San Dieguito Union High School District President Amy Herman passed the gavel to new President Beth Hergesheimer at the Dec. 14 organizational meeting but it was not without some drama.
Following public input that the board should consider rotating officer positions and taking turns in leadership roles, trustee John Salazar nominated Mo Muir. He said in his eight years on the board he has never been offered the position as president, he didn’t necessarily want it, but thought Muir ought to have her turn as they are the only two members on the board to have never served as president.
The motion was seconded by Torrey Pines High School student representative Isaac Gelman but the vote did not pass.
“You can’t even let Mrs. Muir be president?” Salazar asked his fellow board members after the vote. “Why? Because she doesn’t agree with you politically? It’s a ceremonial position anyway.”
“It’s extremely disappointing,” Salazar continued. “What you’re going to do is vote one of yourself president and you’ve all been it. That is just ridiculous. You three have the power and that’s the way it’s going to be and you don’t care about myself and you don’t care about Mrs. Muir….let’s not BS each other and say let’s all work together for what’s best for the school district because what’s best for the school district is having a new person be board president and have a different perspective on things.”
Hergesheimer said generally in the past, the president has served an officer role prior to taking on the president position. Herman also stated she disagreed with Salazar’s description of the role as a “ceremonial position.”
“We do each have one equal vote but it does come with a lot of responsibility,” said Herman, who served a number of years as vice president and as clerk. “There’s a lot to learn and I learned a lot, this being the only time I’ve served as president.”
Salazar said he believed that Muir was “highly qualified” as she has served on the board for four years and for two terms on the Encinitas Union School Board prior to that.
Cole Gonzales, the student representative from San Dieguito High School Academy, offered his perspective as an observer.
“Just from listening from all of your different opinions, I think Mrs. Herman is the most centrist person on here. You’re the hardest person to read so I think you’re probably the most qualified for being president even if maybe you lean toward one side over the other,” Cole said. “I also think it’s just natural for the person who kind of sides with the majority to be the president, that’s how it works for most levels of government.”
“I would agree and I think at the same time, it’s almost always a positive thing to shake up, I don’t see any negative,” Isaac added, noting that Herman learned the role of president fairly quickly and he didn’t see it as necessary for a president to have held another position first if they are willing to serve.
Both Herman and Joyce Dalessandro said they did not want to serve as president this year and when nominated, Hergesheimer said she was willing and able: “At this point, this is what I consider my job so I would accept.”
Salazar voted against Hergesheimer as she has already served in the role. He then nominated Muir for vice president – the vote carried. Dalessandro was elected clerk.