Interim school board appoints first trustee applicant in Oakley

The Oakley Unified School District logo. (Photo courtesy of the Oakley Unified School District)

Following a public "hot mic" embarrassment that led to the mass resignation of the Oakley Elementary Union School district, the interim board appointed by the county school board president named its first replacement trustee, Lynell Fuller, Wednesday night.

During a public virtual meeting in February, the previous board members were caught on a video making disparaging comments about parents. The video swept through social media sparking national coverage and leading to an online petition signed by thousands demanding the board's ouster. Within a few days the board stepped down.

In response to the resignations, county Board of Education President Annette Lewis appointed two members of the county board, Mike Maxwell and Consuelo Lara, to serve as temporary members of the Oakley school board. Larry Polk resigned his seat in January leaving a third appointment pending.

Twelve persons submitted their applications for the earlier opening including Fuller, a local African-American mother and community volunteer, Wendell Dotson, Natalie Moreno, Rafael Ochoa, Craig Pearson, Nicole Pitts, Renee Resendez, Ron Roberts, Jacob Rounds, Nena Smith, Ray Valverde and Diego Verduzco. Maxwell said she was "pleasantly surprised" by the number of applicants. Fuller told the interim board she would reach out for constituent feedback at "grocery stores and community gatherings." Valverde outlined his experience as a former trustee for the neighboring Liberty Union High School District.

After interviewing the applicants during a rough public video meeting Wednesday night, the interim board voted to appoint Fuller.

David Soldani, the board's legal counsel earlier advised the board to make appointments for the open seats rather than spend up to $300,000 for a special election. The board will consider how to proceed with the other open seats at a meeting March 9.