SAN JOSE -- Ignoring calls to delay an appointment, the Alum Rock Union School Board named Andrea Flores Shelton to fill a vacant seat on the board.
Flores Shelton, 38, a former aide to Santa Clara County Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr., was chosen from among five applicants. She will serve out two years remaining in the term of Darcie Green, who resigned from the Alum Rock board this month to take a seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Education.
At an emotional meeting at the East San Jose school district on Monday, parents and community members turned out to ask the four board members to hold off on selecting a new member until December, when a newly elected board will be seated. But the board majority refused to allow public comment at the meeting's outset. Once it became clear they were going to fill the vacancy that night and favored Flores Shelton, after taking several straw polls on candidates, the board allowed the public to speak.
"The process and discussion," former board member Green said, "was disrespectful and unfortunate."
The four Alum Rock board members unanimously appointed Flores Shelton. She was sworn in at the end of the 2½-hour meeting.
On Tuesday, Flores Shelton said that she looks forward to "trying to elevate the dialogue on the board." She said, "I will be trying to be respectful as possible while being child-centered and child-focused."
The mother of a 7-year-old in Catholic school and a 5-year-old in Alum Rock's Cesar Chavez Elementary¿ School, Flores Shelton said she would like to ensure that schools "respond to the whole child," that schools keep children engaged in education and that parents have a choice among neighborhood schools, charters and private schools.
But the elephant in the room, she said, is how the board responds to charter schools -- like Rocketship Education -- in its territory that have been authorized by other agencies such as the county school board.
In siphoning off children, charter schools pose financial and political challenges to school districts, particularly those like Alum Rock with heavy concentrations of poor families targeted by charters.
Earlier this month Flores Shelton resigned as deputy chief of staff for Shirakawa to become injury and violence prevention manager for the county public health department.
Flores Shelton said she decided to apply for the board seat on Friday, the deadline for applications, after talking the night before with Teresa Alvarado, a friend through the Latina Coalition of Silicon Valley. Asked if Shirakawa, her former boss, encouraged her to apply for the board seat, she said no. "I used to work for him, just like I used to work for Blanca Alvarado," Flores Shelton said. "I've proven myself to be independent."
Blanca Alvarado said Tuesday afternoon that she had no comment on Flores Shelton's selection.
Flores Shelton said although she's a member of the Latino Leadership Alliance, run by Shirakawa and his chief of staff Eddie Garcia, she said, "I'm not (on the board) as an LLA person."
At the meeting, members of the community group Somos Mayfair carried signs in protest of what they called the unnecessarily rushed and nontransparent appointment process. Members of the group People Acting in Community Together also pressed the board to put off its selection.
They and others believe longtime trustee Esau Herrera, who lost a bid for re-election and will step down next month, wanted to have a vote on the new trustee. Herrera has said the board used the same time line for filling Green's seat as it did in late summer when it replaced trustee Scott Pham with Andres Quintero, a Shirakawa staffer.
Despite disagreeing with the process, Somos Mayfair Executive Director Jaime Alvarado said he was somewhat hopeful about Flores Shelton's appointment, but "the concern is her independence from George (Shirakawa) and company." Otherwise, he said about Flores Shelton, "people like her and respect her."
Other applicants for the seat included Betty Duong, Juan Estrada, Atul Saini and Alofa Taliva. Patricia Martinez-Roach, who this month lost her seat on the East Side Union High School board, also had submitted a letter of interest but withdrew a few hours before Monday's meeting.
Contact Sharon Noguchi at 408-271-3775. Follow her at Twitter.com/NoguchiOnK12.