Last Tuesday was supposed to be a new beginning for the Manteca Unified School District.
A rebirth. A second chance. A bright future.
And that’s how the night started – selecting Kathy Howe as the board member to serve out the remainder of the first two-years of Ashley Drain’s vacant board seat.
But it didn’t take long for the train to veer off the tracks.
The first open forum speaker of the night, Sharmaine Mendez, once again asked for Trustee Sam Fant – who is still the target of a realigned recall effort following Drain’s resignation – to resign his position rather than continue to create controversy with an attitude that she says is less than amicable.
“I was also pleased to read that the district is thinking about opening more of the high school swimming pools in 2016 and not simply the one at ‘Sam Fant High’ in Weston Ranch,” Mendez said. “You may wonder Sam why I address you in public rather than in private and it’s really quite simple – I want witnesses. I know how you operate and I don’t you to be able to twist any of my words.
“You, me and everybody else in this room knows that you ran for the board so you could have more material for your campaign fliers, just as you sit on the Fair Board and yet hardly attend any of the meetings.”
Fant didn’t respond to Mendes’ comments and while he supported somebody other than Howe for the vacant portion of the term – Human Relations Expert Curtis Kimbro – he thanked the longtime Manteca Unified teacher for her dedication and her interest in continuing to serve the children of Manteca, Lathrop, French Camp and Stockton.
Drain’s old seat is the only of the seven on the board that includes each and every community that the district serves.
But Mendes wasn’t sold that the embattled school trustee – who is rumored to be making a run for the Stockton City Council – has turned over a new leaf.
Without recognizing that he’s beholden to all of the students in the district and not just those in coverage area, Mendes said that she couldn’t see any future where Fant would be a good fit to continue to serve on the board.
“Most people that do this have the good sense to do good work for the people that they represent,” Mendez said. “You represent every student in this district, not just in Weston Ranch. And I want you to remember that – you’ve caused a lot of havoc in this district.
“You’ve lied and I know that you have and you’ve vouched for liars. And now I ask you again to resign, and since I know that you’re not going to do that I suggest you start playing well with others.”