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  • Saturday, March 24, 2007



    Orange Unified Schools DIGEST
    a news service of Orange Net News /O/N/N/

    The March 8th Orange Unified School District meeting had two agenda items placed on the OUSD Agenda by controversial OUSD Trustee Steve Rocco after he received support from OUSD Trustee Rick Ledesma to add the items over the Board majority’s objections. Ledesma had not seen the items when

    Board President Kim Nichols at the February 22nd meeting asked if another trustee would support Rocco in placing two agenda items on the OUSD Agenda. Ledesma (who in the past had been blocked from adding agenda items) said he would support Rocco in adding the items.

    The March 8th meeting surpassed its sure-to-be-controversial billing with Trustee Rick Ledesma a no-show and Trustee Melisa Smith taking her turn as the latest OUSD Trustee to tangle with Rocco in what amounted to a tense shouting match. Ten community members did speak from the audience with comments ranging from calling Rocco crazy, to calls for a recall election. A few also took the absent Ledesma to task for sponsoring the Rocco items. At one point Smith was shouting at Rocco then stormed out of the meeting (returning a short time later). The day before the Board meeting, Smith sent out the following email “invitation” to her supporters to rally them to attend the meeting:

    Subject: An Invitation

    Dear Friends,

    In 2004 the voters of Orange Unified elected an unknown member of the community as a school board trustee, Steve Rocco. At the time of his election all that was known about him was that he was an eccentric recluse with personal issues related to local government and that he had a complaint against Albertsons, Eastman Kodak and the OC Sheriff’s Department over his arrest for shoplifting.

    Since that time Mr. Rocco has used his elected position solely for his own political protests and interests that usually have little or nothing to do with the business of educating children. What began as innocuous has now even more than irritating. He has become increasingly brazen with his delusional conspiracy theories and is now purposely devising opportunities to embroil our district in his outrageous campaign.

    This Thursday, March 8, Steve Rocco and Rick Ledesma have introduced two information items on the agenda that are crafted in a way for Rocco to continue his platform of unsubstantiated accusations and wild claims of fraudulent activities that have nothing to do with school board business.

    The school board members can only do so much to curb his (and now Rick's) outlandish behavior. They have already censured him which resulted in a law suit which the district prevailed on but that he is appealing. This is costing the district money and time and resources better spent in other ways. But if the public does not hear him and speak out against him then he will continue to create distractions that keep us away from the real business of the district -- our children.

    The trustees of our board of education need you to attend tomorrow night's meeting. Only the voting public can truly change their behavior. WE ABSOLUTELY NEED YOUR HELP OR STEVE ROCCO'S OUTRAGEOUS AND FOOLISH BEHAVIOR WILL ULTIMATELY BEGIN TO UNDERMINE AND ERRODE THE GOOD WORKS OF THE DISTRICT. It is only a matter of time before the reputation of the district will be tarnished again. We cannot let that happen. OUSD is now a great place to learn and a great place to work.

    I know there will be a million excuses of why people cannot attend tomorrow night, but for the sake of our children we need to set aside whatever else is going on and be present and accounted for so that a message is sent from the voting community that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.

    Thank you,
    Lissa Smith

    Rocco’s first agenda item 13 C was listed as a Minority Report on OUSD, Rocco presented 22 items ranging from alluding to his self-proclaimed molestation episode to his perspective on various OUSD controversies over the last two years. In comments on Rocco’s report, Smith accused Rocco of being “self-serving” and added that it brought her “over-whelming joy” that Rocco’s comments were being broadcast so the community so they could see for themselves Rocco in action. Trustee Kathy Moffat characterized Rocco’s comments as “misguided, false and inappropriate”. Both Moffat and Nichols took exception to Rocco’s statement that some in the community see Richland H.S. as a “dumping grounds” for administrators.

    Rocco’s second item, Agenda Item 13 D was about the Rocco conspiracy theory Partnership. It was this item that brought out the most ire from the Board majority and the audience. The Board voted to limit “debate” of the Item 13 D to 20 minutes. Rocco spent over ten minutes of that time in a long-winded introduction to the four pages of information he had to share. Nichols asked Rocco to get to the subject matter that OUSD had jurisdiction over (“subject matter jurisdiction”) as an argument started over the germane nature of Rocco’s comments to OUSD. After the arguing, and with just minutes left of the allotted time, Rocco started with a historical timeline of the Partnership beginning in 1976 which immediately erupted into another controversy between Rocco, Smith and OUSD Attorney Spencer Covert. An exasperated Smith exclaimed “Get to the point or don’t, but if you don’t I won’t be a party to it!” Smith and Rocco continued to argue as Smith started raising her voice as the Nichols and the room watched the drama play out. Smith told Rocco his comments appeared to her to be illegal as she picked up her belongings walked out repeating to Rocco that she “would not be party to it”. Then, with the allotted time over, Trustee Wes Poutsma made a motion to table the item which passed on a 4-1 vote with Rocco voting No.

    The Board moved then to Board Comments, as an angry and shaken Nichols proposed changing Board Policy to address items not related to OUSD being placed on the Board Agenda in the future. Before her proposal Nichols lashed out at the absent Ledesma stating in carefully metered wording “I am just appalled that Mr. Ledesma would have the audacity to sign on to an agenda item, specifically Item 13 D, that clearly has no business in Orange Unified. Nothing.”

    Hurdles in Proposed Board Policy Changes for March 29th Meeting
    At the March 8th OUSD Board Meeting, President Kim Nichols made a suggestion to change the OUSD Board Policies from two sponsors to place an item on the agenda to three sponsors. Action Item 12C of the March 29th Agenda is the first reading of the proposed revisions. The proposed revisions will give the Board President power to decide whether an agenda item is “within the subject matter jurisdiction” of the OUSD Board and add the words “subject matter jurisdiction” to the Board Policies. In the proposal, the Board President’s decision may be appealed to the full Board. Since Rocco was elected, this is the second time the OUSD Board has revised the Board Policies to restrict Rocco’s participation.

    OUSD looks to Reorganize for 2007-2008
    Faced with declining student enrollment that could have financial implications, Item 13A on the March 29th Agenda will present a report to “plan and use current resources in an effective and efficient way”. Looking toward more local control over resources, the Godley Administration will be studying Special Education programs; expansion of alternative programs (to help keep state Average Daily Attendance monies for students that have been sent out of the district to county programs); and assigning principals at schools with student populations under 450 students additional duties connected to categorical funds.

    OTHER MARCH 29th Agenda Items• Item 12 B (page 7) OUSD Legislative Coalition Support for Assembly Bill 168- establishing definition for state required minimum essential facilities.


    Over $129,000 in community donations to OUSD Schools are listed on pages 18-19 of the March 29th Agenda including: Villa Park H.S. Basketball Boosters- $9,600.00 for salaries; Olive E.S. PTO- $174.00 for technology supplies; School Pride Bingo- El Modena H.S.- $4000.00 Computers; Orange County Community Foundation-California E.S. $1650.00 for supplies.


    We’re a $220 million dollar business; we’re going to spend the money somewhere.”
    -OUSD Trustee Wes Poutsma 9/22/05

    $ 236,500.00
    2007 Consultant/ Speaker Fee Tally:
    3/8/07 Dr. Daggett Speaker Fee $ 9,000
    Total $ 9,000

    2007 Attorney Fee Tally:

    1/18/07 Parker & Covert (1/07 to 6/07) $175,000
    2/08/07 Miller, Brown, and Dannis $ 7, 500
    2/22/07 Parker & Covert $ 45,000
    Total $227,500

    2007 Administrative Conference/Travel: hidden since 6/8/06*

    *JUNE 8th, 2006 Trustees VOTE to Give OUSD Superintendent the power to APPROVE Travel Requests taking this item OUT of the PUBLIC AGENDA

    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2006: $ 849,717.00*
    2006 Consultant Fee Tally: Total $176,400
    2006 Attorney Fee Tally: Total Approved $655,000
    2006 Administrative Conference/Travel: Total $ 18,317 *
    * JUNE 8th, 2006 Trustees VOTE to Give OUSD Superintendent the power to
    APPROVE OUSD Travel Requests taking this item OUT of the PUBLIC AGENDA

    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2005: $ 978,300.00:
    Total 2005 Conference Administrator/Board Fees: $ 7,500.00
    2005 Attorney Fee Tally: $730,600.00
    Total Watched 2005 OUSD Consultant spending: $ 270,200.00

    Next OUSD Board Meeting Thursday March 29, 2007.
    For more information

    OUSD CLOSED SESSION STARTS 6:30 PM on 3/29/07 Regular Session: 7:30 pm

    For more information call the OUSD Superintendent’s office at 714-628-4040
    For budgeting questions call Business Services at 714-628-4015
    Orange Unified Schools Digest is an independent news service of
    “Independent, Local, News and Viewpoints”

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