The following is a story by the Foothills Sentry newspaper, a Voice of OC media partner covering Orange, Villa Park, Orange Park Acres, Anaheim Hills, North Tustin, Silverado Canyon, and Modjeska Canyon.
This story was published in the Sentry’s January 2016 edition.
An Orange County Superior Court judge handed Mark Wayland, trustee for the Orange Unified School District, a win Wednesday (Jan 6) in his lawsuit challenging the accuracy of the candidate statement of Gregory Salas for the March special election.
Superior Court Judge Richard Luesebrink said there was “good cause” for Salas, who is running to represent the Anaheim Hills portion of the school district, to delete statements that he is a former OUSD governing board member and that he was endorsed by Wayland. The judge also ordered Salas to change a statement saying “if you return me to the OUSD board” to “if you elect me to the OUSD board.”
“Voters needed to know that Mr. Salas was a provisional appointee – he was never elected,” Wayland said in a statement. “In fact, Mr. Salas served just 38 days and attended only two meetings before voters terminated his appointment.”
Despite his successful legal action, Wayland took responsibility for his part in appointing Salas last year.
“As for my part, I regretted almost immediately casting a vote to provisionally appoint Mr. Salas,” he said. “I should have done more to ensure he had the right kind of experience to do this job.”
The judge’s order did not come as a surprise to Salas, who had already agreed to make the changes demanded by Wayland. He now looks forward to talking with voters about ways the school district can improve its buildings.
“We all need to be working in the same direction,” Salas said. “We need to focus on the kids. How can we improve our education for kids? We need better science labs and chemistry labs.”
On the fence
Mark Wayland is reconsidering his resignation from the Orange Unified School District’s Board of Trustees, claiming he plans to make a decision in January. He unexpectedly announced his resignation last month.
Wayland said many community members asked him not to leave the school board, which has been under siege by those who did not support the board’s appointment of Gregory Salas. Salas was appointed to fill a vacant seat representing the Anaheim Hills portion of the district.
“I’ve been hit seven ways from Sunday on this [resignation],” Wayland said. “I’m going to let this rest until next year.”
Salas’ opponents see him as unqualified, arguing that he lacks experience in education. Petitioners collected signatures to force a special election for his seat, and the Registrar of Voters, in October, certified that it collected enough valid signatures to do so.
One to be seated
Andrea Yamasaki, a Canyon High School PTSA board member, and Salas have since filed paperwork to run for the one vacant trustee seat in a vote-by-mail election on March 1. The election is expected to cost the district between $326,656 and $385,046.
In another twist in the special election, Wayland filed a lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court, alleging that Salas’ ballot statement falsely included his endorsement, even though Wayland only voted to provisionally appoint Salas as a trustee.
Wayland disagrees with the assertion that his vote for Salas’ appointment is a de facto endorsement.
“I think they are two different things,” he said.
The suit also claims that it is misleading for Salas to claim he is a “former OUSD Governing Board Member.” It asks the court to compel the Registrar of Voters to remove these alleged false portions from the ballot pamphlet.
Salas said he plans to make the changes demanded by Wayland.
“We’ve already redone it, and I think it will work,” he reported.