Recall decision looms over Coachella Valley school board

July 15th, 2013 | by Brett Kelman | Comments

The Riverside County registrar’s office has until Thursday to decide if an effort to recall the Coachella Valley Unified school board will finally move forward.

As of late last week, registrar staff were reviewing recall petitions proposed by a small group of disgruntled parents, who hope to replace five members of the school board.

Four of those board members – Lowell Kamper, Anna Lisa Vargas, Manuel Jarvis Martinez and Maria Machuca – have submitted opposing statements to the registrar’s office.

“From day one on this board, I have dedicated myself to this community and have always made myself accessible to all,” the four board members said in their identical statements. “My fellow board members and I have worked tirelessly to make CVUSD a better place and will continue to do this with your support.”

A fifth board member, Joe Murillo, did not submit a written response to the recall effort but has previously told the Desert Sun that he has “done the best (he) can” during 18 years on the board.

Here are the board members that have been targeted by the recall effort, from left to right: Kamper, Machuca, Jarvis-Martinez, Murillo and Vargas.

Kamper Machuca Martinez Murillo VargasThe recall effort began in late-April, but was stalled by paperwork errors that forced recall proponents to resubmit preliminary documents four times. The paperwork problems were finally overcome in mid-June, and the board responses were filed on June 26.

The recall group has argued the board should be removed because of poor spending choices, intimidation tactics and the careless removal of school principals. In contrast, the written response from the board members insists that the board has improved student performance and district finances, and that members have “made difficult decisions to remove those who were not serving our students’ best interests.”

If the proposed recall petitions are approved, the group will have a 120-day window to collect 4,109 valid signatures for each board member they attempt to remove. The registrar’s office must decide if the recall petitions meet all legal requirements, but will not weigh the validity of the arguments behind the recall effort.

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