School board recall effort intensifies in Tehachapi

School board recall effort intensifies in Tehachapi »Play Video
TEHACHAPI, Calif. -- Traffic whizzed by on Tucker Road and Highway 202 as a group of people with signs were greeted continuously by drivers honking their horns.

The group held up signs supporting the recall of four Tehachapi Unified School Board members.

"We think any elected official needs to be held accountable for their actions, their decisions and the way they behave," said Tim Trujillo, a member of Friends of Recall.

The four targeted for recall are board president Mary Graham and fellow members Patty Snyder, Gary Warner and Holly Hart.

They were targeted when they voted to demote a popular middle school principal, Eric Triguiero, from Jacobsen Middle School. Triguiero had strong support from students and parents.

Others were upset with the four for what they said were serious mistakes in handling district finances.

"I would like parents to be able to stand up and be heard," said recall proponent Eric Eggelston.

But critics of the recall point to the cost of a special election, if necessary. The Kern County Elections Department said a special election would cost the school district approximately $150,000.

Being that all four school board members are up for re-election in November 2010, critics say it doesn't make sense to hold a special election when they can simply be voted out of office at no extra cost.

Proponents of the recall are hoping that all four will resign to avoid a recall, but at least one board member said she will not resign.

"I disagree with the recall and I will not resign," said board president Graham in a prepared statement. "I have done an outstanding job. Every school has improved in test scores. I am very proud of my record and very proud of my board."

Proponents of the recall say they have nearly 2,000 voter signatures of the 3,300 needed in order to qualify for a special election. The deadline to gather the signatures is Sept. 24.

"We think it's viable. It'll be difficult, but it can be done," said recall advocate Trujillo.