A photo of Matthew Serafin on the dais during the Dec. 12 meeting of the Val Verde Unified School District Board of Education meeting.
Val Verde Unified School District Board Member Matthew Serafin was censured at the Dec. 12 meeting. (Screenshot)

The Val Verde Unified School District Board of Education last week selected its new leadership for the upcoming year and voted to censure outgoing Board President Matthew Serafin.

“It’s mostly a political motivation from what I’ve seen from most school districts that have done this, and that’s just from conversations that I’ve had at CSBA from my point of view,” Serafin said of the resolution at the Dec. 12 meeting.

Serafin said that his time on the board has been spent advocating for workers, equity and expanded educational opportunities for the district’s students, and that resolutions like this center the board instead of the community it was elected to serve.

“This is something that’s been on the board of kind of us focusing on ourselves, us five here, instead of the community, and it appears to be continuing from [Board member Melinda] Young and from whoever it has the motivation for it,” he said.

However, Young, newly installed Board President Marla Kirkland and newly installed Board Vice President Erika Zamora all said the resolution was not political and was instead based upon Serafin’s behavior both on and off the dais.

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“When you talk about that we’re focused on the five of us, no, you have made the focus on yourself by your actions,” Kirkland said. “We’ve had a private conversation, and like I told you, ‘If it was me in your shoes, I would have stepped down as president, and I would have stepped off this board,’ and that was basically me giving you advice, but you know, you’ve chosen not to do that.”

According to the resolution, which can be read in full here, Serafin has violated Board Bylaw 9005 at least four times in the past year — including cursing on the dais and being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. The resolution follows multiple attempts to remove Serafin from the position of board president, which he had held since last December.

“There is no political thing,” Zamora said. “The facts are that you have been saying things that you shouldn’t be saying, you have been doing things that you shouldn’t be doing, and when we try to handle that one on one, you still do whatever it is that you want.”

The resolution to censure Serafin was ultimately approved 4-1, with Serafin voting against.

Along with a new board president and vice president, the board also selected Board member Daniel Aquino for the role of board clerk on a 3-2 vote with Kirkland and Young voting against.

In other board action: Board member Melinda Young directed district staff to look into why the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program is reportedly being discontinued at Citrus Hill High School.

A video of the meeting can be found here on the district’s website.

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