D.A. to Review CUSD Critic's Complaints

Parent Dawn Urbanek raised questions about how Capo Unified handled its budget this year.

The Orange County District’s Attorney’s office is looking into complaints filed by a parent and frequent critic of the Capistrano Unified School District.

Deputy District Attorney Ray Armstrong of the special prosecutions unit confirmed he was investigating the complaints but declined to reveal specifics.

“All I can say is we’re reviewing it,” Armstrong said.

Parent Dawn Urbanek submitted several complaints to the D.A.’s office last month. Among her accusations:

  • Parents were shut out of the collective bargaining process with teachers and other unions as district officials attempted to trim millions from the CUSD budget. Capistrano Unified spokesman Marcus Walton said the district afforded the public many opportunities to address the school board. (See PDF).
  • CUSD started negotiations with unions in January, about three months before it was authorized to do so by the school board. As evidence, Urbanek cited an email from Patricia Koch, the representative assigned by the Orange County Department of Education to oversee CUSD’s precarious finances, which says, “They are starting to negotiate with CUEA next week beginning with a possible early retirement incentive that would be tied to class-size increases.” It was dated Jan. 5.
  • The district illegally supported Prop. 30 instead of remaining neutral. Urbanek filed a similar complaint with the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission, which chose not pursue the matter. When Patch asked CUSD for comment, Walton forwarded remarks from Superintendent Joe Farley. "Districts are entitled to use their resources to educate trustees, employees and the public about the fiscal impact of budget-related initiatives," Farley wrote in an Oct. 4 letter to Urbanek, a copy of which was also sent to the D.A.

It's unclear which of Urbanek's complaints the D.A. is looking into.


bbq November 15, 2012 at 11:11 PM
mominsjc, No use going round and round with Shelly. She just spews the same answers over and over. It reminds me of a debate I had with someone right before we sent troops back into Iraq in 2003. I wondered whether it was the best idea at the time and the person I was debating with kept repeating, over and over for 1/2 hour, "I'm an American, I'm an American, I'm an American...." I finally gave up. Prop 30 passed, so we are all "helping" now, right? If Shelly spent as much energy on campaigning on a state level for equalized funding to CUSD as she does on these comment boards trying to change our minds, perhaps something constructive could come out of it.
bbq November 15, 2012 at 11:15 PM
Dawn, Thanks for trying. It's hard to be the person who tries to uncover the truth.
shelly November 15, 2012 at 11:26 PM
randy, And how do the students get these teachers? What is your solution to the budget crisis? Spin? I have heard Dawn's. I read her legislative reports for Las Palmas that were supposed to be just the facts but were filled with her opinion and yet she didn't really tell anyone this. I listened to her say in her actual voice the excerpt from above. Listen to it yourself. If you didn't mean it why did she say it? My youngest son is in 6th grade and just left Las Palmas. My children were there the whole time Dawn's child was there except for this year. I know who was looking out for my children and it certainly was not Dawn. I do not believe that she even knows my children. It is a great school filled with great teachers and great administrators. We can all disagree and that is okay. I have a different opinion. My opinion is that we should all help. Hers is not. "I do not want to spend more money on the current education system we have in CUSD" My children are the current education in CUSD and even though I do not have much I am willing to help anyway I can because public school for all is important.
shelly November 15, 2012 at 11:29 PM
randy, You can call it spin or whatever. I have a different opinion than you. I have no personal issue with Dawn or you. I just don't agree with her or you.
randy November 15, 2012 at 11:36 PM
shelly, no hard feeling here. So long. Management will take care of this after Prop 30 passage. Students come first. Teachers work hard but they need more teachers somehow. Students need smaller class sizes. I stand corrected. I truly hope DA will clear things up and make sure parents can share concern about students' need @ CUSD schools.
Dawn Urbanek November 15, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Shelly- Again? I have not been a Legislative Rep since the 2010 Teachers Strike- I resigned because I didn't want to "remain silent" so that only a Union message could be spoken. Read my letter of resignation- and for the record- please note that the PTA is no longer claiming to be "The Voice of the Children". They are now silent except on fundraising issues and should not longer be given access to student back packs- nor should they be allowed to pull children from instructional time to fundraise. And yes Shelly- every parent who came to Las Palmas for a meeting about math and the new core programing saw a fundraising event going on during instructional time- and boy they were really not happy! Thanks Randy and BBQ- sometimes I do feel like I am the only person who sees what is going on at CUSD as not good for the children????
Dawn Urbanek November 15, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Link to my letter of resignation- and yes- lots of wording has been changed on PTA mission statements, etc http://disclosurecusd.blogspot.com/2012/10/april-26-2010-letter-of-resignation.html
shelly November 16, 2012 at 12:45 AM
randy, What teachers are enriching themselves? Really?
shelly November 16, 2012 at 12:45 AM
randy, What teachers are enriching themselves? Really?
cusd mom November 16, 2012 at 04:41 AM
Shelly, I firmly believe you have lost touch with reality for several reasons...one being you haven't been in the workforce and the only exposure you have to people working are teachers. Therefore, you give the impression that they are the only ones deserving of any recognition for working hard. Sorry, I didn't know that there are so many teachers in this district who are working 2 jobs to make ends meet. Are you able to come up with some solid numbers to support that? I do know some people who are not teachers who are doing that. But I know they don't matter to you since they are not in the teaching profession.
Robert Reidel November 16, 2012 at 04:49 AM
Dawn, As your Letter of Resignation makes sense to me, with regards to PTA focus being on and for the children, was anything ever highlighted to you where you were wrong and misunderstood the role of the PTA?
shelly November 16, 2012 at 04:52 AM
Dawn, I am sorry that you seem to feel that your child has not gotten a good education at Las Palmas. I am sorry that you feel that the PTA at Las Palmas is an organization that you seem to feel is useless even though it raises tens of thousands of dollars a year to benefit all the children of Las Palmas.
shelly November 16, 2012 at 04:57 AM
and maybe some of us feel that we, the parents, the teachers, the administrators, the staff, the children are all in this together. And that the real bad guy here is the economy. And some of us feel that our children are getting a good education because of the people who work with them.
shelly November 16, 2012 at 05:25 AM
CUSD Mom, Yes, there are many people who work 2 jobs to make ends meet. I know some who are teachers and some who are not. Many are struggling in this economy including teachers. My husband is not a teacher by the way and we were also hit by the downturn in the economy. Almost everyone has been.
Dawn Urbanek November 16, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Robert- Shelly complained that I was adding information in red to my legislative letters which she felt were opinion and not fact. She asked me to stop. I did. I then resigned from the PTA because I wanted to be able to tell parents the truth about the strike issues. There was never any letter or notice directed to me individually from the PTA itself or the legislative team that said I was doing anything wrong. Only Shelly complained so I stepped down and offered her the position which she did not take.
Dawn Urbanek November 16, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Shelly- What you do not understand about the PTA is that they are chartered as an "advocacy organization" not a "fundraising organization". Their charter does not allow them to be a fundraising organization. They have turned into a fundraising organization because they do want to help - they need to change their corporate charter to reflect their change in purpose. They should not be given any special treatment in the District since they are not acting as a children's advocate any longer. Had the PTA been doing their job during this last budget cycle- every parent would have understood the effect of both Proposition 30 and 38 on the Districts budget. When was the last time you got any "advocacy news" from the PTA?
shelly November 16, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Dawn, You presented the reports as factual. Your information you added was your opinion and not factual and some people who read the reports had no idea that what you were writing was opinion. Whether I agree with what is written or not I do not believe it is ethical to present something as fact when it contains opinion. You had an issue with this. I addressed my concerns to you directly and respectfully. I wrote to you that you were allowed to tell parents anything you wanted to. I just did not think it was okay to present reports that were supposed to contain facts and fill them with opinion. You feel your opinion was advocating for the children. I do not feel that your opinion was advocating for my child. You shared my personal family e-mail address and others' e-mail address (which you acquired because you were on the executive board) You shared my e-mails I addressed only to you to your e-mail group. I have no issue with what I wrote and it was respectful but it was to you and addressed to you and you felt it okay to share our correspondences to your advocacy group. You chose not want to do your job that you committed to because you could not use the PTA e-mails to give your opinion. There were people who agreed with you and people who did not. No one else resigned but you. You wanted to use your position to push your ideas and what you believed was advocating for the children. I did not feel as though you were advocating for my children.
shelly November 16, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Dawn, At the time I had 4 kids in 3 schools and was volunteering at all of the schools. I did not have the time to commit to the job that you committed to. Sorry. You could have found someone else but you chose not to. Your choice. And the PTA has fundraised for many things that your own child has benefitted from.
Dawn Urbanek November 16, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Shelly- The point is that when you expressed you concerns to me I stepped down because I did not want to use my position in that way. I wanted to be free to tell the truth and not have my position keep me from doing so.
shelly November 16, 2012 at 03:13 PM
When the PTA raised money for things that children's education benefits from then they are advocating for the children. Do you not believe your own child has benefitted from PTA fundraising?
shelly November 16, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Dawn, It was fine for you to step down and you are allowed to advocate any way you please. But I feel that you do not advocate for my children. I feel that the people who have helped my children and advocated the most (other than my husband and me) are the people in the classroom.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) November 16, 2012 at 03:26 PM
I think we've exhausted this walk down memory lane. Why don't you take any further conversation to email? Thanks!
Dawn Urbanek November 16, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Thanks Penny- I agree- it has been brought up many times in many different threads.
concerned parent November 16, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Dawn, thank you for taking this to the DA. I'm looking forward to hearing their response. I read all your documentation and it was convincing. As a parent who attempted to express my concerns about the budget (after only sketchy details were presented very late in the process--and then were different from what was actually voted on!!!!!) and only heard back from one now-former trustee and the superintendent, I can tell you that parents/taxpayers were NOT listened to. Or rather, our views were completely disregarded in the interests of keeping union groups appeased. A trustee's fiduciary responsibility is to assure the highest quality education possible to its students, its primary constituency. Instead, the board-majority and superintendent have placed harmonious employee relations as their highest priority. Anyone with any understanding of finances can see what a dire situation CUSD is facing because of actions taken in the past two years. Thankfully, not all taxpayers and parents are blind to the crisis facing CUSD, as shown by Jim Reardon's huge victory over a well-financed "Kids First" candidate. I can only hope other members of the board will wake up and start doing the right thing before it's too late.
OC Mom November 16, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Sorry that you were bullied into stepping down. It seems you were the voice of reason. I don't have a Psych degree, but obviously the teachers are making some parents feel needed when they volunteer and some how that is filling a void in their lives. I just don't understand after volunteering on campus and seeing the apathy of some teachers how other parents don't see it. I was just talking to other moms yesterday while volunteering at OPA about things I saw in regular CUSD elementary schools and they agreed that they'd seen similar things. Anyone who hasn't had problems with CUSD schools should be thankful. Everyone has a different experience ,but it is just strange that someone could be so intensely pro teacher while cuts continue to instruction time and programs for kids. The more irritating thing is the confrontational, "Do you?" questions and other quips that are posted on these blogs. This is not a voice of reason or peace but one of confrontation. If there are no new suggestions to help kids in CUSD then turn out the clanging cymbal. The taxes have been passed by those who were misinformed. The money will go toward the teachers pensions that we taxpayers guarantee not to the classroom. I like Dawn wanted to see the tax initiative fail so that California would learn to live within its means and reform education.
fact checker November 16, 2012 at 06:12 PM
The dire conditions did not appear from dust two years ago. And there are plenty of oversights that keep districts from misdeeds. The DA is there to investigate crime. For some reason there are a group of people with tenuous ties to CUSD (many of whom have no children who attend schools there) who feel that the DA will do their bidding. Many things have been investigated at their insistence with the end result of not one finding of criminal activity. In short, Dawn is wasting the time and money of both district and county employees in her campaign to bring down public schools (her words are testament to this goal). What a shame.
shelly November 16, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Dawn, Do you feel you were bullied? And is there apathy from the Las Palmas teachers?
shelly November 16, 2012 at 09:30 PM
I would suggest that people read and check things out for themselves because things that are reported as facts are often dressed up opinions.
Dawn Urbanek November 16, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Fact Checker- I asked the District Attorney to investigate the issue of "Public Disclosure" because - unlike past years- there was no effort made on the part of CUSD to "inform" the public about collective bargaining issues and the budget and more importantly to allow the public to voice its opinion about those issues. Of the 26 meetings listed by the CUSD only 3 were open to the public. At one of those meetings, what was disclosed to the public was not what was actually being negotiated.
shelly November 18, 2012 at 01:03 AM
OC Mom, You state all over the place that choice is good in education but it seems that it is only good if people choose what you choose. Do you not think that many of us are happy with our choices? So if I start criticizing OPA would you not leap to the defense? And your comment, "I don't have a Psych degree, but obviously the teachers are making some parents feel needed when they volunteer and some how that is filling a void in their lives. I just don't understand after volunteering on campus and seeing the apathy of some teachers how other parents don't see it." Really? Is this comment really kind or necessary? Or are you planning to hang up a shingle and give all the parents who do not agree with you therapy? And why exactly is it mandatory for OPA parents to volunteer? I disagreed with Dawn and told her directly how I felt. I did not go around gossipping or "just talking to other moms" and not one bullied Dawn. And if she says this she is being dishonest.


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