Alum Rock Union School Board to Appoint Fifth Trustee in January

The Alum Rock Union Elementary School District on Wednesday set a timeline for filling a vacancy left by a newly elected trustee’s sudden, inexplicable departure.

In a 3-2 vote—with trustees Linda Chavez and about-to-term-out Dolores Marquez-Frausto opposing—the board also revised policy to require majority rather than unanimous approval in appointing a replacement.

Previously, anything less than a unanimous vote would trigger a special election. But with the district facing dire budget shortfalls, ARUSD board president Ernesto Bejarano and trustees Andres Quintero and Corina Herrera-Loera voted for the policy update to avoid incurring the cost of bringing the matter back to voters.

With Wednesday’s five-hour board session a wrap, the rules are revised and dates set for replacing the debate-ducking, phone call-dodging, oath-of-office avoiding Scott Pham.

On Dec. 14, the district will make applications available for that seat.

On Dec. 17, starting at 4:30pm, the board will set aside an hour before the regular meeting for interested applicants to introduce themselves to the public. Each contender will have five minutes to speak.

Noon on Jan. 4 is the deadline to submit applications to the district office. Keep in mind that the office will be closed from Dec. 21 to Jan. 3. So be sure to file either before that break or in the first half of the first day district offices reopen.

Jan. 7 is decision day. In a special board meeting, the four remaining trustees will interview finalists and vote on who will become their fifth colleague.

The opening offers a chance for people who may not have had the time and resources to campaign to vie for a spot on the ARUSD board, which is poised to make some tough decisions in the year ahead. (Not that it necessarily takes time and resources to woo voters, apparently, since Pham invested neither and still won a seat).

An embattled district with a longstanding history of top-down corruption and chaos on the governing board, ARUSD will have to grapple with how to provide services for some of San Jose’s lowest-income students in the largely Latino and Vietnamese East Side.

Some of the people lining up for Pham’s vacated position include district parent and employee Brenda Zendejas, who last month finished third in a five-way race for two seats, and Joe Corona, who came in last despite being backed by sitting board members.

Another name emerged on Wednesday. That is, Minh Pham, a university administrator previously served on one of ARUSD’s bond oversight committees.

Whoever lands the job next month won’t serve the entire four-year term, according to ARUSD lawyer Rogelio Ruiz, but will have until the next general election 2022.

Watch the Dec. 9 board meeting below.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Alum Rock is probably the one school district that gives Milpitas a run for its money in sliminess and dishonesty. The manufactured vacancy and rigging of the board appointment there last year was so shady the county office of education had to step in and terminate it, with Hon Lien blatantly changing the evaluation scores after their crony didn’t get first place in the evaluations, and the superintendent “miscounting” the votes in favor of their crony behind everyone’s back.

    Facts about the case:

    Pham was forced to take a deal to step down, likely so the board could appoint a rubber stamp who is beholden to them and not the will of Alum Rock voters

  2. I’m sure this was all a plan. These people on this board along with superintendent are corrupted. I hope feds investigate them one day so you call all see how bad this district is ran. Let the state take over and get them all out

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