Antioch School Board Selects Gibson-Gray as Board President, Rocha as VP in Split Votes

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On Wednesday, the Antioch Unified School District Board of Trustees selected Diane Gibson-Gray as president of the board with Mary Rocha being named Vice President. The sections came in a split board decision.

Rocha made the motion to appoint Gibson-Gray for chair in which Trustee Ellie Householder stated she preferred Trustee Crystal Sawyer-White be board president for the upcoming year.

“Just based on the fact she hasn’t gotten to be the board president at all and in the last year she has gone to a ton of different trainings. I think I have just seen a huge growth in her knowledge of what is current in the district, what is going on at the state, the county,” stated Householder who added Gibson-Gray brings a wealth of knowledge being on the board for 9-years. “Out of fairness, its time to give somebody else a shot at being in the leadership position.”

Householder attempted to make a motion, but there was already a motion on the table that they needed to take action on.

Sawyer-White stated she thought there would be some consideration for her but was not surprised while suggesting Householder be vice president since she was not being nominated.

Gibson-Gay responded by explaining how at last years reorganization of the board, she wanted Sawyer-White to be vice president to spend the year learning but she walked out of the meeting early.

“I agree with Ellie, you have grown but its difficult to run the meetings if you haven’t been vice president, I help Gary (Hack) all the time,” stated Gibson-Gray. “I would like you (Sawyer-White) to be vice president and help mentor you for the presidency if you are willing. That is what I want to do.”

Sawyer-White responded in other districts that it was a rotation each year.

“I’ve been vice president, I hear what you are saying. We are in the 21st century. I’ve put a lot into this position,” stated Sawyer-White. “With Ellie, even though she is new to the board, we work well together.”

Householder contended she understood the idea of being vice president then president noting that Sawyer-White was the vice president at one point and completed the governance training and was very active in advocating for AUSD at the state level, the county level and attending things at other districts while learning.

“One point is I think she is extremely qualified to be president, and the other point is just fairness,” said Householder who added she didn’t understand why they were not giving everyone a fair shot.

Householder continued.

“We have a high African American student population here and I think it would be amazing to have a strong black woman in this position of leadership for the District,” said Householder.

Gibson-Gray reiterated her goal from last year about appointing Sawyer-White as vice president.

“I wanted Crystal to be the vice president but she was upset and walked out of the meeting. If she had stayed, that is what it would have been,” said Gibson-Gray. “She would have stayed in the vice presidency one more year and then she would be moving up.”

Householder replied.

“To have one bad day and we are judging somebody based on one bad day, could you imagine being attacked for the way you were born and the amount of melanin in your skin,” stated Householder.

Gibson-Gray replied she took “offense to that” while Hack and Rocha also took offense and objected to the statement.

“I am saying that is how she felt and that is why she left,” stated Householder.

The board then moved forward with Rocha’s motion for Gibson-Gray as president which passed in a 3-2 vote with Householder and Sawyer-White dissenting.

Gibson-Gray then nominated Sawyer-White for vice president. Sawyer-White then declined the opportunity and then nominated Householder as vice president.

“This is not about leadership, its about the students. I just think that once they look at how leadership has changed, its really empowersome for the students,” said Sawyer-White. “I am wishing for our graduate students of color to come back and teach in the district. I have many visions and its not about me.”

With a motion on the table, Sawyer-White declined being vice president which then killed the motion. Sawyer-White then nominated Householder.

The board then voted 2-2 with Hack and Sawyer-White in favor and Gibson-Gray and Rocha against with Householder abstaining. That killed that motion.

At that point, Gibson-Gray nominated Mary Rocha as vice president with a 3-2 vote with Householder and Sawyer-White dissenting.

To watch the exchange, the discussion begins at the 1-hour 41-minute mark.

4 COMMENTS

  1. This board continues to be a complete circus for more than 4 years now. Shouldn’t this be all about the kids? Moving positive actions froward? There is more infighting here than anywhere else in the county.

    I will keep this short and to the point. Sawyer-White is the least qualified person on the board and should not be president. Householder is not mature enough to serve on this board. There is no excuse to bring up skin tone into this discussion and she should publicly apologize. As for fairness, that is only a matter of perspective.

    I am glad I retired from the District last year. This entire board is part of the problem. It continues to be disgusting how this board continues to act.

  2. Householder needs a refresher from Amy Bettencourt who last year provided some facts on Sawyer-White who felt entitled to be president last year.

    Bettencourt says through her research:

    – Sawyer-White has arrived late 68% to Board meetings since she has been seated. The board as a collective whole, has only been tardy 13%.

    – Concerns about Sawyer-Whites ability to vote independently. In just 7 occasions of 373 actions which she did not align her vote with Debra Vinson.

    – There were 11 occasions in the past year where the Superintendent had to remind her that information, she claimed not to have no knowledge of had in fact been discussed at a previous meeting or shared in a Friday board update.

    – Sawyer-White has participated in discussion on board items for 86-minutes, of that, 73-minutes were spend on her personal growth as a board member and her desire to have a conference and travel budget,

  3. Agree with both of you 100 % but Householder would not have even been elected if it weren’t for Lamer Thorpe backing her.

  4. Yawn, same people continuing to fail more generations of students. We need a new superintendent and more fresh and younger trustees!!

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