May 9, 2012 - Coalition pushes to recall board member
Paper: Santa Maria Times (CA)
Title: Coalition pushes to recall board member
Date: May 9, 2012
Author: Gina Potthoff/Staff Writer
Fifty seats could not contain community members upset enough with a Santa Maria-Bonita School District board member to attend a meeting Tuesday about recalling him from the position.
Local educator and parent Glenn Goldin had hoped the space in the Santa Maria Public Library’s Shepard Hall could accommodate those interested in ousting board member Will Smith, a former district teacher who resigned after several suspensions and then was voted into a position on the board in November 2010.
While district parents, staff, teachers and concerned community members physically fit into the room, those present had difficulty fitting comments and questions within an allotted one-hour time frame.
“I’m sure there are many other things you’d rather be doing,” said Goldin, who has a son at Miller Elementary. “We as a group must come together.”
Goldin proposed starting a movement to remove Smith from the board for failing to adhere to his duties, which include keeping learning as a focus, supporting the district and refraining from management functions.
What Goldin needed Tuesday night were 10 registered district voter signatures and addresses so he could deliver and file a notice of intention to recall.
Goldin proceeded to list Smith’s work history obtained from public records, which includes being suspended eight times as a teacher for offenses such as corporal punishment, serious misconduct, dishonesty, misuse of a district computer and intimidation of a student.
Smith’s repeated disruptions at school board meetings, which have resulted in several recesses being called and multiple calls to police, also were cited as reasons for removing Smith.
“It just is not the behavior that we should expect from our leaders,” Goldin said. “We do not need to have people on the board who are trying to bring the board down. The reason that we’re here is because everyone deserves the right to be heard.”
A community member in attendance also spoke out against the many lawsuits Smith has filed against the district, costing taxpayers thousands of dollars.
Goldin briefly explained that Smith is currently suing the district for not adhering to a settlement agreement both parties penned when he left the district. The district is fighting the case, arguing that Smith breached the agreement by running for the school board and by speaking publicly about its terms.
Ernest Armenta, who identified himself as a former district employee, said he stands by the vote he cast for Smith.
“He’s the one who brings a new fresh life to the district,” Armenta said. “Don’t believe everything that was said here. Let’s get the ball rolling so the city of Santa Maria can decide.”
Armenta was so passionate about the topic that it took organizers several minutes to calm him from yelling and remind him that children were present.
“This is exactly the type of behavior” that Smith exhibits, Goldin added to applause.
More than half the audience members’ hands shot up when Goldin asked for 10 registered district voters.
“So, we’re off,” he said, collecting 14 total signatures for a start.
Next, Goldin said, Smith will need to be notified, the Santa Barbara County Board of Elections will have to approve a petition and about 10,000 signatures and addresses of registered district voters will have to be collected in order to spur an election.
He doesn’t foresee that happening by November but hopes volunteers seeking signatures also will campaign for preferred candidates when three board seats are up for election this fall.
Parent Ana Maganda, who has three children at Alvin Elementary, said she was shocked to hear what has been going on and wants to spread the word to other parents.
“That’s not only our kids,” she said. “That’s other people’s kids.”
She recommended the next recall coalition meeting be held in Spanish to inform the Hispanic community as well. Several interpreters were on hand Tuesday.
David Riloquio, who served on the Santa Maria-Bonita board from 2004 to 2008, encouraged those in attendance to go to the school board meeting next Wednesday to decide for themselves whether Smith is fit to serve.
“In general, I think we need to look at how we want to be treated as adults,” Riloquio said. “Your voices need to be heard. We wouldn’t allow our children to act that way. Why would we allow other people to act that way?”
The next board meeting is at 6:30 p.m. next Wednesday at the Souza Center, and the next recall coalition meeting is Tuesday, May 22, at Shepard Hall.
Caption: Will Smith.
Section: Local News
Record Number: c5ce8330156feafc4e349f966c40dfb9fdc24a
Copyright, 2012, Santa Maria Times, Santa Maria, CA