ENCINITAS — Following last week’s resignation of Trustee Melisse Mossy from the San Dieguito Union High School District school board, no action was taken at Wednesday’s board meeting to appoint a replacement after a motion resulted in a 2-2 vote.
Mossy, who resigned on April 12 citing “unforeseen personal challenges,” was elected in 2018 to represent Area 3, the voting district largely comprised of Solana Beach. Her term would have ended in November 2022.
“It has been my highest honor and privilege to serve the students, staff, and community of SDUHSD,” Mossy wrote in a statement to The Coast News. “I am deeply saddened to make this very difficult announcement.”
In compliance with California Education Code, the board has 60 days to appoint someone to fill the vacancy or request an election. If that deadline is missed, the process of ordering an election falls to the County Superintendent of Schools.
During the April 20 meeting, Board President Maureen Muir motioned for the board to fill the vacancy via an appointment at the next board meeting. The board’s vote deadlocked at 2-2, with Allman and Muir voting in favor of the motion, while Trustees Julie Bronstein and Katrina Young voted against it.
With 60 days to make an appointment before the process goes to an election, the board could discuss or vote on the vacancy at the next meeting, according to Young. Due to the timing of Mossy’s resignation, a potential election would be held in November without incurring additional costs to the district.
Last spring, the board was in a similar situation, needing to fill a vacancy left empty after former Trustee Kristin Gibson abruptly resigned. The board chose to fill her seat with the appointment of Ty Humes, but the public successfully petitioned for a special election, which resulted in Bronstein winning the vacant seat.
Both Bronstein and Young said they did not want to make an appointment this year due to the success of the last petition to elect.
“The last appointment process did not go well,” Young said. “Right now we have a lot on our plates. It takes a lot of time and energy to run [an appointment.] I don’t believe we have the trust of our community to make that decision.”
After the impassioned public comments earlier in the April 20 meeting regarding Superintendent Dr. Cheryl James-Ward’s controversial statement on the success of Asian students, Allman suggested the appointment of a person from the Asian community to represent Area 3.
“I don’t think it’s right [to] not have a representative in that area,” Muir said, agreeing with Allman. “We saw the Asian people tonight. They need a voice and this is where we can make that happen.”
Because the next election is in November, taking the election route would mean that the SDUHSD board would have four members for more than six months. Both Allman and Muir also supported the appointment because it would restore the board to five members.
“I think that us going forward, the two-two board, I don’t think anything will get done,” Muir said.
In the past, Mossy was a swing vote. However, both Young and Bronstein said the board would be able to work together as four members.
“We were able to work together and compromise tonight with the pools, which was a complex issue,” Young said of an earlier decision at the meeting. “It might take some work on key issues, but if we remember to keep our focus on the kids, I think we can effectively function.”