Saugus Union School District officials can now take the next step in the lengthy legal process for removing an elected official from office, officials said Wednesday.
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SUSD governing board members voted 4-1 last June to oust Stephen Winkler from the board, claiming he maintained a residence outside of school district boundaries, which would violate the state’s Education Code.
“Winkler is correct that a person may only have one true, legal residence at a time, but the question raised here by his acts and declarations is, where is that residence located?,” writes Deputy Attorney General Marc Nolan. “Although we cannot answer that question with certainty, it is not necessary for us to do so at this stage. Suffice it to say that there is a substantial factual and legal issue as to the location of Mr. Winkler’s domicile.”
Related article: Saugus School District Still Waiting On Winkler Removal From AG
“We were notified by the attorney general that we can sue in the quo warranto (proceedings),” said Joan Lucid, superintendent of the Saugus Union School District, adding that the district was waiting on the final paperwork from the Attorney General’s Office in order to proceed.
“At which point, then we have the ability to go to the court to file that quo warranto at this time,” she said.
“It is the first step,” she added. “It’s not a short process.”
Once the paperwork is obtained, district officials must then present their case as a lawsuit, and a judge will rule on the validity of the complaint, Lucid said.
Related article: Saugus Union School Board Votes 4-1 To Vacate Winkler’s Seat
“The attorney general has already said the district can sue him for the residency requirement,” Lucid said. “The attorney general found enough there that says, ‘Go take it to a court.’ It allows us to go the judge and say, ‘Our paperwork is worthy of everyone looking at it.'”
In his opinion, Marc Nolan of the Attorney General’s Office notes:
- “For purposes of that election, Mr. Winkler listed his residence address as 24600 Town Center Drive in Valencia, which is located within the District’s geographical boundaries. Shortly after the election, however, Mr. Winkler asked that his board meeting information packets be delivered to his brother’s store in the community of Canyon Country, which is located outside District boundaries.The superintendent informed Mr. Winkler that the meeting packets could not be delivered to an address outside the District. A short time later, Mr. Winkler gave his address as 26927 Avenida Terraza in Saugus (within the District) and then, in October 2012, stated to District staff that he was moving to 27135 Rio Prado Drive in Santa Clarita (also within the District). District staff responsible for delivering the meeting information packets informed the superintendent that, from the time he was elected District Trustee, Mr. Winkler had never been at his stated residence when the packets were delivered. In addition, on one occasion when an information packet was delivered to the Rio Prado address, the person who answered the door informed the delivery person that Mr. Winkler did not live at that location. On another occasion, the District mailed information to Mr. Winkler at the Rio Prado address, but it was returned to the District as undeliverable. As a result of the questions raised by Mr. Winkler’s continued absence from the Rio Prado address, the District employed an investigator to determine Mr. Winkler’s true residence.”
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Source: Santa Clarita News