|Posted on 1/25/2016 6:41:00 AM.|
(Seguin) -- The Seguin ISD District 7 seat is no longer vacant. The school board during a special meeting Friday afternoon appointed Carol Sewell to the position. Sewell and a second candidate Lori Osborne were both considered for the job.
The action comes after the board on Jan. 12 was unable to make a decision between the two original candidates who had officially applied for consideration. They included Glenda Moreno, a former Seguin ISD school principal and Louis Ramirez, the president of the Seguin-Guadalupe County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
At that time, the board announced that it would later meet to make a selection. District 4 Trustee John Holt says he initiated the special meeting to fill the vacancy as soon as possible. He says soon after that, he was contacted by Osborne who was asked to be considered for the job. Holt says even Sewell's inquiry and attendance at the meeting was a surprise for him and other members of the board. Sewell's request for consideration was made to District 3 Trustee Craig Thomas. Holt says the board's decision was never a direct insult to either Moreno or Ramirez.
"We don't feel there's anything wrong with those candidates. They're very well qualified candidates to fill the slot. At the time that we met last week, we felt we needed more time to discuss the candidates. We still didn't want to discount anybody who was willing. The increased coverage by the media -- the fact that we didn't select somebody, the other two advocates specifically stated to me, they wanted to see if they can be a help because we didn't make a decision they didn't know if they -- I don't want to speak for Mrs. Sewell, but I do know in her interview that she did state some things that would be reasoning why she wasn't able to put her name in the hat at the time because of the media coverage and the fact of what we spoke about. She said look "I think I will be able to now with the situation -- I don't want to go into her (response) -- it's a personal thing and I'm not going to discuss her personal (story of) why she decided to put her name in the hat. You have to take everything into consideration. As a board member, it's my job to listen to all the people and make it an effective decision that will benefit the community as a whole," said Holt.
Holt says despite formally accepting candidates, the board felt it was important to consider all potential individuals who had an interest in serving.
"They each had reasons for why they contacted us and requested their names be put in a hat. The fact that we did not want to take anybody from District 7 and not give them the ability to have their opportunity to serve in the solution of fulfilling the vacancy -- I told Mr. Flores that I think we should consider those applicants as well. So that's the reason we brought them in here and interviewed them as well today. We could go out and we can actually take a vote," said Holt.
Holt says he admits to have publicly supported Moreno in the beginning. However on Friday, he couldn't overlook Sewell's contribution to the Boerne ISD where she served as a district volunteer with a reading program and as a substitute teacher.
"I actually felt Mrs. Sewell has some things to bring in from outside and this is strictly John Holt speaking as my personal self, not as any other board member or nothing that was discussed. I felt that Mrs. Sewell when she did her interview, she basically stated some things I really appreciate now and are dear to my heart -- like bringing in volunteers from the community and reading with kids. She worked heavily with the STARS program in Boerne and if you can recall any media coverage in Boerne, they're at a 100 percent passing rate on STARS. That's amazing. Reading is dear to my heart, primarily because my wife is a librarian and she knows the problems within the district (with) the reading. Did that sway my vote from Glenda? No, Glenda has been in Seguin. She only knows Seguin -- okay, which is good, that's a good thing. She knows everything that's going on within Seguin. Mrs. Sewell, I don't want to divulge any personal information that she may or may not want to share, but in her interview, she stated some things that actually I was like that's a good way to look at it. I am always looking for new ways to better this district," said Holt.
Board President Ishmael Flores defended the board's actions thus far as well as the deliberation of the two additional candidates on Friday. He says despite what some may claim happened in closed session during the last meeting, he is confident in the board's handling of the appointment.
"The contrary to what social media has been saying as to these specific special interest groups and specific people, there's no voting allowed in the back. I've been on the board for close to 17 years and there has never been anything questioned. We've always gone to executive session in all the years that I've been on, has never been questioned. (There are) certain people that are strictly questioning this and enough is enough. Nothing was done illegal. There was discussion like any other interview process is done in any organization. So obviously the deliberation ended up in -- nobody could make a clear choice, bottom line. Nobody could make a clear choice. So then, we needed more time and as I'm sure Mr. Holt indicated, there was two board members that requested that we have another special meeting and discuss all the candidates again," said Flores.
Flores admits that neither Moreno or Ramirez were contacted about the special meeting. He says the overall process for the board this entire time has simply been to appoint someone to the seat.
"We did the process already. But no, did we tell them 'hey come back to this board meeting because we're going to make a decision?' No, because no one knew if we were going to or not. This was a deliberation and like I said, two board members wanted to discuss it some more and unfortunately, one of the board members couldn't make it. The request was (from) two board members. It was an agenda item so we had to put a special board meeting for that," said Flores.
The district's legal counsel Ben Castillo justified the board's actions and stated that "everyone who lives in District 7 that qualifies is eligible" through this appointment process.
Flores says he responds in advance to anyone who might even suggest that the board's actions were illegal or were due to a person's ethnicity.
"So if people are contacting you in regards to ethnicity, then we've got bigger problems here, okay? We selected (and) appointed an individual that we felt is going to work with the district, with the board and as an appointment. Ethnicity wasn't even considered in my vote," said Flores.
Not present at the meeting was Trustee Louis Reyes. Sewell, fills the vacancy left behind by former Trustee Nancy Ayotte, who resigned in August due to illness. Sewell will remain in office until the board's next regular election scheduled for November.
|Seguin ISD, District 7|