Edgewood ISD Outlines 2 Options for Filling Vacancy on Governing Board

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Edgewood Independent School District governing board is instructed by Board counsel Juan Cruz on the two ways they can fill a board vacancy.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Board counsel Juan Cruz informs Edgewood ISD's governing board of options to fill a board vacancy.

Members of the Edgewood Independent School District governing board on Tuesday learned the two ways they can fill a board vacancy.

Nearly three months ago, trustee Edward Romero resigned from the board without stating a reason, leaving open an elected trustee position on a hybrid governing board that is composed of five state-appointed managers and two elected trustees.

Because there is more than a year left in Romero's term, Edgewood has a 180-day deadline to replace him. Romero was elected in 2016, and as of Tuesday night, the district was a little more than 80 days into this timeline, putting the deadline in mid-April.

Board counsel Juan Cruz outlined two options for the board: appointment and special election.

Appointees would have to meet the same qualifications as candidates running for office, Cruz said, and the district wouldn't have to open the process for applications. If the board decides to appoint a replacement, the appointee would only serve until the next trustee election, which will take place in November 2020. That appointee could then run for that seat.

Alternately, the board could call for a special election. The earliest this could take place is in May, and Cruz said the board would have to call for the election by March. This would still satisfy the 180-day deadline, he said.

Cruz estimated it would cost the district about $12,000 to carry out a special election and encouraged the board to appoint a trustee instead.

"My recommendation is for the board to appoint ... ," he said, adding that a special election could "drum up all these costs."

Members of the Edgewood board didn't make a decision Tuesday night but are expected to hold a community forum on Feb. 16 to inform the public about the process and answer questions.

In May 2016, Commissioner of Education Mike Morath appointed a board of five managers to govern the district in place of the elected board of trustees. The managers were a form of state intervention, aimed at correcting governance issues that were created by a deadlocked board of two factions. The board failed to make crucial decisions including on filling a superintendent position and principalships.

Last July, Morath indicated the district had made enough progress to start transitioning back to elected governance, adding two trustees back to the governing board. One was Martha Castilla, the other was Romero.

"It's been a great pleasure serving the Edgewood School District and I will always treasure my time on the Board," Romero wrote in his resignation letter. "I wish the District continued growth and success in the future."

Morath plans to continue adding trustees back to the board and removing manager positions until the elected board of seven trustees is restored. This process is expected to be complete by May 2020.

After the board names its replacement, Morath will review the selection and consider next steps. A Texas Education Agency spokeswoman told the Rivard Report in mid-October it isn't clear if Romero's replacement would remain on the governing board.

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