Following oaths of office Antioch School Board elects Lewis president on split vote

New AUSD Area 2 Trustee Dr. Jag Lathan takes her ceremonial oath of office administered by her aunt Antoinette Walker Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022. Lathan was officially sworn by Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe on Monday, Dec. 12 with Area 1 Trustee Antonio Hernandez in attendance (inset). Sources: Dec. 14 photo by Allen D. Payton. Video screenshot of Dec. 12 oath from Thorpe’s Twitter feed.

After giving impassioned speech of his accomplishments Board Vice President Hernandez passed over, but gets $1,200 he requested to participate in Latino water policy program on 4-1 vote

New Trustee Lathan unanimously elected board’s new vice president; given official oath on Monday by Mayor Thorpe

2023 Antioch School Board President Dr. Clyde Lewis. Herald file photo

By Allen D. Payton

Re-elected Antioch School Board Trustee Mary Rocha who now represents Area 5 and new Area 2 Trustee Dr. Jag Lathan were given their oaths of office during the board meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022. Lathan’s was ceremonial as, according to a tweet by Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe, he gave the official oath of office to her on Monday, Dec. 12 with Area 1 Trustee and then-Board Vice President Antonio Hernandez in attendance.

During the reorganization of the board, Area 3 Trustee Dr. Clyde Lewis was elected board president on a 3-2 vote. Lathan and Hernandez voted no. Prior to the vote the Area 1 trustee made an impassioned speech pleading with his colleagues to elect him president but was bypassed for the position. Hernandez is the third board vice president who has been bypassed for the presidency in the past several years, including former Trustees Debra Vinson and Crystal Sawyer-White, whom the board bypassed twice.

When the item of reorganizing the board came up on the agenda, Rocha nominated Lewis to be board president saying, “since he was passed over last time under concerns of business affiliations so, at this time I feel it’s proper he continue in that position.” Last year, when then-Board Vice President Lewis declined to be nominated for the presidency citing “some family challenges” and “family caregiving that came up.” Hernandez then offered himself for the position that night, but instead, Area 4 Trustee Gary Hack was elected board president, also on a split, 3-2 vote and Hernandez was elected vice president on a 5-0 vote.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Hack seconded Rocha’s motion. During discussion Lathan said, “Considering Vice President Hernandez is currently in the position it feels like a good succession plan would be to continue with that up to presidency.”

Re-elected and now Area 5 Trustee Mary Rocha takes her oath of office administered by then-Board President Gary Hack Wednesday night, Dec. 14, 2022. Photo by Allen D. Payton

Hernandez’s Pleas for Presidency Ignored

“For the same reasons, last year I offered to be, wanted to be president and I was told I didn’t have enough experience,” Hernandez said. “So, I did exactly that…I filled in the role of vice president. I got my Masters in Governance from the California School Boards Assocation. I’ve also done a lot of work on the school board such as passing, putting forth the equity policy. I worked on the student board member policy, crafting that policy, putting forward the trauma and grief response committee. I worked on creating inclusive language in our policies. I’ve worked on putting forward actual ideas to make more inclusive LGBTQ policies and initiatives. I’ve spoken at events…I’ve worked to elevate the discourse here,  in this district as many of you have seen the way that I make sure we’re elevating and talking about data-driven initiatives, making sure that we’re doing everything that we can and working to improve as a district and building upon the work that we’re doing.”

“I was recently elected as a WELL Fellow, for a water policy fellowship, where I competed against elected officials across the state and was selected for this prestigious fellowship,” he continued. “I’ve served on boards before and I know I can do the work, here,”

“What message are we sending to our students when that was the reasoning why I was not selected as board president?” Hernandez asked. “I went out. I did the work. I’m going to be here to fight for students, plain and simple.”
“When we talk about vulnerable students, talk about families that are struggling, that was me in school, that was my family,” he stated. “My family’s here, tonight. They’ve had those experiences, so, they’ve worked those service jobs.”

“What message are we sending to students if we don’t select me as board president?” Hernandez asked, again. “Because I did the work. I put it forward and I’m ready to serve this school district and that’s a message we need to be sending out to our students.”

“Now, everyone here is happy to make whatever decisions they want to make,” he continued. “But I needed that message to be out there, and I need people to understand what the decisions we make reflect on this school district.”

Lewis Elected President on 3-2 Vote

Ignoring Hernandez’s pleas, Rocha called for action to be taken on the motion.

Hack then asked for the vote, “one by one”.

When Lathan was called upon to vote she responded, “Trustee Vice President Hernandez”.

She was corrected by district staff and Hack. “You vote on the motion.”

“Oh, no,” Lathan said.

Lewis and Rocha each voted yes, followed by Hernandez voting no, and Hack voting yes, and the motion passed on a 3-2 vote.

Hernandez has been an ally of Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe who backed Rocha’s opponent, Dominique King, in the November election.

After the meeting Lewis said, “I felt like some of the comments tonight were directed at me and that’s fine. I understand. I think to be on the board there needs to be a certain caliber of person and the members are all high caliber. I look forward to working with the entire board to serve the students, their parents, the faculty, staff and community.”

Lathan Elected Board VP on 5-0 Vote

The election for board vice president was next with Hernandez nominating Lathan saying, “I think she brings the most experience we’ve ever had on this board when it comes to the background of education. She has experience both as a teacher, principal, administrative and on the county Board of Education. I think she will make a fantastic addition to this team and will continue to elevate the discourse in this school district.”

Rocha seconded the motion and without any discussion it passed 5-0 with all trustees voting yes.

“Congratulations to the two of you,” Hack said.

After explaining the role, Hernandez was then re-elected as the district’s Liaison to the County School Boards Association on 5-0 vote following the motion by Hack and seconded by Rocha.

$1,200 Request by Hernandez for Latino Water Policy Program Approved on 4-1 Vote

Later in the meeting, Hernandez was successful in receiving a $1,200 increase in his individual Board Trustee Training Allocation budget. As previously reported, the funds are to cover the costs for his participation in Water Education for Latino Leaders (WELL) UnTapped Fellowship Program, a water policy program for Latino elected officials, he mentioned earlier as one of his accomplishments. Hernandez was selected as part of the 2023 class.

“They only ever select a handful of school board trustees,” he argued. “It’s easy for people to think that water policy only belongs in the hands of the city. But we are a large organization and school districts are large organizations that use water. The health and safety of our water is something that students interact with all the time…I view education, environment and all these things as all interconnected into the health of our students.”

Hernandez asked the board for the one-time increase over and above the $3,000 they each receive, “so I can continue in serving as a role model for our students as a lifelong learner.”

Rocha challenged the additional funds for Hernandez saying, “I want to congratulate you…you’ve been selected to this…fellowship. But water policy is not an educational thing that we are dealing with and I don’t know that I can support taxpayers’ money going toward to educate you on water policy that is not school education.”

“I’m going to be voting against it,” she added.

“I can’t make it any clearer how connected water is to education than what I did before,” Hernandez responded.

With no additional questions or comments from the other trustees, on a motion by Hernandez and seconded by Lewis, the additional funds were approved on a 4-1 vote with Rocha the sole no vote.

“Thank you. I appreciate it,” Hernandez said following the vote.

After the meeting Lewis was asked why he voted for the additional training funds requested by Hernandez. The new board president said, “Because we don’t have a policy about how we use our funds. I’m going to bring to the board a discussion of how we use Trustee Training Allocation budget funds.”


the attachments to this post:

Jag Lathan oaths of office 12-13 & 14-22

Dr Clyde Lewis

Rocha oath of office 12-14-22

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