Dublin Unified School District Board Vice-president Dan Cunningham surprised nearly everyone with his resignation announcement, which became effective March 1.
At the board’s Feb. 26 meeting, Cunningham made his decision public at a point on the agenda that only listed “Dan Cunningham.”
At the meeting, Cunningham read aloud his resignation letter addressed to Superintendent Leslie Boozer.
Cunningham explained later to The Independent that his business has been suffering because of all of the time he has been devoting to board duties. He performs small business tax work and accounting, and also taxes for individuals. School board issues also have taken time away from his family.
In his resignation letter, Cunningham stated that he was glad to have been part of the school district effort for the past 10 years, which has resulted in many educational quality improvements and new facilities. He singled out the physical and program improvements at Dublin High School, which he said has become one of the best in the Tri-Valley and the state.
Cunningham also explained that in the past few years, “politics in Dublin has become bitter and rancorous”. People advance their own interests, and not the whole district’s.
Cunningham was the subject of a districtwide recall petition, but not enough valid signatures were found to recall him.
The petitioners filed a lawsuit against the Registrar of Voters Office, claiming that the Registrar did not do his job properly, because he did not allow petitioners to access documents related to the petition counting.
County Counsel’s Office responded that Registrar Tim Dupuis did follow the law and cooperated with petitioners.
Cunningham said that the recall had no impact on his decision to leave the board. The pace of court actions is such that it might take more than a year to resolve the recall group’s court action. “By then, my term would nearly be up,” he said. His term expires in 2020.
Cunningham explained that he had thought earlier about leaving the board, but “there was never a good time.” Because something was always important to do for the district; he concluded he should simply leave.
BOARD OF THREE PUTS SPOTLIGHT ON CONSENSUS
With Cunningham gone, the board now is down to three members. All three will have to agree on an action in order to pass it. On routine items, that will be no problem.
However, on the big decision of how to replace Cunningham, the board would have to agree on two issues: Should a successor be appointed, or should there be an election? Further, whether there is an appointment or an election, should it be districtwide, or in Area 1, where Cunningham resides. If it were Area 1, it would impact the seat of Board President Amy Miller who lives there. Her term doesn’t expire until 2020. Legal advice likely will be needed to determine whether that situation mandates a districtwide election.
If the three current trustees can’t make up their minds about whether to appoint or elect, the law requires that it go to the next regular election, which this year would be in November.
Adding to the complexity, DUSD will be holding an election on June 4 in Area 4. The winner of that contest would join the board, probably in July, after the 30-day period that the Registrar is given to certify the election. That would bring the board to four seats, which could produce enough votes for a decision, or it could result in a 2-2 tie.
APPOINTMENT CANDIDATES ARE RUNNING
The Area 4 seat had been held by Nirinjana “Nini” Natarajan, who was appointed in February on a 3-1 vote of the school board.
Cunningham, Miller, and Trustee Megan Rouse voted for Natarajan. Trustee Dan Cherrier voted no. Cherrier said he preferred the other finalist for the appointment, Gabrielle Blackman, who ran in the 2016 election, but lost.
Although Natarajan took her seat, she was forced to vacate it by a petition filed by some Area 4 residents who wanted voters to make the choice in an election.
As required by the state school code, the petitioners needed valid petition signatures from only 1½% of registered voters in Area 4. They obtained the needed 76 signatures.
As of March 4, the Registrar’s Office website listed two candidates who have filed for the June 4 election, Natarajan and Blackman.
Filing for the Area 4 seat opened Feb. 11, and will close March 8, according to a news release emailed to The Independent from the Registrar’s Office on Feb. 27. It arrived too late for the Feb. 28 issue, but in time for the March 7 issue, one day before the close of filing.
PARCEL TAX VOTE DUE MAY 7
The district has set a parcel tax extension for a mail-only ballot to be sent to voters in early April. The ballots must be sent back to the Registrar of Voters Office by May 7.
Dubbed Measure E, the tax would extend the current parcel tax by nine years, a tax that otherwise would expire this year.
Each parcel would continue to pay the same amount, $96 per year. The tax would continue to raise $1.7 million annually for programs, a revenue source that would be lost if the tax were not extended.
The funds would be used for recruiting and retaining teachers, preventing an increase in class sizes, maintaining school libraries, and reading assistance for students who read below their grade level.
The revenue is all subject to local control, and would remain in place for
nine years. It cannot be renewed, except by a vote of the people.
Seniors would continue to be exempt from the measure. Low-income homeowners with disabilities would be eligible for an exemption.
Only property owners pay, but landlords may pass along some or all of the cost to their tenants.
Trustees voted unanimously to place the measure on the ballot. No ballot argument was submitted against the tax extension.
More information can be found on the district’s website at www.dublin.k12.ca.us/Page/1. Click on Parcel Tax Renewal Measure.
A new website from a citizens group will be posted in the next few days. The URL will be www.yesfordublinkids.com/.