The Saugus Union School Board must await permission from state Attorney General Kamala Harris on whether they can proceed with plans to vacate the seat of Stephen Winkler, said Becca MacLaren, spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office.
“Our role is reviewing the request to file a quo warranto proceeding,” MacLaren said Thursday. “If the request is approved (by Harris), then the party may go forward with a quo warranto, subject to the attorney general’s continuing supervision.”
A quo warranto action is filed typically to remove a person from public office, according to the attorney general’s website.
Saugus Union board President Judy Umeck said the board acted with the guidance of the district’s legal counsel when members voted 4-1 to remove Stephen Winkler on June 18 at a special hearing.
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.
“The board’s opinion is that we followed the letter of the law according to Education Code,” Umeck said. “We trust our legal counsel’s opinion, as they have cited what little examples there are there that absolutely validate our actions. We want to be cooperative with all concerns.”
The school district sought the counsel of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud and Romo for the proceedings and the ouster of Winkler.
An investigation initiated by the Saugus Union School District came to the conclusion that Winkler had a residence outside of district boundaries, which is a violation of the state’s Education Code.
Part of the problem for the district is a timing issue, which could be costly.
With the county asking the district to seek an OK for the Attorney General’s Office, Saugus Union School District were forced to miss the filing deadline for the notice of an election with Los Angeles County, which was July 8.
If SUSD officials are allowed to initiate proceedings to remove Winkler, then they would either need to make an appointment, or hold a costly special election.
The county schedule mandates four months’ notice to hold for a general election, and six months for a special election.
In the meantime, the Saugus Union School District board members are hoping to move forward with the situation as soon as possible.
“Winkler has not legally challenged our decision to date nor has he tried to attend the last two board meetings, therefore, it seems he accepts our decision and will not return,” said SUSD board member Paul De La Cerda.
“Perhaps Mr. Winkler or the L.A. County Board of Education will reconsider their decisions and save the state’s taxpayers from having to pay more than they already have on this issue.”