadlocks. A fourth applicant, Michael Falcon, a former Kings Canyon Unified School District trustee, was not nominated.

And the board was split on appointing a trustee at all, with Larry Moore and Michelle Asadoorian favoring a special election. Moore said the applicants should "earn it through an election of the voters." Asadoorian agreed, but withdrew her support for a motion by Moore to hold a special election, saying she had too many questions.

Trustee Janet Ryan argued for an appointment, saying the McLane High area had gone without representation too long.

In the end, Moore nominated De La Cerda and voted for him. Asadoorian was the lone dissenting vote.

People attending the meeting were also divided on an appointment. A McLane parent said the district should not waste money on a special election. "We want someone to be appointed as soon as possible," he said. But Mai Summer Vue, an elementary teacher, and Eva Ruiz, president of the Fresno Teachers Association, asked that a special election be held.

The district's legal counsel, Mary Beth de Goede, said a special election would cost about $125,000 and could not occur less than 130 days from that night's board meeting. The public can call for a special election if 300 to 500 registered voters in the McLane area petition for it, she said.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6310, banderson@fresnobee.com or @beehealthwriter on Twitter.

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