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  • Saturday, May 27, 2017


    Sorrera leaving OUSD

    Orange Unified Assistant Superintendent Joe  Sorrera to leave Orange Unified for new position at Dublin Unified School District

    Orange Net News has confirmed that Orange Unified School District  Assistant Superintendent of  Business Services Claudio "Joe" Sorrera has accepted a new position as the  Assistant Superintendent of  Business Services with the Dublin Unified School District.  The Dublin Unified School Board voted to approve his appointment this week on Tuesday May 23, 2017.

    Dublin Unified is an 8,000 student district in Alameda County in the East Bay area of Northern California.  
    For more information click on DUBLIN UNIFIED

    Sorrera's  departure, which has not been announced by Orange Unified yet, comes less than a month after Orange Unified Superintendent Michael Christensen announced his departure.  The departure of both  Christensen and Sorrera leaves a major  financial leadership vacuum for Orange Unified which under the financial leadership of both Christensen and Sorrera had become a model of financial stability across the state, even through the Great Recession. 

    In addition to the financial aspect,  Sorrera was instrumental in the organizing and financing planning of  the failed Measure K and  successful Measure S.  Much of the financial and architectural  groundwork for  Measure S was completed as planning for Measure K. 

    Sorrera's departure also comes amid growing unconfirmed  community speculation on the reasons for Christensen's retirement.  Much of those whispered conversations at the OUSD District Office focus on the OUSD Trustees majority.

    Last week, that OUSD Majority rejected legal counsel advice and approved a version of the El Rancho Charter that could, according to the district's legal experts, place OUSD in financial risk and not provided required protections to students and staff.  Sources close to the El Rancho Charter administration, which is currently a "dependent" charter  with a defined attendance area, report that long-term plans are to eventually make the school a completely independent charter-thus leaving the Anaheim Hills area with no public middle school.

    Sorrera began his career as a private Certified Public Accountant.  At OUSD  he served as an account supervisor and for the last six years as the OUSD Assistant Superintendent of Business Services and Chief Business Officer. 

    Sorrera is also a member of the OUSD Bargaining Team that is currently in negotiations with its employee bargining units.  

    Thursday, May 25, 2017


    OUSD Trustees ignore legal advice

    OUSD Board majority ignores legal advice 
    and approves legally questionable 
    El Rancho Charter
    The Orange Unified School Board Trustees voted 4-3 to approve  a version of the El Rancho Charter that the district's legal counsel warned against.

    Led by Trustee Timothy Surridge who cited the threat of legal action from the El Rancho Charter School, Trustees John Ortega, Dr. Alexia Deligianni-Brydges and Board President Rick Ledesma voted to approve the El Rancho Charter submitted on March 29th.   Trustees Kathy Moffat, Andrea Yamasaki and Brenda Lebsack voted against the motion after voting to re-approve the original charter the school currently operates under.

    The Orange Unified Administration and legal counsel had tried to negotiate an addendum called a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to clear-up  areas that legal counsel had concerns over.

    Legal counsel addressed the OUSD Board and warned them that by approving the March 29th version (Option B on the Board Agenda) would give all the leverage to the Charter Board which had refused for the last two weeks to consider modifying their charter in ongoing negotiations.

    Board President Rick Ledesma had at one point suggested that the two Boards get together and negotiate the legal terms of a MOU without lawyers.

    The three trustees who voted against Option B which gave the El Rancho Charter Board no incentive to further negotiate with OUSD, had favored Option A which would have re-approved the current charter and allowed  further negotiations on future changes.    

    The El Rancho Charter Board had put out numerous community alerts claiming that OUSD was not going to approve a charter renewal.  That however was never the case.  While OUSD tried to negotiate, the Charter Board refused to consider any changes using numerous legal maneuvers and threatening legal action. 

    Board President Rick Ledesma  seemed not to understand the complicated legal issues involved insisting that by approving Option B that the two parties could then go back to the negotiating table and work out all the issues-ignoring legal counsels warning that by approving Option B the district would have no further opportunity  to negotiate if the El Rancho Charter Board continued to refuse.  

    Wednesday, May 24, 2017


    Peralta and El Rancho on OUSD Agenda

    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
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    Selling the Peralta Site back on OUSD Agenda this week
    The controversial sale of OUSD's Peralta Site is back on the OUSD Agenda on May 25th. Closed Session  starts at 5:00 pm with comments on the agenda taken before the Closed Session starts. 

    Closed Session Item  4 D has the OUSD Board discussing the price with district lawyers and "an unidentified number of potential buyers for the property" .  The agenda item only identifies the site by its address, not by name.

    In 2012 the OUSD Board voted not to lease the property to developers who were planning a high density apartment complex.

    OUSD Trustee Timothy Surridge then went on a community-wide lobbying tour trying to drum-up support for selling the property.  Surridge and his board allies stated that voters would not pass a facilities bond if the district is not using all of its resources.

    Selling the Peralta Property, which currently is being used mostly for recreation, has been a goal of Surridge and his Board allies for years.  Now with term limits, time is running out for the members of the OUSD Board who want the property sold to developers.

    OUSD Board has two options for El Rancho Charter vote on Thursday
    A renewal of the El Rancho Charter by the OUSD Board of Trustees  is certain this Thursday May 25th. The question is- Which charter will the Board approve?

    The OUSD Board Agenda Item 12 B ( Agenda pages 3-176) includes two Options for the OUSD Trustees to vote on-both options would approve a charter for El Rancho. 

    Which of the two options -and therefore charters-depend on if the El Rancho Charter Board and the district have reached an agreement by the OUSD Board meeting and have an approved Memorandum of Understanding  (MOU2). The El Rancho Charter Board held a 9 am May 22nd Special Charter Board Meeting to discuss and possibly approve a MOU2.

    Option A for the OUSD Board vote is contingent on the El Rancho Board not approving a MOU2.  Option A has the OUSD Board renewing the current El Rancho charter that was originally approved in 2012.

    Option B has the OUSD Board approving a new charter with an agreed upon MOU2 that the OUSD Administration finds meets all of their concerns.

    As of the posting of this story, the El Rancho Charter website is still urging parents to show up on Thursday wearing red to support the charter.  The website alert states that the "El Rancho Charter School has been renewed for 2017-2022 by operation of law. Unfortunately, OUSD Board acknowledge or accept it. "

    For more information click on : EL RANCHO  ALERT

    The growing problems between OUSD's second charter middle school started with a letter from El Rancho Principal Michele Walker to OUSD insisting that one of the versions of the El Rancho Charter application submitted this year was automatically renewed when the legally required 60 day time period elapsed without OUSD taking action on the charter application.  

    OUSD has taken the position that the numerous El Rancho charter applications  it received all were  drafts, and therefore not subject to the legal timelines.

    The April letter from Walker insisting that the submitted charter became official the month before (March 2017) came on the heels of  an April OUSD request for clarification on nineteen changes in the 2017 version of the El Rancho Charter.  

    Another point that OUSD is insisting on clarification is language in the charter about the OUSD loan to the charter school for a construction of a new science center.  That science center is currently under construction.

    OUSD has also cited that no evidence has been presented that the changes in the Charter were voted on by 75% of the staff as required by the original charter.  Also among the other numerous concerns outlined in the OUSD Agenda Item are deletion of required insurance related items that OUSD insists are needed to protect staff and students.

    The posted November 2016 minutes from the El Rancho Charter Board report that Principal Walker was at home recovering from a surgery. Item 19 states that Walker was "working on the charter renewal while convalescing. The intention is to present to the [charter] board at the next board meeting".

    The December 2016 El Rancho Board minutes show that the Principal Walker participated by telephone.  Nothing from the posted agenda shows that the required Brown Act notification requirements were followed in the December El Rancho Charter related to the principal teleconferencing. The only item voted on by a roll call ( another Brown Act requirement) was the Charter approval in Agenda Item 15.

    The only votes by staff reported in the agenda was a 56-3 to change the special education SELPA.

    The January 2017 El Rancho Board Minutes do not report any staff votes.  Item 15 reports that the Principal was present at the January meeting and was meeting with the district to arrange a  presentation on the El Rancho Charter to the OUSD Board in February.  The minutes continue to explain  "Possibly approval in April".

    There are no minutes posted for any other El Rancho Board meetings in 2017 (February, March, April, May) and therefore no public records of the required staff vote on the charter changes.

    In August 2016, El Rancho Charter was on a list of 250 charters from the ACLU that were allegedly in violation of state law. The ACLU report accused El Rancho of not following the state law mandating  that charters accept all students.  The ACLU report alleged that El Rancho Charter limited enrollment based on a student's academic performance.

    In February 2017, OUSD paid a $10 million dollar settlement to families of  El Rancho students injured in a 2014 bus crash.

    New OUSD Assistant Superintendent of  Facilities and Planning to be named replacing Executive Director position
    OUSD will add a third Assistant Superintendent when they name a new Assistant Superintendent of  Facilities and Planning on Thursday night.  The new position will replace the current Director of Facilities and Planning.

    Agenda Item 12 F approves a new contract for the new Assistant Superintendent "consistent with the contracts of the other two Assistant  Superintendents".

    The most current public information on salaries for 2015 from Transparent California shows the two OUSD Assistant Superintendents with benefits two years ago were between $215,000 and $219,000.  

    By comparison, Transparent California reports that same year the salary for Matthew Strother, the current Executive Director of Facilities and Planning,  was $100,000.  

    For  a list of OUSD 2015 salaries click on: 

    The new $200,000 plus Assistant Superintendent position comes as talks between the district and its employee unions have stalled.

    Executive Director Matthew Strother

    The May 24th Agenda, Consent Agenda Item 14 I (pg 288) eliminates the current OUSD position of Executive Director of Facilities and Planning.

    INSIDE the May 25th  OUSD Agenda
    Other items on the May 25th Agenda:

    NEXT OUSD BOARD MEETING Thursday May 25, 2017
    Next OUSD Board Meeting -OUSD BOARD ROOM
    CLOSED SESSION: 5:00 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

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    Monday, May 08, 2017


    OUSD Trustees meet Thursday

    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
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    OUSD Board to meet Thursday May 8th
    The Orange Unified School Board will hold a regular scheduled meeting  on Thursday May 8, 2017  Closed Session begins at 5:00 pm and Open session begins at 7:00 pm.

    The meeting agenda includes the Trustees discussing in Closed Session about the announced retirement of Superintendent Michael Christensen effective 8/1/17.

    Other items include voting on Action Items for Approval of the El Modena Measure S Science Center Project and a Public Hearing on the Renewal of the El Rancho Charter School's charter.

    Information on organizing new Boys and Girls Lacrosse teams at Canyon and El Modena High Schools will also be presented.  Information on the legalities of exchanges of public surplus real property will also be discussed.

    The OUSD Trustees will also vote as part of the Consent Agenda on a $15,000 contract to provide on-site training for the newly approved  4 x 4 Block Schedule for El Modena High School.

     For more information Click on OUSD May Agenda

    Wednesday, May 03, 2017


    EMHS coach charged in sex crimes

    El Modena HS walk-on coach in Sunday's suicide standoff now charged with underage sex crimes
    The Orange County District Attorney announced today that Michael J. Snitzler, the 26 year-old El Modena H.S. walk-on (part time) football who was initially charged with weapons charges following a 10-hour suicide-related  stand-off with police last Sunday April 23rd at the high school, is now facing additional charges allegedly involving a sexual relationship with an under-aged 17 year old El Modena student.
    In addition to the possession of a felony firearm and ammunition on a campus charge, Snitzer  has now been charged with misdemeanor unlawful sexual intercourse and child annoyance. According to the D.A., Snitzler and the El Modena student met in February of this year.  After allegedly communicating by text messages, Snitzler  allegedly began a sexual relationship with the student in March of this year.
    The felony weapons charges alone could result in up to 10 years and 6 months in prison.

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