Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District offices (File photo)

The SMMUSD Board of Education is accepting applications to fill the vacancy left by Oscar de la Torre, who was elected to City Council in the November election.

Following eligibility reviews, interviews and deliberations, board members will appoint one of the applicants during a public meeting on Jan 14, 2021.

The new member will serve out the remaining two years of de la Torre’s term and will be eligible to run for the full four-year seat in the November 2022 election. De la Torre was first elected to the board in Nov. 2002 and has served for four and a half terms.

Applications will be accepted until 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 17 and can be found at https://www.smmusd.org/Page/6279. Completed applications can be submitted to the superintendent’s office by emailing swahrenbrock@smmusd.org.

Per Education Code 35107, to qualify applicants must be at least 18 years old, a citizen of the state, reside in the school district, a registered voter, and not be disqualified by the Constitution or laws of the state from holding a civil office. SMMUSD employees are welcome to apply, but must resign from their position if elected.

During winter break a subcommittee of three board members will review the applications for eligibility. The superintendent’s office will then invite applicants to the Jan. 14, 2021 School Board meeting during which interviews, deliberations, and final appointment will take place via Zoom.

Some people, including de la Torre, feel that Jason Feldman should be selected as he was the first runner up for a School Board seat in the November election.

“Right now I think if the School Board is going to make an appointment they should appoint the top vote getter of the challengers which is Jason Feldman,” said de la Torre. “It’s not a private club, this is a government for the people by the people, so when the people vote we should respect that.”

Steven Johnson, who also ran for School Board in November, has voiced his support for selecting Feldman.

“The vote of the people should be counted, and recent precedent should also be noted because when Ralph Mechur was appointed to Ben Allen’s seat, it was because he rightfully was the next highest vote-getter,” said Johnson.

Ralph Mechur, who is stepping down from the Board at the end of his term this December, was appointed to School Board twice. He was first appointed to replace Emily Bloomfield in Aug. 2007, was reelected in 2010, and briefly lost his seat in 2014. Mechur was re-appointed in Jan. 2015 to fill Ben Allen’s vacancy, having finished fifth in a race for four seats in Nov. 2014.

Members of the public with questions regarding the upcoming appointment process are encouraged to contact the superintendent’s office at swahrenbrock@smmusd.org.

Clara@smdp.com