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May 17, 2021

Recall effort against Acosta to launch Monday

WATSONVILLE—A small group on Monday will begin a recall against Pajaro Valley Unified School District Trustee Georgia Acosta, an effort spurred by her attempt to oust district superintendent Michelle Rodriguez in January.

The group—called The Committee to Recall Georgia Acosta—is made up of educators, community members and former PVUSD trustees, among others.

To complete the notice to recall the group must gather 20 signatures in Trustee Area 2, to which Acosta was elected in 2016. 

If that happens, the group will then give notice to Acosta, and she will have seven days to provide a response, which will be included in the paperwork that voters will see when they consider the issue at the voting booth.

After the notice of intent to recall has been approved by the Santa Cruz County Clerk, the group will have 90 days to gather the required signatures—25% of the 8,600 voters in Trustee Area 2. While that amounts to 2,150, the group is aiming for around 2,500.

That will likely happen during the summer, and will involve 40 people gathering signatures in public places and “walking and knocking,” group member Jane Barr said.

Acosta has been accused of missing 26 board meetings since she was elected. In addition, she does not participate in any committees or meet with the superintendent, both duties that are expected of trustees, Barr says.

In 2018, she skipped a required board training on the Ralph M. Brown Act, a list of rules that govern public meetings, Barr said.

“You have someone in an elected office who apparently is not taking the job seriously, and is pretty much thumbing her nose at people. There are a number of us who are tired of that,” Barr said. 

But the catalyst for the recall stems from alleged behind-the-scenes machinations late last year after the district submitted a budget that showed it might not be able to meet its expenses for the following three years—known in school finance parlance as ‘qualified.’

The budget improved soon after that, when the state released more money for education. But Acosta reportedly tried to bury that information after Rodriguez’s termination.

According to Barr, Acosta told a district employee to remove that information from the district’s website showing the budget had improved.

Acosta also reportedly used her CSU Monterey Bay email account to send a proposed agenda to former district Chief Business Officer Joe Dominguez and to community member Vic Marani, who formerly headed the Santa Cruz County Republican Party and helped with Acosta’s election campaign. 

In that email, which was publicly disclosed by Trustee Kim De Serpa when she successfully led an effort to censure Acosta at a PVUSD board meeting recently, Acosta apparently asked the two for their approval of the agenda.

“Hello, Joe&Vic, attached is the revised agenda just sent to us,” the email says. “This needs our immediate approval for her.”

If the group gathers the required signatures, the matter could go before voters in early 2022.

“We recognize that it’s a heavy lift, but there are enough people in this community and this trustee area … who are outraged about this behavior,” Barr said. “And although it is going to take a powerful effort, it’s completely doable. I have no doubt we are going to be successful.”

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