New trustees sworn in to school board

Vote to appoint Murillo replacement

New trustees (from left) Carol Gittens, Wendy Sullivan, John Horner, Vanessa Sutter and Heather Orosco.

Five new trustees took the oath of office as they officially joined Morgan Hill Unified School District’s Board of Education Dec. 11—and the quintet of first-term board members got right to work.

Trustees Carol Gittens, John Horner, Heather Orosco, Wendy Sullivan and Vanessa Sutter were each sworn in separately by current board president Mary Patterson, who is in the second year of her first four-year term on the local dais. The other remaining board member is trustee Teresa Murillo, but she announced her early resignation effective Jan. 31, 2019.

After returning from their first closed session, the first order of business was electing the next board president and vice president for the next year. It was unanimous in both cases as Patterson was selected as president and Gittens as vice president.

“Thank you board very much for your vote of confidence,” said Patterson, who is the senior most board member (elected in Nov. 2016) with the five newcomers and a departing colleague in Murillo. “I want to thank (Murillo) for your service to the board for the last six months. It was tremendous to work alongside you.”

Patterson was the only nomination for president, while Gittens and Horner were choices for vice president. Although accepting the nomination, Horner made clear he was in favor of having Gittens take on that role this year.

The new board also divvied up board liaison committee assignments, with many vacancies due to the turnover, before recognizing Horner and Brad Ledwith for their participation on the Citizen Oversight Committee for the Measure G bond measure. They both served three terms on the volunteer committee.

In another unanimous vote at the Dec. 11 meeting, the board chose to make an appointment rather than order an election to replace Murillo on the board for the final two years of her term. Murillo—who ran unopposed for her Trustee Area 7 seat in the 2106 election—cited “work and personal obligations” as reasons for her resignation. Her term expires in 2020.

In accordance with Education Code 5091(a), the board had 60 days to take action to appoint a new board member. Since the board chose to appoint Murillo’s replacement, “The registered voters (of) the district may, within 30 days from the date of the appointment, petition for the conduct of a special election to fill the vacancy,” according to the MHUSD staff report. If that happens, the TA7 seat would appear on the June 2019 ballot and could cost “as much as $345,000.”

Following staff recommendation, the board will begin an application process with interviews from a candidate pool to follow at a future board meeting yet to be determined. The appointment candidacy form will be available Dec. 13 on the district website,

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