Two Las Lomitas Elementary School District (LLESD) governing board members are stepping down from their posts, marking the second time in less than a year that the board has needed to fill seats of members who have resigned.
Board President Dana Nunn, who joined in 2018, announced her departure during a Sept. 8 board meeting. At the same meeting, she announced that trustee John Earnhardt, who joined in 2014, had resigned Sept. 3, effective immediately. Both of their terms were set to expire in 2022, according to the district's website. Appointees would serve until December 2022, Chief San Mateo County Counsel John Nibbelin advised the board.
The board voted at the Sept. 8 meeting to appoint replacements. The board chose the provisional appointment process as opposed to calling a special election because this approach is "significantly less costly" according to the district website. Nibbelin estimated it would cost the district $365,000 to $438,000 for a special election.
The appointment process also fills the vacancies in a more timely manner — a special election could not occur before April 2022, according to the district.
"The district thanks both trustees for their service to the district," a message on the Las Lomitas website states. "Their work has been student centered, equity driven and in recent years focused on providing a safe and robust learning experience while in a pandemic."
Nunn is moving out of district boundaries — though staying locally — this fall and will no longer be eligible to serve as a trustee, she said. Her last day on the board will be Oct. 29 (so she can help with the appointment process).
"This is a very bittersweet moment for me," she said during the Sept. 8 meeting. "I truly loved serving on the board. … I am prepared to support (Superintendent) Beth (Polito) in any way possible over the coming year."
In a Thursday email, Nunn said the saddest part about moving is having to resign from the board.
"I love being on the board and will miss the work and plan to support the new and current board members in any way that I can," she said. "I am so proud of our district and how we have been able to support our students with in-person learning through most of the pandemic. One of the biggest responsibilities of the board is to hire the superintendent, and I am proud of our hire of Dr. Beth Polito and attribute much of our success during COVID to her steady and wise leadership. The silver lining of COVID has been the increase in parent and family engagement with our district, and I think we will continue to have a robust board to partner with the tremendous leadership team here for years to come.
In a Sept. 3 email to the San Mateo County Office of Education and the district, Earnhardt resigned and explained he believes that board members are more effective when the decisions they make impact their own children. (He doesn't have a child in the district anymore since his son graduated from La Entrada Middle School in June.)
"The district is in great shape with exciting construction projects funded and planned (bond Measure R, which I had the privilege to chair), a completed strategic plan, and, of course, great leadership on the board, in the district office, on both sites, and, most importantly, in our classrooms," he wrote. "I am very proud of our high achieving students, however, over my 7 years on the board, I am most proud that we have particularly focused on helping those students who are struggling to achieve. I know we have made progress and helped many students find their gifts."
He also explained in a Wednesday email that his last year and half on the school board during the pandemic felt like five years.
"Lots of stress, lots of extra meetings, lots of calls and all while doing a strategic plan as well as undergoing construction," he said. "I'm proud that LLESD has been able to invest in more social/emotional support this school year for our students, our teachers and staff, and our entire community."
Last November, the district made national news when its former board president stepped down over his wife's racist and misogynistic tweets about Vice President Kamala Harris.
Earnhardt was the subject of an attempted recall started by parents who said his comments in a local newspaper reacting to Mehredith Venverloh's insulting tweets about Harris lacked sensitivity and warranted his removal. (The recall was proposed on Change.org and an official recall petition would have required signatures from a quarter of the district's registered voters in order to move forward.)
The board also filled a seat left vacant by Jody Leng, who was elected to the board in the Nov. 3, 2020, election. She informed the district she would not take her seat. Trustees voted to pursue an appointment process at that time too, selecting former candidate Molly Finn and Cynthia Solis Yi.
After an appointment is made, an election would be called if 1.5% of district voters sign a petition calling for the positions to be put on a ballot. Voters would have 30 days after the appointment to gather signatures.
The application is due to the district office via paper copy or email by 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 24.
District staff will host a candidate orientation Thursday, Sept. 30, at 4 p.m. on Zoom.
Tentatively, candidate interviews will be held on either Wednesday, Oct. 6, and/or Tuesday, Oct. 12. It is anticipated that the board will take action to appoint candidates immediately following the interview process.