ONTARIO — Former Ontario High School graduates and others voiced their support during a school board meeting on Monday for Eddie Melendrez, one of the two finalists, to be selected to fill the vacancy on the Ontario School Board of Directors. That support came during the public comment portion of the meeting during which the two finalists also spoke. The last to address the board was Jaime Taylor-Blumer, who voluntarily stepped out of the race at that time.
After narrowing down the candidates to Melendrez and Taylor-Blumer on May 9, the board’s four members were split on who to pick. They declared an impasse, wanting to pick it up at a future meeting.
During public comment, a large amount of support was shown for Melendrez by various members of the community who shared their experiences with how he had impacted their lives.
The first public comment came from an Ontario High School graduate, Adam Nungaray, who said he met Melendrez through work crew. He said Melendrez helped show him that he could do better for himself, and because of that, he was able to stand before the board as the mature adult he is today.
He also said the two connected through boxing, noting Melendrez would be assisting him in training for an upcoming boxing match.
Carmen Andrea Cisneros, an Ontario High School graduate, said she also met Melendrez through her time on work crew, as a result of her large number of absences. She said Melendrez played a huge role in her life by pushing her forward, and making her believe she can achieve great things.
Cisneros said she appreciated that Melendrez looked at her as a human being, rather than another project to fix.
Throughout the remainder of the public comment portion of the meeting, the community continued to express their support for Melendrez, including a letter submitted to the board with a total of 22 signatures.
The newspaper obtained a copy of that letter, which was drafted in English and Spanish. In addition to a proven and active history of supporting and changing lives of student, the letter states that Melendrez has an in-depth understanding of “poverty, culture and the obstacles our families face.”
It further stated that Melendrez represents the majority of the community served by the board, and that the majority of the citizens and children in Ontario “are Hispanic or Latino, yet they are severely underrepresented.”
The letter concluded stating that if the board understood the power and importance of the representation of the majority of people it serves, Melendrez was “the only responsible option.”
When Melendrez addressed the board, he pointed out a few concerns mentioned by members Eric Evans and Craig Geddes during the May 9 meeting, including that his children attend a different school and that he is involved in other activities that may conflict with his participation as a board member. Melendrez reiterated that he wants to give back to all of the youth throughout the entirety of the community.
Finally, Taylor-Blumer took the podium, where she praised Melendrez for his work within the community. She said she was tired of stalled decisions by the board and that if Melendrez could hold accountability, and be an advocate for all the children, she would support him, as well.
She then conceded her candidacy.
Following public comments, Eric Evans motioned to appoint Melendrez as the new Ontario school board member, seconded by Vice-Chairwoman Blanca Rodriguez.
The motion was carried unanimously.
As a result, Melendrez will serve in his first school board meeting on June 27, starting at 7 p.m.