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CUSD's Contentious Election Season Put to Rest

Two new trustees are sworn in and two others are reaffirmed, but not without some sharp comments from the public.

Two new trustees were sworn in Monday night, along with two re-elected trustees, as a contentious election in the Capistrano Unified School District was put to rest.

Newcomer Amy Hanacek and trustees John Alpay and Gary Pritchard took time to thank their supporters.

“It was a long, difficult campaign,” said Alpay, who was elected as board president. He credited his re-election to the “a lot of support by a lot of good people. … I sincerely appreciate what you all did for me, and it’s a true honor to be back on the dais.”

One parent later took Alpay to task for his role in purchasing an internet domain name that deceptively took visitors looking for one group to an opposing group’s webpage where it solicited donations.

“How could you stoop that low? Your behavior in this race was reprehensible,” said Melissa Alsop. “We’re not going to forget the underhanded behavior. This was unethical.”

A number of parents associated with Oxford Preparatory Academy also spoke during the open comments portion of the agenda, with some tying the election to the recent allegations that teachers at the new charter school helped students cheat on standardized testing.

“For me the gloves are off. I am disgusted that this district would fabricate a cheating allegation ironically during an election,” said parent Kim Price.

Both OPA and the school district conducted separate investigations into the charges, and both found the allegations lacking.

“I expect you to publicly exonerate and apologize to the public and students of Oxford Prep,” Price said.

Later in the evening, Trustee Anna Bryson said the initial report of the cheating allegations, which were first published in a blog, most likely came from a school board member.

“It would have to come from a trustee. We don’t know why,” she said. “It was not done at the request of anyone. We regret it very much.”

In other matters, the board:

  • Heard the year’s first financial report that showed the district will have slightly more money, about $1.4 million this year, because of Prop. 30 but will still need to cut $31 million off of next year’s budget
  • Set a timeline to come up with next year’s budget, which will include a board subcommittee
  • Gave the green light to staff to develop a , to possibly open by September 2015
Melemel December 12, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Pacific coast mama...unfortunately the guard in San Clemente didn't change. Due in part by an aggressive rumor campaign and inequity in campaign funds.
shelly December 12, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Don James, Oh, so sorry for those CEO's. Do you mean the ones who voted to increase their executive bonus after getting stimulus money or those at hostess who did this right before hostess declared bankruptcy? Are you saying that if teachers, fire fighters and police officers do their job it is an entitlement that they are paid for their services. We pay these people a middle income salary. Are you saying we shouldn't and it is an entitlement to do so? Pliny, Teachers deserve the salaries they earn. We need them. Are you suggesting they are overpaid. $66,000 is an average. It includes those who make minimum wage and those that make millions. $80,000 is a middle income salary or are you saying in South Orange County these teachers are getting rich? Teaching our future generation does not deserve a middle income salary? So what should teachers be paid? I feel they deserve their salaries. What do you think?
shelly December 12, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Capo Parent, So if CUSD does not like school choice why do they keep approving charter schools? Other districts rejected OPA and yet CUSD approved it.
shelly December 12, 2012 at 09:09 PM
And if you do no think that $80,000 is middle income in South Orange County then you do not live in South Orange County. I live in the real world in South Orange County.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) December 12, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Don James, Please comment without the insults. Thank you.
Don James December 12, 2012 at 10:46 PM
Not those CEO's!! Hostess is based in TX. I am talking about companies right here in CA which are considering leaving the state because of the unfriendly business climate. Those companies who create the treasury to pay for public services. Get it through your shallow brain.
shelly December 12, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Penny, I am not searching for a reason that Bryson could be wrong. But you pretty much believe she is right because you have do not simply state. " Well, I do not know definitively." You are a reporter who states that her reporting is based on documentation. Lawyers never leak stories to the press? Really? And I am not saying that this occurred here. But really? A trustee could very well have leaked or not.
shelly December 12, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Don James, So because I have a different opinion than you I am an "idiot" and I have a "shallow brain" because I believe that teachers are just as important as CEOs. So much for civility. Hostess may be based in TX but it does business in California. Many companies are based elsewhere and do business in CA and pay CA taxes. Don have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a wonderful day. ci·vil·i·ty /səˈvilitē/ Noun, 1.Formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech.
shelly December 12, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Don James, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/17/business/executive-pay-still-climbing-despite-a-shareholder-din.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/04/08/business/executive-compensation.html Some of these companies are based in CA and almost of them do business in CA.
shelly December 12, 2012 at 11:12 PM
meant to say almost all of them do some business in CA
Don James December 12, 2012 at 11:25 PM
No Shelly, it is not because you have a differing opinion than I do. It is because your arguments are the same trite rhetoric over and over with little or no substance. Or you spin the issue to make some inane comment. Case in point: Hostess did not have a large corporate presence in CA before it went bankrupt. It only sold its goods via retailers and had some bakeries. All of the executive decision making was done elsewhere. My original point was that you need to be thankful we even have corporate headquarters here in CA because without them, we lose a large tax base. Yet, you twist it around and generalize “those CEO’s who voted to increase executive bonuses…”. In essence, you completely missed the point. Just remember, without a sufficient tax base which IS the private sector, we no longer have the resources to pay for the public servants you worship. And you wonder why you feel you get picked on!
shelly December 13, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Don James, Without teachers the corporations in CA or in the USA would not have educated workers. And worship and respect are different words. I respect teachers, fire fighters and police officers. I am thankful for their services. I am thankful for corporations who do business ethically and provide jobs.
Pliny the Elder December 13, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Shelly, You are missing my point. My point is that teachers are compensated very well, but it always seems that they want just a little more. The point I was trying to make about the average salary is that the average person in Orange county is making LESS money than the teachers. Its hard to find any sympathy for someone making more and working less. The whole argument about having more students in the class doesn't hold water. How many times do you get saddled with additional responsibilities at work and do not receive additional compensation for doing it. It happens all of the time, From the factory worker to the the teacher to the banker, We all have had to adjust and make some sacrifices in this "new" economy. Why should the teachers be any different.
shelly December 13, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Pliny, Teachers are currently getting less. The majority of the cuts to the budget came from cuts to employees. I am not asking you to feel sorry for teachers. What I am saying is that teachers deserve their compensation because what they do is extremely important. Our kids education is important. There are many more low income jobs going then high paying jobs going into the average income you site. So what is your point about teachers making over this average. Are you saying that everyone should make the same amount of money? Are you saying that teachers should make just the average because that is what they deserve? Are you saying that $80,000 in South Orange County is not a middle income salary? My children have been in CUSD schools for over 13 years. The teachers deserve the compensation they receive. I am not sorry that they make more than some people. They are educated professionals doing an important job.
Pliny the Elder December 13, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Shelly, $80,000 a year is current, the numbers were from this month. They were making more before the cuts were implemented. However you keep missing my point, My point is that even at $80,000 a year, that is a good salary. How can you say it is not. Wow, you really like to strawman don't you? OK I will play along Where do I ever mentioned that everybody should make the same? Nowhere. In fact where did I ever state that teachers should make less? and why do you keep bringing up middle class salary, I have never once mentioned it. I stated facts. The fact is that teachers in CUSD make a good salary. Based on their teaching peers in the state and the average person living in their community, they are doing better than them. The numbers do not lie. Now you can argue that the teachers should be paid more and that is your opinion and you are welcome to it but I want to ask you a question, If we increased teachers salary to an average of $100K a year, do you honestly feel that the education that the kids are receiving would improve and why?
shelly December 14, 2012 at 03:10 AM
Pliny, Perhaps you should reread what I wrote. Where did I advocate for more for teachers? I stated that teachers deserve the compensation they receive. And the $80,000 is an average. http://www.ocregister.com/articles/teachers-294382-average-pay.html Teachers are educated professionals who deserve their compensation for educating our future generation. Don't you think?
Penny Arévalo (Editor) December 14, 2012 at 03:13 AM
Shelly, I just rechecked the OJ Blog's leaked document. It's isn't from the school district's lawyer. It's from OPA's lawyer TO Dr. Farley. So why would the OPA lawyer leak it? There certainly wasn't anything for OPA to gain by leaking the letter.
Capo Parent December 14, 2012 at 05:35 AM
Shelly Since you are the queen of leaving out facts, let me help you understand reality and the truth. CUSD approved OPA because OPA meet all the legal requirements, and CUSD attorneys told CUSD this and further advised CUSD it had no legal grounds for denying OPA a charter.
shelly December 14, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Capo Parent, CUSD could have rejected OPA like other districts did. CUSD approves charter schools and alternatives. We have Journey, Capistrano Connections, Community Roots, Opportunites for Learning, OPA, Spanish Immersion, Chinese immersion, traditional, etc. Have a lovely day.
shelly December 14, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Jane Lambson, Last time I checked we live in America where public employees and private employees have the rights of free speech. I agree that these teachers should not speak out against any CUSD school.
randy December 14, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Good question, Shelly. That's something we didn't really think. Are the charter schools trying to stay distant from the districts yet they get paid by ADA (state) with funding services maintained required by the school district admin. Isn't that a conflict of interest for taxpayers' children? Aren't the charter schools actually state government-sponsored, not local public's, schools?
shelly December 14, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Capo Parent, And if OPA or any of these schools fail who will get the blame? Probably the schools but also the Board of Trustees and the Superintendent who approved them.
Pliny the Elder December 14, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Shelly, You are correct, In this line of discussion you never mentioned increasing the pay of teachers. Let's rephrase the question a bit. Do you feel that teachers are being compensated appropriately for the work that they do? I personally feel that they are, what are your thoughts on it? There are a lot of trained and educated people making far less than teachers so always going to that card doesn't work.
shelly December 15, 2012 at 03:59 AM
Pliny, "Teachers are educated professionals who deserve their compensation for educating our future generation. Don't you think?" I stated this above.
shelly December 16, 2012 at 07:03 PM
southcountynative, Teachers are educated credentialed professionals and deserved their compensation. I have my opinion and you have yours. I respect immensely what teachers do and am deeply saddened this weekend. So Happy Holidays.
shelly December 17, 2012 at 10:02 PM
southcountynative, You made a choice to homeschool. Are all your children being homeschooled? You are not teaching 20 to 30 kids. You choose who you teach. Teachers teach all and we, and you as a taxpayer hire them to teach all (not just your children). This is the system we have chosen for our country. To teach all. We disagree southcountynative. Teachers are educated credentialled professionals and they deserve their salaries and compensation. And Marco is a great school with wonderful teachers.
shelly December 17, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Penny, I have no idea who leaked it or why. I just think nothing is proven and there is no documentation.
shelly December 18, 2012 at 01:09 AM
southcountynative, Teachers are college educated credentialed professionals who deserve their salaries and compensation. In the USA and CA we pay taxes to educate all of our children, not just our own. Even if you have no children you pay taxes to educate the children of our society. It helps our community, state, nation, world. This is what we have chosen to do as a nation. Marco is a great school with wonderful teachers. I am happy that you have found an alternative that suits you and your family. I know several families who homeschool and they love it. It is a good thing to have choices. I wish you luck in your endeavors in homeschooling. But not every family chooses homeschooling since many thrive in a school environment. Many families choose CUSD schools and their kids are growing and learning and doing wonderfully. I did not teach my children to spell in pre-k. My children had a very unacademic magical pre-k experience. It did not hurt them and I feel it helped make them creative, problem solvers. My children do well in school, are kind, friendly and talented in their own way (I am biased of course). If you attend a private school you pay for the computer and online services through your tuition. And the schools do offer online services in the libraries. Students regularly come into the library and check out laptops and print papers.
shelly December 18, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Southcountynative, The laptops I am speaking of are at the high school. You chose homeschool. No one forced you into it. There are other options. If you felt Marco was not a good fit you could have chosen a different middle school. I remember when my oldest son was in middle school and an English teachers sent out a form with misspelled words early on in the year, and I judged her for this. She turned out to be one of the most engaging, interesting English teachers my son has ever had. She had students split into groups and take Greek Myths and rewrite them into short plays and make costumes. She had the students make toys (and provide a written description and present them to the class) out of materials that they could only find in the ancient time and environment in which the historical novel they were reading was set. She had the students write poetry and had a reading and then made these into a poetry book. In small groups she had them read The Hobbit and then had them construct a scene from the book in a pizza box so that it looked like a stage and then have them present it. Teachers make mistakes like all of us. We all make mistakes in our jobs once in a while. And as for the budget. It has been cut. The schools cannot provide everything you want for your family. I understand you want them to pay for your internet. I understand that you want them to pay for all of your child's supplies because of the ACLU lawsuit.
shelly December 18, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Southcountynative, We, in CA, pay less per child then most other states. We receive less ADA in our district. If a teacher assigns a project they will give the student supplies if they need them. And he/she will give them time to do a project on a computer at school. It has always been this way. Many of us do not mind purchasing supplies for our children. I don't. You might and that is your right. Buying supplies is not new. My children have been in the district for over 13 years and the supplies have never been mandatory. I have bought or recycled supplies for that amount of time because I chose to.

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