HAYWARD SCHOOL BOARD SCANDAL | Amid public calls for Hayward school board President Jesus Armas to resign following an alleged affair with fellow board member Maribel Heredia, an agendized discussion over procedures for a vote of no-confidence never occurred Wednesday night after school district staff and legal counsel failed to comply with the request.
Hayward school district superintendent Dr. Donald Evans told school trustees Wednesday night he was unclear about the request from board member Dr. Luis Reynoso sent via email last Aug. 13. Reynoso’s request contained just one sentence: “I [would] like to request for the agenda of meeting 8/22/12: Information on how to proceed the vote of no confidence for the for president leadership of the board.”
Evans added there was further confusion over the item since the school board’s bylaws are silent on the matter of no-confidence of its members. School board staff similarly failed to provide information at a Aug. 8 special meeting requested by board members regarding a second first-reading of its updated bylaws, which ended in adjournment after only 20 minutes.
“I’m really disappointed here about our staff,” said Reynoso. “This is a legal issue. Where’s staff to guide us for what takes place and doesn’t take place on a vote of no-confidence?” Evans added legal counsel was not in attendance to answer any questions about the item.
Earlier in the over five-hour meeting, set on the eve of the first day of school for many Hayward students, McGee registered similar complaints over staff’s inability to provide information requested by board members. He also called for an investigation into the allegations levied against Armas and Heredia.
“I do have to implore staff to do their job and work with legal through counsel to have an investigation into possible collusion and the possibility of some votes that may have been inappropriate,” said McGee, who later added the potential of Brown Act violations occurring on the board.
Bad blood between Armas and Reynoso again spilled over Wednesday night starting with an attempt by Reynoso to move the discussion of a no-confidence vote to the top of the agenda. “Your motion is out of order,” said Armas. After a bit of maneuvering, McGee was able to force a vote on the matter. However, without embattled board member Maribel Heredia, who was absent from the meeting (Evans said she was tending to a family emergency in Southern California), the motion died following a 2-2 vote. Later, Armas refused to address Reynoso with the honorific of “doctor” nearly a dozen times. In each instance, Reynoso took time to correct Armas. Reynoso earned a doctorate in education last year.
Despite the lack of legal guidance from board staff, Reynoso again laid out his argument against Armas’ tenure as board president, including the presence of inappropriate text messages between him and Heredia and a renewed focus on the allegations of conflicts of interest surrounding Armas’ duties as a noted local consultant, public official and his ties to firms he has previously represented concurrently before the City Council and as a school trustee.
“Those affairs have an affect on the voting process,” said Reynoso, referring to speculation Armas and Heredia violated the Brown Act on, at least, one occasion surrounding the firing and rehiring of a principal at Hayward High School. Armas denied any impropriety and challenged his critics to find any voting patterns to bolster their argument. School board member Lisa Brunner, in what some construed as a signal the allegations were, indeed, true, said there are many instances around the country of public officials sitting on boards with personal or familial relationships. “Yes,” Reynoso said, “there are board’s out there who have members that are related to each other, but the difference is when they got elected the community knew about the relationship.” Reynoso also speculated whether Measure G, the school district’s parcel tax, would have passed last June if news of the alleged romance was known beforehand.
With children back in school, the school board will return to its twice-monthly schedule with a meeting Wednesday, Sept. 12, 6:30 p.m., Hayward City Hall.