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16407 Greenlake Lane
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Voices from the Media

ABC Unified board member Lynda Johnson says Measure AA vote cost her presidency

Nadra Nittle, Press Telegram, December 3, 2014

Cerritos >> For weeks, Lynda Johnson had a sinking feeling that she wouldn't be named president of the ABC Unified School Board, even though she was next in line for the rotating position. At Tuesday's board meeting, her prediction came true.

Although Johnson spent the past year serving as board vice president and as clerk the year before that, her fellow board members declined to elect her president at its annual reorganization meeting.

Johnson in July cast the sole vote against placing Measure AA, a $195.2 million school bond measure, on the November ballot. The bond measure ultimately failed at the polls, and Johnson believes that some board members hold her responsible.

"It was obvious that they were still healing from the election results," said Johnson, a board member since 2011. "They're still angered, and that's the way they acted upon it."

When Sophia Tse nominated Johnson for president, fellow board member Olympia Chen nominated Maynard Law to head the board. He won the position with the support of all seven board members except for Tse and Soo Yoo. Tse also nominated Johnson for board clerk, a position Johnson held from 2012 to 2013, but the board elected Armin Reyes to that title instead. Tse even tried to nominate Johnson for vice president again but board members aren't allowed to serve in the same position for two consecutive years.

"I support her because based on the school board policy (and) I think Lynda met the criteria," Tse said, referring to state requirements that the president visit school sites, meet with community leaders and attend events and meetings. She added that she respects the board's decision to elect Law as president instead of Johnson, but defended Johnson's decision to vote against Measure AA, which critics said the school board rushed to the ballot without obtaining adequate community feedback.

"We all have a right to vote and vote what we feel," Tse said.

Chen and Law acknowledged the board's disappointment with Measure AA's failure but stopped short of saying that they passed over Johnson for president as a result. Chen said that the board vice president isn't always elected president.

"It's not always an automatic thing, the line of succession," she said. "That's why we still need to go through the election process."

Chen disputed Johnson's notion that board members are angry with her because of Measure AA's outcome.

"That's a separate issue," she said. "The election is over. We need to move forward."

Law, who's in his eighth year on the board, said that members certainly do not view Johnson as a Measure AA supporter.

"We needed a different person [for president] because she was basically negative, and we're looking at doing this again, going out for another bond," Law said. "I think there some feelings that she certainly was not a positive factor on the ‘yes' side."

The bond measure aimed to renovate the district's school buildings and other structures, a number of which haven't been upgraded since the 1960s.

Chen said that she nominated Law for president because he's a former teacher and, most importantly, a "team player."

"It's very important because the board president works with the superintendent to run the district," she said.

Chen said that can't happen if the board president doesn't work well with the superintendent or with colleagues.

Johnson denied any tension with the superintendent.

"They need to understand that 9,679 voters voted against the bond," she said of the board. "That vote needs to be respected."

The ABC district oversees schools in Cerritos, Artesia, Lakewood and other cities.

Contact Nadra Nittle at 562-499-1291.


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