County: Irvine petition has enough valid signatures to force special school board election

When Dr. Gavin Huntley-Fenner announced in October that he was resigning from the IUSD Board of Education, fellow board members had to decide whether to hold a special election that would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars or make a provisional appointment for the one-year balance of the term.

They chose the latter option, selecting former Finance Committee member Ira Glasky for the post on Nov. 21.

But a petition began circulating the following month to overturn the board’s decision by forcing a special election. Indeed, registered voters are allowed 30 days to challenge the process, and in this case they needed to collect at least 1,642 valid signatures, which amounts to 1.5 percent of the number of voters in the 2012 board election. On Jan. 22, the Orange County Department of Education announced that petitioners had in fact gathered enough signatures.

The provisional appointment has therefore been terminated, and the seat will remain vacant pending a special election on June 3. Because it’s tied to a statewide primary, the cost has been estimated between $152,843 and $194,079.

In a column that ran recently in the Irvine World News, Board of Education President Sharon Wallin noted that Glasky’s appointment was made in strict accordance with the state Education Code — and intended to prevent spending hundreds of thousands of dollars from the general fund.

“My board colleagues and I proudly chose the path that any fiscally responsible public agency would pursue … and we took it a step further by establishing a selection process that was transparent, inclusive and thorough,” she wrote. “Agreement isn’t always easy on a board that features a diversity of voices and opinions, but we worked together to find a public servant who would be unbiased and open-minded.”