Petition succeeds, forcing special election for CUSD board seat

by Mick Rhodes |

A special election to fill the now vacant Trustee Area 4 seat on the Claremont Unified School District’s Board of Education will go forward.

The Los Angeles Department of Education notified CUSD Superintendent Jim Elsasser Wednesday morning that the petition drive to force the election had 102 valid signatures, three more than the apparent required amount of 99.

The notification also meant Hilary LaConte, who was appointed by to the board of education January 18, was immediately removed, returning it to a four-member body.

The special election, which will cost an estimated $273,000, will now go forward on a Tuesday prior to July 29. The winner of that election will serve through December 2026.

“My provisional appointment to the school board followed precedent,” LaConte told the Courier on Wednesday. “The responsibility of the board, as representatives of our citizenry, is to make decisions that allow for the stable functioning of the board, and thus the district. And they did that. Learning this morning that the petition was successful felt, quite honestly, heartbreaking. For me, losing the opportunity to serve a district that I love is extremely disappointing. But even worse, the action causes true financial consequence to the district.”

The unusual turn of events was triggered in December when former CUSD Board of Education President Steven Llanusa resigned under pressure. The board appointed LaConte January 18, and a petition drive to force the district to instead hold an election, spearheaded by Joshua Rogers, began gathering steam.

It’s unclear who will now step forward to run for the open Trustee Area 4 seat, but it’s likely a slate of candidates will reveal itself in the coming days.

“Looking forward, the focus needs to remain on the quality of education and the care of our students,” LaConte said. “I urge the residents of Trustee Area 4 to carefully consider their options and vote for a candidate who supports Claremont public education, rather than a candidate who seeks to undermine community trust in governance and the work of the board, superintendent, and district. While we have an excellent educational system in Claremont there is always room for improvement, and we need to remain intent upon that work. I intend to remain engaged in volunteer activities with the schools and to support my district, our students, families, and employees to the best of my abilities.”

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.


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