Dr. Luis Reynoso, the newly sworn-in member of both the Hayward school board and Chabot-Las Positas Community College District board said he intends to serve both elected offices. Despite his clarity on this issue, Hayward school boardmembers on Thursday formally asked Reynoso to choose one seat before determining its next course of action.
Reynoso won re-election to the Hayward school board for a fourth term last month, while also winning the open seat Area 1 seat on the Chabot-Las Positas board. Reynoso took the oath of office for both elected offices earlier this week.
“The will of the people want me here,” Reynoso sad. “The board cannot change the vote. The superintendent cannot choose his boss and the board cannot choose their board members.”
After Reynoso was sworn-in to the Hayward school board last Monday night, a special closed session meeting was scheduled for this Thursday. Some community members questioned whether Reynoso’s bid for dual offices was warranted as a behind closed doors discussion. Thursday’s agenda listed only the government code for potential exposure to litigation.
Reynoso, though, was not allowed to join the special closed session meeting. When he attempted to address the matter during a brief public comment session prior to the closed session, he was repeatedly cut off by new Board President April Oquenda. She eventually called for Reynoso’s mic to be muted.
Reynoso then protested by holding up a handwritten sign that read, “They will not let me speak.” When the school board returned from closed session, Reynold held up another sign that read, “They never let me in closed session.”
Reynoso was asked to recused himself, he said, but he declined. Instead, the board shut him put of the meeting by not distributing the link for the Zoom conference call session.
“Whatever they talked about, they should have allowed me to listen and defend myself,” Reynoso said. “This looks like, to me, that they’re in there plotting something.”
The decision to block Reynoso from the closed session was for his own good, Oquenda said. “In order to protect Dr. Reynoso from breaking the law, he needed to be recused since the law prohibits him from influencing and participating in the any way in the board’s deliberations on this topic,” she said following the closed session meeting.
In addition, the school board is offering Reynoso a choice, Oquenda added. Either the Hayward school board or the Chabot-Las Positas Community College District board, but not both. The school board will then make its next move based on Reynoso’s decision.
The school board again asserted Reynoso’s service on both boards is prohibited by government and education codes because of the potential conflict of interest and dual loyalties, Oquenda said.
But the school board’s legal opinion is only an interpretation of the law. A possible next move by the school board could be to petition the state attorney general’s office for an opinion.
Reynoso’s bid to keep both elected seats inflamed some Latino community members who accused the school board of racism. Reynoso is the lone Latino school board member in a city whose population is dominated by the racial demographic. Others slammed the school board for attempting to overturn the will of Hayward voters.
“What you guys are doing is unfair. It is complete racism on your end and it is utterly white privilege,” said Maria Del Carmen Espinoza, a candidate in last month’s school board election. “We voted for Dr. Reynoso and we need you to respect our wishes because that is what voting is al about.” Another speaker who also voiced strong support for Reynoso, Eufemia Del Carmen Meynard, was also a candidate in the same race.
Oquenda noted Reynoso is the current school board’s only Latino trustee in her comments, but added, “This is not a personal issue and we have no desire to go against the will of the voters,” she said. “This is not something any of us wanted to happen.”