San Dieguito school board deadlocks on filling trustee seat

County could take action if district doesn’t act in 60 days


The San Dieguito Union High School District offices in Encinitas. (Google Street View photo)

North Coast Current

With a four-member board in the wake of a resignation, San Dieguito Union High School District trustees deadlocked 2-2 on how to fill the vacancy Wednesday, April 20.

The vote occurred as the district faces two crises — a county takeover of its election map process, and the placement of the superintendent on leave over controversial comments on race and academic performance.

Board President Maureen “Mo” Muir and Vice President Michael Allman voted in favor of a motion to appoint a trustee. Clerk Julie Bronstein and Trustee Katrina Young voted against it.

Melisse Mossy
Melisse Mossy

With the deadlock, the district could face a second intervention from the county Office of Education if it can’t agree on a way to fill the seat within 60 days, according to state election code.

Melisse Mossy resigned April 12 as the other controversies were brewing.

“It was a very difficult decision, and I am extremely sad over the events that led to this,” Mossy told education columnist Marsha Sutton at the time.

Mossy won the district’s Area 3 seat in 2018. On that election map, Area 3 included San Dieguito High School Academy in Encinitas and Earl Warren Middle School in Solana Beach.

Muir put forth the motion to appoint someone to fill the vacancy at the board’s next meeting, setting off a discussion on the merits of waiting until the November election, when the seat is up for a vote.

Young expressed concerns about the current political climate in the district and the controversy an appointment process could bring.

“The last appointment process didn’t go well,” she said, referencing the resignation of Kristin Gibson in 2021. “We also have a very divided community right now.”

Given the timing of Mossy’s resignation, a special election could be rolled into November at no additional cost to the district since the term is up and would already be on the ballot, district officials said.

“There’s just a little over six months left, that we just show that we can work together, the four of us,” Young said.

Young said she was concerned about putting “a thumb on the democratic process.”

“If we appoint someone, that person would run as the incumbent appointed trustee, and so they would have a slight advantage to anyone else in the community,” she said.

Bronstein also cited the current strife in the district as a reason to wait for November.

“We saw it tonight in this room,” Bronstein said, referring to the outcry over recent comments by Superintendent Cheryl James-Ward about Asian-American academic performance. “The community isn’t seeing eye to eye.”

Allman suggested appointing a trustee from the Asian-American community.

Muir agreed that with an appointment, there is an opportunity to have Asian-American representation on the board.

“We saw the Asian people tonight,” Muir said. “They do need a voice. And this is where we can make that happen.”

“I think not having a trustee … representing those people, I don’t think that’s right for those people,” she added.

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