The MUSD Board Meeting that Turned Them to Special Election

Milpitas Unified School District Board of Trustees had a vacancy on the board. Eight candidates were lined up for an appointment process at the school board meeting on August 13, 2019.

From the only two pieces of public records that MUSD released so far (after a long wait), we can restore most of what happened and something is seriously amiss.

Throughout the meeting, the superintendent had control of all ranking sheets and she tallied them wrong. We caught the moment during the time the superintendent was tallying the ranking sheets when she walked over to a board member with a sheet to have her write something on it. From the video replay, no words were spoken by the two when these happened.

We would like to question: why did the superintendent do the tallying? Why not let someone else, say the student representative tally it up?

The drama does not stop there. Another board member changed her scoring. All these changes were allowed by the president, and these changes move toward the direction of changing the leading candidate’s first-place standing.

The superintendent even announced an erroneous tally result to help change the ranking. Ling had been leading in both scoring and ranking, even after the changes were allowed. However, through the manipulation of the superintendent, the process was dragged on for almost 5 hours, before what an outsider can easily tell a favorite of the superintendent was sworn in hastily.

Many people thought the appointment process was unfair. Some were dissatisfied that the board turned down someone who would potentially challenge the status quo of the school district.

Starting the end of August, in just two weeks, hundreds of registered voters signed the petition to call for a special election. On September 11, the petition was filed. On October 11, 30 days after the petition submission, the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters completed the verification of all signatures and the special election is confirmed to be held in March 2020.

Here is a brief timeline of the 5-hour drama.

Timeline of the Aug 13 Board Meeting

0:28:56 - Jordan announces to use two metrics: scoring and ranking. If no consensus reached with one single candidate on top for both metrics, they will continue to compare the top 3.

3:31:25 - Norwood asks board members to hand over to Jordan. Jordan and the communications specialist

3:38:00 - Communication specialist starts adding up scorecards and Jordan has all ranking sheets in hand to tally up.

3:46:44 - Jordan walks over to Kelly Yip-Chuan and Yip-Chuan writes something on the paper, while Lien announces Autumn Festival, and Norwood looking on. Yip-Chuan repeatedly stated in public that she gave both Minh and Ling #1 votes. She later on contradicted her own words and wrote an open letter to say she gave a 1-2 vote instead.

3:31:25 - 3:50:30 - No one else has seen or worked on the ranking sheets except Jordan, with the only exception when Jordan walks over to Yip-Chuan and Yip-Chuan writes on a sheet

3:50:30 - Jordan announces the result, claiming Minh received the top ranking (based on her erroneous tally) and Ling received top score. She instructs the board to discuss between the two candidates.

Interview records reveal that the tally was done erroneously. Chia-Ling Kong comes on top using the ranking metric.

3:58:30 - Norwood comments that the board is in uncharted territory and need to decide how they are going to do this together. Cheryl influences the board to select a candidate who aligns to their goals and culture

3:59:35 - Norwood allows Lien change score (increased Minh from 37 to 40, reduced Ling from 30 to 26).

4:07:44 - Yip-Chuan suggests that the board take a vote for a candidate and explain why Norwood agrees. There was no formal motion made. The vote was split 2 for Minh, 2 for Ling.

4:40:59 - Norwood changes his vote without providing any explanation on record, while the other three board members hold their vote. No motion explicitly made to appoint Minh, no second and final vote taken. Jordan swiftly swears Minh in.