When it was his turn to speak, the young man with the short brown hair headed to the table where the Hesperia Unified School District school board was seated and placed papers in front of board members Hardy Black, Robert Kirk and Lee Rogers before heading to the podium.
Once behind the microphone, he had few words: "Robert Kirk, Hardy Black and Lee Rogers, you have officially been served with a Notice of Intention to file a recall petition."
And then he turned and walked out of Monday night's school board meeting at Sultana High School.
The board members might have suspected this was coming: The last speaker before the papers were delivered was former Kingston Elementary School principal David Long, who publicly discussed his decision to leave the school in favor of a position in Utah. Long ran down a litany of departures from the HUSD that he said mirrored a long-rumored "hit list" being carried out by Black, Kirk and Lee Rogers. The newly elected three board members have denied the existence of such a list since they were elected.
Long called the departures from the district, "probably the greatest loss to the Hesperia Unified School District in the last five years, and it's all happened in one year."
If a recall petition were to appear, he said, it would be better if the three new board members resigned, "rather than dragging the district through a recall."
Under state law, elected officials are limited in the responses they can make to items brought up during public comments, to prevent immediate action being taken on items not previously announced on the agendas. But Kirk and Lee Rogers did react over the course of the meeting.
"A lot of those people left the district ... last fiscal year," Black said, during the discussion of a later item, "Long before I came on the scene."
Board member Lee Rogers -- no relation to fellow board member Helen Rogers -- echoed his comments.
When "many of these people left ... we weren't even here," she said.
Both elaborated when the board meeting broke after 9 p.m., prior to going into a closed-door session.
"I think it's way premature," Lee Rogers said. "I think it's unnecessary and I don't think all those people have all the facts," she said, referring to the 10 people who had signed the notice of intent. "The kids are still the most important things in my life."
"It'd be nice if people would talk to [me]," Black said. "It's a non-issue, really, the things they list."
The signatories' list of complaints can be found online at HesperiaEducationFirst.com, and include:"Awarding a contract to the least experienced bidder, according to district standards, paying up to $7,000,000 in unneeded additional fees to oversee the building of Oak Hills High School and delaying the opening by one year." "Hiring a consultant that duplicates the job of district managers in the amount of $10,000 per month who only reports to the board. Cost of $360,000." "Elimination of effective sixth grade schools, resulting in elementary school overcrowding." "Unnecessary expenditure of thousands of dollars on survey for an unpopular calendar change."
Lee Rogers said she would not go along with Long's recommendation.
"I have absolutely no intention of resigning," she said. "I'm a good board member and I'm going to stay a good board member."
Monday night's announcement that there would be a recall is the start of a long journey before an actual recall election can take place.
The next major step will be to circulate recall petitions within the area of the Hesperia Unified School District. Recall supporters will need to gather signatures from at least 20 percent of the registered voters living within the boundaries of the Hesperia Unified School District.
According to the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters' office on Tuesday morning, there were 34,596 registered voters within the district at last count, meaning those seeking to oust Black, Kirk and Lee Rogers will need to gather signatures from at least 6,919 registered voters. And they'll need to do it within 120 days after the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters has approved the notice of intent.
If those steps are completed by early December, the registrar then has 30 days to determine if the signatures are valid. Then the school board will have two weeks to announce a recall election date, at least 88 days, but up to 125 days after the board makes the decision. Other candidates can participate in the election, as happened during the 2003 recall election that ousted Governor Gray Davis from office, when 135 candidates appeared on the ballot.
Black says he doesn't mind if he's removed from the board by a recall.
"I don't really care," he laughed. "If people aren't happy with the job I'm doing, fine. I don't have any aspirations. My life would be a lot simpler."
Robert Kirk declined to be interviewed for this article.
The next meeting of the Hesperia Unified School District school board will be a facilities workshop held on August 15 at 4:30 p.m. at Sultana High School. The next regular board meeting will be held August 20 at 6 p.m. at Sultana High School.
Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at email@example.com.