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2 Sunol School Board Members to Face Recall in July

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School officials are sitting behind desks with a microphone in front of them.
Trustee Ryan Jergensen (center) listens to public comment during a Sunol Glen Unified School District governing board meeting in Sunol on March 12, 2024. Jergensen and Trustee Linda Hurley (right) will face a recall election in July. (Kathryn Styer Martínez/KQED)

Sunol residents will vote in a special election on July 2 to recall two school board trustees: Ryan Jergensen and Linda Hurley.

If both are recalled, the Sunol Glen Unified School District would be left with one trustee, Peter Romo, who supports the recall.

Sunol, in a rural corner of Alameda County, is home to some 800 registered voters who can vote on the county’s first recall in 2024. There may be two or three more, as recall efforts targeting Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price, Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao and state Sen. Aisha Wahab are underway.

United for Sunol Glen, the group of parents who galvanized the recall, claim Jergensen and Hurley are pushing a conservative agenda on the three-member board overseeing Sunol Glen Unified School District, which has one school.

“From my perspective, the board majority created an issue when there wasn’t even a problem to begin with,” Matthew Sylvester, a Sunol resident and parent of a kindergartener, said.

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In September, Hurley and Jergensen voted to ban all flags at the school other than the state and federal flags. Some saw it as an attempt to prevent a pride flag from being flown on campus. The teachers union and the district superintendent objected to the ban. Sylvester said many community members did, too.

“We found out through public record requests that 51 people emailed the board before the meeting,” Sylvester said, referring to the September board meeting. “And of those 51, 47 people — many of them Sunolians or parents, people involved in the school — were completely against the resolution that was to be passed, and only four were in support of that.

Hurley said the district began receiving complaints after Molleen Barnes, the principal and superintendent, raised a pride flag on the school’s flagpole last summer. The ban was instituted at the advice of the district’s legal counsel amid concern of lawsuits being filed.

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“My decision was never about the LGBTQIA+ community. It was about the legal safety of our school,” Hurley said during a March 12 board meeting.

After receiving the required number of signed recall petitions from United for Sunol Glen, the Alameda County registrar approved a recall election last month. At the March 12 meeting, Jergensen and Hurley, who were voted onto the school board in 2021 and 2022, respectively, found themselves in the odd position of scheduling an election to recall themselves.

Recall opponents in attendance accused recall proponents of creating division in the community.

“What’s happening here is no different than what’s happening around the county, around the state and around the nation,” one attendee said during public comment. “There’s a small group of people coming in, and they’re disrupting. They will lie, they will cheat, they will do anything — anything possible to break you apart.”

Others, like James Lowder, struck a conciliatory tone.

“If the vote goes against the way that I prefer it would be, I intend to do my best as a resident and community member and hope to be a participant in the healing of the community, whatever that may be,” said Lowder, a parent of two children in the school.

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