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  • Thursday, January 23, 2014

     

    Great start for Ortega as President

    Metro TALK
    viewpoints from across Greater Orange
    Finally, Leadership to bring Greater Orange together
                                                                   -views from the Greater Orange Community Organization :GoCo:

    In his first move as Orange Unified School Board President, Trustee John Ortgea has proposed bringing the OUSD Board Meetings to the community to listen and learn about the needs of OUSD's four comprehensive high schools.

    Taking a page from his first days as one of the newly elected Citizen Trustees after the 2001 Orange Recall, Ortega's move is in sharp contrast to the wasted year under the former OUSD President Tim Surridge.  In January of last year Surridge laid out a divisive agenda that as the old 2001 recall slogan stated, was

    "Bad for Taxpayers, Bad for Schools
    and Bad for Orange"

    However, what a difference a year makes.

    While Ortega's relationship with his fellow Trustees took a rocky turn years ago, his  long stance on improving OUSD schools has never been questioned. A product of OUSD, over the years when Ortega has publicly spoken about his passion for his childhood schools he was always at his best.

    Now as OUSD Board President and with over a decade of service, Ortega now has a chance at becoming a statesmanlike leader that can heal the deep divisions on the OUSD Board with the same skills he employed as a former Orange County Sheriff- fairness and integrity. 

    Ortega is human and has had personal challenges. Now however, he has this chance to practice his years of training and experience to be the leader perhaps he was destined to be. 

    By putting old differences aside, reaching out across the dais to bring together the OUSD Board , Ortega is uniquely positioned to do great things and become one of OUSD great Board Presidents.

    Clearly his first initiative to go out to the community to try and accomplish what all other OUSD Presidents before him have failed at is the best start of an OUSD President in years. 

    Our hope is this year Ortega will rise to the challenge and be :
     "Good for Taxpayers, Good for Schools and Good for Greater Orange"

     Views on Metro TALK  are not necessarily the viewpoints of the networks that forward this.

    Metro TALK  is a service of :GoCo: and its communication group Orange Net News /O/N/N/

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

     

    OUSD revisits Peralta to sell

    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    Independent insight into OUSD      
    a news service of
     Orange Net News /O/N/N/
    OUSD Trustees to discuss selling Peralta and other sites
    Orange Unified School District's Board of Trustees will meet Thursday January 23, 2014 to discuss selling four surplus properties including the controversial Peralta site.

    The Closed Session Agenda Item 4 B (Closed Session starts at 5:30 pm) - Conference with Real Property Negotiations- includes discussion on four OUSD surplus properties : Killefer Site (Lemon St.); Riverdale Site(Riverdale Ave);  Walnut Site (site south of Santiago CMS); and the Peralta Site (N. Canal St.).  The Agenda states that the purpose is "Instructions to negotiators will concern terms and conditions for possible sale of sites".

    After a protracted fight with the  Save the Peralta neighborhood association over leasing the land for multi-family apartments, in November, the OUSD Board majority lead by then OUSD President Timothy Surridge relented to the near unanimous community opposition to the project and voted to end the attempt to lease the land for high density apartments.

    The Surridge Majority framed the proposed Peralta Lease as a way to "leverage" money to start upgrading the district's over-aging facilities.  As part of its fight against high density apartments in their neighborhood, the Save the Peralta group and its allies seized upon the facilities upgrade issue and pledged publicly time and time again to support a third effort to pass an OUSD Bond to achieve badly needed school upgrades instead of developing the Peralta site.  As it became clear months before the November vote that the momentum was with the Peralta neighborhood and its growing allies in the community, the isolated Surridge Majority began to float a new assertion  about Peralta.  The Surridge Surplus Property Assertion was that the community would NEVER vote for a School Bond as long as OUSD held surplus property.  Any surplus property.

    The Surridge Surplus Property Assertion was not grounded in any poll, data or reality. It was completely made up by the Surridge Majority in response to loosing its talking points on Peralta.

    It now appears that having lost the ability to lease the property to a developer, the Surridge Majority is now prepared to sell the property to a developer under the pretense of getting a Bond passed.

    In the last two OUSD Bond elections, OUSD surplus properties were never an issue. The only time surplus property was EVER an election issue in an OUSD election  was in the 2001 Orange Recall Election. In that election community open space activists who wanted to preserve the unused OUSD Barham Ranch property as open space formed an alliance with community education activists in voting to oust the Reactionary Jacobson Majority.  One of the first things that the new OUSD Citizen's Trustee's did after they won that election was to declare the Barham Ranch property surplus and sell it to the County of Orange to add to the county park lands. On October 24, 2002 the OUSD Board voted 5-2 to sell Barham Ranch to the county.  Three of the original OUSD Citizen Trustees who voted to sell Barham Ranch are still on the OUSD Board: Board President John Ortega, Rick Ledesma and Kathy Moffat.

    Since 2001, numerous Greater Orange developers and politicians have tangled with open space advocates over Barham Ranch, Fieldstone\Sully Miller, Ridgeline, Rio Santiago and Peralta.  Each time community open space advocates responded by and flexing their political and legal muscles using the same time tested methods of organizing and creating far-reaching alliances to fight the development projects. Still the developers and their political backers continue to use the SAME arguments that were used over a decade ago (see link below) for development of scare open space. Until now.
    Now they are just making up facts.

    The Surridge Surplus Propety Assertion that voters will not support a school bond  is completely made up. Unfortunately the exact opposite is true. By selling the Peralta property to a developer-especially Fairfield the developer that lost the lease- has  the potential of alienating a vast majority of  potential OUSD Bond supporters.

    So the question is, "What really is the ultimate goal of the current OUSD Board majority?"

    If it is to pass an OUSD Bond, then it is time to put aside the surplus property issue.

    If it is to privatize  the surplus property, then it is time to put aside the Bond issue.

    Linking the two issues is a political disaster in the making and a no-win situation for OUSD students, staff and schools.

    For more information CLICK ON: BARHAM RANCH   

    "Imagine" OUSD  hiring a PR firm for $50,000
    The January 23, 2014 Agenda Action Item 12 B has OUSD Trustees spending $50,000 to hire Kanatsiz Communications- also known as KCOMM a public relations firm started by a Chapman University graduate Sinan Kanatsiz .

    Originally hiring a PR firm was proposed as a way to communicate with the community about the High School Facility Master Plans in preparation  for an OUSD  Bond Election. Legally ,  the school district cannot use public funds to support the Bond once it is approved to be placed on the ballot. In further discussions, the OUSD Board expand the proposal for a PR firm to include touting OUSD student achievement and for a PR campaign on the Common Core initiatives mandated by the state.

    The Agenda item written by OUSD staff notes that regulations of the Local Control and Accountability Plan  "includes community outreach as a mandate".  What the agenda item fails to mention is hiring a PR firm is not a "mandated" community outreach program.  The district's Community Development Department currently handles the communication duties the district would now assign to a PR firm. OUSD has numerous community outreach initiatives that already meet that mandate. From the OUSD dedicated cable channel, to district and school websites, school reports and newsletters, school twitter accounts, school and program Facebook pages, OUSD E-Blasts and RSS feed, the Superintendent's State of the School address, School Site Councils, ELAC meetings and the free service of School News Roll Call that provides direct communication with the community about school achievement and other issues. All of these OUSD currently does within the current OUSD budget priories. Can spending $50,000 do more?

    Kanatsiz Communications focuses on "social media" including their own You Tube Channel called KCOMM TV for PR purposes.  KCOMM PR is geared to lengthy  30 minute news-like productions. This lengthy  production was made for the  Orange County Department of Education.


    Compare that KCOMM production with the latest OUSD "in-house" produced production on the newly revamped OUSD Home Page- all done "in-house" . In line with former OUSD Superintendent Dr. Drier's practice of using OUSD's own talent instead of hiring expensive consultants with scarce tax dollars, the OUSD "Imagine" video  was produced by one of OUSD's very own-Canyon High School Teacher Alex Graham. So go ahead and compare-which production is engaging and worth $50,000- a San Clemente PR firm or OUSD's home grown production?

    For OUSD's own Alex Graham's IMAGINE video CLICK HERE to view VIDEO on OUSD Homepage : IMAGINE

    Over the last fifteen years the major local trusted news communication in the Greater Orange Community has developed into an informal network of almost  a hundred closely  held community private email lists and community controlled media that can rapidly communicate vital information to all segments of the Greater Orange Communities. 

    Case in point of how the local private communication networks work was recently related in an experience that OUSD Trustee Rick Ledesma shared at an OUSD Board meeting last year. Ledesma related that he was constantly being approached by local community members everywhere he went asking "Which trustee seats were going to be eliminated?" under the Surridge Plan to eliminate the two trustee seats. Ledesma related that it was frustrating to address that issue everywhere he went instead of real school issues. The Surridge Plan to eliminate two trustee seats was never in local papers, or on social media. The story was emailed on private closed email networks. The story spread quickly throughout the Orange Communities.  News in Greater Orange is locally controlled.

    Ironically, the trustee who suggested hiring a PR firm was Trustee Rick Ledesma.

    What does $50,000 get a school district? You would IMAGINE it gets up-to-date information. Right?

    You might IMAGINE that a PR\communication company would keep up-to-date on posting their "monthly" newsletters. As of this posting the last "monthly" newsletter on the KCOMM site is from six months ago...July 2013.  Click on : KCOMM NEWSLETTERS

    You might IMAGINE that a PR firm would also be on top of their own image. As of this posting, on the KCOMM website, the latest "press" about KCOMM was information was from May 2013.  That  headline proclaims:

    Christie Camp Strikes Gold in California

    Californians Have Been Generous to Christie Campaign


    The  dated news item included:
    Mr. Christie attended four fundraisers in California in February, with the most attention going to the event hosted by Mr. Zuckerberg at his home in Palo Alto. "He captivated us," said Sinan Kanatsiz, founder of the KCOMM Internet marketing firm, who attended the event. "You have 60 top technology executives in Zuckerberg's living room, and you could hear a pin drop when Chris Christie was speaking.

    and...

    California has taken a shine to Gov. Chris Christie, with West Coast technology entrepreneurs and entertainment moguls donating tens of thousands of dollars to the re-election campaign of a New Jersey Republican leading in the polls by a wide margin.

    CLICK ON: KCOMM PRESS

    Once again...this is the LAST "news" story posted on the official KCOMM website. You might IMAGINE that a communications PR firm to be up to the minute on all aspects of the news-especially their image.

    OUSD experimented briefly with Twitter before giving up on it. As of this posting, Sinan Kanatsiz's  personal Twitter account has not been updated for over a month. CLICK ON: KCOMM TWITTER

    In addition the much self-touted KCOMM "Newsblaster.com" site has reportedly hacked in 2009. It now has been discontinued and brings you directly to the outdated KCOMM site. (CLICK ON www.newsblaster.com).

    So if a PR company can't keep their own social media and websites up-to-date- IMAGINE what they can do for OUSD for  $50,000?

    To see OUSD's current Communication Plan CLICK ON: OUSD PLAN

    Ortega proposes taking Board meetings on the road
    Action Item 12 D on the January 23, 2014 has OUSD Board President John Ortega taking a page from OUSD School Board history-taking the show on the road. Ortega has proposed to hold the next four regularly scheduled Board meetings (2/13, 2/20, 3/13, 3/27)  at each of OUSD's  four comprehensive high schools.  The purpose is to  get community input for the facilities master plans for each of the high schools.

    Thirteen years ago after the Orange Recall (which is when John Ortega was elected) and the following regular election when the Recalled Trustees tried unsuccessfully to win their seats back, the newly elected Citizen's Trustees began holding the regular OUSD Board of Education meetings all over the Greater Orange Communities. All across the district,  the newly elected Citizen Trustees met in high school and middle school multi-purpose room. The district provided interpreting services so community members who did not speak English could attend the meetings.  The "on the road" Board meetings were hugely successful in bringing in district stakeholders- students, parents, teachers and community members- who had never attended a meeting to see the Trustees.  As the newly elected trustees met in each community, they listened and learned those communities' concerns and needs. It was a masterful public relations coup that helped Greater Orange move on past the years of distrust and ranker.

    In response to an inquire from /O/N/N/ about the plan, the watchdog Greater Orange Communities Organization Roundtable Steering Committee responded by email;

    "President John Ortega's first initiative as Board President  is a positive direction not only for the Trustees, but also for the community. We applaud President Ortega for his leadership in reaching out to the numerous communities in Greater Orange. The honest open approach to working toward a community school bond is a welcome change of tactics over past stealth attempts to pass a facilities bond."

    OUSD moves to add electronic cigarettes to illegal tobacco policy
    As numerous cities move to restrict the explosion of electronic cigarette stores, schools are also grappling with how to deal with "e-cigarettes"  being brought onto school property. OUSD Trustees will hear Information Item 13 A (page 8) as the first reading of a policy banning electronic cigarettes on district property.

    NEXT OUSD BOARD MEETING Thursday January 23 , 2014
    Next OUSD Board Meeting -OUSD BOARD ROOM
    CLOSED SESSION: 5:30 pm
    OUSD Regular Session: 7:00 pm
    For AGENDA-CLICK ON: http://www.orangeusd.k12.ca.us/board/pdf/2014/agenda0123.pdf

    For more information call the OUSD Superintendent’s office at 714-628-4040
    For budgeting questions call Business Services at 714-628-4015

    ARCHIVAL Information and direct news can be found at:
    the Greater Orange News Service http://greaterorange.blogspot.com/
    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    and the
    Greater Orange News Service
    are independent news services of /O/N/N/
    Orange Net News

    “Greater Orange's TRUSTED independent news for over 12 years"

    Friday, January 17, 2014

     

    OUSD settles abuse lawsuit for $2.75 million

    $2.75 million dollar settlement in alleged Taft abuse case
    Sources in Orange Unified School District have confirmed that the six families suing OUSD will settle the Cesar P et al vs Orange Unified  civil lawsuit for  $2.75 million. The case stems from an alleged April 2012 incident that was widely reported involving former Taft Elementary School teacher Daniel Lentini.

    The Orange Unified School Trustees heard information about the case filed in May 2012 against Lentini, Taft Principal Antoniette Coe and 100 "does", and Orange Unified in Closed Session at the OUSD October 24th School Board meeting.  Parents alleged that Lentini physically abused special education students in his class.  The alleged abuse was first reported by adult aids in the classroom.

    The case was investigated by the Orange Police Department. In December of 2012 the Orange County District Attorney's Office decided that there was not enough evidence to file criminal charges. Reportedly, Mr. Lentini is still employed as a teacher by Orange Unified.

    The case's General Allegations list as "caused detriment, damage and injury to Plaintiffs".  The case lists numerous minor plaintiffs and their guardians. 

    The lawsuit laid out 5 Causes of Action: 1. Violation of the 1959 Unruh Civil Rights Act ; 2. Violation of US Civil Rights under the 8th and 14th Amendments;  3 Breach of Duty of Care Arising Under Special  Relationship; 4, Negligence; and 5; Discrimination on Basis of Disability (Sec 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973).

    The civil lawsuit asked from all the defendants general damages, special damages and treble damages. It also seeks punitive damages from Daniel Lentini, as well as all legal fees and "For such other and further damages as provided by law, or such relief as the court may deem just and proper".

    The case was scheduled to go to trial this week in Orange County Superior Court, but the lawyer for OUSD presented the settlement agreement to the court.  

    Under the settlement  terms, the OUSD Board of Education will vote to accept the settlement at there February 13th Board Meeting. After filing the approved settlement, the Superior Court then must accept the agreement.  

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