Stockton, CA / Bilingual Weekly
During the Tuesday, February 22, 2011 Stockton Unified School District (SUSD) Board meeting —and in a greatly expected move— trustee Jose Morales was presented with a Notice of Intention to recall him from his post —the third he receives in 27 months.
The document was first presented by Bob Hailey to the Board’s acting President, David Varela but later, during a short recess on the meeting and after consulting with SUSD legal counsel Marie Nakamura, Hailey recovered the Notice and presented it to Morales directly.
Hailey is a preacher of Stockton’s Unity Southern Baptist Church and an unsuccessful candidate to the SUSD Board to replace another recalled trustee, Area 3 Daniel Castillo.
Added to old charges of late campaign disclosure filings and “attitudes,” the Notice revolves around Morales’ alleged misuse of a SUSD-issue credit card —where he charged over $3,000 in 17 months, including several purchases at a sports store, dry cleaners and other expenditures unrelated to SUSD official business. Morales reimbursed the money only after it became public, the letter accuses.
Morales declined to comment on his lawyer advice.
In the past recall attempts Morales was chiefly accused of winning the election —which he won by a single vote— with the help of fraudulent votes as well of siding with former SUSD Superintendent Anthony Amato. In the first attempt, his foes missed one of the deadlines, in the second (November 2009,) half of the presented signatures asking for the recall belonged to unregistered or unqualified voters.
Morales has seven days to respond to the charges to the Registrar of Voters, and then the recall proponents have 90 days to collect the almost 2,000 signatures required to qualify for an election for Trustee Area 3. If they succeed, SUSD must spend an estimated $75,000 holding such election, unless it can be consolidated with the upcoming June Special Election —saving the district two-thirds of the cost.
“If his constituents want to recall him, they are in their right,” said Acting Board President David Varela, “Do I like to see him go? No. Why, because it’s another distraction to what is our job here”
“It’s not a matter of anything but integrity,” said California School Employees Association, Local 821 President Claudia Moreno-Rabago, “but, if one of my represented was to do what he did, he’s gone this instant”