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  • Monday, October 25, 2010


    Nguyen and Surridge try to take over OUSD School Board

    eLECTION Watch 2010
    an Orange Net News Special News and Analysis Series

    OUSD Board of Trustees Battle of the Slates as Nguyen and Surridge try to take over OUSD School Board

    The campaign blue and orange colors are the same, the websites look the same, the campaign signs are identical except for the names. Orange Unified School Board outsider candidates Chris Nguyen and Tim Surridge are running as a far right slate in a bid for control over the Orange Unified School Board. Both candidates have paid to be on a controversial slate mailer called Continuing the Republican Revolution.

    Those who know Nguyen who has little educational background (his main claim to any experience is he attended OUSD schools) see his bid for a seat on the OUSD Board as a first step in political ambitions much like his fellow Orange Villa Park Republican Assembly (OVPRA) Board member Alexia Deligianni who won a seat on the OUSD Board in 2008. After being elected to the OUSD Board and with barely half of her first term completed, Deligianni made an unsuccessful (and personally embarrassing) run for the California Superintendent of Public Instruction. Nguyen’s online resume full of political apprenticeships was removed after ONN published the link to Nguyen’s politically ambitious resume which had no educational interests or experience aside from the schools he attended. A further example of Nguyen’s disconnect is his political website which lists one of his core issues as consolidating OUSD health plans:

    "Chris believes the OUSD Board must push forward with the consolidation of health plans to save taxpayer money. By pooling OUSD employees, OUSD becomes a bigger purchaser in the health insurance market and is able to negotiate cheaper health insurance rates".

    That consolidation has long since been approved by the OUSD Board and all of its employee groups and has already been instituted.

    Nguyen is running for the open seat that Melissa Smith was forced to give up in a re-districting of her Trustee Area. Smith has endorsed and is actively campaigning for Dianne Singer. Nguyen however is endorsed by OUSD Board members Deligianni, Mark Wayland and Rick Ledesma. A win by Nguyen would give the four control over the OUSD Board. A win by Singer and re-election of Kathy Moffat and Kim Nichols would give current Board President and moderate John Ortega the swing vote and make him the power broker between the two blocks.

    As of the last financial filing period, Nguyen had more money than all other candidates for the OUSD office combined-$60,000. That amount came from just 10 people. Two contributors, Dzung Nguyen and Lien Tonnu both of Anaheim, both gave $25,500 each to the first time candidate. Public record searches show that Dzung Nguyen and Lien Tonnu are related. The other 8 smaller donations for Chris Nguyen’s were from outside the district with many from outside the state.

    In a rare move, OUSD Board Rick Ledesma has endorsed Tim Surridge over the current board member who holds the seat- Trustee Kim Nichols. Both Nichols and Ledesma are Republicans. Surridge a graduate of Christ College in Irvine is a private school teacher, but does not mention that on his website while touting his educational experience as a “classroom teacher”. In a strange, yet cleaver blurb about himself, he lists his wife’s more extensive educational experience more than his own:

    “I have lived in this district with my wife Shelly, who possesses a masters degree in education, and is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher with 30 years of classroom experience.”

    Both Shelly Surridge and Tim Surridge have worked at the same private school, Salem Lutheran School in Orange. Shelly Surridge is still listed as a staff member. Tim Surridge is no longer listed on the staff directory. There are no records for either Surridge on the California Commission for Teacher Credentialing website about holding a current teaching credential. On her school website, Shelly Surridge writes:

    “The 2010-2011 school year will be my 29th year of teaching and my 22nd year at Salem. I love Salem because I get to hang out with the coolest kids in the whole world and we get to share Jesus all day long.”

    The Salem Lutheran School in Orange is a member of the ultra-conservative creationists branch of the Lutherans called the LCMS or the Missouri Synod.

    Surridge only raised a little over $7,000, most of that in a loan from himself. In addition the cash-rich Daniel Nguyen paid a little over $2,000 for cable television ads for Surridge.

    Both Surridge and Nguyen paid to be on the slate mailer Continuing the Republican Revolution produced by Scott Hart of the Newport based political consultants Hart & Associates. The mailer has come under fire for recommendations that are opposite to true conservative positions. The flyer looks like it is officially from the Republican Party, which it is not, and quotes Ronald Regan (long deceased) and name drops President George W. Bush. Each person and position pays to be on the flyer (see story link below).

    More on Continuing the Republican Revolution:NEWPORT

    For more information about LCMS CLICK ON: LCMS

    eLECTION Watch 2010
    is an independent news service of /O/N/N/
    “Independent Local Insight”

    Ecast on the
    A 21st Century Communications System

    Produced by the
    Orange Communication System /OCS/


    Ecast on the
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    Sunday, October 17, 2010


    Local Media goes into attack mode against Orange Mayor

    eLECTION Watch 2010
    an Orange Net News Special News and Analysis Series
    Local Media goes into attack mode against Orange Mayor

    In what appears to be a concerted attack on Orange Mayor Carolyn Cavecche, the Orange County Register and their OC Watchdog blog appear to have taken sides in the current Orange Mayor’s race. With wild stories spinning facts into innuendo, the unprecedented media attacks have been accented with local anonymous signs futher trying to sully the popular Orange Mayor and influence the mayor’s race.

    The stories and signs appear to be part of a coordinated effort to paint Cavecche’s legal salary benefits from the City of Orange and the OCTA as out-of–the ordinary. An Orange County Register story and continued attacks on Cavecche by the OC Register’s OC Watchdog blog writer Tony Saavedra appear one-sided and use inflammatory rhetoric. The article and the blog postings lump all of Cavecche’s salary and benefits over a multiple years from two separate agencies together in what appears to be an attempt to exaggerate her salary. The attempt is clearly a poor impersonation of the truly noteworthy reporting that the Los Angeles Times articles concerning the City of Bell’s officials scandalous compensation packages. However, $200,000 in compensation divided by two agencies over up to seven years does not a scandal make.

    The reaction to Saaverda’s blog later forced him to a follow-up post with a link to all the salaries and benefits for Orange City Council members. That link in the follow-up posting (SEE LINK BELOW) shows nothing out of the ordinary in Cavecche’s compensation. In the follow-up Saaverda states he will also be posting Orange Councilman Denis Bilodeau’s benefits from the Orange County Water District. However, Saaverda and the Orange County Register would have to post all of Bilodeau’s salary and benefits from all of his public service jobs (including his taxpayer supported job of Chief of Staff for Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson) over multiple years to come close to the damage they tried to inflict on Cavecche. Mysteriously absent from the mix are any mention of Cavecche’s challenger Jon Dimitru’s salary and benefits from his taxpayer supported job at the Orange County Fire Authority.

    Almost simultaneously as the articles attacking Cavecche, anonymous signs attacking Cavecche as a PENSION ABUSER began to appear. The signs appeared all over Orange last week turning the contest for Mayor between the popular Mayor Cavecche and Councilman Jon Dumitru into one of the nastiest campaigns since the 2001 Orange School Board Recall. Photos of the signs have also appeared on Dumitru supporters Facebook pages. An inquiry to Councilman Dumitru about the signs from Orange Net News went unanswered.

    Mayor Carolyn Cavecche has called the all-but anonymous signs posted around town saying NO CAVECCHE PENSION ABUSER " Not very classy" . In a statement issued to Orange Net News, Cavecche stated “The community deserves better then someone anonymously posting signs with false information. Not very classy. I am hearing from many people who are saying that anyone who knows Orange knows that we don't do things that here.” In her statement, Cavecche also points out “Fact is I'm not the one who has a pension.” Clearly, the supporters of Dumitru that are responsible for the signs are overlooking it is Dumitru that is employed by an agency that gives pensions, not Cavecche. So perhaps the real issue in the election is not over pensions or salaries, but over truth.

    LINK To OC REGISTER Orange Officials salaries: ORANGE SALARIES


    eLECTION Watch 2010
    is an independent news service of /O/N/N/
    “Independent Local Insight”

    Ecast on the
    A 21st Century Communications System
    Produced by the
    Orange Communication System /OCS/

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010


    OUSD jumps on the Loophole Cruise Ship

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

    All aboard for the voyage to Safe Harbor…
    OUSD jumps on the Loophole Cruise Ship

    At the September 23, 2010 Orange Unified School Board Meeting, Information Item 13 A was a report by OUSD Assistant Superintendent Dr. Gunn Marie Hansen on OUSD student test scores (Student Achievement Results) that were released by the state in early September. The report was frank and honest highlighting OUSD successes and for the first time publicly addressing OUSD’s challenges under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. In fact Dr. Hansen at one point became stunningly frank and honest for an OUSD administrator when she made it clear that OUSD was going to use a provision of the federal NCLB law that some call a loophole and others a safety valve, known as Safe Harbor to try and move the district out of Program Improvement the program for schools and districts not meeting student testing mandates.

    In the past, OUSD administrators glossed over OUSD’s Program Improvement challenges, but Hansen several times readily embraced the label and reminded the Board that the district was in the second year of Program Improvement. Her presentation charts outlined the challenges, and yes, in case they missed it, she pointed out the charts plateau in the math and English scores and publicly noted the subgroups OUSD was struggling with: Hispanic/Latino; low social economically disadvantaged; Special Education; and English Learners. Hansen’s candor then was turned to addressing the district’s challenges with Program Improvement. There for all to see, Hansen’s presentation slide flashed Safe Harbor across the large Board Room screen.

    No Child Left Behind is currently stalled in Congress for reauthorization, under the current version of NCLB is the unreal goal that in two years (by 2014) , every child in America is to be at the predetermined “proficient” level measured by standardized test as the ever increasing target goals grow more statistically impossible to achieve .However, since 2003 when the bill was passed, statistical experts have become very familiar with the so called loopholes of the bill: Confidence Interval; Highly Mobile Exclusions; Change Cut Scores; 9th grade Exclusions and Safe Harbor. Similar sounding to the legal financial derivatives that brought Wall Street down, these legal provisions of the law are in some cases as statistically complicated, but are what school districts across the nation are turning to hold off the No Child Left Behind Armageddon date of doom in 2014.

    Safe Harbor is no secret and is perfectly legal. Also known as the “poor man’s growth model”, many districts and schools have used it now for years. It has created some confusion as schools with lower scores that do not meet all their target goals are still hailed as making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) when other schools that have higher scores are listed as not. How this confusion occurs can be readily seen in the OUSD Press Releases from September 24 and September 30 of this year. Both hail Fairhaven Elementary School for exiting Program Improvement. The September 24 Press Release on Hansen’s September 23rd Board presentation states “ Fairhaven accomplished this by meeting AYP targets two consecutive years” and the September 30 Press Release states: “Fairhaven accomplished this by meeting Annual (sic) Yearly Progress targets two consecutive years on the California Standards Test (CST).” Neither Press Release notes that Fairhaven did this by an alternative measure called Safe Harbor. While Safe Harbor is part of the law NCLB , stating that exiting Program Improvement was done by “meeting Annual Yearly Progress ( yes it is really called Adequate Yearly Progress)” is misleading. Neither Press Release mentions Safe Harbor.

    The key to using the Safe Harbor, as outlined by Hansen, is to improve just 10% of non-proficient students in all of a school’s subgroups (i.e. Hispanic, poor, African American). In fact, Hansen told the Board and so the world-that’s how OUSD’s Fairhaven Elementary School did it. Hansen went on to explain that Orange County has 186 Program Improvement Schools and the four in Orange County that exited this year (Fairhaven was one) all used Safe Harbor. In theory and in practice, by finding 10% of your students you need to move and making them improve, a school exits Program Improvement. Little else matters.

    So, move over Wall Street brokers as OUSD teachers now become statisticians trying to sail to the promised Safe Harbor, taking 10% of their students with them. Perhaps with the reauthorization, the new law will be called At Least Ten Percent Were Not Left Behind.

    FOR MORE INFORMATION (or not) on Safe Harbor
    Washington Post 08
    Washington Post O6
    PR #1

    Canine demonstration at OUSD Board Meeting
    OUSD Board members watched a playful golden retriever drug sniffing dog as part of the approval process for voting 6-0 ( Trustee Deligianni absent) to approve the dogs on OUSD high school campuses. The dog “alerted” on a backpack with a small sealed bottle of booze in it, then proceeded to play with the small bottle. Trustee Mark Wayland then asked that his carry bag be sniffed. The demonstrator trainer brought the dog over to the bag and it sniffed and alerted and sat quietly. Wayland then produced a prescription bottle of painkillers and explained he was concerned about the playfulness of the dog with his familiar training backpack, but was satisfied with the calmness of the dog in altering on his unfamiliar bag.

    OUSD will start a publicity campaign to inform the community and schools the purpose of the new drug sniffing dogs.

    County Board could decide on October 20th on Canyon Transfer Request
    Information Item 13 B on the October 14 OUSD School Board Agenda (page 10) is an update to the OUSD Board on the Canyon Communities request to be transferred out of OUSD and to Saddleback Valley Unified. A meeting by the Orange County Committee on School District Organization on the environmental impact of the transfer will take place on October 20 at the Orange County Department of Education Board Room. It is possible that action on the request could take place at that meeting.

    INSIDE the October 14, 2010 OUSD Board Meeting
    Action Item 12 A- Student Calendars a vote to finalize 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 calendars.
    Information Item 13 A- Naming of Facilities review – more on the move to rename Esplanade Elementary for El Modena city rights leader Lorenzo Ramirez.
    Information Item 13 C- Budget Update- Yes we finally have a state budget…now what does it mean for OUSD

    INSIDE Community Donations
    McPherson Ed Foundation- $15,000 Computer Software; Villa Park HS Cheer Booster- $11,819-Accompanist; Running Springs PTA-$3,000 PE Teacher; Target- - $676 - supplies Nohl Canyon; Cambridge Fathers Club- $823 Playground balls.

    For a complete list of the $78,521 in donations see Agenda page 13.

    INSIDE the OUSD Budget
    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2010:
    $ 385,000
    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
    Total $1,038,000

    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.


    CLOSED SESSION- 6:00 pm
    OUSD Regular Session: 7:00 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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    Greater Orange News Service is a community service of the Orange Communication System /OCS/, the communications arm of the Greater Orange Community Orgainization