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San Diego Unified trustee Luis Acle is unlikely to fight his disqualification from running in this fall’s school board race, and will probably retreat from public service, he said today.

Acle failed to collect the 200 valid signatures required to put his name on the ballot. Though Acle, the board’s former president, gathered 310 signatures, only 127 were ruled valid by the registrar, according to the Union-Tribune. To be valid, the signer needs to be a registered voter and live in the areas that Acle is seeking to represent.

The dust-up is the second time Acle has failed to get enough signatures for the school board race. In 2004, Acle fell 30 signatures short, but fought his disqualification and won.

Asked if he would take the matter to court again, Acle said, “I don’t think so. The reality is that, all of that requires not just time but also money.”

Acle could also rejoin the race as a write-in candidate, but the trustee said he wasn’t coordinating a write-in effort, noting that it would require “a tremendous groundswell” of support, and “rarely succeeds.”

If Acle doesn’t get back on the ballot, the race is currently a cakewalk for his sole challenger Richard Barrera, a labor organizer who lost his bid for county supervisor in 2006. The deadline for new challengers to register has been extended to Wednesday.

“I happen to think it’s an extreme requirement,” Acle said of the 200-signature minimum, citing lower signature requirements for other political offices in California.

Yet collecting signatures wasn’t a barrier for any other candidate, including political newcomers Xeng Yang and Marjorie Thomas, a computer teacher and a veteran math teacher running for incumbent Shelia Jackson’s seat. Asked why he had trouble drumming up support, Acle cited his upcoming hearing before the city’s Ethics Commission, which has alleged that Acle violated election laws, including not paying consultants and not disclosing campaign expenses.

“Some [voters] said to me they were reluctant to sign my petition because of the matter that has been raised by the Ethics Commission, and that they would otherwise be willing to sign,” Acle said, discussing his door-to-door campaign for signatures. “That was an important factor.”

If he stays out of the school board race, Acle said he wouldn’t be back in the public sector — at least, not soon.

“I’ve devoted some time to public sector activities once a decade,” he said, listing his past work in the Reagan White House and an advisor to a U.S. Senate committee. “I don’t expect to do anything in the public sector. Once a decade’s about right.”

EMILY ALPERT

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