A screenshot from the livestream of the June 27 Riverside Unified School District Board of Education meeting showing Tom Hunt's empty seat with a small vase of flowers next to it.
The Riverside Unified School District Board of Education honored the late Tom Hunt at last week’s meeting. (Screenshot/YouTube)

The Riverside Unified School District (RUSD) Board of Education last week honored Board Vice President Tom Hunt, who died June 22 after a battle with cancer.

“We’ve kept his seat as if he were here, because I know, and I really know, that in his heart, Mr. Hunt is here,” Board President Dale Kinnear said at the June 27 meeting.

Hunt was elected to the board in 2007. According to a biography posted to the RUSD website, Hunt’s priorities included student choice, parent and community involvement and building strong collaborations with local government and higher education partners.

“I can’t imagine anyone who could question his dedication, his commitment, his loyalty to not only our district and all the thousands of students he served, but also to our Riverside Community,” Kinnear said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that Tom’s legacy of service and his dedication will be remembered.”

Hunt’s death was announced through a June 24 post on his Facebook page, written by daughter Taylore Hunt.

“I have no words to express this or want to type it,” she wrote. “My dad is no longer with us and his account is in memoriam. Today is his 69th birthday.”

During his comments, Board Member Angelo Farooq said it had been hard to process the loss of Hunt, who he called a dear friend.

“I first want to begin by expressing my deep condolences to the loving Hunt family, and especially his wife Geri [Hunt] and daughters Whitney and Taylore [Hunt],” Farooq said. “We’re all here for you.”

Farooq also spoke of Hunt’s unwavering commitment to the board and the district and the deep well of historical knowledge he brought to the board’s discussions.

Stay up to date with the latest from The Record. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter today!

“Personally, I wish I could hear one more of his signature references about the voluntary desegregation of RUSD,” Farooq said. “Given that historical perspective that Tom would extend, it’s only fitting that we would apply that same mindset to celebrate his life. …

“That’s why we’re still having this board meeting today and will continue to keep handing off the baton of service as everything that needs to be achieved is an ongoing process,” he continued. “I’m forever grateful for sharing nearly nine years of public service together, but most importantly, it was our friendship that transcended all of that.”

Board Member Noemi Hernandez Alexander echoed Farooq’s comments, saying that Hunt was the first to give her a lapel pin and welcome her to the board after she was sworn in.

“Tom and I could not be more different, he didn’t exactly endorse me to sit here, but the minute I got on this dais, he made it very clear that he wanted to work together,” she said. “This is because Tom was a true statesman, who prioritized the success of our students over partisanship, the success of our students over ideology or even personal preference.”

Hunt’s death reverberated throughout the rest of the meeting, from the slideshow shown at the meeting featuring the district’s commencement ceremonies to the public hearing to consider an expansion of REACH Leadership STEAM Academy and even the adjournment, which was done in honor and memory of Hunt and his 17 years of service on the board.

“Tom understood and valued the idea of human interconnectedness and public service,” Kinnear said. “I will do my best at taking what Tom has taught me to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Thank you, Tom, for all you’ve done for me and this district.”

In other board action: The RUSD Board of Education adopted the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) and the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.

A full recording of the meeting can be found here on the district’s YouTube channel.

TN News is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news outlet providing Riverside County with high-quality journalism free of charge. We’re able to do this because of the generous donations of supporters like you!

Alicia Ramirez is the publisher of TN News and the founder and CEO of its parent company TN News.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *