If Robert Kirk leaves the school board, the remaining board members can either call for a special election or appoint someone to replace him -- but if voters don't like the appointment, they can force a special election anyway.

Hesperia Unified School District school board member Chris Bentley announced at Monday night's school board meeting that he was beginning the recall process against board president Kirk -- and Kirk said that, if Bentley went through with it, he would resign within 60 days.

According to California Education Code 5091(a), the school board will have 60 days after a vacancy occurs to decide whether to hold a special election or appoint a replacement.

But the voters can still demand a special election, if they choose: Section 5091(c)(1) says that registered voters in the district have 30 days to petition for a special election anyway. That's a literal petition, signed by 1.5 percent of the number of registered voters at the time of the last election for school board members.

On November 3, 2008, there were 38,325 registered voters living in the Hesperia Unified School District, so a total of 575 signatures would be required to force a special election.

Elections cost money, though, including paying to advertise the election, paying for poll workers to man polling stations and other expenses. In most elections, the costs are split between all government agencies holding an election -- in November 2008, that included the city of Hesperia, the Hesperia Recreation and Park District, the Mojave Water Agency and the state and federal governments. But in a special election, the HUSD would have to bear the cost alone.

"From the recall to a standalone election, [a special election] would cost roughly $197,700," said school board member Anthony Riley on Wednesday. "To basically have a standalone election, it's going to take a nine to 10 month process. It's not an easy thing."

Riley -- who works with Kirk's son Mark on the staff of Supervisor Gary Ovitt -- said it's an expense the school district cannot afford.

"It just seems like a needless waste to do this, because two people can't get along."

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.