According to our analysis, El Rancho Unified School District recall election is a heated race framed by long-standing fissures within the local school board and with other stakeholders in the school community.
About the Race
There are two members of the School Board being targeted for recall, Board Members Jose Lara and Leanne Ibarra. Together with one other member, they have commanded a board majority. According to local reports, Gabriel Orosco is the third member of the majority, but is not being targeted for recall because his term ends December 2020.
There are four questions on the ballot: A yes-no vote on whether to keep each board member, and a choice of replacement for each member if the recall effort is successful. The El Rancho Federation of Teachers and the California School Employees Association Chapter 107 have both been key players in the recall effort, which was organized by a group convened last year as the Committee to Recall Jose Lara and Leanne M Ibarra 2019.
Recall proponents point to the alleged misuse of school bond funds and the termination of contracts of 23 school administrators including several popular principals among other reasons for the recall. Another issue of contention is the $200 million construction program that until recently was managed by Pasadena-based HPLE Inc. The company resigned in May amid increasing scrutiny over how it and the district managed the program: The state’s team of forensic accountants will conduct an audit of the district’s bond program at the recommendation of concerned Los Angeles County education officials. The bond proposition was passed in order to fund a controversial rebuild of El Rancho High School. This rebuild is now on hold, with many school community members seeking to re-imagine the project as a more cost-effective renovation as opposed to a full-scale rebuild.
About the District
El Rancho Unified School District is a public school district located in Pico Rivera, CA. It has 8,674 students in grades K-12 with a student-teacher ratio of 25 to 1.
About the Vote to Recall
Boardmember Jose Lara has already resigned, which means the recall decision for his seat is now irrelevant. Voters will still choose between two candidates running for his seat. Boardmember Leanne Ibarra is an active boardmember, which means voters will have to decide whether she will be recalled. If she is recalled, there is only one candidate running for her seat.
About the Candidates
There are five candidates on the ballot, including the recall targets.
- Recall Target School Board Member Jose Lara resigned from the Governing Board of the El Rancho Unified School District effective February 5, 2020. At the time of his resignation, Lara was the longest-serving member of the school board.
- Recall Target School Board Member Leanne Ibarra was originally recruited to the school board by Lara and fellow board member Gabriel Orosco. Ibarra has voted in line with Lara and Orosco to form a majority voting bloc on the governing board.
- Joe Rivera is being recommended by the recall organizers to replace Lara. He was originally a member of a bond oversight committee but along with Mejia was removed by the school board in a non-public vote. According to local sources, Rivera has been previously voted out from the School Board.
- Esther Mejia is being recommended by the recall organizers to replace Ibarra. She was also originally a member of a bond oversight committee but along with Rivera was removed by the school board in a non-public vote.
- Allan Maciel identified himself in election filings as a school principal and is also running for Lara’s seat. According to local reports, he lags behind Rivera in levels of community support or endorsement.
How to Vote in this Election
The June 2 election encompasses only El Rancho School District and is being administered by the Registrar of Voters in Los Angeles County. To be counted, completed ballots must be received at your County Registrar of Voters office no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day, or be postmarked on or before Election Day and received no later than three days after Election Day. Voting by mail is the only way to vote in this election. Information about this election can be found at https://lavote.net/home/voting-elections/current-elections/upcoming-elections#06022020
Each voter in El Rancho Unified School District will be mailed a ballot beginning on May 4, 2020. Voters will have until June 2nd to return their ballot. Last day for Vote By Mail ballots to be received or turned in personally by the voter at any polling place in the jurisdiction. An authorized representative may return the voted ballot under specified conditions.
The ballot counting process will be open to public observation at the Downey Tally Talley Operation Center, 9150 Imperial Hwy, Downey, CA 90242 on June 5, 9, 12, and 15 during specified times. For more information visit https://www.lavote.net/docs/rrcc/election-info/06022020_Canvass-Update-Schedule.pdf
Accessible Voting: Early voting options are available for voters with disabilities.
Register to Vote: You must register to vote by May 18, 2020 to receive a Vote By Mail ballot in the mail. After this deadline, you can still register and vote under Conditional Voter Registration (CVR), also known as Same Day Voter Registration. Contact your county elections office to learn more about CVR.
Los Angeles County Elections Website: https://www.lavote.net