Terri Eves Knudsen on July 2 announced her resignation from the Morgan Hill Unified School District Board of Trustees, nearly two years into her four-year term. 

Knudsen said she is resigning for health reasons and due to her plans to move outside MHUSD boundaries. Her last MHUSD board meeting will be Aug. 13. 

Terri Eves Knudsen

Knudsen was elected in November 2022 to represent Trustee Area 3 on the board. Her current term ends in December 2026.

Although Knudsen wrote in her resignation letter to the county superintendent that she intended to step down in time to allow her replacement to be selected by the voters in the Nov. 5 election, her announcement did not give the district or elections officials enough time to schedule a special election for Trustee Area 3 this year. 

According to California Education Code, a special election for a vacant school board seat must occur at least 130 days after the announcement of vacancy, attorney Harold Freiman told the MHUSD board at a July 9 special meeting. Knudsen’s July 2 announcement was 126 days before the Nov. 5 election—just outside the minimum timeline required by state law. 

The board decided at the July 9 meeting, on a motion from Trustee John Horner, to appoint a provisional replacement for Knudsen. The board voted 5-2 to support that motion, with Knudsen and Trustee Pamela Gardiner voting no. 

The July 9 meeting was scheduled solely to discuss and consider the board’s options to replace Knudsen.

The board still could have opted to hold a special election for the remainder of Knudsen’s term, which was the preference of several members of the public who spoke July 9. However, the earliest a special election could take place would be the March 2025 election, according to Freiman. 

Most of the trustees balked at the potential cost of a special election, which could be in the range of $500,000-$2 million, according to district staff who have been discussing the matter with county elections officials. 

Knudsen said she would prefer to determine a more accurate estimate of the cost of a special election before deciding between an appointment or special election for her seat. 

Trustee Ivan Rosales Montes added that he was concerned that keeping a seat vacant on the seven-member board from August to March might impact the board’s ability to conduct business. 

With the board’s choice to go with a provisional replacement, the district will soon release details on the timeline for that process. Horner and other trustees noted that the district should move quickly in order to give applicants enough time to respond. 

Horner proposed a deadline of Aug. 20 for interested applicants to apply for the Trustee Area 3 seat. He also suggested the board schedule a meeting for Aug. 27 for trustees to interview those applicants in public—also a required part of the process. 

Applicants must meet specific eligibility requirements to serve on the board, chief among them that they reside within the boundaries of Trustee Area 3 of MHUSD. 

After the board appoints a new trustee among the field of applicants, that appointee will serve provisionally in the seat for 30 days. Within 30 days of the appointment, voters in Trustee Area 3 have the right to petition for a special election, Freiman explained. If that petition is successful, the board’s appointment would be struck down and a special election (in March 2025) for the seat would take place instead. 

If there is no such viable petition, the appointee will serve the remainder of Knudsen’s term. Whether the new trustee is appointed or selected by the voters, they would face reelection in the November 2026 general election. 

Before voting on their options at the July 9 meeting, the board heard from members of the public who sought to offer input. 

Anahita Yazdi, a parent of a Paradise Valley Elementary student, said that an appointment of a new trustee by the board would “undermine our voices and the foundation of our democratic system,” and a special election is the best way to ensure transparency and fairness in the process. 

Jim Levis, President of the Morgan Hill Federation of Teachers, also asked the board to hold a special election for Knudsen’s replacement. 

“The additional cost is more than justified for the public,” Levis said. 

Knudsen said she is resigning due to health chalenges that have led her to relocate in search of a more accessible home. Her family recently found a house that is outside the Morgan Hill area, and is closer to her children and grandchildren. 

She said during her time on the board, she has sought to rein in the district’s deficit spending and improve the board’s evaluation process for the superintendent. 

“In both those areas we have a ways to go,” Knudsen said. 

Before her election to the board, Knudsen was involved in MHUSD as a parent, volunteer and employee. That experience includes volunteering and raising money for home and school clubs, approving plans and budgets for site councils and experience as a teacher librarian for Britton Middle School as well as Live Oak and Sobrato High Schools. 

In her July 2 resignation letter to Santa Clara County Schools Superintendent Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, Knudsen wrote, “I have greatly enjoyed my experience on the school board and am thankful for the learning opportunities I have had. I am honored to have represented my district and worked to provide support to improve our educational system for all of our students, families and district staff.”

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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.

1 COMMENT

  1. The majority Trustees acted prudent in opting the appointment option. The District is facing a $5 million budget deficit due to lagging revenue from Sacramento and the increases in the cost for everything due to high inflation and high interest rates. The estimated cost for a Special Election that would take place in March 2025 was a staggering $500,000 to $2 million, and it was coming out of the General Fund. It was a wise choice to save that money to spend it in the classrooms while at the same time avoid increasing the budget deficit.

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