School board hopes to appoint Llanusa successor by Feb. 2

by Mick Rhodes | editor@claremont-courier.com

The Claremont Unified School District Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday to appoint a successor to its former president Steven Llanusa, who resigned December 10.

The new board member will likely be sworn in February 2.

Applications for the vacant Trustee Area 4 seat are available at the district website, cusd.claremont.edu. Completed applications must be submitted Elsasser’s office by 3 p.m. Friday, January 13.

The decision at the board’s December 15 meeting followed a head spinning two weeks in which Llanusa, a 17-year member of the CUSD Board, stepped down after mounting pressure from the public and a de facto vote of no confidence from his colleagues on the board. The fall stemmed from perceived impropriety at Llanusa’s December 3 holiday party at which shirtless adult male entertainers were present alongside underage members of the Claremont High School Choir.

The Claremont Unified School District Board of Education, including (L-R) Claremont High School Student Board Member Alexander Chang, Richard O’Neill, Kathryn Dunn, Bob Fass and Kathy Archer, at its Thursday, December 15 meeting. COURIER photo/Matt Weinberger

The school board, which also reorganized Thursday, naming Kathy Archer president, Bob Fass vice president, Jim Elsasser treasurer, and Kathryn Dunn clerk, had two options to choose from in filling the vacant seat: a special election, or an appointment. The former would cost the district between $200,000 and $250,000, Elsasser said, because the filing period for Los Angeles County’s March 2023 election has passed, and CUSD would therefore have to foot the bill for a stand-alone special election.

“Therefore, after careful consideration of options, fiscal implications, and timelines, it is recommended that the board take action to follow a provisional appointment procedure … to fill the vacancy for the first two years of the four-year term,” Elsasser said.

The board agreed, voting unanimously to approve the recommendation to form a subcommittee made up of President Archer, Vice President Fass, and Elsasser to vet the applicants. Applicants must be 18 years old, registered to vote in Claremont, and have their primary residence within the boundaries of Trustee Area 4.

The board subcommittee will meet on Tuesday, January 17 to review the applications, and the CUSD Board of Education will hold a special meeting to conduct interviews in open session at 4 p.m. Wednesday, January 18.

Every eligible candidate will be brought to the entire board to be interviewed, Elsasser said.

“If the board makes an appointment after interviews that same evening, it is anticipated that the new board member would be sworn in and seated at the February 2 regularly scheduled board of education meeting,” Elsasser said.

The appointee will be up for reelection in December 2024, as will Archer and Fass.

Several members of the public who addressed the board at its December 15 meeting recommended it appoint Aaron Peterson to the vacant seat. Peterson was a close runner up to Llanusa in the November 8 election, winning 1,644 votes to Llanusa’s 1,960.

But the provisional appointment process is not that simple.

“To the best of my knowledge, we have to go through this process of hearing from qualified candidates and interviewing them in order to select a candidate, but not simply appoint one candidate based on a former election result,” Fass said. “We have to go through a process of hearing from all our community members in order to give everyone a fair chance.”

1 Comment

  1. SHIRLEY JOHNSTON

    So didn’t AARON T. PETERSON get a huge amount of votes for this position. Actual Claremont residents voted for him. He was the runner up for this position. By default the position should go to him. Thats fair. Just an opinion!

Submit a Comment

Share This