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Denair school board vacancy to be filled Thursday
Trustees to choose from three candidates

A new Denair Unified School District trustee will be selected during a special meeting Thursday night, following the resignation of longtime board member John Plett.

Plett submitted his resignation at the Aug. 8 board meeting, citing health concerns as the reason for his departure. The resignation was effective immediately, and the four remaining trustees — Kathi Dunham-Filson, Regina Gomes, Ray Prock Jr. and Crystal Sousa — opted to appoint Plett’s replacement, rather than hold a costly special election.

A Denair resident for nearly 40 years, Plett, 68, was first elected in 2011 and re-elected in 2015. The retired law enforcement officer is known for the pride he takes in the community, as well as the students and staff on Denair’s four campuses. The District was on the verge of solvency when Plett was first elected, and upon his resignation he reflected on just how far DUSD has come during his tenure as board member.

“The morale has stepped up and up and up,” Plett said during the Aug. 8 board meeting. “I’m going to be forever prideful to have been part of that; to come from so low to where we are.”

Fellow board members all thanked Plett for his service and dedication.

“He was part of the board that had to make very hard decisions,” Gomes said.

“I was able to learn from the professionalism and the guidance you gave. Thank you,” said Dunham-Filson.

“I truly appreciate you,” said Sousa, who was elected in 2017. “You were so welcoming when I came on the board.”

Prock thanked Plett for his “knowledge, the time and the thought” he put into dealing with many important issues. “He was a role model of a committed board member.”

Community members interested in fulfilling the remainder of Plett’s term, which expires November 2020, were invited to apply for the position and had until Aug. 19 to turn in their paperwork. Three candidates did so and will be interviewed at 7 p.m. Thursday by the remaining trustees, who will also vote that night to choose Plett’s successor.

The trustees will choose from Denair residents Tina Marie Gresio, Kenneth Austin Rickard and Carmen Wilson and the new trustee will be sworn in at the Sept. 12 board meeting.

Gresio has lived in Denair for more than 20 years and has children attending Denair schools. She has been an active volunteer at various community events, including Fourth of July and Halloween as well as Boy Scouts and sports teams.

Rickard taught for 12 years in the Hughson Unified School District. He is a member of the Denair Lions Club and Turlock Church of Christ. He also has participated in community and sports events.

Wilson has two children in Denair schools and has participated on school site committees. She works at the Center for Human Services in Modesto and has been a board member for the Stanislaus County Youth Development Committee and the Turlock American Little League and taught Sunday school at Connection Point Church in Denair.