Yet another report came out this past week that puts the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District in a bad light. The Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury weighed in on the dysfunction roiling the East San Jose school district with a call for the notoriously obstructionist board majority—trustees Khanh Tran, Esau Herrera and Dolores Marquez-Frausto—to resign.
The 24-page report also advises the board to cut ties with Del Terra Real Estate Services, the firm that’s suspected of fraud yet tasked with managing hundreds of millions of dollars in construction bonds. While civil grand jurors have no enforcement authority, reform advocates hope their findings will add enough pressure to finally convince Tran, Hererra and Marquez to step down.
While the grand jury highlighted problems already cited in past probes, Raymond Mueller—one of a handful of candidates running against the Alum Rock Three in November—says he hopes it spurs some action.
“I think that it has provided a new energy,” Mueller says of the grand jury’s take.
It also details some of Herrera’s intimidation tactics. According to the report, the bellicose board president made a not-so-veiled threat against Alum Rock’s chief business officer for calling attention to some of Del Terra’s questionable billing practices.
“By the time I’m done with you, you won’t recognize your name,” Herrera reportedly said sometime in the fall of 2016.
Trustee Andres Quintero, who’s running for re-election, says that’s pretty typical behavior for Herrera and his allies on the five-member board.
“That was just the tip of the iceberg,” he says. “Those kinds of comments are common in closed sessions, but that was the first time it’s come out because someone came forward and corroborated it.”
Quintero says he’s heartened to see more whistleblowers come forward.
“There’s a board majority that’s out of control,” he says. “There’s really no other option but for these folks to leave.”