Clovis Unified School District incumbents who were under fire for a controversial dress code revision earlier this year won re-election by healthy margins in Tuesday’s election.
Chris Casado was returned with 43.4 percent of the ballots over Mike Pack with 30.8 percent and Matt Castiglione with 25.4 percent.
“I’m just happy the community gets it,” Casado said. “The district is in fine hands and on a great trajectory.”
Ginny Hovsepian finished first ahead of Sandy Torosian, 51.5 percent to 31.6 percent. Isabel Machado was third with 16.5 percent.
Brian Heryford, the third incumbent, garnered 60.3 percent to Jacob Belemjian’s 39.3 percent.
In the race involving newcomer Steven Fogg and former school board member Scott Troescher, Fogg won with 71.2 percent of the vote to 28.4 percent for Troescher.
“It looks like I’m going back to school,” Fogg said. “I’m excited by the challenge and to learn something new.”
The school board initially refused to drop a dress code that banned boys from wearing long hair and earrings despite concerns that the policy broke laws protecting gender expression. In a revote, the board later adopted a gender-neutral policy.
The incumbents ultimately voted to change the dress code. Trustees supporting it, although reluctantly, were Casado, Heryford and Hovsepian. They were running on a slate with Troescher.
It generated a still-simmering debate that brought out community members, some who formed a group opposing the incumbents after the vote was reversed.
Fogg, who says he’s not part of the opposition slate, will replace Richard Lake, a board member who opposed the final decision on the new dress code.
Hovsepian’s opponent Machado supported the dress code revision.
The incumbents have said that while their personal beliefs don’t match state and federal directives, they have to follow the law. While the board was criticized by organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union for its initial decision and threatened with legal action, some say trustees aren’t doing enough to stand up for “the Clovis way of life.”
Stop the Madness, a parents group, urged the school board to fight laws ranging from the Common Core standards to policies designed to protect LGBTQ student rights. Parents in the group have even offered to bankroll any potential litigation that could come from such opposition. The conservative group endorsed newcomers Belemjian, Castiglione, Fogg and Torosian.