Vacancies Attract Aspiring Trustees in North East, Judson, and South San ISDs

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The NEISD Headquarters

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

NEISD is looking for a new District 3 trustee following the resignation of Joseph Treviño.

The recent resignations of trustees in Judson, North East, and South San Antonio independent school districts have left openings on each respective seven-member school board. These openings occurred when trustees stepped down citing medical issues, disagreements with board decisions, or no reason at all.

Each district’s group of remaining trustees is reviewing applications for the open seats with plans to appoint replacements, which could take up to 180 days from the time the vacancy started.

The Rivard Report has compiled the names of the prospective board appointees per district, including their resumes and qualifications, to provide a glimpse of the would-be trustee candidates.

Judson ISD

For the second time in two months, Judson ISD trustees are filling a board vacancy. Two months after Rafael Diaz replaced José Macias, who joined the Alamo Colleges board, the Judson trustees are now looking to fill the District 2 seat.

Longtime trustee Richard LaFoille stepped down in early October and did not provide an explanation for his resignation. District 2 covers the southwest portion of Judson ISD and three candidates applied: Sonny-Peter Merrell, Edward Leon Woods, Sr., and Shatonya King. The appointed term would run through May 2021.

Trustees met Monday night to review the applications and plan to interview candidates on Thursday.

Merrell is a longtime resident of Judson ISD, having lived in the area for nearly 25 years. He previously served on the board as the District 7 at-large seat in 2014. Merrell ran for the seat in May 2015 but lost to Melinda Salinas.

Currently retired, Merrell’s resumé states he has experience in the U.S. Army and has served on a number of district committees, including the bond oversight committee, board curriculum committee, and school improvement planning committee. He would be interested in running for the position after the District 2 term expires.

Woods also spent time in the Army, according to his resumé and retired after 20 years of service. Woods is not sure if he would run for the position after the appointed term expires.

King is a school counselor and Judson ISD graduate. She previously served as a special education teacher and currently works in North East ISD as the lead school counselor at Lopez Middle School. She has prior experience with Seguin, San Antonio, and Bastrop ISDs and the School of Excellence.

King said she would be interested in running for the position after the appointed term was up.

North East ISD

North East ISD’s board voted twice to censure District 3 trustee Joseph Treviño and ban him from attending district events and campuses for inappropriate behavior before he announced his resignation in late September. Treviño cited reoccurring medical issues that would prevent him from representing his district.

Treviño’s term expires in May 2022, but the person appointed to fill the role would only serve until the next regular trustee election, to be held in 2020, according to board policy.

District 3 covers the southwestern part of the district and includes LEE High School. Four candidates applied for the vacancy — Omar Anthony Leos, Amy May McLin, Christopher Ashok Mammen, and Dolores Roel Serna — and were interviewed last week. The board has yet to announce a timeline for the appointment.

Leos is the fine arts coordinator in Harlandale ISD. He previously worked in San Antonio ISD as a coordinator for visual and theatre arts and as a theater teacher. He also serves on the board of the Public Theater of San Antonio.

McLin is an attorney currently serving on Castle Hills City Council. She was first elected in 2017 to a two-year term but was defeated in the May 2019 election by Sylvia Gonzalez.

However, Gonzalez’s seat was declared vacant after issues with the timing of an oath of office. McLin was appointed to hold the seat until a special election on Nov. 5. She is not running in the Nov. 5 race. 

Mammen currently works at City Education Partners as a special projects consultant. He has his Master of Business Administration from the University of Houston.

Serna is a homemaker who has served on the district’s Citizen’s Bond Advisory Committee since it was created in 2003. She also previously served on the board of the North East Educational Foundation.

South San Antonio ISD

Mandy Martinez (District 1), Louis Ybarra (District 2) and Elda Flores (District 7) vacated the South San board in protest of Superintendent Alexandro Flores’ resignation on Sept. 3. The remaining four trustees opened applications to fill the vacancies.

The board appointed Stacey Alderete to serve District 7 and Kevin Rasco to serve District 2 during the district’s Sept. 18 meeting. Both will serve until November 2020.

In the initial application round, no one applied to serve District 1, which is located in the middle of the district and covers South San High School.

Trustees re-opened the application process prior to their October regular meeting and received interest from two candidates: Gina Villagomez and Veronica Barba. The six board members reviewed both applications in mid-October but did not interview either candidate and declined to explain the reasoning behind the inaction.

Villagomez worked for the Bexar County District Attorney Office in the criminal intake and trial division from 2014 to June 2017. She currently works as a receptionist at the law office of John Winter, according to her application. One of her reference letters is from Michael LaHood, who writes that Villagomez was “one of the driving forces in assisting [his] son, Nicholas ‘Nico’ LaHood in his conquest to be Bexar County District Attorney.”

She told reporters she owns her own business and works as a notary.

In her application, Villagomez said her top three priorities for South San were to bring a positive, motivational atmosphere to the district, budgeting the district, and helping the district address children’s concerns.

Barba’s application states she previously or currently works as an administrative assistant at Kingsborough Middle School in Harlandale ISD. Barba is not currently listed on the staff page of the school’s website.

When asked in her application why she wants to serve on South San’s board, Barba responded: “service my community to establish the vision that reflects the overall goals of the community, the staff, and the board.”

The person appointed to fill District 1 will serve until November 2020.

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