OUSD Board Will Fill Recall-Created Vacancies By Appointment

By:Matthew Cunningham

The Orange Unified School District Board of Education voted last week to fill two vacancies by appointment. The vacancies in Areas 4 and 7 resulted from the recent removal of Trustees Madison Miner and Rick Ledesma in a recall election in which the state and local teachers unions played an outsized role. The recall results flipped the power balance on the seven-member Board of Education, putting teachers union-friendly Trustees Kris Erickson, Andrea Yamasaki and Ana Page in the majority.

READ: How Will OUSD Board of Education Handle Two Vacancies Stemming From Recall?

Trustee Erickson noted that the last time there was a vacancy, in September 2015, the Board chose to fill it by appointment.

“I think that was the appropriate choice, and that’s why I’ll move to fill these seats by provisional appointments,” said Erickson.

Student Trustee Alex Tran, who was an outspoken opponent of the recall campaign, expressed concern about the potential politicization of the appointment process. Tran bemoaned how the recall “polarized the community” and worried that if the vacancies are filled by “political” appointments it will “give a certain faction on this Board an unelected super-majority.”

READ: Union-Led Campaign To Recall Two Conservative OUSD Trustees Leads In Vote Count

Tran was presumably referring to the distinct possibility Erickson, Page and Yamasaki will fill the vacancies with political allies.

The vote was 4-1, with Trustee John Ortega voting in opposition.

OUSD includes Orange, Anaheim Hills and portions of Garden Grove.

The application period opened on April 12 and continues until 4:00 p.m. on April 26. Applicants will be publicly interviewed by the Board at a May 2 special meeting. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and a registered voter, a citizen of California, reside in the Trustee Area for which they are applying, and not be legally disqualified from holding office.

Applicants are asked to complete a questionnaire developed by the California School Boards Association, and can also include their resume, letters of recommendation, etc.

Special elections will be held in November 2024 held for both trustee areas; the appointed trustees are free to run in those special elections if they choose.

READ: Digital Trackers Used To Catch & Arrest Pro-OUSD Recall Activists For Stealing Anti-Recall Campaign Signs

A parade of recall supporters used the public comment period to urge the trustees to fill the vacancies by appointment, citing the need to ensure a quorum so the seven-member Board could conduct business – apparently unaware state law would allow the OUSD Board to function as though it had five members instead of seven.

One recall supporter sounded a conciliatory note, saying debate among a diversity of viewpoints on the Board is a healthy thing – before going on to lay out a restrictive set of criteria as to what constituted a legitimate trustee.

“I’m not going to agree with everything trustees do up here – that’s OK. That’s not what any of this is about. But we need to move forward and have honest dialogue between our board members to keep things moving,” John Sanks said – and then immediately asked the Board to rule out an entire swatch of OUSD voters and taxpayers.

“We need to pick someone who is connected to an OUSD school, who listens to the parents and has recent experience with an OUSD is very valuable. No more Board members who choose not to send their kids to an OUSD school,” Sanks said.

These criteria would disenfranchise OUSD voters who: send or sent their children to a religious school because OUSD doesn’t offer religious instruction or a spiritual school environment; who paid to sent their kids to private school because the schools are more responsive and less bureaucratic, where their kids needs and priorities aren’t bucking up against those of the teachers union; childless people; voters who moved into OUSD boundaries after their children were grown.

OUSD voters who do not have o have not had children in OUSD school are still compelled to pay taxes for the support of those schools. Those who are homeowners are being taxed to pay for the Measure S school bond. OUSD recall organizers like Mr. Sanks asked them to vote for the recall. Yet. at the same time, he would exclude them from eligibility to seek appointment to the Board – relegating them to a form of second-class citizenship.


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