Citing “work and personal obligations” as the genesis for her early departure, trustee Teresa Murillo resigned from the Morgan Hill Unified School District’s Board of Education in a self-penned Dec. 7 notification.
Murillo, a first-term trustee who ran unopposed for the Trustee Area 7 seat in 2016, has two years remaining on her four-year term. Her resignation comes almost exactly one month after the Nov. 6 election, in which five new trustees were elected to the MHUSD board. Her last day on the board will be Jan. 31, 2019.
“It is with difficulty that I must resign as a trustee from the Morgan HIll Unified School District,” Murillo wrote. “I am certain that you, as a new board will continue the support of schools toward great improvements. I also feel very confident that you will choose an excellent new board member to finish the remaining two years of my term as there are several excellent potential candidates from Area 7.”
With Murillo’s resignation, the school board—which will swear in the five new members at its Dec. 11 meeting—must decide whether to appoint a replacement or order a special election to let the voters decide who will finish out the last two years of the Trustee Area 7 seat.
Murillo’s term expires December 2020.
This marks the second time in the last two years and third in the last four years that a MHUSD board member has resigned before their elected term expired. More recently, former trustee Tom Arnett prematurely left the board after deciding to move out of town. In 2015, former trustee Amy Porter stepped down under duress.
Murillo addressed her departure letter to MHUSD Trustees and Supt. Steve Betando. She also filed it with the Santa Clara County Office of Education Supt. Mary Ann Dewan, who accepted her resignation.
In accordance with Education Code 5091(a), the board has 60 days from the effective date of resignation to order an election or make a provisional appointment to fill the vacant seat. The 60-day time frame will end April 1, 2019.
If the board chooses to appoint Murillo’s replacement, “the registered voters of the district may, within 30 days from the date of the appointment, petition for the conduct of a special election to fill the vacancy,” according to the school district staff report. If that happens, the TA7 seat would appear on the June 2019 ballot and could cost “as much as $345,000,” according to staff.
Since Murillo ran unopposed and there was no runner-up in the 2016 election, staff recommends an application process with interviews from a candidate pool. Murillo’s replacement must also reside within the Trustee Area 7 boundaries.
“If the Board orders an election. …the District would pay a portion of the cost of an election, which would be approximately $65,000,” according to staff. “A Stand-Alone Special Election would cost the District approximately $450,000.”