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UPDATE: Judge upholds Winkler ouster from board

Posted: June 24, 2014 12:45 p.m.
Updated: June 24, 2014 4:06 p.m.

Stephen Winkler was removed from the Saugus Union School District board last June because he does not live within the district. Signal file photo

 

Ruling in favor of the Saugus Union School District, a judge has determined that ousted school board member Stephen Winkler is not eligible to hold his seat, district officials said Tuesday.

The district received notification Monday that Judge Steven J. Kleifield had ruled Winkler “has usurped, intruded into and unlawfully held and exercised the office of trustee of the Saugus Union School District, and is not entitled to, and is excluded from the office,” according to the issued default judgment.

Winkler’s seat on the board was declared vacant in June 2013 after evidence emerged that he may live in Sylmar — outside the boundaries of the Saugus district — and was therefore ineligible to hold his seat.

Winkler was also censured last June as a result of his admitted online postings containing sympathetic references to Nazism and depictions of animal cruelty.

After those postings came to light, some members of the public called for Winkler to resign.

But the school board member repeatedly said he would not step down.

Reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, Winkler said he had not yet been informed of the ruling but he was not caught off guard at the outcome.

“I’m not surprised,” he said. “I expected the ruling to be in their favor.”
Winkler continues to maintain the claims that he lives outside the district are untrue.

The district’s attention now turns toward figuring out how to fill Winkler’s position on the five-seat board.

“The board is relieved that we are now given the opportunity to fill the vacated board seat,” Saugus board President Paul De La Cerda said in a statement. “We feel validated that the court upheld our previous actions to remove Stephen Winkler from office.”

The Saugus board will hold a special meeting Thursday at 7:30 p.m. to consider whether to call a special election or appoint someone to fill the remainder of Winkler’s term, which lasts through November 2015.

The district will have to make a similar determination to fill the seat for board member Doug Bryce, who was re-elected November 2013 but announced last month that he intends to resign his seat as he is moving out of the area.

Winkler said he’s not sure what the future holds for him,  but he plans to campaign for Gov. Jerry Brown and Hillary Clinton.

“I believe God has a will and he has a purpose in my life,” he said. “And we’ll just take it from there.”

Lmoney@signalscv.com
661-287-5525
On Twitter @LukeMMoney

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