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  • Monday, June 04, 2007



    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    a news service of Orange Net News /O/N/N/ Independent insight into OUSD

    Orange Net News broke the story on Monday June 4th that a small group of community activists led by Terri Rasmussen (a neighbor and close friend of Orange Unified School Board President Kim Nichols) are planning to serve controversial OUSD Member Steve Rocco with a Notice of Intention to recall as early as the Thursday June 7th Orange School Board Meeting.

    The legal “notice” is the first step in the California recall process and includes up to a 200 word statement for the reasons for the recall. The Notice of Intention must be personally delivered or delivered by certified U.S mail to Rocco. Ten signatures of OUSD registered voters are required on the Notice of Intention. Within 7 days an affidavit must be filed about the service of the Notice of Intention. After being served, Rocco will then have seven days to file an official response to the recall with election officials and by personally serving or sending his response by certified U.S. mail to one of the recall proponents.

    OUSD has just over 110,000 registered voters. That number would require recall petitioners to collect valid signatures from 10% of the school district’s registered voters. Successful petition drives must get more than the required amount of signatures to insure they have enough valid signatures after the invalid signatures are disallowed. A Rocco Recall would require petitioners to collect at least 15,000 signatures. They will have 160 days. Rocco’s current term ends in 2008.

    Community activists who are veterans of the successful 2001 Orange Recall that ousted the Radical OUSD School Board and elected five of the current OUSD Board members see the task of recalling Rocco as daunting because of various factors peculiar to this effort. The 2001 recall was based on a broad community coalition that included business, taxpayers, real estate, environmentalists, student rights advocates, parents, teachers, students and local political leaders, each with a specific issue regarding the recalled members of the recalled Radical Board. As one activist explained to Orange Net News:

    “The Jacobson* majority managed to get everyone mad at them, not just the education community. From real estate agents who had to lie about a fictional Villa Park School District to sell houses inside OUSD, to environmentalists who wanted Barham Ranch as open space, a real community coalition was forged against a common enemy. Rocco may be off-the-wall, but he mostly wastes the other trustees’ valuable time with his endless rants. Most of the negative Rocco publicity has been self-inflicted by the Board in trying to shut him up. Essentially Rocco has no power to injure the community, just his chances of ever being reelected. If the board will just ignore him, he will eventually go-away.”

    * Recalled Trustee Marty Jacobson was widely regarded as the leader of the recalled Radical Board

    That sentiment seems to also be the sentiment of the OUSD teachers who provided a huge workforce to the 2001 OUSD Recall effort. Sources report that at a recent Orange Unified Educators Association meeting the leadership of teachers association spoke about Rocco being bothersome but harmless with very little time left in his term.

    Another factor working against a recall petition drive includes collecting signatures over the summer and fall months. Competing with a possible summer and fall recall petition drive will be the presidential primary and proposition campaigns. In addition, in the OUSD Administration’s Strategic Plan has the district moving towards a third Bond Election during this timeframe. Clearly moving toward a bond campaign while a recall campaign is going on will split valuable human and monetary resources and produce increasingly negative publicity, exactly what the current Board has been working hard to reverse.

    Orange Education Foundation Issue Gets Clearer
    A disjointed round-about don’t-say-what-you-mean issue informational item was on the May 24th OUSD Agenda. The item was brought by President Kim Nichols about OUSD Board members being on the Orange Education Foundation Board in a non-voting advisory capacity. In Public Comments on the item, Orange Education Foundation President Denise Bittel addressed the Trustees to say as OEF President she was “mystified” as to what the agenda item was all about. It seemed apparent from the comments on the item that so were many of the OUSD Trustees. A very careful Nichols hemmed-and-hawed her way around something about the OEF that was itself not very clear. Eventually that something centered on the OUSD’s own Board Policy 1260 regarding the monopoly of support OUSD gives to OEF.

    While Trustee Wes Poutsma volunteered to be appointed as the non-voting member and admonished his fellow trustees “If it’s not broke don’t attempt to fix it”, Trustee John Ortega took a stab at fixing something by proposing if it’s bad to for a trustee to sit on the OEF as an advisor, perhaps the OUSD Trustees should just vote to do away with all OUSD representation on community organizations. Meanwhile Trustee Kathy Moffat who reported that she had been attending the OEF meetings stated she feels the problem is bad communication because she never knows when the meetings are (the meetings have always been at noon on the fourth Tuesday of every month for years).

    Well the self-produced OEF “drama” is back! Item 12D (page 13-14) at the Thursday June 7th meeting has a discussion on the revision of Board Policy 1260 that deals with the Orange Education Foundation. Item 12D states in part:

    “The law firm of Parker & Covert has submitted its recommendations, as attached in conjunction with staff members input for Board consideration”

    That’s right, the district law firm (which charges over $200 an hour) was asked to draw up changes to Board Policy 1260. Twelve changes exactly. The 12 changes basically withdraw OUSD support for just one educational foundation (OEF) to pluralizing the policy to include the change to “local foundations”. While the item lists states: “FISCAL IMPACT: There is no fiscal impact” they obviously don’t include the fees to the attorneys. As one long time OUSD observer put it, the staff left off one critical “impact” in their recommendation: the “Community Impact”. Noting that some in community feel the whole matter was “handled poorly” and that does impact the community.

    INSIDE the OUSD Agenda for June 7th
    Item 12A: Plan to hire lots of firms to handle selling Bonds to finance “Post Employment Benefits”
    Item 12 B: El Rancho Charter Renewal: Unlike the Santiago Charter this is a given

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

    $ 294,090.00 Total
    2007 Consultant/ Speaker Fee Tally:
    4/30/07 Debra Ford Speaker Fee $ 4,090
    4/30/07 Danny Brassell Speaker Fee $ 3,500
    3/8/07 Dr. Daggett Speaker Fee $ 9,000
    Total $ 16,590

    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
    5/10/07 Miller, Brown and Dannis $ 50,000
    Total $277,500

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

    *JUNE 8th, 2006 Trustees VOTE to Give the 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 June 7th, 2007.

    For more information

    OUSD CLOSED SESSION STARTS 6:30 PM on 6/07/07 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 INSIDE Independent insight into OUSD
    is an independent news service of /O/N/N/
    “Independent Local Insight”

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