EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated to include a quote from Trustee Maureen “Mo” Muir.
ENCINITAS — The San Dieguito Faculty Association has collected enough signatures to force a special election for Trustee Area 5 of the San Dieguito Union High School District after Trustee Ty Humes was appointed to the seat last month.
“We’re going to continue to collect signatures for a little while longer to far exceed the bare minimum of 399,” SDFA President Duncan Brown told The Coast News. “We will wait for that to go through and then we would look to see who are the candidates who would like to put their name in. There’s an endorsement process that we have done for any election and then we would move from there.”
Humes, who is the first African-American to sit on the San Dieguito Union High School District board, was disappointed by the teachers union’s efforts to force a special election and thinks there are other reasons for it other than normal school board politics.
“For them to take that stance, I can only perceive that on their end they have a race problem,” Humes told The Coast News. “The teachers union should just come out with the plantation mentality and say this is what I want you to do and do it. You don’t have a choice. And then I’m an acceptable candidate.”
Humes also told The Coast News he strongly believes that if the person appointed by the board for the seat in Trustee Area 5 was White, they would not be working to force a special election as they have.
The Bronx native confirmed he would run in a special election to defend his seat which he has held since last month following Kristin Gibson’s resignation from the school board.
Brown is equally emphatic with his denial of Humes’ claim regarding race and the teachers union.
“It’s just completely not true,” Brown said. “I’m insulted by that. We are opposing his appointment because of the process and letting the voters of Area 5 decide for themselves.”
Brown went on to say that if Humes is making those kinds of statements without speaking to him first, then he feels they have made the right decision in terms of collecting signatures for the special election. He also said he would have zero qualms endorsing a candidate who was a person of color.
It is important to note that the faculty association was open in its strong opposition to an appointment candidate in Trustee Area 5 almost immediately at the time of Gibson’s resignation and before the school district had received a single application for the position.
“We take great pride in making sure that we try to educate every single student within our community regardless of race or anything else and again I’m offended that he would put teachers in that category,” Brown said.
Humes has gotten started quickly in his time at the district, making visits to all nine of the schools in the district since his appointment. But Humes said he has not met with anyone from the faculty association.
“And maybe that goes back to the plantation mentality and I’m supposed to reach out to them,” Humes said.
Mario Flores, a physical education teacher at La Costa Canyon who serves as the faculty association’s treasurer and is Mexican-American, shared his thoughts on Hunmes’ comments with The Coast News.
“I find it disgusting that in today’s world with all the issues going on that somebody would go that route,” Flores said. “I think deep down in his heart he knows that’s not true.”
Flores, along with Brown, say they hope to be able to have a working relationship with Humes in the future, particularly if he is to win the special election for the seat.
“If Trustee Humes is the one that wins then that’s the one we’ll sit down and work with. And if he shows us respect then we’ll show him respect,” Flores said.
Trustee Maureen “Mo” Muir submitted a written statement regarding the recall effort against Humes, applauding the diversity, leadership and experience Humes brings to the school board during a particularly challenging time for the district.
“I’ve been very impressed with Mr. Humes’ ability to quickly understand the issues and his balanced solution-orient approach to problem-solving,” Muir told The Coast News via email. “I find those pushing for this recall very disingenuous. They say the school board should have allowed for a special election to fill a 1-year unexpected vacancy, which would cost our residents about half a million dollars because it’s the democratic process.
“They don’t tell you that this has been the best practice for most elected bodies that have had to make similar decisions. The SDUHSD also has a past practice of making a short-term appointment,” Muir said.
While this election may now turn to the issue of race, to many it is simply more a financial issue. It is estimated that the special election could cost the district at least $500,000.
Ginny Merrifield, the executive director of the Parent Association of North County, which has been the strongest voice for school reopening during the pandemic, sees it as a waste of both time and money.
“I think (Humes) will walk away with the election and it will simply have cost us half a million dollars,” Merrifield told The Coast News. “Where we really need to be focusing on the students. But this isn’t really about students, it never really is. And that’s what’s sad about it.”