I would like to express my thanks to the four applicants for
Gilroy School Board Trustee who participated in the process for
filling the vacant seat of T.J. Owens. I had come to the meeting
with an open mind, and was very impressed with all four men. Every
one of the candidates was a viable replacement for the remaining
year on the board.
I would like to express my thanks to the four applicants for Gilroy School Board Trustee who participated in the process for filling the vacant seat of T.J. Owens. I had come to the meeting with an open mind, and was very impressed with all four men. Every one of the candidates was a viable replacement for the remaining year on the board.
When the field narrowed from four to two, things changed in the board room. I sat among a group of community members who were obviously present to support Javier Aguirre. As such, they had not come with open hearts and minds. This was obvious in a number of ways. The public was invited to submit questions. Of the questions which were randomly drawn, the candidates were asked a number of very similar questions about special education. Three of these were submitted by the same woman. Special education is an important topic, but it affects a minority of the 10,000 students enrolled in GUSD. Had the board vice-president screened questions, perhaps there might have been time for topics which affect the majority of our students.
At least two people questioned applicant Bob Heisey about his ethnicity. These questions should not have been asked. Apparently, there are people in Gilroy who believe that a person’s ethnic background deserves special consideration. It is not lost on me that Dr. Owens would never have held a seat had the board been a statistical representation of ethnicity in Gilroy. I wonder if the people who submitted the question about ethnicity believe that Kai Lai had the right to apply for the vacancy given the very small segment of Gilroyans who share his ethnic background.
I wish I could have asked these folks who else in our community should be excluded from public service. I have never voted for someone based on their gender, race, ethnicity or religious background. I have always voted for the person who is best suited for the job. In my opinion, Mr. Heisey had the edge in qualifications and experience with the Gilroy Unified School District. I am not too disappointed, however, because Mr. Aguirre is also highly qualified. I am confident that he will work hard to support the improved achievement of all students in GUSD.
While I hold Mr. Aguirre in high regard, I was dismayed to hear one of his vocal supporters attack Trustee Rhoda Bress for supporting Mr. Heisey. It was audible, and it will be remembered. I was shocked to hear two other Aguirre supporters poking fun at Trustee Jaime Rosso as he struggled to read a question submitted in Spanish.
The question had to do with sensitivity to English language learners, and their insensitivity to a sitting board member was hypocritical. I abhor the practice of insulting people who struggle with a second language. When I hear someone speaking English with a heavy accent, I admire them because they speak at least one more language than I do.
I hope Mr. Aguirre will be able to distance himself from those who seek to divide and work for the good of all the community.
Denise Apuzzo, Gilroy