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  • Sunday, October 26, 2008


    OUSD Returns to Censorship

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

    It’s back:

    Ledesma's vote against consultant fees spurs discussion on
    OUSD Consultant Culture

    OUSD Censors Rocco Photo display

    In a return to the government censorship employed under former OUSD Superintendent Dr. Thomas Godley, the Orange Unified School District again has censored the broadcast of an OUSD Board of Trustee’s meeting. Like before, controversial OUSD Trustee Steve Rocco was again the subject of the governmental censorship. In the cable broadcast to the community of the October 16th, 2008 OUSD Board Meeting, OUSD blurred out OUSD Trustee Steve Rocco’s photo display he placed in front of him on the Board Room dais. Throughout the cable broadcast OUSD blurred the three large photographic images in the same fashion that broadcast television blurs sexually explicit images.

    What type of explicit photos is the school district saving the voters and citizens of Greater Orange from? Their elected officials!

    Rocco’s dais displays began years ago with the placement of a soft drink bottle in front of him to protest the exclusive agreement between OUSD and Pepsi-Co allowing the soft drink giant exclusive rights to sell sugary non-carbonated beverages (i.e. Gatorade) on secondary campuses throughout the district. The Rocco display quickly morphed into a photographic display of various Rocco elected nemesis that have included former OUSD Trustee Robert Viviano, OUSD Trustee Kathy Moffat, and the famous image of Trustee John Ortega standing over Rocco during their shouting match (which was censored from the OUSD Broadcast to the community). One of the offending photos on display that was censored this month by the district bureaucrats was of absent OUSD Board President Wes Poutsma. Poutsma, who is ill, has missed several Board meetings leaving the duties of President to Trustee Melissa Smith. The last two OUSD Board meetings Poutsma has only attended the Closed Session meetings enabling him to be paid his monthly Trustee pay without a formal resolution to pay him from the Board and saving a fight over declaring his seat “vacant” due to absences.

    Rocco’s dais display, has become grander as his time on the Board slowly winds down to his last meeting in November. Up until now the display has been largely ignored as one of Rocco’s quirks. OUSD governmental regulators sadly seem not to have learned the lesson to ignore its sore spots with Rocco rather than highlight those items again bring a glaring focus to things better left alone.

    THE IMAGE OUSD Censors
    did not want the community to see

    Ledesma pulls consultant contracts to vote against them
    Using one of the few OUSD Board powers left to a minority member, fiscal conservative OUSD Trustee Rick Ledesma pulled from the automatically approved October 16th OUSD Consent Agenda a $4,200 contract for a workshop by consultant Dr. Dennis Parker to be voted on separately. The $4,200 in Educational Tax funds for the workshop was approved by a 4-2 vote with Ledesma and Rocco voting against the consultant expenditure, and Trustees Lissa Smith, Kim Nichols, John Ortega and Kathy Moffat voting to approve the expenditure. This is the second consulting contract for Dr. Parker this year. At the July 24th OUSD Board Meeting, the OUSD Board voted to pay the consultant $10,000 bringing this year’s payment in OUSD Educational Tax dollars for Dr. Parker $14,200 for three “workshops”. An Orange County Department of Education website promises a 40 point increase in state testing scores by using Dr. Parker (To read more about Dr. Parker’s $10,000 OUSD Consultant fee CLICK ON:PARKER )

    Ledesma also pulled a another item from the Consent Item, Item 14 P, a two year grant award totaling $699,342 to integrate technology into the 6th Grade at eleven district schools. Ledesma noted that ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE keeps a running total of district expenditures (see below), but that the district does a good job at receiving grant monies and that those totals of “free money” should also be available to the community. The discussion then turned to the Consultant Culture at Orange Unified led by OUSD Trustee Melissa Smith. Smith, using a medical analogy, likened the use of consultants by OUSD as akin to her husband being referred to heart specialist by his regular doctor. Smith argued that like a heart specialists, consultants provide a specialized service regular staff (like your regular doctor) cannot provide.

    Smith blasted for her support of “Cosmetic Consulting”
    In response to Smith’s health care analogy of the OUSD Consultant Culture, the watchdog Greater Orange Communities Organization in a community-wide email blasted Smith’s defense of the OUSD Consultant Culture using the health care analogy. The watchdog group’s emailed message noted that the INSIDE the OUSD Budget featured only reports on frivolous wasteful consultant spending of “corporate-politico profiteers ”. The group noted that true specialized consultants used by OUSD for engineering, architecture and specialized legal issues have never appeared on the on-going INSIDE the OUSD Budget tally. The ongoing Consultant/Speaker Tally of the EDUCATIONAL TAX DOLLARS WATCH 2008 (see below) currently stands at $53,800 for the year. Among its tally of wasteful spending, the list includes items like thousands of tax dollars paid for speeches and the $6,600 in OUSD Educational Tax dollars to an art consultant to create a mural on butcher paper of the happenings at an upcoming workshop that another two consultants will be paid $14,000 in Educational Tax dollars to conduct.

    Taking Smith’s healthcare analogy defense to task, the Greater Orange Community Organization email stated:

    “In the current economic crisis for OUSD Trustee Lissa Smith to compare wasting valuable Educational Tax dollars on six thousand dollar “workshop art murals” to a doctor’s referral for a heart specialist shows how out of touch with economic reality and how confused over her financial oversight role to protect the Educational Tax dollars of the Greater Orange Communities Smith continues to be. Using Smith’s health care system analogy, a frivolous $6,600 butcher paper art mural is more akin to an elective plastic surgery glamour “tummy tuck” or a vanity “lipo-suction” procedure than a life saving heart specialist. Clearly Smith should be aware that health care insurance providers in their financial oversight role will not authorize payment for elective cosmetic surgery. Likewise, Smith in her role as a financial overseer of education taxpayer monies should not continue to vote for wasteful elective Cosmetic Consulting.”

    The email went on to state:

    “Smith has never voted against any administrative spending schemes presented to her. We are in fact hard pressed to find her ever casting a no vote against anything. There is however clear evidence of Smith taking her role as a uninformed rubberstamp so serious as to show open distain for those Board members who do question and vote NO on items.

    “When Smith originally ran in the Orange Recall Election she ran against the wasteful lawsuits, litigation and legal fees of the Recalled Board. Since being elected however, Smith has voted 100% of the time for the wasteful OUSD Administration's Cosmetic Consulting requests like $6,600 workshop murals, $8,000 speaker fees, and millions of dollars in consultant contracts her administrators described as similar to “marriage encounter training”.”

    (Read about another $4500 in educational funds going to Cosmetic Consultants at the next OUSD Board meeting below in: $4500.00 more for Controversial Consultants!!!!)

    Drier: A tall tale about Canyon Hills scores?

    At the October 16th Board Meeting, in her Superintendent’s Report an excited OUSD Superintendent Renae Drier repeated an Orange County Register story heaping praise on OUSD’s Canyon Hills school for increasing their state testing scores by 83 points. The only problem of course is the school is not a regular school, and the 83 point jump is not on regular tests. Drier should know that Canyon Hills is a special school for severally mentally handicapped students. On the State of California 2008 Academic Performance Index Report (see link), Canyon Hills 2007-2008 Growth Target column is footnoted by the letter “D”. The state report explains:
    "“D” means this is either an LEA, and Alternative Schools Accountability Model (ASAM) school, or a special education school. Target information is not applicable to LEA’s, ASAM, or special education schools."

    In other words, the 83 point jump at Canyon Hills, and the 61 point drop at OUSD’s Richland Continuation school are not counted by the state because they are “alternative schools” (which is why Orange Net News ignored both schools scores in its recent report on the OUSD’s state scores). The state test administered to the 51 severely mentally handicapped students at Canyon Hills last year is not the California STAR tests that Drier’s comments might lead the community to believe, but the California Alternative Performance Assessment (CAPA) test. The CAPA test consists of simple manipulatives (samples) and simple identification (like colors) and is read and recorded to the severely impacted students by an educator. As an example, for Social Studies, a severely handicapped student might be shown a spread out newspaper and asked to identify the sports page; or for Science, the educator makes a bubble in a liquid and the student is asked to identify the “bubble” and so on with the teacher filing in the test answer sheet paper with their interpretation of what took place. The little secret about this test, anyone who takes it is automatically scored at the state passing score of “proficient”. Hence footnote “D”.

    At best, Drier repeating the OC Register’s misreading of the 83 point jump was a purposeful thoughtful and deceptive attempt at making OUSD’s dismal state scores look good. At worst, the $750,000 superintendent had no idea about the official California state designation of Canyon Hills scores or what the 83 point “jump” really represents. Either way, while OUSD censors photographs of elected officials in front of Rocco, and the new OUSD Superintendent misleads the Greater Orange community on test scores, it appears from all angles that at the October 10the OUSD Board meeting, the OUSD censor got the “blur” wrong.

    OUSD’s API results with CANYON HILLS and Richland’s “D” footnotes:

    California’s CAPA TEST: CAPA

    INSIDE the October 30th OUSD Board Meeting
    $4500.00 more for Controversial Consultants!!!!

    The October 30th Consent Agenda Item 14 J (page 40) has another $4,500 in Educational Tax dollars going to controversial educational consultant Dr. Willard Daggett. However, Daggett’s name does not appear on the agenda item, instead just the name of his consultant business, the “International Center for Leadership in Education”, which Daggett is the founder and corporate president. The Daggett controversy goes beyond the famous cases of him being caught making up facts and research to support his business, it goes to the very snake-oil salesman of the educational corporate-politico buzzword culture. The corporate-politico trail of billions of wasted tax dollars nationally to the “rigor” “jingle” also leads to the twice now debunked Bush-family Reading First program nepotism (this month another research study debunked that billion dollar boondoggle with a final report due soon after the November election).

    Many in the education and political world have distant themselves from Dr. Daggett including former Arkansas Governor and presidential candidate Gov. Huckabee (who once had Daggett as an advisor). Meanwhile, Daggett has positioned himself as the purveyor of the “rigor” buzzword making a fortune in educational tax dollars from willing spenders of educational tax dollars like our own perhaps uniformed OUSD Executive Director Chris Reider
    who’s name appears the wasteful request for $4500.00 of OUSD Educational Tax dollars to further line Dr. Daggett’s coffers and while Reider’s name appears on the public request, Daggett’s name does not.

    LINK to: Commentary on Rigor
    LINK to: Information on Dr. Daggett 2007 Rotten Apple Award

    Also on the October 30, 2008 OUSD Board Agenda:

    • AGENDA 12 A (page 3-10) At the October 10th Board Meeting, OUSD Assistant Superintendent Jon Archibald reported that OUSD has plenty of cash on hand to meet it’s payroll obligations. He also announced that the OUSD Administration is waiting for the “markets to stabilize” to present the refinancing plan to fund modernization projects. Despite the rollercoaster ride in worldwide financial markets over the last two weeks, Archibald apparently believes the “markets have stabilized” and will be presenting the refinance plan to raise money for modernization for the OUSD Trustees to vote on.

    • AGENDA Item 13 A (page 11-12) Responding to parent complaints about too much student homework, Trustee John Ortega asked for this informational item on the OUSD Board policy on homework…so tell us again what was all the money going to “rigor” workshops all about???????

    INSIDE the OUSD Budget

    $803,800 Total
    2008 Attorney Fee Tally:
    6/19/08 Parker & Covert $ 60,000
    6/05/08 Miller, Brown & Dannis $ 40,000
    6/05/08 Parker & Covert $150,000
    6/05/08 Parker & Covert $200,000
    2/07/08 Parker & Covert $100,000
    11/15/07 Parker & Covert (for 1/08 to 6/08) $200,000

    2008 Consultant/ Speaker Fee Tally:
    10/30/08 Dr. Willard Daggett (ICLE) $ 4,500
    10/16/08 Dr. Parker 40 pt Consultant $ 4,200
    9/25/08 Visual Ink for Sadler Consultant $ 6,600
    9/25/08 Bob Sadler Consultant Fee $ 8,500
    9/25/08 Candace Simpson-Sadler Helper $ 5,500
    7/24/08 Dr. Parker 40 pt Consultant $ 10,000
    4/17/08 Dr. Kenneth Stichter Speaker Fee $ 6,500
    3/7/08 Dr. Kathleen Weigel Speaker Fee $ 8,000
    Consultant Total $ 53, 800

    2008 TOTAL $803,800

    Former Superintendent Godley’s Retirement Bonus running total (beginning 8/2008):

    * The Godley Retirement Bonus presented here is an estimate of the amount in “bonus retirement” accrued since the Superintendent’s retirement on 6/30/08 using a 6% lifetime formula calculated at $1210 a month since 8/08. The actual retirement plan the former OUSD Superintendent opted to take is not public information and the figures presented are only as an estimate of the taxpayer costs after the OUSD trustees voted against an amendment to exclude Godley from the retirement program. The on-going estimated figure is presented as a reminder to the community of the high cost in educational tax dollars the OUSD Board vote to allow the former Superintendent to participate in the 6% retirement incentive cost the OUSD education community in tax dollars. Godley retired from OUSD on June 30, 2008 after he worked for the school district for a little over five years.

    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2007: $704,090.00
    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
    9/27/07 Dr.Daggett Speaker Fee $ 35,000
    11/15/07 OCDE High Priority Consultants $115,000
    Total $166,590

    2007 Attorney Fee Tally:
    1/18/07 Parker & Covert (1/07 to 6/07) $175,000
    (6/07-12/07) $200,000
    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
    7/19/07 Parker & Covert $ 60,000
    Total $537,500

    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 October 30th, 2008 for more information
    CLICK ON: OCT 30

    OUSD CLOSED SESSION STARTS 6:00 PM, 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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