For the second time in a matter of months, a recall effort has been officially launched against a member of the Los Alamitos Unified School District Board of Education.
Scott Fayette represents Trustee Area 4 which covers parts of Seal Beach. He was served with a Notice of Intention to circulate a recall petition on March 17, according to organizers of the effort to remove him from office.
“Mr. Fayette has demonstrated by his words and his votes that he does not agree in the fundamental right of parents to direct the care, upbringing, and education of their children as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution,” Hope K. Horning, a Trustee Area 4 resident and a spokesperson for the recall effort, argued as reasons for the recall in an email to Spotlight Schools.
Fayette declined to comment on the recall effort during an interview after the March 22 board meeting. He did file an official response to the petition with local election officials in which he states: “As a board member my primary concern is always the safety and success of our students.”
His response, which will appear on the petition and cannot exceed 200 words, also refers to the district having to pay for a recall election which, in his words, is “taking money out of the classrooms and away from students.”
While it’s not clear what it would cost, the bill for a recall election would be sent to the school district, according to the Orange County Registrar of Voters’ office.
Horning said the goal is to get the recall on the November 2022 ballot. November is also when two other seats on the five-member board will be decided. The races are nonpartisan.
To trigger a recall election, organizers must meet many requirements. That includes collecting valid signatures from approximately 1,800 registered voters in Trustee Area 4, per the Registrar of Voters Recall handbook. That represents 25% of the trustee area’s approximately 7,300 registered voters, according to state data from January.
Trustee Area 4 covers the College Park East and Old Town neighborhoods of Seal Beach.
Second Attempt to Remove Fayette
Fayette is the first board member to represent Trustee Area 4 following the switch from at-large elections to voting by trustee areas in 2020. He was the only candidate to file qualifying paperwork to run for the seat in the November 2020 election.
Per California election law, while Fayette’s name did not appear on the 2020 ballot, he was authorized to be installed in the seat and was sworn into office in December 2020.
Fayette is a former substitute and intervention teacher in the district and the only board member with a child currently attending Los Alamitos Unified schools.
Fayette was targeted in a failed recall effort last September, along with current Board Vice President Chris Forehan and Trustee Megan Cutuli. It ended in December 2021 after campaign organizers missed a filing deadline with local election officials.
Many of the same parents and community members that backed the previous recall are involved with the latest campaign, yet organizers of the new effort insist there is a difference.
“The previous recall attempt had a different leadership and was overly ambitious given the amount of time, dedication and money required,” reads a press release from the current campaign against Fayette.
On its petition, the latest recall campaign argues for the ousting of Fayette saying he “does not represent our values” in Trustee Area 4.
Recall supporters describe themselves as “concerned parents, families and taxpayers” in the community with “a wide range of views” on issues. The press releases lists issues of “social justice standards and critical race theory, gender pronouns, as well as vaccine and mask mandates.”
The list reflects topics that have sparked passionate public comment at board meetings over the past two years including Covid-19 safety protocols, district efforts to address diversity and inclusion, and the adoption of an ethnic studies elective at Los Alamitos High School.
Fayette joined the rest of the board members in unanimous votes to adopt the district’s social justice standards, billed as resources for teachers to deal with incidents of intolerance, and the creation of the optional ethnic studies course.
One argument the petition and press release cite as a reason to recall Fayette is a claim he did not support “medical and religious exemptions for legislated vaccine mandates.”
Right now, there is no law in California requiring a Covid-19 vaccine for students but legislators have introduced a bill that would make it mandatory. In addition, last October, Governor Gavin Newsom said he wants to require students to get the Covid-19 vaccine to attend school once the shots receive full approval from the Food and Drug Administration for a students’ age group.
In a 4 to 1 vote in January, the Los Alamitos USD Board of Education adopted a resolution urging state lawmakers to keep exemptions in place for a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for students and employees.
Fayette voted against the resolution. He stated the reasons were because he felt it was “premature” to adopt a measure regarding a mandate that was not yet in effect and said the issue was out of the purview of the board.
If this recall effort qualifies for the November 2022 ballot, other candidates will be able to join the race and Fayette will be able to defend his seat.
An opponent of the last recall campaign is speaking out in support of Fayette.
“I would run through a brick wall for the guy,” district parent Leland Jay said of Fayette in an email. He said Fayette inspired him to get involved at Hopkinson Elementary after seeing Fayette volunteer.
“I wish these parents would spend a little more time volunteering at school to make things better instead of spending time attempting another recall,” Jay said and added he hopes no one signs the latest recall petition.
Part of a statement from Los Alamitos Unified Superintendent Andrew Pulver, EdD, reads: “Efforts to recall elected officials [are] a democratic right in our county, and while the current effort in our district is personally disconcerting, we assure the community that it is not distracting us from the important work of service to students, families, and staff.”
For more local education news, subscribe to the weekly email newsletter from Spotlight Schools at SpotlightSchools.com.