Stephen S. Winkler is escorted from the dias June 18 after the board voted to vacate his seat on grounds he did not maintain a residence in the school district, as state law requires.
Saugus Union School District officials have put plans on hold for a special election to fill the seat of Stephen Winkler, a governing board member who was kicked off in June.
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 Tuesday the district should take further action in pursuing a request for special election or appointment.
A quo warranto proceeding is initiated to determine a writ demanding by what authority a person claims an office, franchise, or privilege, according to a legal dictionary.
“It’s a proceeding whereby things go to the attorney general, and the attorney general looks at everything,” said SUSD Superintendent Joan Lucid.
Lucid was unsure of whether the “quo warranto” proceedings, or review, would cover the district’s actions on vacating Winkler’s seat.
“We’re looking for what do we need to be doing in order to move forward,” Lucid said, “whether it will be a special election or an appointment.”
It does put the timeline for holding a special election in question.
State law mandates several month’s notice in order to hold a special election, which would likely take place in November.
The Saugus Union School District governing board members voted 4-1 to vacate the seat held by Winkler on June 18.
The vacating of Winkler’s seat came after more than two months of investigation, according to SUSD board member Doug Bryce. Winkler voted against his own removal.
An ad hoc committee was formed in response to allegations presented to the district in February anonymously that implied Winkler maintained a residence out of district boundaries, which was a violation of the state’s Education Code.
Board members agreed with the findings of the ad hoc committee, which was comprised of board President Judy Umeck and Bryce.
The move doesn’t preclude the board’s ability to make an appointment for Winkler’s term, which would end in 2015.
A lack of precedence made the next move a little uncertain, Lucid said.
“The board would like to resolve this with a special election, it makes sense,” she said, but added “no one’s been down this road before.”
The Saugus District released the following statement Wednesday:
Due to recent developments, it appears a special election for the remaining two year term of Mr. (Stephen S.) Winkler will not take place this November 2013. The Saugus Union School District Board of Trustees submitted an election resolution to the Los Angeles County Office of Education in early July requesting that the County Superintendent process its request for a special election to fill the seat of Stephen Winkler.
The Board had declared the seat vacant upon learning that Mr. Winkler did not reside within the district. Los Angeles County Office of Education believes the district should take further action in pursuing a request for special election or appointment.
In light of the Los Angeles County Office of Education’s position, the Board has authorized its legal counsel to initiate quo warranto proceedings against Mr. Winkler that may include contact with Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. The Board will continue to work with legal counsel to resolve the election issue and keep the public informed as to next steps.
On November 5, 2013, only three seats will be up for election currently held by Doug Bryce, Paul De la Cerda, and Judy Umeck.