Steven J. Frogue, who survived two recall attempts amid allegations that he was anti-Semitic, has resigned from the South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees.
In a four-sentence letter to board President Nancy Padberg dated Sunday, Frogue said his resignation would be effective Friday, five months before the end of his second term.
"It is time for me to move on to new challenges and new opportunities to serve in other capacities," he wrote.
Frogue, 57, said in his letter that his recent retirement after 33 years as a history teacher at Foothill High in Tustin made his decision to resign easier.
Trustee Dorothy Fortune said Frogue told her that by resigning from the board at the same time he retired he would dramatically increase his pension by adding his years as a trustee. Fortune said he told her he had to make the decision by the end of the month.
Trustee David Lang said he had heard the same thing from other board members.
Frogue could not be reached for comment.
Padberg said she would recommend that the board appoint a replacement rather than hold a special election.
Frogue was first elected in 1992.
In his 7 1/2 years on the board, Frogue earned the enmity of professors, students, gays and Jews. The attempt to recall him in 1998 was endorsed by the state Republican Party and the county Democratic Party. Still, he was reelected, and his opponents were not able to gather enough signatures for a recall vote.
Frogue, who was accused of downplaying the Holocaust, became the center of controversy in 1997, when he planned a seminar on President Kennedy's assassination featuring two speakers who wrote for an anti-Semitic newspaper.
In a letter to college district trustees, the Orange County Human Relations Commission said Frogue had alarmed them with a "detailed denunciation of the Anti-Defamation League as well as defense of the extremists he invited as speakers."
Asked Monday if Frogue were anti-Semitic, Lang, who is Jewish, said, "I think there have been a number of things attributed to him over the years that would indicate he is less than a tolerant individual."
Fortune said Frogue always put the students first. "He has been maligned and slandered, but he never ceased doing an excellent job on the board."
Frogue's opponents, who already had been raising money to replace him and other board members in November, expressed surprise at the news.
Buckner Coe, a retired United Church of Christ minister who led the recall attempt, said Frogue attracted intolerance. "He encouraged a mentality about Jews and other minorities that is just not suitable in our public officials," Coe said. "He doesn't belong in public office, and I'm glad he's out.