Orange Unified School Board members Rick Ledesema and Madison Miner’s political fate could head to voters in a recall election after proponents gathered more than enough signatures to force the move.
Orange County Registrar of Voters Bob Page initially confirmed Monday morning that enough valid signatures were present to force a recall election.
“On Friday, I certified the sufficiency of petitions submitted by voters of the Orange Unified School District to recall two members of the District’s Board of Trustees – Madison Miner and Rick Ledesma,” Page said in a Monday morning email.
“The examination of the random sample of the signatures on each petition predicted the Miner petition contained 119.1% of the number of required valid signatures and the Ledesma petition contained 118.3%,” Page said, noting that the state threshold is 110%.
But Page rescinded those certifications late Monday afternoon after it was discovered the sample size wasn’t big enough.
Page said he sampled 3% of the submitted signatures, instead of the 5% required for recall elections.
“We will generate new random samples of 5% of the signatures on each petition to examine before the deadline of November 9, 2023,” Page said in a Monday afternoon email.
Shortly after publication, Ledesma provided a statement through text message:
“This is what happens when you advocate for parents rights and the protection of children from forced indoctrination in beliefs and values that don’t align with their family.
Especially in the undocumented and communities of color!”
Miner didn’t respond to phone messages or text messages for comment.
Organizers behind the recall say it stems from the abrupt firing of Superintendent Gunn Marie Hansen over this past winter break – a move that drew concerns about violations of the state’s open meeting laws.
Over the past few years, school boards have become the new local political battlegrounds – wrestling with issues such as ethnic studies and COVID measures.
Recently, school board officials adopted a transgender notification policy, which requires staff to alert parents if a student identifies as a different sex than what’s listed on their birth certificate.
Many people supported the change, saying it’s in the children’s best interest for their parents to know.
Yet a host of others said that kind of disclosure could put children in unsafe situations.
It’s a policy that’s been considered by school boards throughout California after the Chino
Valley School District first adopted the parental notification policy over the summer.
The issue has also caught the eye of the state’s top cop, Attorney General Rob Bonta.
Bonta successfully got an injunction barring any enforcement of the policy against Chino Valley Unified and has warned other school districts about going down the same path.
“By enacting policies that forcibly out students against their own wishes, school districts violate these fundamental protections and risk breaching their obligation to serve these and all students equally,” Bonta said in a Sept. 26 news release.
At Orange Unified’s Sept. 6 meeting, Ledesma said the Attorney General has bigger things to worry about.
“I say you have bigger fish to fry in terms of the crime rate in the State of California than working on your politicizing at the school board level.”
Update: Nearly four hours after this story was published, the Orange County Registrar of Voters said they’re going to have to redo signature verification for both recalls due to not using the 5% threshold required for recall initiatives. The story and headline now reflect the situation.
Spencer Custodio is the civic editor. You can reach him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerCustodio.
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