The Santa Clara County Board of Education is moving quickly to find a replacement for the seat lost by the resignation of Area 6 Trustee Darcie Green, who stepped down last month after the District Attorney’s office called into question the legality of her appointment. The school board on Wednesday will consider a timeline and form an ad hoc oversight committee to fill the vacancy.
Green was appointed in October to replace the seat left empty by after Craig Mann resigned to teach middle school and run for the San Jose/Evergreen Community College District Board of Trustees.
But prosecutor John Chase says the school board relied on faulty legal advice when it appointed Green. A message was relayed from the Board’s counsel that trustees could choose whether to appoint someone from the district drawn up before or after the 2010 redistricting. The board chose the latter, which turned out to be a mistake that cost Green both the seat she left in the Alum Rock Union School District and the one she transferred to within the county.
What this does to the legitimacy of all board decisions Green voted on during her brief tenure remains to be seen. That point’s already been used as ammo—an angry parent challenged Green’s vote on a boundary issue not too long ago. But the fact that there was never a swing vote simplifies things, says fellow trustee Julia Hover-Smoot, who believes all of Green’s votes will remain valid. Green did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The situation is unprecedented and pretty gray legally speaking,” Hover-Smoot says, adding that resignation coupled with redistricting is a true rarity.
Everything was business as usual until someone lodged an anonymous complaint with the DA, Hover-Smoot continues. Interesting to note, in the comments section of a Mercury News report about Green’s resignation, Mann insinuates that trustee Anna Song and her husband, Chris Stampolis, filed the complaint with the DA.
“There are a lot of rumors flying around about why that complaint was made,” Hover-Smoot says. “Suffice to say that Darcie was concerned enough to resign because she wanted to do the right thing.”
Incidentally, Green has since moved to the new trustee area, Hover-Smoot says, which could qualifies Green for an appointment back to the seat. Hover-Smoot is urging Green to put her hat in the ring again.
The county already sent out a press release and spent $4,700 to post a notice of the vacancy and a call for candidates in the Mercury News, El Observador and VTimes. Next, Board President Grace Mah will appoint an ad hoc committee of three trustees, max, to help guide the appointment process.
Applications are due no later than 5pm April 22. Then, the ad hoc group will screen applicants for interviews by May 3. Candidates who make the cut will receive interview questions and selection rules. Trustees will interview applicants at the May 15 board meeting and vote on an appointment before the end of the meeting. On May 25, the county sends a notice about the new appointment to local media. Green’s replacement gets sworn in on June 19.
• Trustees will consider renewing a contract with a private academy that helps children of migrant workers catch up with algebra. The $396,000 contract with the Excel Learning Academy pays for a six-week, six-hours-a-day program that serves 360 students in grades 3-8 from 13 districts and four counties.
• About 20 percent of the county’s school children are affected by mental illness, which makes suicide prevention a priority for education officials. Of California’s 58 counties, ours holds the sad distinction of having the fifth-highest suicide rates in the state. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for kids aged 10 to 14. It’s the third leading cause of death for teens aged 15 to 19.
Between 1991 and 2010, the county saw 114 deaths and 3,317 hospitalizations from students taking or attempting to take their own lives, according to the county.
Trustees will consider formally supporting State Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlaksen’s initiative to prevent suicide through public outreach.
• As the county builds more charter schools, including up to 20 Rocketship charters in the next few years, it will shift $77.4 million in state daily attendance funding from school districts to charter campuses. Trustees will hear a report about the state of charters in California and in the region at this week’s meeting.
No wonder the San Jose Unified School District is nervous about that Rocketship Tamien campus opening up on its turf. Charters are taking over, and, test scores show, that’s a good thing. But it does call for a tremendous shift in school financing, with more taken away from local districts to go instead to privately run charter schools.
“A projected class size calculation of 25:1 for 12,900 students [projected enrollment for the county’s charters] would redistribute 516 teaching positions from district payrolls to the various charter school management organizations and operators,” reads the report compiled by Collaborative Solutions for Charter Authorizers.
The report calls for trustees to create a master plan for its future charters. Existing and potential litigation, the complexity of public-private partnerships and the feeling from some districts that the county’s overstepping its authority in redirecting funding and granting zoning exemptions calls for the creation of a larger strategic plan.
WHAT: Santa Clara County Board of Education meets
WHEN: 5pm Wednesday
WHERE: Office of Education, 1290 Ridder Park Drive, San Jose