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  • Monday, January 05, 2009

     

    Ledesma Coalition Takes OUSD and "faggot" means hello at Canyon H.S.


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


    OUSD political Coup d'état...
    Ledesma Coalition takes over OUSD Leadership

    Once on-the-outs from the long-in-power Godley Majority, Orange Unified School Board Trustee Rick Ledesma in an astounding political reversal was elected as OUSD Board President at the December OUSD Organizational Meeting by using a new political coalition.

    Ledesma was elected by a 4-3 vote after his nomination by Trustee John Ortega came under blistering comments by what was left of the Godley Majority: Trustees Melissa Smith, Kim Nichols and Kathy Moffat. Ledesma’s commitment to OUSD was publicly brought into question by the three political allies who had controlled the board for years. Trustee Kathy Moffat first questioned Ledesma’s private work schedule citing his role as his family’s “sole bread winner” and reporting that Ledesma often missed or was late to Closed Session meetings. Responding, to the criticism, Ledesma stated “As far as my schedule’s concerned, it’s clean.” Then Trustee Kim Nichols stated that as Board Clerk, Ledesma had refused to sign official OUSD documents requiring the Clerk’s signature that he had stated philosophical differences. Nichols reported that as Board Vice President she was often asked to sign in his place. Nichols sought from Ledesma assurances that he would sign all documents that required his signature. Ledesma responded that the questioning of his nomination was a first for the Board and appeared “some what ridicules” especially bringing up his personal finances and economic role in his private family life. Ledesma’s quiet outrage was followed by Trustee Melissa Smith’s comments that “Actions speak louder than words” adding that she remained “cautiously optimistic” about Ledesma. When the votes were counted, Ledesma was elected with new Trustees Mark Wayland and Dr. Alexia Deligianni joining Ledesma and swing vote John Ortega for a 4-3 vote. The now Godley Minority, Moffat, Nichols and Smith all voted against Ledesma (their first ever joint NO vote). As the three-and-a-half hour meeting wore on, the full impact of the Ledesma election became evident to an increasingly somber looking Moffat, Smith and Nichols who had dominated OUSD Board policy and politics for eight years since the Orange Recall.

    Trustee John Ortega was then unanimously elected (7-0) Board Vice President, and in a surprise move, new Trustee Mark Wayland was elected Board Clerk (7-0). Moffat had first nominated Kim Nichols for the Board Clerk post. Then Wayland was nominated by Trustee John Ortega. Wayland’s nomination was followed by a moment of fait accompli as Nichols quickly withdrew her nomination after Ortega nominated Wayland.

    Trustee Rick Ledesma was elected a second time to the OUSD Board as part of the Citizen’s Board that ousted the ultra-conservative Marty Jacobson Majority in the Orange Recall Election. Slowly, Ledesma fell out of favor with the other newly elected majority as he maintained a fiscal conservative bent that led to him continually asking questions aimed at varies administrative spending policies. Next, Ledesma’s outrage at the process and content of the Santiago Charter Revocation Report resulting from a teacher-student sex scandal at Santiago Charter Middle School first put him at direct odds with the majority. Later, Ledesma’s persistent insistence on keeping the OUSD Board Meetings broadcast to the community became a sore spot to the other trustees who had originally instituted the cablecast to the community, but sought to cut the broadcasts under the guise of saving $7,000 in budget cuts. The last straw for the Godley Majority came when a frustrated Ledesma supported eccentric former Trustee Steve Rocco’s placement of two agenda items on the OUSD Board Agenda. In response, the Godley Majority changed the rules for placing items on the Board Agenda.

    In a prepared statement following his election as Board President, Ledesma called for fiscal responsibility and later during a debate on the agenda’s 2009 Board Meeting Dates he declared that debate under his leadership would be conducted in “public” with “no behind doors deals”. Later, Ledesma added he “looked forward to many lively meetings”.

    Ledesma took little time in asserting his leadership. Citing that the OUSD Board had over the years cut back 25% of the public meetings, Ledesma and his Coalition during the meeting rewrote the entire 2009 Board Meeting Schedule by scheduling two meetings a month throughout most of the year, adding meetings that had been long ago cut. Realizing the power Ledesma had to push the changes through, all the Godley Minority could do was protest the process. Moffat complained that the Board members “Can’t be prepared for something you throw at us at the last minute.” While agreeing to re-visit the changes at the January 2009 meeting, Ledesma kept firm on his goal at increasing meetings and his Coalition supported him, passing the increase in meetings by a 4-3 vote (Ledesma, Ortega, Wayland, Deligianni-YES; Moffat, Smith, Nichols- NO). The Ledesma Coalition meeting additions already have the OUSD Staff scrambling to schedule. The added second meeting for January on the 29th will not take place in the OUSD Board Room, but in a back-up location: Building H.

    New Trustees: Wayland impresses; a quiet Deligianni not so much
    Long time OUSD Board watchers were pleasantly surprised by new Trustee Mark Wayland. Not only being elected to the Board Clerk within an hour of being sworn in, but also at his insightful participation in the meeting and ease at being a trustee. Meanwhile Dr. Deligianni seemed to be a bit lost with her only audible contributions during the meeting were helping Dr. Dreier pronounce “Deligianni”, taking her oath of office with her parents by her side (yes, everyone knows she still lives with them), and voting Yes with the Ledesma Coalition. As Wayland sets the bar high, perhaps Deligianni will be a late bloomer.

    “Being called fagot or gay is an acceptable salutation of teenagers at Canyon High School” –alleged comment by Canyon HS VP

    During the Public Comments section, a mother and father of a Canyon High School student reported that after physical and verbal bullying of their son at Canyon High School, and receiving no support from the Canyon High School administrators, they were forced at great financial cost to remove their son for his own safety and emotional well being from Canyon High School to a private school. The parents then outlined a long series of bullying abuse that included physical violence, embarrassment and verbal emotional abuse. They detailed the abuse including bullying student’s pulling their son’s PE Shorts down, allegedly in front of the PE Coach (with allegedly no repercussions) and continued abuse that included physical abuse in the Boys Locker Room. The parents reported to the OUSD Board that their son reported the abuse to school counselors, but the verbal and physical abuse continued. The parents then became involved and stated they contacted Canyon High School Vice-Principal Frank Huerta. The parents alleged that Huerta told them “Being called fagot or gay is an acceptable salutation of teenagers at Canyon High School”. They further alleged that Huerta decided to bring the offending student and their son together in the same room to work things out. The parents stated that their son felt forced into a situation he was not comfortable in. The parents complained that the offending student only received 1 day suspension. Meanwhile, the abuse continued. The parents stated they then contacted Canyon High School Principal Dr. Bowden who allegedly told the parents that the only option he saw was to transfer their son to another school. The parents stated that Bowden promised to look into the situation and call them back. Eight days of continued abuse later and with no further contact from Canyon High School Administrators, the family stated they pulled their son out of Canyon High School and placed him in a private school. The victim’s parents told the Board that “Canyon High School failed to provide a safe learning environment” for their son.

    The abusive bullying situation detailed at Canyon High School by the parents and the reported laissez faire administrative transfer-the-victim solution is eerily similar to the events leading up to the April 1999 Columbine High School Massacre. In that tragic episode, two straight high school abuse victims who were constantly verbally taunted with the “gay” label lashed out in a deadly gun attack against the school ending in their own suicides. In response, many states, including California wrote student anti-hate protection laws. The California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000 (Act) was enacted to curb hateful school bullying and classify bullying as a hate crime. The Act notes the high teenage suicide rates and addresses bullying from both real and perceived cultural, religious and gender differences and orientation resulting in hate crimes of emotional abuse and violence. California Safe Schools states:

    " The Act defines gender as “a person’s actual sex or perceived sex, and includes a person’s perceived identity, appearance, or behavior, whether or not that identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with a person’s sex at birth.”
    Title 5, California Code of Regulations, § 4910(k).

    The Act further declares:

    "Under the California Constitution, all students of public schools have the inalienable right to attend campuses that are safe, secure, and peaceful. Violence is the number one cause of death for young people in California and has become a public health problem of epidemic proportion. One of the Legislature’s highest priorities must be to prevent our children from the plague of violence."

    The circumstances outlined by the parents to the Board appear to be in direct conflict with the provisions of the California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000 and appear to fit the Act’s definition of a hate crime. In addition, the Act outlines reporting procedures to school administrators which from the parent accounts were followed by the victim and the parents, but the Canyon Administrators did not follow the provisions of the Act required of them. The alleged response of Canyon Hills Principal Dr. Bowden and Vice Principal Frank Huerta appear to imply a failure by Canyon High School’s top administrators, responsible for all student safety, to follow the Act’s mandates. Superintendent Drier stated that this was the first time that she had been made aware of the Canyon High School incident.

    California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000 (CLICK ON)
    CSSVPA 2000


    California Safe Schools Coalition (CLICK ON)
    CSSC

    OUSD First Interim Budget Report
    With no direction from a state government in crisis, OUSD filed its mandated First Interim Budget report which showed that OUSD had a 3% required reserve of $7,500,000 for “economic uncertainty” (doesn’t a recession count?), plus $4,813,000 in unspent general funds.

    Superintendent Dreier reported that she directed a budget “tightening” from all schools. Unreported by Dreier is an example of the “tightening” which includes after school tutoring provided as extra earnings to tutoring teachers had been cut. This cut leaves identified below proficient students without after school tutoring support. Earlier in the meeting, Dreier told the OUSD Board that she had herself and top administrators “model” wants vs. needs by giving up their OUSD provided cell phones.

    INSIDE the OUSD Budget

    INSIDE’s EDUCATIONAL TAX DOLLARS WATCH 2009:
    Total $200,000
    2009 Attorney Fee Tally:
    11/13/08 Parker & Covert (for 1/09 -6/09) $200,000

    2009 Consultant/ Speaker Fee Tally:
    None


    2009 TOTAL $ 200,000

    Former Superintendent Godley’s Retirement Bonus running total (beginning 8/2008): $8470.00*
    * 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 here 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 2008: $907,800
    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
    $750,000
    2008 Consultant/ Speaker Fee Tally:
    11/13/08 Subs for SDCDE (Reading First) $24,000
    11/13/08 SDCDE (Reading First) $30,000
    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 $ 107, 800
    2008 TOTAL $ 907,800


    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2007: $704,090.00**

    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 2005 Conference Administrator/Board Fees: $ 7,500.00


    Next OUSD Board Meeting January 15th

    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    Independent insight into OUSD

    is an independent news service of /O/N/N/

    Comments:
    I was at the school board meeting and it has left many of us with alot of unanswered questions. Main question would be how to get something on the agenda for a board meeting, and then how to get it answered.
     
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