SAN BENITO — For weeks, residents have called on school board members to remove Michael Vargas as their president.
However, the board’s majority has stood behind Vargas, again voting to appoint him as the board’s president.
Now, former district official Janie Lopez has launched an online petition requesting Vargas be removed from the board as a result the July 5 drunken driving arrest.
By 5 p.m. yesterday, about 127 residents had signed the petition Lopez posted on change.org Saturday.
“We’re just reaching out to the community so they can know they have a voice and there is power in numbers,” Lopez, the district’s former Guidance and Counseling coordinator, said yesterday.
“He lacks integrity, violates ethical standards and does not respect our laws and policies,” the petition states. “The majority of our board members did not vote to have him removed. If our elected board members won’t handle the matter, it is up to each one of us to do our part and show kids it is important to have good character, obey laws and rules because our behavior has circumstances.”
The petition accuses the board’s majority of failing to respond to Vargas’ arrest.
“Our board of trustees, by supporting Vargas after his DWI arrest, is teaching students that there are no circumstances for illegal activities,” the petition states. “We feel Vargas should be removed from the SBCISD board as a consequence of his … alcohol-related offense.”
Board member Angel Mendez, who has called on school board members to remove Vargas as president, said the petition drive shows residents also want Vargas removed from the board.
“It’s the community coming together,” Mendez said. “It’s evident they’re not going to stand for unethical practices and hold people’s integrity to the highest accountability and I commend them.”
Board member Mary Lou Garcia, who has also called for Vargas’ removal as president, declined comment.
For weeks, Mendez and Garcia have called on board members to reorganize the board as part of their push to remove Vargas as president, serving as the board’s leader and district spokesman.
In response, board members voted to reorganize the board’s officers, keeping Vargas as president, Orlando Lopez as vice president and Janie Silva as secretary.
Then late last month, the board’s majority voted to change district policy to limit the board’s reorganization to a regular board meeting in May.
Lopez said she plans to present the petition to school board members and Superintendent Nate Carman in about two weeks.
Vargas declined comment.
However, in previous statements he has described his arrest as a personal matter.
Meanwhile, Brownsville resident Zackary Blevins launched a petition drive on change.org, calling for Brownsville’s school board members to remove trustee Erasmo Castro from the board as a result of his Sept. 2 drunken driving arrest.
“The intent is to show the school board the public outcry to put pressure on the school board to remove him,” Blevins, a student and retired engineer, said.
Early yesterday afternoon, nearly 3,200 residents had signed the petition launched on Sept. 4, he said.
“We’re trying to teach the kids to grow up to be decent, moral citizens,” Blevins said. “If you’re in a position to make decisions for students and act like a role model, your conduct should be reflective of what you expect from students.”
Castro could not be reached for comment.
“I accept responsibility for putting myself in a place where my sobriety could be questioned,” Castro told the Brownsville Herald last week.