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Monday, August 23, 2010
OUSD Board acknowledges Brown Act violations
ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
a news service of Orange Net News /O/N/N/
Independent insight into OUSD
OUSD Trustees acknowledge Brown Act violation as district’s attorney calls violation an “oversight”
At their July 29, 2010 Board Meeting, the Orange Unified School Board Trustees tried to corrected the Brown Act violations of their June 10, 2010 Board meeting with a quickly added resolution to the already posted agenda. Resolution 14 W was added as a “yellow sheet” item (it did not originally appear on the agenda) to the meeting after OUSD’s high priced attorney Spencer Covert of the law firm Parker and Covert explained the reason for the Brown Act violations as “an oversight”. Resolution 14W was in response to a July 26 posting of Orange Net News’ ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE report on the numerous illegal votes during the June 10, 2010 OUSD Board meeting. During that meeting, Trustee Kim Nichols participated by teleconference from Memphis Tennessee and the OUSD Board voted by illegal voice vote on several major items. The Brown Act, which allows teleconferencing, also specifically denotes the rules under how that teleconferencing is to take place. One of the specific rules spelled out in Section 54952 (2) of the Brown Act is that all votes during teleconferencing be roll call votes. Resolution 06-10-11 of Agenda Item 14 W (page 93) approved by the OUSD Board at the July 29 meeting affirmed the violations of the June 10th meeting and also stated:
“In the future, whenever one of the board members is participating by teleconference, roll call votes will be taken on each action item.”
During the portions of the July 29 meeting, Trustee Melissa Smith participated by teleconference from Lake Forest, Illinois and all the votes during her teleconference were conducted as required by the Brown Act. However, on more than one voting occasion, Board President John Ortega had to be reminded about the need for a roll call. The OUSD Board has a long record of Brown Act violation troubles. Those violations include recent illegal votes during the July 19, 2007 meeting when Trustee Melissa Smith teleconferenced from the Union Club Hotel in West Lafayette, Indiana and illegal votes at the March 13, 2008 Special Board Meeting when Trustee Kathy Moffat teleconferenced from the Hayes Mansion Hotel in San Jose, California. None of the illegal votes at those two meetings have ever been addressed.
INSIDE the July 29 OUSD Board Meeting
OUSD Board splits on vote to join Cal-PERS Health Trust
In a major cost-saving victory for OUSD Superintendent Renae Dreier’s Administration, the Orange Unified School Board voted 5-1-1 to join the Cal-PERS Health Trust and unite its three employee groups under one health plan. The goal was also a priority of the district’s teachers association since its one-time flagship self-funded Health Trust had been eliminated in hard-ball political fight with the Recalled OUSD Board ten years ago. The split vote to join Cal-PERS Health Trust came only after the OUSD Board defeated a motion by Kathy Moffat to delay the vote to join Cal-PERS Health Trust by 1 week to allow employees time to study the new plan on a 6-1 vote (Moffat the lone Yes vote).
In the vote to join the Cal-PERS Health Trust, Board President John Ortega cast the lone opposition vote after voicing concerns over the Cal-PERS Health Trust policy allowing retirees a one time buy-in option with the district contributing a minimal amount ( one dollar per retiree opting in for the first year, with the retiree paying all other fees). The final vote was 5-1-1 with Ortega voting No and Moffat abstaining.
OPED Retirement Bond recovers
The OUSD OPED Bond that ate up millions of educational dollars last year as the economy tanked and district budgets were cut, made a modest recovery during the last year according to a report given by the OUSD Deputy Superintendent Michael Christensen. While still performing at less than forecasted, Christensen reported that the OPED Bond issued to manage retiree health care obligations had made up losses due to the financial system collapse and added a small profit. The 3% bond profit was off 50% from the predicted 7 plus returns. Trustees and Christensen stressed that the bond was a long term investment strategy until 2065.
Revised 2010-11 Budget to be approved
The August 26 OUSD Board Meeting will feature adoption of the revised budget for the 2010-2011 school year that reports “The district is solvent and has a balanced budget for 2010-11”.
State law requires the budget to be adopted 45 days after the California Governor signs the state budget. Not surprising, California does not have a budget yet, in fact it is the only state in the union not to currently have adopted a budget for next year. However, OUSD is prepared, per state law, to update its 2010-2011 budget that was adopted on June 10, 2010. Agenda Action Item 12 A (agenda pages 1-19) shows that budget is projected to have an unappropriated balance of $13.4 million plus a state required reserve of $6.8 (3%).
Request to re-name Esplanade Elementary after historic local civil rights leader
Fifty seven years ago in 1953, Orange Union High School District united with surrounding districts to become Orange Unified. One of those districts, the El Modena School District now has a school named after it, El Modena High School. However, the El Modena School District also has its place in history as a segregated district that separated whites and Hispanics, a policy that played a pivotal role in the long battle for desegregated schools in America. A group called the Committee for Ramirez is requesting in the OUSD August 26, 2010 Agenda Information Item 13 C (page 22) to change the name of Esplanade Elementary. The group is seeking to change the name of the school to honor one of the local civil rights brave crusaders Lorenzo Ramirez a participant in the locally famous desegregation case called Mendez v Westminster, Orange County’s version and predecessor of the famous Brown vs Topeka Board of Education case that desegregated schools across the nation.
Lorenzo Ramirez was one of five fathers to challenge segregation in Orange County in federal court on behalf of 5,000 children of “Mexican Ancestry” in the Westminster, Garden Grove, Santa Ana and El Modena school districts. Ramirez as a child had attended Roosevelt Elementary School in El Modena. Later in life he married and moved to Whittier where he began a family and his three sons began school there. In 1944, Ramirez moved his family back to his childhood neighborhood of El Modena near Orange and tried to enroll his children at Roosevelt School. However, times had changed and he was told that Roosevelt was now for whites only and his English speaking Hispanic children had to go to the all Mexican ancestry Spanish-speaking school next store, Lincoln School. Of course like everything with the failed doctrine of “separate but equal”, the truth is that Lincoln School was far from equal and very separate.
Lorenzo Ramirez not only joined the Mendez v Westminster lawsuit against segregation in Orange County schools, but also bravely testified in the trial in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. Senior Federal District Judge Paul J. McCormick ruled in favor of the families against the school districts ruling for the first time that segregated schools violated the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. A year later, after the school districts appealed, the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court upheld the ruling, but not on 14th Amendment grounds. The Court ruled on the grounds that California law only allowed segregation of "children of Chinese, Japanese or Mongolian parentage" and not those of Mexican ancestry. With that narrow holding, the Appeals Court ruling thus kept in place the “separate but equal" interpretation of the 14th Amendment enshrined in the now infamous 1896 U.S. Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson.
Later that year, California Governor Earl Warren signed a law repealing the remaining school segregation statutes in the California Education Code outlawing segregation in California schools for all children. Warren would eventually become the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court and seven years later would pen the famous unanimous Brown v Topeka Board of Education ruling which would affirm what Judge McCormick found years earlier in Mendez v Westminster, that "separate but equal” schools were unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.
For more information on the El Modena Families CLICK ON:
EL MODENA FAMILIES
Chapman University’s Leatherby Library has a group study room dedicated to the Mendez v Westminster with historical documents. For more information CLICK ON:
CHAPMAN Leatherby Library
INSIDE the August 26 OUSD Agenda
Information Item 13 A- (page 20)- Opening of Schools Report
Information Item 13 B- (page 21)- Update on Year 2 of OUSD Strategic Plan
Information Item 13 D- (page 23)- Presentation on Safe and Drug Free Schools
INSIDE the OUSD Budget
Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2010:
2010 Attorney Fee Tally:
5/27/10 Dannis, Woliver & Kelley $ 30,000
5/27/10 Parker & Covert $ 55,000
5/27/10 Parker & Covert (to 6/11) $300,000
TOTAL $ 385,000
Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2009: $1,041,000
2009 Attorney Fee Tally:
11/13/08 Parker & Covert (for 1/09 -6/09) $ 200,000
3/12/09 Atkinson, Andelson, Loya (Sp. Ed) $ 50,000
3/12/09 Parker & Covert (Special Ed) $ 98,000
6/18/09 Parker & Covert (09-10) $ 400,000
6/18/09 Parker & Covert (Special Ed) $ 200,000
6/18/09 Parker & Covert (property) $ 55,000
6/18/09 Atkinson, Andelson, Loya (property)$ 35,000
2009 Consultant/ Speaker Fee Tally:
01/24/09 Leadership Associates Consultants $ 3,000
2009 TOTAL $1,041,000
Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2008: $901,200.00
Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2007: $704,090.00*
Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2006: $849,717.00*
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
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 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.
NEXT BOARD MEETING: THURSDAY August 26, 2010 OUSD BOARD ROOM
For AGENDA-CLICK ON AGENDA
CLOSED SESSION- 6:00 pm
OUSD Regular Session: 7:00 pm
For more information call the OUSD Superintendent’s office at 714-628-4040