Tuesday’s Stockton Unified board meeting ran late into the evening, prompting trustees to adjourn at about 11 p.m. with much of the agenda being left undiscussed. But not before trustees considered whether Flores would continue as the board’s president.
The item was put on the meeting’s agenda by trustees Cecilia Mendez and Alicia Rico, whose contentious relationship with Flores has often been on full display during board meetings over the years.
Mendez and Rico described Flores’ behavior in the leadership role she’s held for the last six months as inappropriate, disrespectful and contrary to what students need, motioning at Tuesday’s meeting for Trustee Ray Zulueta to take her place.
“We need a president that will work to bring us (trustees) together,” Rico said “Flores has done nothing to bring us together.”
However, meeting attendees and fellow trustees disagreed, expressing varying levels of anger and exasperation that removing Flores had even been brought forward.
SUSD parent Karesha Boyd’s voice grew louder and louder as her allotted three minutes at the podium counted down.
Boyd, who is both the president of the district’s Parent Advisory Committee and the vice president for its African American PAC, admonished trustees Rico and Mendez. She told them they should be concentrating on the many issues facing the district, not trying to replace a board president who’s been in the job for only a short period of time.
“We are tired of the board of trustees going on petty little rants that are not conducive to what we are trying to get done,” Boyd told Stocktonia following her public comments. “If we’re going to pay our tax dollars and elect these people, they need to represent us and not be so self-serving.”
A little more than a dozen of the 60 public comments submitted at the meeting concerned Flores’ fate. The only clear proponent for her removal was 209 Times founder and longtime Flores critic Motecuzoma Sanchez, who is scheduled to be laid off by the district in July following a months-long leave from his position as director of Family Resource Center.
The public had spoken and supported Flores, Vice President Kennetha Stevens said shortly before voting on the issue.
“I am extremely happy to sit on the side of her. I know that she does a lot of great work,” Stevens said. “And let’s move it to a roll call vote.”
The motion ultimately failed 4-2-1, with Mendez and Rico voting in the affirmative and Zulueta abstaining.
Flores was elected president by the board in December following the 2022 General Election, taking over the gavel from Mendez and marking a significant shift in school district politics.
She was often the lone dissenting vote in the passing of myriad controversial legislation over the last few years, including a deal that saw the district purchase air purifiers with federal COVID-19 dollars that state investigators described as fraudulent and the San Joaquin District Attorney’s Office is investigating.
The Area 2 trustee now makes up part of what some in the community have referred to as a “reformer’s block” which includes newly-elected trustees Stevens, Board Clerk Sofia Colón and Donald Donaire, all of whom voted to keep Flores as president.
Trustees Mendez, Rico and Zulueta all staunchly opposed Flores’ election in December.
After Tuesday’s meeting, Colón said the vote never should have happened as fellow trustees Mendez and Rico did not follow the normal process.
“Specifically, we have a board bylaw which states that if you have a conflict with a fellow trustee, your first step is to have an informal conversation with that trustee,” Colón told Stocktonia. “That’s our bylaw, and we also talked about that in our retreat.”
Flores has previously described the attempt to oust her as a part of a continual “chaos, distraction and propaganda” campaign that’s been leveled against her.
“It’s propaganda for slanderous Facebook platforms to have something to talk about and remain relevant in their worlds,” Flores told Stocktonia after the vote Tuesday night. “We didn’t get to a lot of important things because we wasted time on other board members putting items on the agenda that were a waste of time.”
Rico promptly left the board room following the meeting, while Mendez declined to comment on the failed motion.
The SUSD Board of Trustees will meet at 7 a.m. Thursday in the board room at district headquarters to finish working on the rest of Tuesday’s agenda.