The La Joya Independent School District missed the deadline to hold a special election in May — and, as a result, the school board must appoint two new members by Sept. 6.
During a meeting on Wednesday, attorney Jaime “Jerry” Muñoz briefed the school board on the situation created by the resignations of Place 5 Trustee Armin Garza and Place 6 Trustee Oscar “Coach” Salinas.
“At this point, the board must appoint a trustee to Place 5 no later than July 13 and a second trustee to Place 6 no later than Sept. 6,” Muñoz said.
Both schemes involved La Joya ISD.
When a trustee resigns from a school board, the remaining trustees must either appoint a replacement or hold a special election within 180 days, Muñoz said, adding that special elections for school board seats must be held in May or November.
La Joya ISD missed the March 22 deadline to hold a special election in May. As a result, the board must appoint replacements for Garza and Salinas.
“You can make it as simple as the board would like — a simple appointment,” Muñoz said. “Or you can ask the community for applications, you can have public forums, you can host interviews, question-and-answer sessions — it can be as formal as the board would like.”
People appointed to the vacant positions would serve until November, when La Joya ISD will hold special elections for Place 5 and Place 6. The candidates elected in November would serve until 2024.
Trustee Nereyda Cantu, who had advocated for La Joya ISD to hold special elections, said the school board hadn’t been informed about the March 22 deadline.
“This is actually the first time I hear of any deadline that we’ve missed,” Nereyda Cantu said.
Muñoz said items had been placed on the March 9 school board agenda, but the meeting was canceled.
The March 9 agenda listed “Discussion and Possible Action to Appoint a Board Member” to Place 5 and Place 6.
“My question is: Why didn’t we put it for discussion and possible action to appoint or have a special election?” said Trustee Alex Cantu, who also had advocated for La Joya ISD to hold special elections.
Muñoz said the March 9 agenda item “would have taken care of that.” Alex Cantu disagreed.
“I think the communication would have taken care of that, at that point,” Alex Cantu said.
Trustee Mary T. Hernandez said the board had discussed the matter in executive session on Jan. 19.
“And then, when we were ready to appoint, I guess, that’s when the meeting was postponed, on the 9th,” Hernandez said.
“Excuse me? When who was ready to appoint?” Nereyda Cantu responded, adding that trustees hadn’t decided whether to appoint people to Place 5 and Place 6 or hold special elections.
Trustee Espie Ochoa said the board had no hidden agenda.
If trustees wanted to appoint someone quickly, they could, Ochoa said. Instead, they waited.
“Perhaps we have been dragging our feet, but it’s because we care dearly and love our district,” Ochoa said. “And we want to do what’s right.”