Attempts to recall trustees must derive from district constituents.
By Bleah B. Patterson
Two members of the board of trustees of the Alamo Colleges could be in danger of recall.
Palo Alto College students are asking for student trustee Jacob Wong to be replaced because “he isn’t representing students’ interest.”
That complaint came from Kristie Tarin, a member of the Student Leadership Coalition at the South Side college, in an email.
Faculty from Palo Alto and St. Philip’s colleges have also initiated a petition for the recall of District 7 trustee Yvonne Katz.
Inside Higher Ed, an online national education publication, and the Alamo Community College District Faculty Legal Association say they have copies of an email conversation between Chancellor Bruce Leslie and Katz about the 2012 retirement incentive.
In the email, Katz allegedly called tenured faculty “old farts.”
According to ACCD board policy, trustees can be removed from office before the end of their term if a judge finds them guilty of a felony.
The policy also states “a public officer may be so removed from office upon conviction by a jury of any felony or upon a jury finding” of incompetency, official misconduct, intoxication or nonattendance of board meetings.
Katz could also be recalled if a petition signed by her constituents is presented to a judge and the judge rules in favor of removal.
There is no specified number of signatures necessary.
None of the five Alamo Colleges are in District 7.
There are no set policies in place to remove a student trustee from their position.
However, according to board policy B.11 a student trustee must maintain a high grade-point average, enrollment at an Alamo College and a commitment to the district.
Wong said he doesn’t know why there is not a set policy, but to his understanding, he can be removed the same way he was appointed.
Wong was selected by the board as a nonvoting member in the spring semester after student governments received self-nomination letters and conducted an election.
The finalists were presented to the board, which made the final decision.
“Only the board voting me out, or if I don’t maintain six (credit) hours or a GPA of 2.5 could I be replaced before the end of my term,” he said.
Nothing in the policy addresses student input into removing a student trustee, and students do not have the authority to recall or replace a student representative to the board.
Wong’s term will end April 10, and the next student trustee is expected to be appointed May 8.
The board faced a similar situation in February 2003 when District 3 trustee Vincent Lázaro stopped attending meetings.
At that time, district policy did not address the situation so board members were helpless to do anything about removing him in favor of active representation.
Lázaro eventually resigned, allowing the board to accept self-nominations before appointing someone to Lázaro’s unfinished term.
In 2009 the board approved the updated policy allowing removal.