A group of citizens collected more than enough signatures to initiate a recall election against two Sunnyside Unified School District Governing Board members.
The Sunnyside Recall Group 2013 turned in a combined 4,300-plus signatures of people who support recalling board President Louie Gonzales and board member Bobby Garcia.
Gonzales and Garcia, along with board member Eva Carrillo Dong, have been criticized for supporting embattled Superintendent Manuel Isquierdo.
Members of the recall group held a news conference Thursday at the Pima County School Superintendent’s Office, where they handed over the signatures.
The group collected about 2,200 signatures to recall Gonzales and more than 2,100 for Garcia.
They needed a minimum 1,345 signatures from registered voters who live in the district to force a recall election for each board member.
The county School Superintendent’s Office will process the signatures before sending the names to the county Recorder’s Office, where officials will have 60 days to verify them.
A recall election would likely happen in the spring, said Richard Hernandez, chairman of the recall group.
Once the petitions are verified, Garcia and Gonzales will have to decide if they’ll fight to keep their seats or step down.
The group’s quest to recall the board members began in July after Garcia, Gonzales and Dong approved a contract extension for Isquierdo.
Members of the group, as well as others in the community, objected to the extension, citing Isquierdo’s personal and legal problems that surfaced last spring, when he became a finalist for a similar position in San Antonio.
Those issues include unpaid taxes, a driver’s license suspension and filing for bankruptcy before he was scheduled to lose his Oro Valley home to foreclosure.
There have also been accusations of nepotism, bullying and corruption in the district in recent months, with some of the allegations coming from board members Daniel Hernandez Jr. and Buck Crouch.
Crouch and Hernandez are targets of an opposing recall drive. The deadline for those recall signatures is next month.
Both recall drives have created a division among board members, pitting those who support Isquierdo against those who oppose him.
The recall drives, and competing accusations, have led to many contentious board meetings in the past few months, with people from both sides criticizing one another.
On Thursday, leaders of the Sunnyside recall group said the signatures are proof the community wants to see a change in leadership at the school district.
“The community is speaking very loudly and clearly,” Richard Hernandez said.
The recall group’s biggest concerns are for the children and teachers, he said.
They also want to see fiscal responsibility from district administrators, he said. “It’s time for the community to know where every dollar is being spent.”
No one has stepped forward as a potential candidate, mostly because an official election hasn’t been called yet, he said.
Gonzales has continually defended his decision to extend the superintendent’s contract and expressed his desire to keep his seat.
He’s also shown a disdain for recall supporters, announcing at Tuesday’s Governing Board meeting that he wanted to see the list of recall signatures to find out who “stabbed me in the back.”