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In the Garvey District : Rivalry Splits School Board

November 03, 1985|MIKE WARD | Times Staff Writer

Three incumbents on the Garvey School Board are receiving strong opposition from a fellow board member as they run for reelection against five challengers in a lively campaign leading to Tuesday's election.

Three seats are at stake in the district, which serves parts of Rosemead, Monterey Park and San Gabriel.

Robert Miranda, whose term has two more years to run, has distributed letters and flyers accusing the incumbents of either misusing or permitting misuse of district credit cards, ignoring child-abuse complaints and blindly following the recommendations of the district superintendent.

Raul (Tony) Garcia, one of the incumbents running for reelection, said Miranda's accusations are "scurrilous' and called him a maverick board member who has "used every means to discredit people."

Duff School Discipline

Miranda said fellow board members are unfit to remain in office because they ignored child-abuse complaints that he brought to the board's attention in early 1983. Miranda said students at Duff School were disciplined by being tied to chairs and forced to kneel for hours.

Garcia said there were problems at the school, and the board corrected them by taking actions that were justified by the evidence. He said he could not fully elaborate because of restrictions on disclosures about personnel matters, but the board did everything it should have.

Garcia also labeled as false Miranda's assertion that other board members do no more than ratify the recommendations of district Supt. Andrew J. Viscovich. And, he said, the credit card issue, which Miranda raised earlier this year, is being resolved through tighter controls on credit card use, including an audit of expenditures.

Other incumbents seeking reelection are board President John Nunez and longtime board member Carl Van Winkle. Opposing them on a slate endorsed by Miranda are Gilbert Barron, Virginia Gutierrez and I. C. Willie. The other candidates are Judy Chu and Maria Cruz Flores.

Barron has welcomed Miranda's support but he said he does not know whether it helps or hinders his candidacy. Barron, a former board member, said that he was outspoken when he served on the board, and that outspoken people, like him and Miranda, gather both supporters and detractors.

Earlier this year, Miranda accused Nunez of misusing a school district credit card that is issued to board members for expenditures at conferences, lunches and other occasions involving school business. On a 4-1 vote, with Miranda dissenting, the board in May ratified Nunez's expenditures without requiring him to itemize them. Miranda continued his criticism, however, and Nunez ultimately submitted documents to justify the expenses for such items as lunch with the district superintendent.

Offended by Accusation

Nunez said he was so offended by Miranda's accusations that he declined at first to explain his expenditures item-by-item.

"I had nothing to hide, but maybe I made a mistake in not itemizing things right away," Nunez said. He said the disputed expenditures involved only $300 out of a $17-million district budget.

Since the credit card issue arose, the board has adopted new policies that tighten controls on expenditures by board members. And a school board committee is auditing all expenditures, including those by credit card, made by board members over the past year. It has notified both Nunez and Miranda that they must supply additional receipts or repay several hundred dollars, said Garcia, a member of the audit committee. Garcia also said he believes that the disputed expenditures were made for legitimate purposes, but that the money should be repaid unless the proper receipts can be produced. The fifth board member, Jim Smith, is the other member of the two-member audit committee.

The county schools office also has been looking into the expenditures of Miranda and Nunez at the request of Miranda and teachers.

Another issue in the campaign has been a proposal by the Alhambra School District to buy 42 acres already developed with homes in the Garvey District for a high school site, displacing hundreds of families. The Garvey District lies completely within the larger Alhambra District and Garvey residents are also Alhambra District residents. The Garvey District, with its 12 schools and 7,100 students, provides education from kindergarten through eighth grade. The Alhambra District provides high school education for children of the area. Nevertheless, all the Garvey candidates have gone on record against the 42-acre site and some have questioned whether a high school should be built anywhere in the Garvey area.

Variety of Issues

Candidates in their campaigns are also stressing a variety of issues, ranging from test scores to leadership.

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