MORENO VALLEY: School board member back after arrest

14 Mar

Moreno Valley Unified School Board member Mike Rios on Tuesday attended his first school board meeting since his arrest in connection with a February shooting outside his home.

Rios, elected in 2010, took his seat between members Rick Sayre and Jesus Holguin before the meeting began. He smiled at a room full of teachers, counselors, employees and students, many of whom gathered to address the board about proposed layoffs.

Board members were to consider laying off more than 320 teachers and the district’s transportation department and closing the Moreno Valley Community Adult School for the 2012-13 school year.

During public comments, Ruthee Goldkorn of Democratic Club of Moreno Valley announced that her organization is prepared to support Rios’ recall from office. She said Rios has failed to represent  the community, especially its students.

“The documents are ready to be filed at the Registrar of Voters,” she told the board. “The notice will be published in the newspaper. The community has spoken.”

People in the audience stood and held signs stating “Mike Rios Vacate Your Seat!” as another woman repeatedly demanded that Rios immediately resign. Rios and the other board members looked at her as she spoke.

Rios’ attorney, Tomasa Calienes, addressed the board and crowd and assured them that his name would be cleared.

“He really, really wants to talk about this,” she said. “I have told him not to speak. The facts will show he is innocent.”

Shortly after the meeting began, board president Tracey Vackar presented Rios with a recall petition.

Rios, 41, was released from jail last week after posting $25,000 of his $250,000 bail. He faces two counts of attempted murder, two counts of assault with a semi-automatic weapon and one count of witness intimidation.

Rios is to appear later this month for a court hearing. He has pleaded not guilty.

Moreno Valley police arrested Rios following a Feb. 12 confrontation with two men at a Moreno Valley nightclub. The men said Rios began fighting with them when they tired to dance with a woman he was with.

Police said then men followed Rios home, intending to fight him. Rios pulled a handgun in his driveway and fired four rounds into their car. No one was hurt.

Removing Rios from the school board depends on one of three things occurring: a felony conviction; Rios ceasing to perform his duties for three consecutive months; or a recall of Rios by the voters.


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