Rodriguez leaves role, citing marginalization by fellow trustees
Comischell Rodriguez has stepped down from her post as president of the Del Mar Union School District Board of Trustees, citing her fellow board members' lack of support, violations of protocol and "petty power struggles."
"I'm basically board president in title only because the other board members do the job as they see fit," Rodriguez said. "I needed to step aside and let someone else be president. ... I just think it's probably better to let another board member take it from here."
Rodriguez made the announcement via e-mail sent Monday morning to interim Superintendent James Peabody and the media — she said she did it that way to avoid being disruptive at the April 28 board meeting.
"I just wanted (the meeting) to be as smooth as possible," Rodriguez said.
At Wednesday's meeting, held after press time, board clerk Steven McDowell was expected to run the meeting, per board protocol. The board must elect the new board president at a later meeting when the item has been put on the agenda and the public is properly notified.
Although no longer president, Rodriguez will continue to serve on the board.
"I am still going to be there with the same amount of energy and enthusiasm for the district as before," Rodriguez said.
Trustee Katherine White was caught off-guard Monday morning about Rodriguez's decision and had not seen the e-mail Rodriguez had sent when contacted by this newspaper.
"She is surely entitled to her own opinion. I have a lot of respect for someone who understands when to say 'no,' " White said. "I respect it if Comischell feels (serving as board president) is not the right thing to do. I don't see anything the board did (wrong), but that doesn't mean she doesn't feel that way."
In her letter, Rodriguez said that when she was nominated for the presidency in December 2009, she "politely rejected" the post, asking to gain another year in experience — she had been elected to a two-year term in late 2008. But the majority of board members promised their support, so she accepted the position.
Rodriguez said things had been going well up until the point of her "no" vote in the recent dismissal of Superintendent Sharon McClain. She said the board previously had been able to work together even though it didn't always agree, but she said she feels her vote in the McClain decision was the trigger for a change in the way the board dealt with her.
In her letter, Rodriguez wrote that she felt isolated and that board members have attempted to exclude her from closed session conversations and have signed official documents without authorization. She said board members meet with legal counsel without authorization and communicate with the "whole board at will," violating protocol.
"It appears that there is no way to agree to disagree, and that because of a difference of opinion, I have been marginalized," Rodriguez wrote in her e-mail. "Ensuring that the children of our district continue to receive the finest education possible is my number one priority. I believe the distractions of petty power struggles and nit-