Board recall effort fails in Sunnyside

2010-05-29T00:00:00Z 2014-08-01T11:43:20Z Board recall effort fails in SunnysideCarmen Duarte Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 29, 2010 12:00 am  • 

A recall effort against three members of the Governing Board for the Sunnyside Unified School District is dead.

The effort to recall Governing Board President Louie Gonzales, Board Clerk Magdalena Barajas and member Eva Carrillo Dong died Tuesday.

These members were the target of the recall for their support of Superintendent Manuel L. Isquierdo after an audit showed he made $12,545 in unallowable credit-card charges.

Sherrie L. Burdic, a former district employee who filed the petitions, did not submit the petitions by the 5 p.m. deadline Tuesday, said Ricky Hernandez, chief financial officer for the Office of the Pima County School Superintendent.

"We didn't make it," said Burdic, of the needed 2,398 voter signatures for each board member. The voters must live within the school district.

"It indicates that we, as a board, are doing what the community likes," said Gonzales. "The community is supportive and it vindicates us and Superintendent Isquierdo. I respect the process of the recall because that is part of the system. The (recall) group must respect the will of the people and let it go."

In an e-mail, Barajas wrote, "I will continue to uphold my oath and work in the best interest of the Sunnyside family. I know there are more challenges to come, and I am, as I have always been, prepared to do what is right."

Dong said: "If there was something there, the community would have mobilized and done something about it. The recall effort was very divisive and the community saw through that and understood that we have to work together."

Burdic said about 15 people began circulating the petitions but then the number dwindled.

"We will keep watching the district and school board, and hold people accountable for their actions. We will try and get new people elected to the board," said Burdic.

The seats held by Dong and board member Eric Giffin are up for re-election this November. The seats held by Gonzales, Barajas and board member Robert Jaramillo are up in November 2012.

The recall effort began after the Governing Board called for an independent audit by the firm of Heinfeld, Meech & Co. and it showed that Isquierdo made unallowable credit-card charges between July 1, 2007, and June 30, 2009. The final audit was made public by the district in December.

Isquierdo finished reimbursing the district in February. The questionable expenditures included restaurant meals, car rentals and a hotel stay in which he took his family along on a business trip to McAllen, Texas, in December 2008.

Gonzales said mistakes and bookkeeping errors were made by the district, but the board has not found any intention on the part of Isquierdo to defraud the district.

The audit found that credit-card charges and travel expenditures were not supported by documentation to justify that the expenditures were for appropriate district purposes prior to the purchases being made.

In March, the district put in place a system of checks and balances to improve efficiency and accountability.

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at 573-4104 or cduarte@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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