John Plett, the senior member of the Denair Unified School District Board, submitted his resignation at the Aug. 8 meeting. It was effective immediately.
In his letter to Superintendent Terry Metzger and Board President Regina Gomes, Plett said he needed “to focus on my health.”
The remaining four trustees decided they will appoint Plett’s replacement rather than hold a costly special election. His term ends in November 2020.
Interested community members who live within the district’s boundaries and who are registered to vote may pick up an application at the district’s office or download the form off the district’s website. Applications will be accepted from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday until Aug. 19.
A question and answer session will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday at the district office for those interested in learning more about the board position prior to applying.
On Aug. 29, Trustees Kathi Dunham-Filson, Regina Gomes, Ray Prock Jr. and Crystal Sousa will hold a special board meeting at 7 p.m. to interview all the applicants. After discussion, trustees will vote that night to choose Plett’s successor. The new trustee will be sworn it at the Sept. 12 board meeting.
Those with questions about the process should call Daisy Swearingen, executive assistant to superintendent and board, at (209) 632-7514, ext. 1202.
Plett, 68, was first elected in 2011 and re-elected in 2015. A retired law enforcement officer, he is known for the pride he takes in the community as well as the students and staff on Denair’s four campuses.
He and his wife, Kathy, have lived in Denair for nearly 40 years. All four of their daughters attended Denair schools and one of them, Kara Binkley, is a counselor in the Denair district. Many members of Plett’s family were in the audience at the Aug. 8 board meeting.
“In 2011, when I was first elected on the board, this district was on the verge of insolvency,” Plett wrote in his resignation letter. “I will always remember the sacrifices of the Denair faculty and staff and I am proud we achieved full (salary) restoration, with more success on the horizon.”
Plett recalled his first board meeting, when hundreds of people packed the old gym to voice their concern about the district’s perilous financial condition.
“The budget was so bad, the attitude and reputation so poor, the morale was so down, it was something to sit in my first board meeting with … people shouting and cursing us,” he said. “The morale has stepped up and up and up. I’m going to be forever prideful to have been part of that; to come from so low to where we are.”
Metzger said Plett’s legacy will be as an enthusiastic booster for all things Denair.
“When I met him, I immediately recognized him as a champion for the district,” she said. “I love that he attends many district events and activities, which I'm sure won't stop just because he's not on the board. I wish him all the best.”
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.”