Recall elections for three Valley school boards have been confirmed, while efforts are ongoing in other local districts to do the same, following a recent spate of superintendent ousters.
The Selma Unified School District and the Golden Plains Unified School District in Fresno County have garnered enough residents’ signatures to hold a recall election that will ask voters to reconsider some trustees serving on each school board. Those elections are expected to be held during the general election on Nov. 3.
The Golden Valley Unified School District in Madera County will hold a recall election Sept. 1.
The Selma Unified Board of Trustees is expected to announce the election at a board meeting on Tuesday.
The Fresno County Clerk’s Office gave Selma citizens the go-ahead last week after more than 2,000 signatures were gathered in support of the recall election.
The ballot will ask voters if they want to recall Selma Unified school board members Gilbert Lopez, John Lorona and Roger Orosco. Only voters living in zones represented by those three trustees will be asked to vote — not the entire district.
In order to hold a recall election, districts must collect a certain percentage of signatures that represents their voter base.
The recall effort comes after the Selma school board voted in February to oust Superintendent Mark Sutton without reason, despite public push-back. Sutton was hired last week to oversee Central Unified; Selma Unified recently hired Tanya Fisher of Santa Clara Unified School District as superintendent.
At Golden Plains Unified, the ballot will ask voters if they want to recall school board members Richard Gonzalez, Luiz Ramirez and Maria Gomez. The Golden Plains Board of Trustees announced the plans for an election on July 22.
The Golden Plains recall comes after newly elected board members abruptly voted to end Jesus Cruz’ contract as superintendent earlier this year. Martin Macias, former director of English learning at the Stanislaus County Office of Education, was named superintendent of Golden Plains last month.
All district voters will be able to vote in the recall election.
Selma Unified’s recall election is expected to cost $80,000 to $90,000, and Golden Plains Unified’s election is expected to cost $25,000 to $40,000, according to Fresno County Clerk Brandi Orth. Those numbers are only estimates, since the candidate filing period is still open.
Golden Valley’s story is similar to Selma’s. The Golden Valley recall election comes in response to a newly configured school board’s abrupt ousting of Superintendent Andrew Alvarado in February. The ballot will ask voters if they want to recall board members Kathleen Crumpton, John Moseley and Carla Neal.
Mona Diaz, former Golden Valley trustee who is running in the recall election, said the three trustees fired Alvarado even though more than 400 parents, teachers and citizens showed up at a board meeting to show their support for him.
“It was huge. This was in support of keeping him as superintendent because we’re No. 1 in Madera. We’ve done very well. These board members were on the board for about a month and all of a sudden decided we need a new superintendent,” Diaz said.
“To watch it thrive and do so well and then to watch three people destroy it, it’s pretty disturbing. I want to go back and be a part of it and help it get back on track.”
Raisin City Elementary School District— a small district made up of about 600 voters in western Fresno County — is pushing for a recall of its entire school board but is still in the petition-gathering phase, according to the Fresno County Clerk’s Office.
Raisin City’s recall efforts come amid a push by parents to remove Superintendent Anna Ramirez, who has a felony on her record for not repaying nearly $80,000 in house loans. Critics also have taken issue with the fact that Ramirez does not have an administrative credential, which is required by state law for anyone who is a principal but is not required for superintendents.
Residents of Kingsburg Joint Union High School District also are collecting signatures for a recall election. They are asking that four of five school board members be recalled over concerns about a lack of transparency on the board.
The recall efforts at Kingsburg began in May, after the board abruptly decided to reorganize the high school’s football coaching staff. The district has until Sept. 8 to collect enough signatures.
Fresno County Superintendent of Schools Jim Yovino said that while recall elections are outside of the control of the Department of Education, his office is able to support districts affected by them.
“Upheaval in school boards causes disruption in the education process, which ultimately affects the children of those districts,” Yovino said. “Our office provides technical support to district administration to ensure that academic and fiscal programs continue to operate effectively during transitional periods.”