Cesar T. Fernandez was selected to the Chula Vista Elementary School District Board of Education at the Aug. 21 special board meeting, replacing former board member Eduardo Reyes who resigned in July to apply for the current open position as the new superintendent. Fernandez is a Sweetwater Union High School District teacher on special assignment and SUHSD teachers’ union officer.
This appointment has come in contention with many parents, staff, and community members, as in community surveys indicated that due to its investigations in recent years for alleged financial mismanagement and its pay-to-play scandal, they did not want another board member from the Sweetwater Union High School District.
At the Sept. 8 board meeting in public comments, a group of parents were there collecting signatures to remove Fernandez from the seat and force a special election for the seat. The group must collect at least 2,824 signatures within 30 days.
Laura Loza said most parents do not believe their voices are being heard. She thanked board member Leslie Ray Bunker for her transparency by disclosing that she knew Fernandez from church.
“Even though she ended up supporting that candidate in the end, I felt she was transparent in disclosing this relationship for this person. For that I am grateful,” she said.
Loza said that she never heard any mention of the $300 that Board member Lucy Ugarte received from Fernandez for her election last year.
“At the point when you could have disclosed your relationship to him, I thought it would be relevant that you received $300 from him personally for your campaign,” she said. “You are both officers in the teacher’s union, or that the Sweetwater PAC gave the Chula Vista PAC $20,000, which in turn, gave you $20,000 last October. That is relevant information that would have protected your decision. I know that the Thought Exchange did not matter to several of you, as integrity, transparency, and special interests were the top three things that came back.”
“It is unfortunate that there are a few in the community that will not give me a chance to show my leadership skills for the students of this District. I put my heart into a transparent and grueling interview process. I was honest, clear, and authentic. A special election will cost $1.5 million to $3.5 million. Those that seek this as a remedy cannot claim that students are their priority. That would come out of the District’s general fund,” Fernandez said in a statement issued through the district.