Letter to Editor: Response to the comments by SSFUSD Board President

South San Francisco, CA  September 7, 2023 by Martin Romero, Resident District A, Community Leader

{update below}

 

Dear Dr Hsieh:

Thank you for your response to my questions, which are listed below along with the responses that you provided.  Unfortunately, I strongly disagree with your position, which are explained below in the REBUTTALS, to refute your response. {https://everythingsouthcity.com/2023/08/letter-to-editor-ssfusd-district-a-seat-needs-to-be-vacated-by-patricia-murray/ }

 

Dear Marty:

 

Thank you so much for your email. We strive to communicate well with our community, and we appreciate you sharing your concerns as they relate to Trustee Murray’s current residence.  The response to your memo is as follows.

 

  1. Do you have a copy of the opinion letters or emails that were prepared by your attorneys?

 

Dr. Hsieh: Yes, we do have these confidential and privileged emails and any relevant information has been accurately disclosed. All documents fall under the legal principle known as attorney- client privilege which means that communication between attorneys and clients are confidential.

 

REBUTTAL:  What you describe as “attorney-client privilege” should actually be described as a “public record”. This would make these documents subject to the “Public Records Act”, which the public has a “right to review.  There is no pending litigation for this matter to support your position.  The public has a vested interest in knowing what justification has been used to substantiate your decision.  Thus far the Board has only demonstrated a failure to act appropriately, has provided no transparency or documentation for this decision and are refusing to protect the interests of the residents in District A.

 

  1. Will you please submit a copy of the attorney’s opinions for public review?

 

Dr. Hsieh: Please see the response to question 1, above.

 

SEE ABOVE REBUTTAL TO QUESTION 1

 

  1. As an official public document, the public has a right to review a copy of the attorney opinion letters that were prepared and submitted to the Board.

 

Dr. Hsieh: Please see the response to question 1, above.

 

SEE ABOVE REBUTTAL TO QUESTION 1

 

 

  1. As you know, having already moved from District A, at this time Ms, Murray is currently ineligible to run for the Board, as a representative for District A.

 

Dr. Hsieh: Given this is a temporary relocation only, with a clear intent for her to return to her residence, we believe she remains eligible to serve in Trustee Area A.

 

REBUTTAL:  The statements “temporary relocation” and “Intent to return” are not factual statements unless they are provable statements.  The Board and Ms. Murray have failed to provide any supporting documentation for either of these statements. The only factual and provable statements not in dispute are 1) Ms. Murray has moved from District A and 2) is no longer a resident in District A.  Therefore, the Board must conclude that Ms. Murray is no longer eligible to serve on the Board as a representative for District A.

 

 

  1. As Board President was this a unilateral decision that was made to allow an extension?

 

Dr. Hsieh: Based on conferring with our legal team, we do not agree that Trustee Murray is ineligible to remain in her seat and therefore no unilateral action or decision was made for an extension. See response to question 4, above.

 

REBUTTAL:  The response to this question is ambiguous and has not been clearly answered.  If by “we” you are including yourself and the legal team, this is not acceptable.  The legal team can only provide information and advice, but is not an elected official and does not represent the public.  It would appear that this was a unilateral decision by the Board President.

 

  1. If so, what legal authority was used to make this decision for District A?

 

Dr. Hsieh: Our legal determined that Trustee Murray remains eligible to serve because in determining residency, a court will look to where an individual intends to reside.  Mauro v. Dept. of Mental Hygiene (1962) 207 Cal. App.2d 381, 389.  Courts will look at additional elements, including where the individual is registered to vote and his/her/their address for mail (Ballf v. Public Welfare Department (1957) 151 Cal.App.2d 784, 788–89); where the individual’s tax returns are filed (Johnson v. Johnson (1966) 245 Cal.App.2d 40, 44), and where the individual’s automobile is registered (8 Ops. Cal. Atty. Gen. 221 (1946)).

 

REBUTTAL:  The Mauro case is concerning residency for a mentally challenged individual.  What was interesting in this case was the courts determination as follow:

 

“The critical element is one of intent, and while the declarations of the individual in this regard are important, such declarations are not determinative. The acts of the individual must be examined as well. (Mauro v. Department of Mental Hygiene (1962) 207 Cal.App.2d 381, 389.)

 

As stated previously, “temporary relocation” and “Intent to return” are not factual statements unless they are provable statements.  These declarations are not determinative.  The act of moving from District A must be examined and cannot be disregarded.

 

 

The Balif case also cited above involved a civil service employee in San Francisco who was terminated for failure to meet SF residency requirement.  The employee appealed.  The question asked under appeal if the employee ceased to be a resident of S.F and thereby provided cause for his dismissal?

 

The residency requirement was as follows:

 

. . . All employees . . . shall continue to be a resident of the city and county during incumbency of office or employment, and upon ceasing to be such resident, shall be removed from office or employment; . . .

 

The appeal was denied and the decision to terminate the employee was upheld.  Did you read this court case (see attached link)?  If so, it is surprising that you would cite this case to support your decision that Ms. Murray may remain in office.  This case clearly indicates that removal from office is justified, “upon ceasing to be a resident”.

 

Ballf v. Public Welfare Department, 151 Cal.App.2d 784 | Casetext Search + Citator

 

 

  1. Before the decision was made, was this matter discussed in a public hearing by the entire Board and did the Board vote to approve or deny an extension?

 

Dr. Hsieh: Please see the response to question 5, above.

 

REBUTTAL:  The question has not been answered.  This type of decision is policy matter that should be decided by the entire Board.  It is not the type of decision that should be made by one individual.

 

  1. What is the current SSFUSD District Policy, when a board member has moved out of the district?

 

Dr. Hsieh: If a Board member has ceased to be an inhabitant of the state or resident of the district with no intent to return, that makes that an event that can cause a vacancy.  When a vacancy occurs, the Board will act as appropriate to fill a vacancy which may be taking no action if the vacancy occurs less than four months before the end of a Board member’s term; if it’s within 60 days of the date of the vacation or the filing of a resignation, the Board may order an election or make a provisional appointment unless a special election needs to occur. However, given the above referenced information, there is no the belief that Trustee Murray has permanently moved out of the district and has a clear intent to return to her residence when her home has been renovated.

 

REBUTTAL:  Ms. Murray has move from District A and has failed to provide any supporting documentation to support her intent to return.  The only factual and provable statements not in dispute are 1) Ms. Murray has moved from District A and 2) is no longer a resident in District A.  The Board cannot disregard these facts or assume that someday Ms. Murray will return.  The Board must make an informed decision based only on facts.  Based on these facts they must conclude that Ms. Murray is no longer eligible to serve on the Board as a representative for District A.

 

 

  1. Is there an established SSFUSD Board Policy (similar to the City of SSF policy that allows 30 days), which would allow an extended amount of time beyond the day that the property was vacated?

 

Dr. Hsieh: We are unclear on what the City of South San Francisco does but please see our response to question 8, above.

 

REBUTTAL:  The question has not been answered.  The answer to question 8 does not address question 9.  I must ask again and will try to clarify the question.

 

Is there an established SSFUSD Board Policy, which would allow an extended amount of time to remain on the Board, after a Board Member has moved out of the District?  Yes or No?

 

 

  1. In the letter from the property manager, did Patricia Murray enter into a contractual agreement with the owner of the property to purchase or lease the property?

 

Dr. Hsieh: We are not able to respond to this question. That information would need to come directly from Trustee Murray as the property ownership would be between them and her, not SSFUSD.

 

REBUTTAL:  It has been stated that Ms. Murray has submitted a letter from the property manager, to support her statement of intent to return. A statement of intent is not a factual statement unless it is provable.  Ms. Murray has failed to provide any supporting documentation to prove this statement.

 

  1. Did the Board and your attorneys confirm that the letter submitted by the property manager is a legally binding contract or lease agreement?

 

Dr. Hsieh: This item has not come before the Board so there has been no Board discussion on this item.

 

REBUTTAL:  It would appear that the Board will be discussing a topic that directly relates to this situation on September 7, 2023.  I would request that the letter be included as part of the public record.

 

  1. A letter in lieu of a contract and/or Ms. Murray’s verbal or written statement of intent to return to District A, are insufficient proof that Ms. Murray will actually return to the residence or to District A.

 

Dr. Hsieh: After conferring with our attorneys on this item via Superintendent Moore, based on the legal precedence shaped by the applicable case law (as cited in question 6), and because Trustee Murray intends to maintain her residence in Trustee Area A, we believe there is sufficient support for Trustee Murray to remain in her seat.

 

REBUTTAL:  I don’t want to repeat myself so please see previous rebuttals to the responses provided to questions 1 to 11.

I will close this discussion with this statement.

If you put three attorneys in separate rooms and ask them for advice to a single question, you will likely receive three different answers.  Please bear in mind that what you receive is only advice.  You and the Board are the decision makers not your attorneys.    

 

Sincerely,

REBUTTALS by Martin Romero, Resident of District A in the SSFUSD

 

Thank you.

 

Chialin

———————————

Dr. Chialin Hsieh

Board President

South San Francisco Unified School District

South San Francisco, CA 94080

chsieh@ssfusd.org | www.ssfusd.org

 



UPDATE 9.7.23 4:50pm

Thank you to a neighbor for sharing this updated info on the meeting this evening and reminding us if we want our voices heard, we must attend the meetings.

SSFUSD Board meeting this evening and starts at 7:00 p.m. and will be held at Baden High School. If you have an opinion on agenda item N. 2. A. Trustee Residency and Board Vacancy Process, you can fill out a card and then you will be allowed to speak.

 

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SSF Resident
SSF Resident
25 days ago

The smirk from Murray after she herself posed a question about what it would take a person in removing her from office is narcissistic and so disappointing.

A person with respect to District elections would remove themselves without any need for public outcry and take a step back to think if indeed remaining on Board is prioritizing students and setting a “conscience” example, rather than demonstrating attitude of “you can’t win city hall (power over people).” Being elected to represent their District at Board level should not be taken as a given, nor be self-righteously appointed, if and when residency requirements disqualify the member whom was elected by the voters. The explanations given of where mail is received and DMV records is absurd.

Actions by Murray tonight caused divisiveness and more resentment, with added distrust in fairness and democracy afforded to public. Her actions tonight are not admirable ways to be remembered. All the “good” went out the door.

All respects to Board member Mina Richardson for standing true to herself in asking questions on behalf of constituents to whom she was elected to represent and in questioning the “representation.”

It was disheartening that at NO time were students mentioned during the presentation or how all of this affects the students.

L G
L G
25 days ago

We no longer have students in public schools and we are not in District A, however, it seems this person should step down for the benefit of our children. She doesn’t live there, end of story.
LG

Cory David
Cory David
25 days ago

THREE SIMPLE RULES FOR GOVERNANCE IN SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO.

RULE #1: MAKE IT UP AS YOU GO ALONG

RULE #2 GOOD INTENTIONS SUPERSEDE THE LAW

RULE #3: IGNORE THE RESIDENTS

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, NO LONGER THE INDUSTRIAL CITY, IT’S THE PLACE DEMOCRACY WENT TO DIE.