San Dieguito appoints Ty Humes to vacant board seat

SDUHSD President Mo Muir gives the oath of office to new trustee Ty Humes.
(Michael Allman)

Carmel Valley’s Ty Humes, a district parent and former president of the Del Mar Schools Education Foundation, was appointed the new Area 5 trustee of the San Dieguito Union High School District on April 22.

In a meeting that stretched for over six hours, the board interviewed seven candidates for the vacant board seat including Humes, Jeffrey Adler, Julie Bronstein, Alan Kholos, David Snodgrass, Vic Wintriss and Lea Wolf.

“This is the toughest decision we’ve ever had,” said President Mo Muir. “We were so lucky we had so many people who were so qualified.”

The board narrowed the field to their top three candidates and Humes was the only one to be in all four trustees’ top three. With unanimous support for his appointment, he was sworn onto the board shortly before midnight.

“We had seven excellent applicants,” said Trustee Katrina Young. “Any one could have brought their own unique skills but I’m excited for what Mr. Humes will bring to our district.”

In his open session interview, Humes described himself as a “paradigm pioneer,” a collaborator and a go-getter. Humes said he sees his role on the board as an opportunity to make a difference and to put the “already magnificent” district in a position to be even more successful.

New SDUHSD board member Ty Humes
(Courtesy of SDUHSD)

In his application, Humes wrote that he hopes to correct the board’s lack of diversity by having a “male of color who has diligently and comprehensively served this community.”

Humes has been a resident of the district for 14 years and is the parent of a Torrey Pines freshman—his son is a fifth grader at Ocean Air and a future SDUHSD student so he expects to be invested in the district for years to come.

A corporate entrepreneur with experience building companies and culture, Humes is the CFO and part owner of Sercagene, a biotech pharmaceutical company in Carmel Valley and an executive global head of business development at Wondros, Inc., an international creative agency.

Humes is also an active participant in the Area 5 community: He served on the board for the Del Mar Little League, coaches Master Sports basketball, is a Torrey Pines dance dad, and is a coach for Friday Night Lights flag football where over 98% of team families have a child in SDUHSD middle and high schools.

In their votes in support, the board said they admired Humes’ passion for children, his vision and his ability to bring people together under difficult circumstances. During public comment Encinitas resident Julie Hinze also spoke in favor of Humes’ appointment.

“He has exceptional depth of experience, insight, devotion and skill to put our students first. He is a capable voice to add to the board with true, lived experience and practical solutions,” Hinze said. “It is important to have a person of color in your ranks. The students of color in your district deserve to have him in a leader position…He’s without question the right person for this moment in history.”

With his appointment, Humes will serve the remainder of Kristin Gibson’s term, through November 2022.

Some members of the public had opposed the board using the appointment process as they said the fairest and most equitable way to select a new trustee would be to hold a special election. San Dieguito’s Area 5 has around 26,000 registered voters and according to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters, the costs of a special election ranged from $450,000 to $650,000.

Concerned residents said an appointment, while being the more “frugal” option, could carry the perception of board member bias and takes away the public’s right to vote for a candidate that reflects their values.

“An election would ensure a more honest and representative result,” Ronette Youmans said.

Prior to the board appointment, some members of the public and the San Dieguito Faculty Association expressed their intentions to force a special election. Once an appointment has been made, the public has 30 days to petition for a special election with the county office of education, gathering signatures representing 1.5% of the district area. In this case, 399 signatures would be required. Once the signatures are verified, the appointee would be removed and a special election scheduled.

In December 2017, a group of Rancho Santa Fe School District parents forced a special election following the third board member appointment in six years. It was the first successful petition of its kind in San Diego County since 1994 and a mail ballot special election was held about three months later in April 2018. The appointed board member was not elected and the elected board member did not run for re-election that November.

Parent Seema Burke said she was disappointed in the “grandstanding” about a special election petition before an appointment had been made, particularly given the quality of the candidates who stepped forward.

“I would ask that people think carefully before taking such an action and also look at who was appointed and their credentials,” Burke said. “Listen to them speak and have an open mind before having the district write a check for half a million dollars.”