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  • Monday, June 18, 2007


    Rocco Censure Lawsuit Appeal

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

    OUSD June 21st Closed Session Agenda:
    Rocco Censure Lawsuit Appeal
    The June 21st, 2007 Closed Session Agenda for the first time lists the now official Rocco Censure Lawsuit Appeal to be discussed. Californians Aware v Orange Unified School District appears as a Closed Session agenda item. Rocco lost the first round of the lawsuit over the Rocco Censure and was ordered to pay the district $37,000 in court costs. The first amendment organization Californians Aware had promised an appeal based on their assertion that Rocco’s First Amendment rights were violated by the Rocco Censure. The original court threw the case out siding with the OUSD position that the Rocco Censure was collective speech of the OUSD Board majority and therefore did not violate Rocco’s free speech, but in fact was free speech of the Board majority. Since the Rocco Censure and the lawsuit, the OUSD Board has been more tolerant of Rocco’s trademark rants only trying to remind Rocco to keep on topic of OUSD rather than trying to cut him off completely as had been tried in the past.

    at June 7th Board Meeting

    During the June 7th, 2007 Orange Unified School Board Meeting, controversial OUSD Trustee Steve Rocco was handed Intent to Recall papers. Rocco was handed the papers during public comments by one of the recall proponents, Michael Foster. In the middle of a dozen speakers (including three elementary students) speaking in support of the OUSD Gifted And Talented Education (GATE) enrichment program for high achieving students, Foster was called for his turn at the podium and simply informed Rocco he was serving him with the Intent to Recall papers. Foster then walked over to Rocco, handed Rocco the papers and returned to his seat in the audience. Members of the audience applauded. Rocco did not react and the next speaker was called.

    Later after a lengthy meeting, Rocco spoke during the agenda time allotted to trustee comments. In a typical trademark rant, Rocco began speaking about the legal troubles in the Capistrano Unified School District (which he referred to as San Juan Capistrano) and the indictment of former Capistrano Unified Superintendent James A. Fleming (see link below). OUSD Board President Kim Nichols tried to get Rocco to keep his comments germane to OUSD. Eventually (in a longwinded contorted path) Rocco tried to tie the Capistrano problems to OUSD as an example for administrators and elected officials, many who Rocco contends are part of a public corruption group he calls “The Partnership”. About the recall, Rocco read off some of the proponents’ names on the Petition for Recall and commented about their ties to other OUSD Board members.

    For the most recent information on the Rocco Recall

    For a summary of the Capistrano Unified problems

    Cautious Board approves plans drawn up for Retirement Debt Bonds
    A thoughtful OUSD Board extensively questioned a staff recommendation to issue Bonds to save money on the long term liability OUSD faces from the former practice of offering lifetime medical benefits to employees. Similar to Pension Obligation Bonds other types of government entities have issued, the relatively new idea for school districts is just being introduced. The newness of the program without a track-record seemed to make some OUSD Trustees want to proceed with extreme caution as they extensively questioned the plan. In the end, with assurances that this was not the final vote on the matter, the trustees voted 5 yes (Nichols, Moffat, Smith, Ledesma and Ortega), 1 no (Rocco) and 1 absent (Poutsma) to approve proceeding with development of a plan to be presented at a later date for Board review and approval.

    El Rancho Charter
    Also at the meeting, the El Rancho Charter renewal process had a public hearing. No one spoke during the hearing and it was quickly closed. The approval process was continued to the June 21st OUSD Board meeting as negotiations between OUSD and the El Rancho Charter Board are continuing. The approval of the El Rancho Charter is scheduled for the June 21st agenda which states that a separate Memo of Understanding (MOU) will be presented at a future Board meeting (Agenda Item 12A, page 2).

    5000 Series Student Policies Back except for Drug Testing
    At their April 19th, 2007 Board Meeting, the OUSD Trustees by consensus approved the idea of Community Forums to discuss the pros and cons of a voluntary drug testing of OUSD students in a proposed change to Board Policy (BP) 5131.61. Agenda Item 12 E of the June 21st Board Meeting has the Board approving the revisions to the BP 5000 series numbers 5131.7 to 5148.

    2008 Special Education Local Plan Assurances
    The adoption of an ALL FUNDS BUDGET and other needed plans to be in compliance with federal and state special education criteria is Agenda Item 12B (page 4). The estimated 2007-2008 ALL FUNDS BUDGET shows an estimated balance (above the 3% state required reserve) to be $6,847,436. The actual adoption of the 2007-2008 budget is scheduled for the September 13th, 2008 OUSD Board Meeting.

    OUSD Board to Approve Record $575,000 in Attorney Fees
    The June 21st Consent Agenda has the OUSD Board approving a record $575,000 to three law firms for future law billings for the district without discussion. The main OUSD law firm of Parker & Covert will receive two approvals: $150,000 for “on going special education matters” (page 72); and $200,000 “an open purchase order” (page 25). The locally infamous Santiago Revocation law firm of Miller, Brown and Dannis has a $75,000 budget item for “general counsel and school charter” matters (page 25). The law firm of Atkinson, Andelson, Loyal, Ruud & Romo has $150,000 on the agenda for “on-going special education matters”. The $575,000 brings to approved legal fees for the calendar year to $852,000 and the total INSIDE watched budget at $854,159.00 (see INSIDE the OUSD Budget below). This meetings added legal expenses puts this year’s INSIDE watched budget over last year’s total of $849,717.00 half way through the calendar year.

    INSIDE the OUSD Agenda for June 21st
    Item 12 D: Second Reading of Educational Foundation policy: The Agenda states “The revisions are made in an effort to develop a policy that supports and is receptive to all District community foundations”
    Item 13: This Informational Item details the Fine Arts Study that OUSD Superintendent Thomas Godley alluded to at the June 7th Board Meeting. OUSD is part of the Arts Alliance Grant which is in part a response to the save music movement and the establishment of the Music Matters Committee by local music supporters.
    Item 14 P: This Consent Item gives OUSD Substitutes a 6% raise to $116.60 a day.

    This is a partial list of community support of OUSD Schools. For a complete list see the Board Agenda page 24: Nohl Canyon-Wells Fargo $1979 for supplies; Cambridge - Cambridge PTA $2726 Reading Counts materials; Anaheim Hills-Anaheim Hills PTA $4000 for supplies; El Rancho – El Rancho PTSA $6745 benches; Orange H.S. –OHS Baseball Boosters $6100 stipends Fairhaven-Fairhaven PTA $3600 transportation.

    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

    $ 854,159.00 Total*

    2007 Consultant/ Speaker Fee Tally:
    3/8/07 Dr. Daggett Speaker Fee $ 9,000
    4/30/07 Debra Ford Speaker Fee $ 4,090
    4/30/07 Danny Brassell Speaker Fee $ 3,500
    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
    6/21/07 Miller, Brown and Dannis (pg 25) $ 75,000
    6/21/07 Parker & Covert (pg 25) $ 200,000
    6/21/07 Parker & Covert (pg 72) $ 150,000
    6/21/07 Atkinson, A.L.R and Romo (pg 72) $ 150,000
    Total $852, 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 June 7th, 2007. For more information

    OUSD CLOSED SESSION STARTS 6:30 PM on 6/21/07 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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