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Manteca Unified trustees: Now you see them . . .
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The photo board in the Manteca Unified School District never displayed photos of trustees Ashley Drain and Alexander Bronson. - photo by Bulletin file photo

More than a few folks at the Manteca Unified School District level art show conducted Tuesday evening in the board room at the administrative complex on Louise Avenue noticed only five of the seven trustees’ photos gracing the wall.

The two missing photos are of Ashley Drain and Alexander Bronson. Both are facing felony charges that they committed perjury in lying about their residency so they could run for office represent Manteca when they actually didn’t even live in the school district.

Some attendees incorrectly assumed the district staff took them down or perhaps the two trustees had resigned.

Neither Bronson nor Drain provided the district with photos despite repeated requests to do so.

The reason why the photos are a big deal is because the board made them a big deal two months ago spending an inordinate amount of time arguing whether trustee photos should actually hang in every school campus office in the district.

The proliferation of trustee photos was a big point made by board member Sam Fant who believes parents, students, and staff should know what their trustees look like should they show up on campus.

If the justice system finds Drain and Bronson guilty as charged, the district could save money by just asking the county jail to email them booking photos. Of course, if that were to happen Drain and Bronson likely wouldn’t be trustees any longer.

That means the district will have saved what it would have cost to reproduce and frame 30 plus sets of photos of Bronson and Drain should they be convicted.

But the order still stands to hang trustee photos in all of the school offices. It’s a decision that the school board might want to consider doing in the overall scheme of things.

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What’s next for Bronson, Drain & school district

Speaking of Manteca Unified school board members being charged with crimes, should Ashley Drain or Alexander Bronson opt to resign the law indicates they first need to tell the San Joaquin County Superintendent of Schools.

Next up in the lesson plan for Criminal Justice 101 is a May 7 arraignment hearing for Bronson and Drain in San Joaquin County Superior Court.

That comes five days before the next regularly scheduled meeting of the school board.

If the two resign or are removed it then opens up the question of how they would be replaced.

District Superintendent Jason Messer when asked about the options available to the board, indicated discussions with legal counsel haven’t reached that point, Instead there was a more immediate concern about decisions that the two board members that have participated in. Basically since they were seated and there was no reason not to belief they were legitimate candidates based on nomination papers they filed requiring them not to perjury themselves and the papers were duly acknowledged as being factual by a witness, the actions they took as board members still stand if they are ultimately removed.

Under law, accusations that fraud was committed — the complaint made to the Secretary of State’s office the day after the election — doesn’t suffice legally as evidence that they were not legitimate candidates.

As for possible replacements, it could be by board appointment or in a special election. The big question is whether a replacement election is by area or district wide.