Citing union contributions, EGUSD Parent Coalition launches recall of Trustee Chaires-Espinoza

Erin Somers (fourth from left), president of EGUSD Parent Coalition during news conference
announcing recall effort against Trustee Nancy Chaires-Espinoza. | 

Trustee pushes back, says opponents "intentionally spreading misinformation"

At a Tuesday afternoon news conference, the EGUSD Parent Coalition formally launched their recall effort against Elk Grove Unified School Dsitrict Area 6 Trustee Nancy Chaires-Espinoza. During the conference, proponents cited campaign contributions received from the Elk Grove Education Association (EGEA) as the primary motivator of the recall attempt.

The EGEA is the collective bargaining unit for district teachers, and in 2016 they funded about half of Chaires Espinoza's campaign. Although the donations were legal, the EGUSD Parent Coalition contends they are a conflict of interest and that Chaire-Espinoza is beholden to the teacher's union.

"During her 2016 campaign, Chaires-Espinoza raised $69,999; approximately 50-percent, $34,725 of campaign funding came from EGEA," president of the EGUSD Parent Coalition Erin Somers read from the recall notice. "In addition, 91-percent of Chaires-Espinoza's contributions came from political committees, while only four percent come from individual donors."

Somer claimed these donations have caused Chaires-Espinoza to act in the interest of the teachers' union at the expense of students and parents. She added that Chaires-Espinoza has "mocked and denied parent inclusion in school reopening plans and voted to limit parent and student voices during the board meetings (see video below)."

During questioning, the organizers said to qualify for a ballot,18,278 district-wide voter signatures are required by November 17. Should they qualify, the school district has about three months to schedule an election. 

Additionally, Somers said the group hopes to tap into its 1,200 members to gather signatures and has no current plan to hire professional signature gatherers. Somers added they might form a political action committee to fund the effort.  

In response to the recall effort, Chaires-Espinoza said the EGUSD Parent Coalition is "intentionally spreading misinformation" and is shameful.

“I’m one of seven EGUSD Board Members who jointly had to make difficult decisions during a global pandemic, following guidance from health authorities," Chaires-Espinoza said in the statement (see below). "The suggestion that I have any individual authority is completely false, as are the rest of the allegations being made."

Chaires has served as Trustee since her appointment to a vacancy in 2015. In 2016 she won her seat in a two candidate race and was unchallenged in 2020. 

During the news conference, Somers and other group members were asked why Chaires-Espinoza was the only trustee targeted. Answering that question was Joel Boyd, who said this was not about the board's decision to close the district last year and the reopening process but reiterated the union campaign contributions. 

"This is about her conflict of interest, her campaign contributions, her loyalty to the teachers union," he said. Boyd, who resides in Area 6, claimed Chaires-Espinoza did not respond to his email inquiries and insisted on verifying his residency in the area boundaries.  

Boyd added. "We need to have people on the school board that are responsive to the constituents of the Elk Grove Unified School District and also the Elk Grove community at large."


Chaires-Espinoza statement
“I’m one of seven EGUSD Board Members who jointly had to make difficult decisions during a global pandemic, following guidance from health authorities. The suggestion that I have any individual authority is completely false, as are the rest of the allegations being made. Intentionally spreading misinformation about the decision-making process for political reasons is shameful; It makes it harder for parents to effectively engage in the process. 

The pandemic has been an extremely trying time for many of us. I encourage people to channel their energies toward the constructive support of our children and youth instead of playing into the desires of a handful of individuals with a political agenda.

I will continue to focus on my work for Elk Grove Unified students and to solicit input from parents -especially those from underrepresented groups—to inform our decisions.”

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Neo Elk Grove said...

Relying on volunteers to gather the signatures is a big order, especially over the summer vacation months.

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