Thank you to everyone who spoke at the late night Capistrano Unified Board meeting. Each speaker spoke from the heart and represented OPA-SOC with poise, dignity and grace. Sadly, a majority of the trustees ignored the factual and heartfelt testimony of parents, teachers, students, administrators, OPA board members and members of the OPA legal team and approved the advancement of the process to take action on Notice of Intent to Revoke the OPA-SOC charter. Both the comments of the CUSD board and our OPA family were unanimous in recognizing the quality of our educational environment, academic achievements, and significant progress in taking action to cure the wrongs of previous OPA leadership, but, still voted in favor of the CUSD staff’s recommendation to move forward with revocation.
We cooperated fully with Capistrano Unified throughout this NOV process and have accepted responsibility for the financial shortcomings of those previously entrusted with managing our schools in years prior to 2016-17. We have taken that challenge head on and made substantial headway in a very short period of time. In spite of this, the CUSD staff has chosen to not accept any of our progress. Accepting this responsibility is the right thing to do and we will continue to move forward with integrity in everything we do. Our goal is continued academic excellence and exemplary fiscal management and governance.
While it is disappointing that the trustees relied on misinformation and filtered information by CUSD staff and made it clear that they had no intention of fairly considering the progress we have made, we will continue to do the right thing and aggressively pursue all options that are in the best interest of our community to ensure our mission continues. The staff’s attempt to question the academic value of SOC, even though they are fully aware of SOC’s recent public recognition as being in the top 2% of elementary schools as evidenced by our designation as a California Distinguished School, is clearly motivated by objectives disconnected from the facts. A blatant example of their negative narrative and bias was evident when one trustee made issue of our decision not to pursue WASC re-accreditation and tried to imply that decision called into question our academic program. The staff remained silent until another trustee questioned CUSD staff on how many of CUSD elementary or middle school are currently WASC accredited. The answer was zero in both K-8 and middle schools in CUSD. The reason is simple for no K-8 or middle school being WASC accredited, it is an industry standard for high schools only.
The district staff also made much ado about the funds that were misused by prior administrations, remarking that those funds have yet to be recovered, but ignoring the fact that we are the only organization actively and aggressively fighting the legal battles necessary to recoup those funds for our families and students. When reminded that revoking the SOC charter would make it much more difficult for us to continue that fight, staff suggested that one option would be for us to assign the claim over to them to pursue, meaning the District – not OPA families – would be the beneficiary of any recovered funds. Legally, the ability to even do this is questionable.
What did last night’s vote mean and what happens next?
First and foremost, OPA-SOC remains open throughout this process and last night’s vote signals CUSD’s intent to revoke our charter and not their final action. OPA-SV is not directly affected by CUSD’s decisions as it is authorized by the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE). During the next 30 more days, we will continue to make our case and demonstrate to them that we have cured or are in process of curing all concerns. CUSD has scheduled a special meeting on July 11th to hold a public hearing to further discuss and advance the intent to revoke process. We will share more information with you about the details of that hearing as it becomes available. During the public hearing, no action will be taken by the CUSD Board of Trustees. The public hearing will likely be followed by a vote at a scheduled July 25th board meeting on whether or not to proceed with their intent to revoke.
During the July 25th CUSD board meeting, CUSD will most likely make a decision on whether or not to revoke the SOC charter. Should that happen, we are prepared to and will immediately appeal that decision to the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE). Again, the SOC campus will remain open through the appeal process. We will continue to move forward in implementing changes that will provide OCDE a complete and fiscally responsible package to allow them to make the right decision to repeal CUSD’s decision. Remember, OCDE is very familiar with OPA as they are the authorizer of our SV campus.
We will continue to communicate often and maintain as much transparency as possible to ensure OPA continues for years to come. To keep our discussions open and ongoing, we are preparing to launch a frequently asked questions page on our website so we are all on the same page. As questions arise, please feel free to reach out. The more we are talking and sharing as one team, the stronger we will be together.
We are in the process of implementing multiple initiatives as part of a comprehensive strategy to ensure that educational and fiscal excellence continues for families in the years to come. We are committed to our students, parents, staff and administrators as all of you make our school a preferred and recognized educational leader. We are a family with one voice and one goal—making OPA better and stronger than before for future generations of Champions.
We are in this together. Our passion and commitment to our children, staff and each other will ensure our success. During these challenging times, we must continue to come together, put the past behind us, and drive forward for the benefit of our community.
Our first day of school is August 20, 2018 and we are excited to welcome everyone back.