Embattled school board president resigns

by Mick Rhodes | editor@claremont-courier.com

Embattled Claremont Unified School District Board of Education President Steven Llanusa has resigned.

The move, announced at 1:30 p.m. today, comes after a week in which several parents — and Llanusa’s four colleagues on CUSD’s Board of Education — asked for his resignation following widely reported allegations of misconduct at a recent holiday party at his home that included shirtless adult male entertainers and underage Claremont High students.

“Earlier today, Board Vice President Archer and I received a letter of resignation from Board member Steven Llanusa, effective immediately,” wrote CUSD Superintendent Jim Elsasser in an email to district parents. “In the very near future, the Board of Trustees will discuss the next steps for filling this vacant position. Thank you for your patience during this very difficult week.”

It’s not yet clear how or when the board will move to replace Llanusa, who had been a member for 17 years.

“The board can choose to call for a special election or they can go through a process to appoint a candidate for two years of the four year term,” Elsasser told the COURIER.

Former Claremont Unified Board of Education President Steven Llanusa. COURIER/Steven Felschundneff

The controversy boiled over this week after photos from the Saturday, December 3 party at Llanusa’s north Claremont home in the Claraboya district emerged showing shirtless men flexing their muscles and mugging for the camera, while members of the Claremont High School Choir — who were hired by Llanusa to perform at the event — were nearby.

Coverage of the story by the COURIER as well as Los Angeles-based television broadcast networks and other print media ramped up as the week progressed, reaching a crescendo at the Friday, December 9 special meeting of the CUSD Board.

Following that meeting, the CUSD Board issued this statement: “We are appalled by the allegations, which are understandably causing distraction, disruption and pain, as expressed in community members’ messages to the Board and Superintendent. Though the board cannot require Mr. Llanusa’s resignation, we encourage him to do so in order to begin the process of healing and returning our focus to students and their well-being.”

The statement was signed by CUSD Board Vice President Kathy Archer, clerk Bob Fass, and members Kathryn Dunn and Richard O’Neill.

Llanusa was not present at the meeting.

Board Vice President Kathy Archer also took the rare step of addressing questions from the audience Friday, stating for the record that no other current or past board members attended the party.

Reached via text Friday morning, Llanusa said “No comment,” before following up with another text a few minutes later stating, “On the advice of legal counsel I can not [sic] make any comments.” Texts sent today asking if would like to comment on his resignation were not returned.

Llanusa had served on the CUSD Board of Education since 2005. He was last reelected a little over a month ago, on November 8, when he defeated challenger Aaron Peterson.

Resignations are not new to the CUSD Board. Most recently, former member Beth Bingham stepped down in 2020 because she was moving out of Claremont.

This story is developing and will be updated as new information is available.

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  1. CUSD board appoints former member LaConte to vacant seat | The Claremont COURIER - […] former board member Hilary LaConte to fill the Trustee Area 4 seat vacated by Steven Llanusa, who resigned December…

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