Reynoso Asks For Investigation Into Affair Among Hayward School Board Members

Luis Reynoso

HAYWARD SCHOOL BOARD SCANDAL | Just hours after an explosive account Wednesday of two Hayward school board officials caught in an alleged secret affair, the board began dealing with the potential ramifications of the improper relationship, including a call by board member Luis Reynoso for an investigation into the matter.

“This is unconscionable,” said Reynoso of the alleged affair between board members Jesus Armas and Maribel Heredia detailed in The Citizen. “If we had this going on between a teacher and a principal, believe me, we would fire the teacher and principal and we’ve done this before.”

Reynoso, long a critic of Armas, later asked Hayward School Superintendent Donald Evans to review the allegations. “I want an investigation on this,” said Reynoso. “This does not go lightly in any board and we need to know what our actions are going to be. Something needs to be done and I’m not going to just let it go.” But, Armas interjected, saying a call for an investigation was not agendized for Wednesday’s meeting. “You’re interrupting,” Reynoso shot back.

It was not the only exchange between Reynoso and Armas during last Wednesday’s four hour meeting. At the end of earlier remarks over the burgeoning scandal, Reynoso concluded by saying, “I’m going to hold back” until receiving language on a potential new policy. “So, that was holding back?” Armas interrupted.

“Yeah, this is serious business—what you guys are doing,” Reynoso responded. “You’re on the school board and you’re doing this?” Armas, the board’s president, then allowed Heredia time to speak. “I would like to focus on what is before us and not innuendos on the Internet or people’s dating practices,” Heredia said.

 Fellow school board member Lisa Brunner also urged focus on the district’s student, many of whom will be returning to the classroom next month. “I ran for the school board, too, but to focus on students and the business at hand and I can honestly say that I butt out of everyone’s personal business unless it does directly affect the students.” Armas later added, “It is important to stay focused on the education of our children.”

The the less-than-forceful comments led Reynoso to say, “I’m very discouraged that other board members are not talking about this. Yes, we are a family and, yes, we do need to speak up and action needs to be taken.” He later added, “If we don’t take action to fix this, I really think you should recall all of us, including me.”

The fifth member of the board, William McGee, did not comment on the subject during the meeting, but afterwards, told The Citizen he would like to see changes to the board’s policy on such relationships. A discussion over updating the board’s policies and conduct was already slated for last Wednesday’s agenda. Its current set of policies, according to staff, has not been updated for 20 years.

“There needs to be policy about what was written about and what is being alleged is going on and what looks like is possibly true.” He later offered adding “a vote of no-confidence when trust is compromised” among the document’s revisions. McGee also spoke to the potential of impropriety when two board members may be entering into a secret alliance within the board. “Like Dr. Reynoso said, I put in my time and I think everyone is on the up and up, but then you find out it’s not and then I say to myself, ‘So, this is why this vote went this way?’” McGee did not specify what vote or votes he suspects may have been manipulated.

Long-time Hayward resident Jim Drake, a frequent commenter at many public meetings in the city, worried about the example being set by the alleged behavior. “I became aware of an article today in the East Bay Citizen and it has to do with morals,” he said. “If there’s any truth to this, each one of you up here are setting morals for our kids and, if there is truth there, you need to resign.”

Reynoso, though, was not done with twisting the knife into his board rivals, and used the discussion on board policy to bring up the alleged affair, yet again. “The board can only happen as an entity, but what happens when two of us have a relationship?” he said. “When you have these secret relationships among board members you have a conflict of interest, you have collusion, you have undue influence among the vote. You don’t have an independent vote anymore.” He then referenced a similar affair that occurred on the Hayward City Council in 2010 between a sitting councilwoman and city manager. “We don’t have anything to deal with this and the city council–they didn’t have anything in place, either.”

MORE ON THE HAYWARD SCHOOL BOARD SCANDAL…

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