Scott Ball / Rivard Report
Following her arrest on a wire fraud charge, San Antonio Independent School District Trustee Olga Hernandez (D6) resigned from her position at the board’s Tuesday night meeting. Hernandez explained that the “web of legal entanglements” would require her “full participation.”
“This is not the way I wanted to end my work as your public servant,” Hernandez said.
Board President Patti Radle moved the agenda item to the beginning of the meeting to allow Hernandez to read a prepared statement vacating her position and to excuse herself from the remainder of the meeting.
According to federal investigators, Hernandez allegedly accepted gifts such as jewelry and took trips to Las Vegas paid for by insurance brokers who were attempting to win a contract with SAISD. Hernandez, who was arrested Thursday, is free on bond. The investigation likely will take at least one year.
Hernandez said she reached her decision after reflecting on work accomplished and work yet to be done. In particular, she called attention to the improvements made to District 6 schools funded by the 2010 bond, and the hope of good things to come from the 2016 bond and 13-cent tax increase, both of which passed in November.
“I have done quite a lot for my district,” Hernandez said. “I want this work to continue with the positive energy that has been established in SAISD.”
The board will now have the choice of filling Hernandez’s board position with an appointee or through a special election. Hernandez’s terms expires in May 2019.
Hernandez advocated for an appointment, saying that a special election would cost the district time and money, and spoke in favor of appointing a life-long resident of District 6, “a person who knows this community.”
In the citizens to be heard portion of the meeting, community members Cindy Loredo and Blanca Duran expanded on this sentiment.
“We keep hearing rumors that the board is considering Scott Meltzer for this position,” Duran said.
Meltzer, David Soto, and Jody Bayless ran against Hernandez in 2015. Hernandez, 65, beat Meltzer, 29, by less than 150 votes. The narrow margin has led some on social media to call for the appointment of Meltzer, who moved to the district in 2013.
“He lost because the people of District 6 did not feel that he could represent us,” Duran said.
Duran also alleged that Meltzer was overheard disparaging the District 6 community at a fundraising event, calling them “the poor people.”
“We do not need a person who looks down on the people of District 6,” Duran said.
Meltzer told the Rivard Report that the alleged incident was “completely fabricated.”
“As a first-generation college graduate and the son of a General Motors factory worker, I wholeheartedly believe every child – regardless of income – can achieve their personal and professional aspirations,” he said after the meeting.
Meltzer, who currently works with City Year, served as a volunteer in 3rd grade classrooms at District 5’s JT Brackenridge Elementary School as well as on the school’s Campus Leadership Team. JT Brackenridge’s principal had asked him to serve in that school as opposed to one of the elementary schools in District 6.
“I didn’t feel safe volunteering in District 6 due to events that happened during the campaign,” Meltzer said, referring to fliers that labeled him a “total stranger.” Some of his campaign volunteers were also subjected to intimidation, Meltzer said. In addition to his work with City Year, Meltzer has joined the CAST Tech team in fundraising efforts.
“Every single day I wake up, I’m sharing the upward trajectory of SAISD,” Meltzer said.
Loredo did not mention Meltzer by name, but urged the board to appoint “someone who would be accepted in our community.”
Both called for the appointment of Rachel Ponce, a District 6 parent.
Another District 6 resident, Erin Zayko, did not arrive in time to sign up to speak, but voiced support for Meltzer after the meeting. She is a parent of a preschooler who she hopes will attend a district school.
“During the last election cycle, I supported Scott and continue to support Scott because of his enthusiasm for students and their betterment through community partnerships,” Zayko said.
In order to abide by legal requirements in filling the vacant board position, the board will hold a special meeting Friday at 8 p.m. Two items on the agenda: the formal acceptance of Hernandez’s resignation and procedures moving forward.
“Some decisions will be made on how we proceed,” Radle said. “We are a strong district. We have strong people supporting us. We have strong people at this dais. We are going to continue in the direction we have been operating.”