What constitutes a hardship that would be an acceptable reason for an elected trustee to skip a Manteca Unified Board of Education meeting?
The Education Code governing this issue does not go into minute details or specific examples as to the nature of excusable and acceptable hardships. The policy – No. 9250 under Remuneration, Reimbursement, other benefits – simply states that the board “shall have the authority to determine acceptable reasons for a Board member missing a meeting without losing per diem compensation.”
It goes on to say that a “member may be paid for any meeting when absent” if the board adopts a resolution that is duly reflected in the minutes which finds that “at the time of the meeting (the board member) is performing services outside the meeting for the school district or districts, he or she was ill or on jury duty, or the absence was due to a hardship deemed acceptable by the board.”
The language of this district policy was put in action Tuesday night when the board, by a majority vote of 4-2, found that Trustee Sam Fant’s absence at a recent meeting was “due to hardship.”
Casting the negative votes were Trustees Nancy Teicheira and Manuel Medeiros.
“I took the vote; I don’t have to explain a reason,” Medeiros simply answered when queried about the reason behind his negative vote.
However, he somewhat reluctantly added, “I didn’t think it was a valid excuse.”
Fant explained that his particular hardship had to do with his position as junior varsity football coach at Bear Creek High School in Stockton.
“We had a scrimmage – we had 80 guys on my team – and all my assistant coaches that I expected to be there had unforeseen circumstances” and could not be there, he said. “It was a last-minute thing. I got calls from the coaches that they couldn’t be there because of a personal issue.”
He was also the only one there at the time who was “first aid-certified” and CPR-certified, and the only one “qualified as a coach” to have the CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) certification, added Fant, a graduate of Lincoln High School in Stockton where he played football.
He said he has been coaching football “for a long time throughout the community.” He coaches at Bear Creek High School in Lodi because of his close ties with the school. The head varsity football coach at Bear Creek High was his coach back at Lincoln High. His older brother graduated from Bear Creek, and a younger brother goes to school there. His mom also lives in the Spanos Park area close to the high school.
“This is the first time I’ve ever been absent (at a school board meeting), so this is new to me,” said Fant, 25, who won the three-way election for the Area 1 (Weston Ranch) post in the November 2012 elections.
If a board member misses a meeting and the reason is found to be legitimate, he or she is entitled to receive compensation.
School board members receive a monthly stipend or remuneration of about $400. Board members may also elect to receive the same health and welfare benefits during their term of office similar to what is extended to district employees.