More than three months after school officials sought permission to remove a school board member from office – and eight months after they did so – they’re still awaiting word from Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office on how to proceed.
Saugus Union School District governing board members voted 4-1 to vacate Stephen Winkler’s seat June 18.
“We’re adhering to the legal process, and we’re looking forward to the response,” said Paul De La Cerda, Saugus Union School District board president. “We haven’t received anything from the Attorney General’s Office, to my knowledge.”
District officials claimed Winkler maintained his residence outside of the Saugus Union School District boundaries, specifically in Sylmar.
On Nov. 7, Deputy Attorney General Marc Nolan, who’s listed as the person in charge of the opinion on the attorney general’s website, as well as the acting supervisor, wrote the following:
“We received the district’s most recent filing earlier this week. I would expect to have a recommendation prepared on this application within the next four to six weeks, after which it must still be reviewed and approved for issuance by my unit and division managers, as well as by the Attorney General and her executive staff. While priority is given to issuing decisions on quo warranto applications, I cannot give a firm estimate as to when this decision will be issued.”
Shortly after SUSD’s board voted to oust Winkler, district officials sought permission from Los Angeles County’s Office of Education to hold a special election.
SUSD officials were told July 5 they need to seek permission from Harris’ office to hold quo warranto proceedings, a Latin legal term for the action to be filed to remove a person from public office.
Per state law, Harris’ office must approve all such actions.
Since the June vote, Winkler has not returned to a meeting, citing the fact that he did not want to be a distraction, and he felt his presence would be.
He did, however, submit information to the Attorney General’s Office, which, Winkler claims, refute the findings of a private investigator hired by the district to determine Winkler’s residency status.
“We are currently evaluating the District’s application, Mr. Winkler’s opposition to that application, and related materials, to determine whether to allow a quo warranto lawsuit to proceed,” Nolan said in a previous email.
No details about the decision are being released ahead of time.
A request for a more specific time frame was made.
“We do not provide specific time frames for when decisions will be made regarding opinions,” according to Nick Pacilio, Attorney General’s Office press secretary, in an email.