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ORANGE – October 19, 2015 – Claiming that the process used to fill a vacant Orange Unified School District (OUSD) seat was mismanaged and unfair, a group of concerned parents and teachers today delivered more than 3,670 signatures to the Orange County Superintendent of Schools office in an effort to oust the provisional appointee.

Led by former OUSD Area One Trustee Diane Singer, the group believes it has the 1,587 valid registered voter signatures it needed to gather within 30 days of the outrageous appointment – 1.5% of OUSD registration – to oust Gregory Salas and force a Special Election sometime next year.

“The Salas appointment was manipulated from the start,” she claimed. “That not only enraged me but thousands of my former school board constituents.”

Singer, who resigned her seat last July because she and her husband moved into a new home outside Trustee Area One, charged that back room deals made by OUSD Board Vice President Tim Surridge ensured that Salas, his hand-picked unqualified political crony, would get the seat she once held proudly.

According to his official Candidate Information Sheet, Salas has only lived in the OUSD for two years and has no children attending District schools. A medical sales rep, Salas admits he has no experience with a governing board.

“Greg Salas is not prepared to lead – he’s only prepared to follow Surridge’s lead,” Singer alleged. “And that’s dangerous. We cannot afford to let another inexperienced, want-to-be politician play politics with our kids’ futures.”

Surridge stated publicly that “five Republicans are not going to appoint a Democrat or a Decline to State,” a claim that suggests more than 53% of voters are unfit to serve on their non-partisan school board because of their party registration.

“Surridge and his cronies believe that party registration is a more important qualification than being a parent with children in OUSD schools,” Singer said. Surridge does not now, nor has he ever, had children attending OUSD schools.
Singer added that this is not the first-time this Surridge-controlled Board majority chose politics over experience, cronyism over qualifications and secrecy over transparency.

“Board members John Ortega, Mark Wayland and Rick Ledesma even waited for Surridge to cast his vote for Salas first, “ she said. “Then each man in lock step followed Surridge by casting their voice votes for Salas in front of a stunned crowd.”

The Special Election could cost the OUSD as much as $500,000, according to the Orange County Registrar of Voters. But Singer believes that, when put in proper context, it’s less than $5 per voter. And, if the election is conducted as an all-mail ballot election (aka all absentee ballot election), the cost could go down significantly.

“That’s a bargain compared to the millions of dollars the failed Surridge Board Majority has cost parents, teachers and students over the last five years. You may even think of it as a cost-saving measure.”

County Superintendent of Schools Al Mijares has 30 days to verify the submitted signatures. Once the 1,587 signatures are validated the Salas appointment is overturned and he is unseated. Mijares must then call a special election for a Tuesday within 130 days of certification of the petition.

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