WATSONVILLE, Calif. (KION) Pajaro Valley Unified School District Trustee Georgia Acosta is responding to those calling for her to be recalled.
A Notice of Intention to Circulate Recall Petition was filed with the Santa Cruz County Elections Department, and in it, several reasons were provided as grounds for recall. The petition claims that she failed to fulfill her duties by missing 26 governing board meetings, failed to participate in committees, failed to meet with Superintendent Dr. Michelle Rodriguez, directed staff to remove public documents related to finances from the district website, suddenly fired the superintendent and tried to silence the public's right to speak at a meeting.
Acosta filed a response to the recall petition, saying it is false and misleading.
"I, Georgia Acosta, am blessed to be a Cancer Survivor. While battling this dreaded disease these past few years, my commitment to you has never wavered. Fact: I have attended over 85% of PVUSD Meetings. Additionally, having survived multiple surgeries and Cancer treatments, I still actively participated with the California School Board and National School Board Associations.
"My primary focus has always been to benefit the students, families, employees and taxpayers of the PVUSD.
"I have: always had an independent voice in education with real financial accountability; protested the financial improprieties with your tax dollars; met with Congressman Jimmy Panetta advocating for funds for PVUSD; had enough intimidation and bullying being used against dissenting opinions; remained outspoken about the improper hiring practices of the PVUSD Superintendent; fought against hiring unqualified employees and non-credentialed teachers; objected to inappropriate PVUSD relationships with District Leadership/Superintendent; supported working families that need their children safely back to in-person instruction.
"Stop the Witch-hunt that could Cost Taxpayers up to $100,000!"
The PVUSD Board of Trustees voted to approve a resolution censuring Acosta earlier this year. One of the main reasons they provided for the censure was the sudden dismissal of Superintendent Rodriguez.
In January, the district announced that Rodriguez was fired during a closed Board of Trustees meeting after four of the seven trustees voted in favor of the move. At the time, Rodriguez said Acosta did not allow her to join the meeting and a lawyer went to her office with a paper saying her contract was ending earlier than expected. She did not know why she was being fired.
At the end of the month, the board unanimously voted to rescind her dismissal during a special meeting. Trustee Jennifer Holm was also made the board president during the meeting, replacing Acosta.
In the resolution, Acosta was accused of providing no notice to board members that she was going to try to fire Rodriguez and did not participate in any closed session special board meetings to evaluate her. She was accused of giving confidential information to a former district employee about her attempt to fire Rodriguez and asking that person for advice.
According to the board resolution, Acosta contacted legal counsel to end Rodriguez's contract in January without the knowledge, consent or authority of the board and arranged for a board meeting on what they say was an unauthorized and unsecured platform while preventing Rodriguez from joining the meeting. She reportedly incurred more than $16,000 in expenses for legal counsel that was unauthorized.
After Rodriguez was fired, the board said Acosta tried to stop public comment on the decision, but Rodriguez was later reinstated and Acosta was removed for her actions.
The board said Acosta's behavior, language and conduct toward employees and the public failed to meet professional standards. They also claim that she has missed 26 board meetings, participated in no committees and was accused of violating the Brown Act after an election to the board in 2018.
The resolution did not give a reason why Acosta tried to fire Rodriguez.