Three members of the Beverly Hills Unified School District (BHUSD) Board of Education were served with a notice of intention to circulate a recall petition at the Dec. 13 meeting. Board President Noah Margo, Vice President Amanda Stern, and Mary Wells each received a notice from proponents of the recall, who are reportedly advocates for former high school wrestling coach, Ryan Faintich. Faintich was fired in November by Superintendent Dr. Michael Bregy after video surveillance footage surfaced that showed him pushing another student on campus. Since then, the board has heard testimony from dozens of outspoken Faintich supporters at its last two board meetings, asking that his termination be reconsidered. Newly installed Judy Manouchehri and board member Rachelle Marcus, who was reinstalled for her second term that night, did not receive a notice.
In an exclusive statement for the Courier, the district provided this response:
“On the 13th of December, three trustees, Mr. Noah Margo, Dr. Amanda Stern and Mrs. Mary Wells, received a Notice of Intent to Circulate a Recall Petition. The Notice specified the reasons for circulation of the Petition and the reasons were common for a Notice. The procedure for initiating a recall of an elected official is set forth in the state’s Elections Code. Based on information from the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk regarding a potential 2021 Special Standalone Election, a special election related to a recall would approximately cost the Beverly Hills Unified School District upwards of $500, 000 of taxpayer money. Should a recall election be successful, the District may be required to hold another special election that would incur an approximate cost upwards of $500,000, for a total of $1,000,000 of taxpayer money.”
As stated in California Elections Code 11006, “proponents begin the recall of an elective officer, including any officer appointed in lieu of election or to fill a vacancy, by the service, filing and publication or posting of a notice of intention to circulate a recall petition.” According to California law, if the voting population is less than 50,000, the number of signatures required for a recall petition is 20%. In Beverly Hills, where there are roughly 21,000 registered voters, proponents must gather about 4,200 valid signatures.
“BHUSD values and respects all of our community members and The Board of Education has gone to great lengths to ensure that every individual who desires to speak has been heard,” Dr. Bregy said regarding the incident with Faintich and subsequent public outcry. “The Board of Education is permitted to limit Public Comment time to 20 minutes per topic and remove ceded time. Instead of doing this, they have listened to over 4 hours of public comment over the last month on this single subject and have taken this matter under extensive consideration. The ongoing grandstanding, all in the name of defending an adult who initiated blatant aggressive and physical contact toward a student, has garnered no change in the decision by the Superintendent.”