It’s important that parents and voters in the Orange Unified School District (OUSD) pay attention.
Over the past five years we have allowed the OUSD Board of Trustees to be taken over by an extremist majority that chooses to place politics ahead of our kids’ education.
A majority of these Board Members have never had and currently do not have children who attend our OUSD schools. In fact, the current majority are more connected to private schools through their own children’s enrollment, employment or marriage. This Board, who meets only once a month, instead of the standard twice a month schedule observed by most school districts in California, manages a working budget of $267 million dollars, forty-one schools and service to almost 30,000 children. There are few, if any, study sessions, no self-evaluation, no board retreats, and if the one monthly meeting they do have runs late, it takes a majority to extend the meeting past nine o’clock.
And, although board business usually centers around real estate development, not teaching and learning, this Board has yet to close a single OUSD surplus land deal with any would-be developer – not one. It even rejected a deal in hand for the Walnut site – overwhelmingly supported by Orange residents, affected property owners, City staff and County officials – that would have put millions of dollars into District coffers this year. Moreover, the school facilities bond measure failed – all because voters couldn’t trust this Board with the money.
Now this same failed Board, controlled by a misguided majority, that believes 53 percent of OUSD voters are unqualified to serve on this non-partisan body due to their political party registration, appointed yet another inexperienced political hack to the vacant Trustee Area One seat. Appointee Gregory Salas will help send this out-of-control Board crashing into the ground and our kids’ dreams along with it.
Today, however, I am proud to say that over 3,600 OUSD parents, teachers, seniors, young adults, elected officials, concerned citizens, Republicans, Democrats, and Decline-to-States, agree on one thing. They joined me and stepped up to stop this madness from continuing by signing the petition to oust Salas from his ill-gotten seat and force a Special Election some time next year. Parents like Nicole Jones who spoke so eloquently in opposition to the Salas fiasco said it best (watch below):
Now we must continue the progress we have begun. In next year’s Special Election we must recruit and unify around the single best candidate to fill the Trustee Area One seat. Once accomplishing this goal, we must complete the job by driving out the incumbents, OUSD School Board President John Ortega (Trustee Area 2), and Board Member Alexia Deligianni–Brydges (Trustee Area 3), and Board Member Mark Wayland (Trustee Area 6), in November 2016.
Only then will the failed leadership spawned by political cronyism stop. We can’t be afraid to vote for a much-needed school bond because we fear that the OUSD Board Majority will mismanage the funds and hand out multi-million contracts to their campaign donors. We can’t let phony politicians spouting meaningless political platitudes destroy our kids’ chances of getting a first-rate education. And we can’t continue to allow bullies to run our school district.
We can’t continue to let that happen here.
Diane Singer served on the OUSD board 2010-2015. She resigned her seat on July 31st, when she moved out of Trustee Area One. By law, trustees must live in their trustee area.
Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue please contact Voice of OC Engagement Editor Julie Gallego at [email protected].