The Val Verde Unified School District’s board president, Matthew Serafin, is facing mounting pressure to step down from his position following his second DUI arrest in less than five years.
Serafin’s behavior extends beyond his legal troubles, with complaints of foul language and unprofessional conduct during board meetings.
As the controversy deepens, concerned parents and board members are demanding accountability and change in the 19,000-student district located in Riverside County.
Serafin’s most recent encounter with the law occurred on August 27 when he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence after reportedly colliding with a parked car.
This incident marked the second DUI arrest for Serafin, as court records reveal he was previously convicted in 2018 for driving under the influence, with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher. In addition to his DUI history, Serafin also faced misdemeanor vandalism charges in 2015 related to purported vehicle burglaries.
During a recent board meeting, nearly a dozen individuals expressed their concerns about Serafin’s continued presence as board president. Dolores Holmes, a concerned parent, made a heartfelt statement, emphasizing the impact of Serafin’s actions on the community and children. She questioned the appropriateness of Serafin’s behavior, both as a school board member and in his personal life, asking whether he truly represented positive attributes for the students.
“I came here today to let you know that all the decisions made by you affect my children, the children of our community, and my family. Yes, we all make mistakes and deserve a second chance, however, not the same mistakes over and over again,” stated Holmes. “I’m a believer that our words and our actions encourage or discourage people. Do you really think you are encouraging positive attributes to our students as our president?”
In response, Serafin acknowledged his imperfections but maintained his resolve to become a better person. “I am not a saint. I take responsibility, and I pray daily to the creator, to my ancestors, to the sun and to the moon. I strive to be a better person and will be a better person,” he declared.
Serafin’s troubles extend beyond his legal issues. Concerns have also emerged about his conduct during board meetings, including his use of foul language. School board member Melinda Young called for Serafin to resign due to his history of using inappropriate language at public meetings, echoing the sentiments of parents who had previously complained about his unprofessional behavior behind the dais.
Although Young proposed Serafin’s resignation during a board vote, the motion failed by a tied 2-2 vote.
Serafin’s supporters argue that the DUI arrest should not impact his role on the board, while others, including Erika Zamora, have expressed that it’s time for a change as Serafin’s actions do not align with the district’s values.
Despite growing calls for his resignation, Serafin has given no indication that he plans to step down from the board. In his first public statement after his most recent arrest, he described it as a “personal matter” and remained tight-lipped on the issue. Serafin cited personal challenges, including the recent deaths of his great-grandmother and grandfather, as a contributing factor to his actions.
The controversy surrounding Matthew Serafin’s behavior and legal issues is undeniably shaking the Val Verde Unified School District, raising critical questions about leadership, accountability, and the representation of community values in the education system.