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  • Tuesday, October 18, 2011

     

    OUSD's Ledesma calls Attorney ruling “minutia"

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

    OUSD Board President Ledesma calls
    OUSD Attorney ruling “minutia”

    The last Orange Unified Board Meeting on September 15, 2011 started off with a disagreement over the meeting Agenda which did not include a requested agenda item from Trustee Diane Singer. Singer objected to Board President Rick Ledesma not placing a legal opinion from OUSD Attorney Covert Spencer on the use of “Board consensus” that Covert issued in September. Singer had requested the clarification over concerns about Ledesma’s proposals at the June 2011 meeting on changing the process Board members were to go through for requests for information from the district staff. Ledesma used a non-voting “consensus” to require all requests for information go through him. Covert was asked to issue a legal opinion, and Singer asked that the legal opinion be included in the agenda for discussion. Ledesma did not include it, and Singer objected. Answering Singers concern, Ledesma called the letter “board minutia” and offered that as the reasoning for not including it as an Agenda item to be discussed in public as Singer continued to object. Ledesma then moved on with the meeting. The Agenda was approved 6-1 with Singer voting “NO”.

    Singer’s Agenda item however does now appear, with Covert’s legal opinion letter, on the October 20, 2011 Board Agenda as item 13 B (agenda pages 9-16). Singer, received support from Trustees Kathy Moffat and Tim Surridge to have the item placed on the Agenda. In his letter, Attorney Spencer Covert states that current Board Policy allows trustees to submit requests for information directly to the Superintendent. Covert also states that to change the policy takes a vote of the Board, and states that that a vote for changing the policy never occurred. Covert also notes that the word “consensus” does not appear in the Brown Act and that any change to a Board Policy requires an item placed on the agenda and a formal vote be taken.

    Under current Board rules, the President with the Superintendent, decides if a trustee requested agenda item is in the “subject matter jurisdiction” of the Board and can be placed on the Agenda. If a requested item is not placed on the Agenda, in practice it can be added if three trustees request it (basically an appeal of the ruling). Singer also objected to the Board rule that requires three Board members to sign on (appeal) an item to add it to the agenda. Singer called that appeal process a violation of the Brown Act, reasoning that three members would have to discuss an item. However, OUSD Board Policy states the appeal process is to be done in Open Session. In addition, the Brown Act states that a majority of the Board may not discuss an item outside of Open Session, which in OUSD’s case would be four Trustees-not three.

    Ironically the agenda appeal item rule was changed from two Board members to three Board members after Ledesma had supported a request by then estranged OUSD Trustee Steve Rocco to place two items on the OUSD Agenda to the dismay and outrage of the then Board Majority. After Rocco used the agenda items to further his conspiracy theories, the then majority (which current Trustee Kathy Moffat was then apart of) voted to change several Board policies aimed at isolating Rocco and any support Ledesma might offer him. Those changed policies, now in the hands of a new voting block majority with Ledesma as President, have proved to be powerful tools and have isolated the current two vote minority.

    Another of the policies changed by Moffat and her allies aimed at Rocco, was one of the so-called Recall Reforms from 2001. After the Orange Recall, then President Bob Viviano proposed and passed several reforms known as the Recall Reforms. Trustee Viviano was an outsider on the Recalled Conservative Board and knew very well how a majority could weld power. After the Recall election, his contribution to approved Board Policy changes included a plan of having the three Board offices rotated between all the Trustees so a small minority would never be isolated. That plan lasted until Rocco was elected. The idea of having Rocco in a leadership role was too much for the new majority of the then Citizen’s Board that was elected because of the Recall. They quickly changed the rule back to electing Board officers and ended the rotation of officers. Now, with another super majority in control of the Board, minority members again are shut out of the Board power structure and forced again to try to participate from outside, the exact situation, former Trustees Bob Vivano, Bill Lewis, and current Board President Rick Ledesma had fought in the past to change.

    SB 161 Seizure medication law signed by Brown
    SB 161, authored by Senator Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar), was been signed by Governor Jerry Brown. The Orange Unified Board’s LegCo Committee supported the bill and the OUSD Trustees voted to support the bill. The new law allows volunteer employees at California schools who have been properly trained to provide emergency assistance to students with epilepsy who suffer a seizure at school. Diastat Acudial is a pre-dosed preparation of diazepam gel that was developed to be used by those without medical training. It is considered to be the fastest, safest, and most effective way to treat epileptic seizures. Huff’s office issued the following statement:
    "The Governor's signature on SB 161 marks the victorious end to a long and bitter fight to provide the safety net that children with epilepsy desperately need in our schools. This victory proves that a determined group of parents, doctors, schools and other citizens can overcome even the most powerful of special interests."

    INSIDE the AGENDA- October 20, 2011

    Ledesma Places Trustee Boundary Changes on Agenda

    Taking a page from former Board President Kimberly Nichols, current Board President Rick Ledesma has added Item 13 B (Agenda Page 9) to the October 20, 2011 Agenda to look at adjustments to the Trustee Area Boundaries.

    The famous Nichols Realignment in 2007 came about after failing to gather enough signatures to qualify a recall election against former Trustee Steve Rocco. The 2007 realignment moved Rocco’s out of his Trustee Area so that he could not run as an incumbent in the Area that elected him. Rocco was moved into Ledesma’s area and later ran against Ledesma and lost.

    INSIDE the OUSD BUDGET
    OUSD Finances sound even with pending trigger cuts
    During a report to the OUSD Trustees at the September meeting, Interim Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Joe Sorrera stated that Orange Unified’s approved budget will be able to “absorb” the $ 7.7 million in possible mid-year budget cuts if the “trigger” revenue loss to the state is reached that will cut into California’s state allocations to K-12 districts.

    Former Superintendent Godley’s Retirement Bonus running total

    (beginning 8/2008):

    $45,760.00*

    * 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.

    NEXT BOARD MEETING October 20, 2011
    Next OUSD Board Meeting Thursday -OUSD BOARD ROOM
    For AGENDA-CLICK ON: BOARD
    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/

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