Tyrone “Ty” Humes was unanimously appointed to a school board vacancy in late April but lost his seat last week when the San Dieguito Faculty Association, with parental help, collected more than 700 signatures calling for a special election. (Only 399 were needed.)
Now Humes, a 57-year-old Torrey Hills resident, wants to regain his Area 5 seat in the upscale San Dieguito Union High School District.
In a phone interview last week, the divorced father of two said he’ll run as the incumbent. He says he represents the interests of parents and has their “unwavering and complete support.”
But he also rapped the SDFA — the teachers union that “disappointed and saddened” him for abetting his removal from the board.
“There was no consistency in pushing for the special election,” he said, since in 2003 the “same exact situation” occurred — a vacancy filled by board appointment. “Except it was a candidate [the union] selected. They did not move for a special election.”
Duncan Brown, president of the teachers union after being vice president for 16 years, doesn’t recall the 2003 appointment but doubts Humes’ account.
“I don’t remember that happening,” he said of his union advocating for the appointee. “The faculty association was working collaboratively with the district at the time. I’m sure that the faculty association didn’t have any real say in who they appointed.”
A better recollection comes from Joseph “Joe” Stine, the lawyer named to the San Dieguito governing board Jan. 7, 2003, after Trustee Susan Hartley resigned.
“I did not solicit the support of the teachers union and, to the best of my recollection, the union did not weigh in on my appointment,” Stine said Monday via email.
Stine, a 2012 donor to Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential race, said he was interviewed alongside 10 other candidates and was unanimously selected to fill the vacancy.
“Post-appointment, I was an independent voice for what, in my judgment, was in the best interests of the district and its students without regard to whether it pleased or displeased the union,” he said. “Union representatives made no effort to secure my support or allegiance during my two-year board term. I made no attempt to curry favor with any union representative at any time.”
Therefore, Stine said, “I do not believe that union politics had anything to do with the absence of any serious talk about holding a special election for the seat which I filled.”
Humes has his fans nonetheless, including Allison Stratton, a director of the Parents Association group formed in North County to push for a faster, wider in-person reopening of schools during the pandemic.
Stratton said Humes, in his short tenure, visited all sites and met personally with all principals and assistant principals.
“He met with all of the Student Groups (BSU, LBGTQPlus, ASU) and ASBs at all schools,” she said. “He attended Sunset’s Dodgeball Game with faculty and students, the [Pacific Trails Middle School] 8th Grade Carnival, the PTMS Yearbook Signing and the PTMS graduation, the [Canyon Crest Academy] Foundation Gala and a [Career Technical Education] State School Awards Virtual Ceremony.”
The first Black on the school board was the first trustee to meet with all minority student groups, she added, “and he devised a plan for their inclusion.”
“Anyone who watched the last board meeting could see that Trustee Humes added an impressive level of wisdom and experience to board discussions,” she concluded. “How terrible that the SDFA’s shameless stunt will waste $500-$650k out of the general fund and will temporarily deprive the district of a fine leader. I am confident he will win the election but what a waste of time, energy and money.”
The district hopes to save $150,000 on a special election, however, by conducting it by mail.
At 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, the school board will consider a resolution to fill the Area 5 seat that Kristin Gibson left in mid-March.
The cost of the special election, estimated at $450,000 to $650,000, “is an unplanned expenditure that will negatively impact the district’s budget, and the board wishes to take action to help reduce this significant expenditure,” the resolution says, calling for an all-mail ballot election “as authorized by Elections Code section 4004.“
No election date is specified, though.
Humes, in his chat with Times of San Diego, also faulted the faculty union for having “removed a voice” for Area 5, which he called the largest and most ethnically diverse in the nine-school North County district.
The union “sounded the premise that this should be an election so people have a voice,” he said. “Based on that alone, they’ve removed a voice.”
Teachers union leader Brown, a school counselor, called that framing “kind of a backward assessment.”
Humes was not elected by Area 5, Brown said. “He may reside in Area 5, but so do 25,000 other people. All we’re looking to do is to be able to have those 25,000 people be able to weigh in on who is going to represent them. So I guess technically what he is saying is accurate, but I just don’t think it holds a lot of weight.”
Although the seat is officially nonpartisan, the nation’s political divide may play a role. Humes sees his race as “a litmus test on the state if not the national level — involvement of parents in the educational process.”
“I’m here as a healer,” he says, who seeks collaboration from all stakeholders including parents. “I think that’s been removed from the parents. And the COVID situation has woken up the parents, not just locally but nationally.”
He added: “We may agree with the teachers union 100% on these things, but we were not invited to the table. And I’m here to represent that interest and not carry the water of any political party or any faction. “
Humes was long a registered Republican, according to county records dating to November 2006. But he’s now registered as No Party Preference — an independent. He says he doesn’t want to be pigeonholed.
In fact, when asked who he voted for in the 2020 presidential election, he demurs.
“I don’t want to get into that (to avoid) segregating people,” he said. “So I don’t think that makes a difference. But I will give you this — that in the past three presidential elections … I voted for both a Republican and a Democrat.”
Humes hammers his parental theme and what he calls his “premise” — that the teachers union lacks the parents’ interest at base.
“Their whole focus is on what’s best for them as teachers and they should dictate without collaboration [with] the parents how the district should be run,” he said. “And any candidate they put up I will [be] drilling that. … Maybe those interests at times are completely aligned with the teachers union. Maybe they’re not. But I will be addressing and representing the interests of the parents.”
He says he expects to draw support from all political stripes — even specifying “40% independent support, 30% Democratic and 30% Republican.” (He also shuns being identified with stop-the-steal groups, saying: “As far as the system in place, [Joe Biden] won legitimately.”)
He was appointed in the wake of district drama, including a lawsuit, over plans for what many teachers considered a too-soon reopening of campuses.
He said that as executive global head of business for Wondros, a “creative firm” that helps “structure the message and execution process of corporations,” he’s dealt with clients including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.
He says he’s “closely aligned” with the needs of students, who “should have been in school from Day 1. They should have had an earlier reopening based on the age of those children. From that standpoint, I’ve done my homework.”
But Humes — the former president of the Del Mar Schools Education Foundation — said: “If the parents wanted the opposite (of an early reopening), I would represent that interest.”
Humes says he’s the only board member “who actually has kids in the school district,” counting a middle-school child of his girlfriend.*
Brown of the teachers union pushes back at the notion Humes speaks for all parents.
“He represents possibly some of the parents,” Brown said. “But … a strong part of our coalition involved parents — gathering signatures to oppose his appointment and looking for a special election.”
Instead, he said, Humes should be concentrating on the best interests of students.
“And yes, parents are an important part of our community,” Brown said, “but teachers are here for our students and to make the school district as cohesive, collaborative and … work to continue to make our school district excellent — and that’s all about the students.”
After parent volunteers were halted in school cafeterias, Humes became a minimum-wage lunch supervisor at Ocean Air School in the Del Mar Union School District, where his son is in his sixth year.
“I supervised an hour a day three or four days a week,” he says.
He thus was able to get vaccinated, along with educators, in the 1B tier for nonhealth care frontline essential workers. He got the Pfizer shots at the earliest date eligible, he said.
With a recall drive looming against San Dieguito board member Michael Allman — a recall petition awaits green-lighting from the county Registrar of Voters Office — perhaps two seats may be in play soon.
But Brown welcomes a Humes bid for union backing, including money.
“We have a formal endorsement process and we would go through it like we would always do,” Brown said. “We would wait until the [candidate entry] deadline and then we would tend to reach out to anyone who has put their name in — looking to endorse the people who are running.
“And I would encourage Mr. Humes, if he is looking to run, that he would go through that process as well.”
*Correction: An earlier version of this report incorrectly reported Humes’ girlfriend as “live-in.”
Updated at 4:39 p.m. June 15, 2021