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Delhi school trustees dodge censure, prepare for election
Delhi school trustees
Delhi Unified School District Board member Jesus Rodriguez holds a campaign event on Friday, one month after a board vote was called to censure him for bad conduct. - photo by ALYSSON AREDAS / The Journal

Despite an effort to censure Delhi Unified School District Board of Trustee member Jesus Rodriguez for misconduct approximately three weeks ago, Rodriguez made an effort to put the issue behind him at his campaign for reelection meet-and-greet that hosted over 40 supporters on Friday.

During a special board meeting on Sept. 23, both Rodriguez and fellow trustee Eric Castillo faced the possibility of censure for a number of unethical behaviors, including the disclosure of confidential information and sexual harassment.

Evidence was brought forth at the meeting that Rodriguez spread sexual rumors and sexually degrading descriptions of employees. Rodriguez was also found to have disclosed confidential information, as well as violated district protocols related to requesting information from staff.

Sufficient evidence was also presented at the meeting to prove that Castillo had either intentionally or inadvertently leaked confidential information to his wife regarding employment information.  

Despite the evidence presented, however, both Rodriguez and Castillo chose to vote on the possibility of their own censures, resulting in both resolutions failing to pass.

Merced County Office of Education Superintendent Steven E. Gomes said that whether or not it was legal for Rodriguez and Castillo to vote on their own censures depended on the district’s own board policies.

“However, the normal rule of thumb regarding any item that might present a conflict of interest to a particular board member is that member would then recuse themselves from voting,” said Gomes.

Gomes went on to comment that it is not often that a community feels the need to censure school board members.

Liz Rojas, former president of the Delhi Teachers Association and the individual responsible for filing the complaints against both Rodriguez and Castillo earlier this year, was troubled by the fact that both members chose to vote on their own censure.

Rojas is still making an effort to help correct the mistakes made by Rodriguez and Castillo. Now, as the leader of DTA’s Political Action Committee, she hopes to move DUSD towards a brighter future in the upcoming election season.

“Both Rodriguez and Castillo are running for reelection this year,” said Rojas. “All we can do unfortunately within the Political Action Committee is endorse another candidate who is honest and has integrity.”

According to Gomes, this is the easiest route that the community can take in order to remove a board member they believe is no longer serving in the community’s best interests.

If both Rodriguez and Castillo get reelected and the community still feels the need to remove them from the board, a recall election could be requested. Recall elections, however, involved a lot of time and money, said Gomes.