Saugus Union School District officials are calling for a special election to replace Stephen Winkler, whose seat was vacated last month after a pair of hearings, Saugus Union board President Judy Umeck said Friday.
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Saugus Union officials have submitted their recent actions based on the advice of legal counsel, but sought oversight from the Los Angeles County of Education for the vacated seat and election.
“There’s a question of whether we had the authority to do this or whether we had go through the judicial system,” Umeck said.
If the request is approved by LACOE, three of the seats in the November 2013 election, which are held by Umeck, and board member Doug Bryce and Paul De La Cerda, would be up for a four-year term. A fourth seat in November, Winkler’s vacated spot, would be up for a two-year term.
A candidate would need to specify on the ballot whether they intend to run for a two- or a four-year spot.
The Saugus Union board voted 4-1 to censure Winkler, after board members concluded he was responsible for several social media accounts that posted inappropriate material.
About a week later, Saugus Union officials voted 4-1 to vacate Winkler’s seat June 18, after they determined that Winkler had kept a residence outside of the Saugus Union boundaries.
Winkler was the lone dissenting vote in both cases.
The district provides oversight for more than 10,000 kindergarten-through-sixth-grade students in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Board members were under the impression, based on the advice from experts, that the proper legal procedure, in light of the nature of the vacancy, would be to hold a special election, which is much costlier than the appointment process, Umeck said.
“We’re acting based on the advice we received from legal counsel and what we believe is in the best interest of the children of the district,” she said.
A timeline hasn’t been established by county officials for when a decision would be made, the July 2 request by the Saugus district is being reviewed.
“A request for permission to hold a special election was received,” said Kostas Kalaitzidis, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Office of Education, adding that no further comment was available at this time.
The school district must announce its intent to hold a special election at least 120 days before a scheduled election, Umeck said.
If the county doesn’t respond in time, the district will look at the appointment process, Umeck said.
“We’re just trying to move forward,” she added.
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Source: Santa Clarita News