Saugus School District likely to wait at least six weeks before a decision is made on the school board’s request to vacate Stephen Winkler’s seat
An official with the state Attorney General’s Office gave an estimate Thursday for the conclusion of the Saugus Union School District governing board’s effort to remove a member of office.
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A recommendation should be available in the next “four to six weeks,” according to Deputy Attorney General Marc Nolan, who’s been assigned to create the state’s opinion on whether the School District may initiate quo warranto proceedings against Stephen Winkler.
Winkler has not attended a meeting or been a participant in Saugus Union School District business since his ouster, according to SUSD officials.
“We are currently evaluating the district’s application, Mr. Winkler’s opposition to that application, and related materials, to determine whether to allow a quo warranto lawsuit to proceed,” Nolan stated in an email. “We received the district’s most recent filing earlier this week.”
A quo warranto action is filed typically to remove a person from public office, according to the Attorney General’s website. “That office must approve all quo warranto actions filed by private individuals. This protects public officers from frivolous lawsuits,” the website states.
The School District’s governing board members voted 4-1 to vacate Winkler’s seat June 18 over an allegation that he maintained a residence outside of the district.
In accordance with the state’s Education Code, the board was required to notify the Los Angeles County Office of Education, which asked the district to initiate the quo warranto proceeding.
Saugus Union trustees submitted an election resolution to the Los Angeles County Office of Education in early July requesting a special election to fill Winkler’s seat with a two-year term.
Los Angeles County Office of Education officials said July 23 district officials should take further action in pursuing a request for special election or appointment.
The Attorney General’s Office received the district’s request to initiate quo warranto proceedings during the first week in October, and assigned the case to Nolan on Oct. 9.
“While priority is given to issuing decisions on quo warranto applications, I cannot give a firm estimate as to when this decision will be issued,” Nolan said, adding his recommendation “will also be reviewed and approved for issuance by my unit and division managers, as well as by (Attorney General Kamala Harris) and her executive staff.”
In an interview last month, Winkler said he provided Harris’ office with proof that he has maintained an office at a Rio Prado address in Valencia; Saugus Union officials said a report from a private investigator they hired proves that he lived in Sylmar.
At the public hearing in June when Winkler’s seat was vacated, he admitted that “he liked to party” at that address, and he would spend the night to avoid drinking and driving.
Winkler said he has not shown up to meetings since his seat was vacated because he didn’t want to be a distraction to the board.
The move to vacate Winkler’s seat came five days after the board voted, again 4-1 with Winkler as the lone opposition, to censure the Saugus Union School District board member in response to allegations that he posted inappropriate comments through several different online accounts.
Winkler denied some of the activity, admitted other postings deemed “hurtful” and, at times, was evasive during the nearly two-hour meeting that saw more than a dozen public commenters question whether the board member was fit for his public office based on his online comments and questions about his residency.
The school district sought the counsel of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud and Romo for the proceedings and the ouster of Winkler.
Winkler’s term was set to end in 2015.
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Source: Santa Clarita News