County school board elections shifted

Filing period from July 16 to August 10

San Benito County Office of Education Superintendent Krystal Lomanto.

A new state law is moving the date of the election of San Benito County’s Board of Education trustees from June to November, county election officials said this week.

That means the new filing period for filing as a candidate for one of the two open board seats begins July 16, and closes Aug. 10, said Angela Curro, assistant county clerk.

The new law did not affect the election dates for county schools superintendent. That election will occur in June, as it has in previous years, Curro said.

Schools Supt. Krystal Lomanto, former San Benito High School principal, was first elected in 2014. She has filed documents indicating she intends to seek re-election. Thus far, she is the only candidate.

The board seat held by retired educator and current president of the county school board, Joan Campbell-Garcia, also is up for re-election. Campbell-Garcia was elected president in December. She now has until July to decide or announce that she is seeking reelection.

The other board seat is held by Mitchell Dabo, who has been a board member for more than 30 years. He also now has until July to decide whether to seek re-election, although he has said he intends to resign from the board.

Lomanto said Dabo has not indicated when he will resign.

In December, Dabo chose not seek to be reelected to a second one-year term as president by his fellow trustees.

Dabo said on Dec. 1 he would resign his school board seat, citing fallout from a civil court ruling in November that he illegally took money from a charitable trust.

“I know this has been hard on everyone, the articles, the accusations, the office under attack, etc.,” Dabo wrote Lomanto on Dec. 1 in an email. “I will resign my position. I just don’t know when I’ll do it.”

A Superior Court trial in San Benito ended with a civil ruling that Dabo violated state probate laws and diverted money from a charitable trust to his own accounts, denying the Community Foundation for San Benito Country more than $640,000 in money for local charities.

Dabo initially had said only that he would not seek reelection by his fellow trustees to a third consecutive year as president of the school board, but stopped short of saying he would quit the board, where he has served for 34 years.

He is currently under investigation by the San Benito County District Attorney, following a criminal investigation by the Hollister Police Department.

Police had examined a binder of evidence of – canceled checks, bank statements and court documents –showing withdrawals of money from the Matulich Charitable Trust by Dabo. The evidence was presented at the trial of Dabo’s civil lawsuit by the Community Foundation for San Benito County.

A Superior Court judge on Nov. 13 awarded the foundation $1.74 million in damages, plus legal fees estimated at $85,000.

Lomanto and the district’s trustees all have consistently denied any comment on the civil suit, or on the evidence that Dabo was responsible for diverting large sums of money from a charitable trust to his own accounts or on Dabo’s status with the board.

Dabo did not attend the November or December board meetings, but did attend the January meeting. The board’s next meeting is Feb .8.

Campbell-Garcia is a former teacher at San Andreas Continuation High School and has a strong interest in vocational education.

The county school board is made up of five representatives, one from each of the supervisor districts. Campbell-Garcia is the representative for District 3. Dabo is the representative for District 4.

The governing board is the policy-making body of the county office of education, which oversees alternative and special education and provides support to the county’s 11 different school districts.

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