Santa Clara County School Board rushes for seat

Residents are sounding the alarm over an abrupt process to fill a vacant seat on the Santa Clara County School Board.

The board, which has seven members and represents more than 30 school districts, is seeking to fill its Zone 3 seat, which is vacated by Rosemary Kamei, the elected councilwoman for District 1 of the San Jose City Council. Kamei tendered his resignation on Oct. 10. Zone 3 represents the school districts of Cambrian, Campbell Union, Luther Burbank, Moreland, Union and Campbell Union, as well as parts of the San Jose Unified School District and the Santa Unified School District. Clara.

The application process for the vacant position was discussed at last Wednesday’s board meeting. Eligible applicants were alerted last week through a press release, leaving just over a week to meet the November 12 application deadline.

Supporters say the sudden tight deadline imposed by the board on nominees raises concerns about whether there is enough time to vet qualified candidates.

“We need to protect the democratic process and when that doesn’t happen, at any level of governing bodies or governance…it’s just very concerning,” said Kim McCarthy, president of the Campbell High School Teachers Association. , which represents the Campbell Union High School District. Spotlight on San José. “Getting the word out to potential candidates and getting a diverse pool of candidates in a very short time is also the problem.”

The school board oversees academic achievement and finances and also approves charter school renewals. Council members are also responsible for creating policies on topics such as early learning and educational equity.

Board Chairman Peter Ortiz, who is running for the San Jose City Council District 5 seat, said interested candidates would have been made aware of the upcoming vacancy, and that the expedited process allows for a smooth transition of the seat between its predecessor and its successor.

“We are confident that the schedule will be able to accommodate serious candidates for the role,” Ortiz told San José Spotlight.

Application windows for council seats can range from one week to several weeks, and submitted applications will be reviewed by a committee of the council to determine eligibility, said Mary Ann Dewan, superintendent of schools for the county and columnist for San Jose Spotlight. Eligible candidates are registered voters living in Zone 3 and cannot be employed by public or charter schools.

To date, no applications have been received, she added.

Information about the nominees will be publicly available through an agenda posted Nov. 13 for the Nov. 16 board meeting, Dewan said. Candidates will be interviewed by the Board of Directors at the meeting with the opportunity for public comment.

The council’s schedule leaves the voice of the public speechless, McCarthy said. Administrators have a significant impact on educators and students, with school districts relying on the Santa Clara County Office of Education for guidance on curriculum and professional development. She added that the board should have policies in place to determine the specific number of weeks candidates have to apply for a vacant seat.

Not everyone on the board supports the fast schedule. Trustee Grace Mah raised concerns about the expedited process.

“We typically spend over a month educating the public, allowing for inclusive engagement from our entire community. We can extend the application deadline to a month, arrange interviews and finalize the final appointment,” Mah told San José Spotlight. “What’s the rush?”

The school board filled a vacancy last year, following the resignation of the Zone 2 incumbent in June 2021. The seat was filled in August 2021 by board member Tara Sreekrishnan, following a a nomination process that included four other candidates.

Parent feedback should be considered throughout the nomination process, said Eva Heredia, a parent who attends the meetings. The latest nomination process for a vacant seat seemed longer, she added.

“The council serves our children and makes decisions about our children’s education,” Heredia told San José Spotlight. “Give a more appropriate time and give the opportunity (for) the community to be a part of it too.”

Contact Loan-Anh Pham at [email protected] or follow @theLoanAnhLede on Twitter.