A Orange Unified School District board meeting in Orange, Calif., on Aug. 17, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Organizers campaigning to remove the conservative members of the Orange Unified School Board recently said they submitted more than enough signatures to trigger a recall election.
In a statement on its website, the recall campaign said Sept. 27 they submitted signatures to the Orange County Registrar of Voters to recall Board President Rick Ledesma and Trustee Madison Miner.
While each petition required 13,046 valid signatures to move forward, recall leaders said they submitted more than 18,000 signatures for both Mr. Ledesma and Ms. Miner.
The campaign also noted it submitted the signatures weeks ahead of its deadline.
The OC Registrar of Voters now has until Nov. 8 to validate the signatures for certification.
If at least 13,046 signatures each are validated by the registrar, then the Orange Unified board will be notified at its next meeting, and then have 14 days to schedule a recall election.
Mr. Ledesma has been elected to the OUSD board three times since 2014, and was most recently reelected to a four-year term in November 2022 along with Ms. Miner, who is serving her first four-year term.
Ms. Miner’s election flipped the board’s majority conservative, and from then it made several controversial decisions.
Orange Unified School Board Trustee Madison Miner speaks at a board meeting in Orange, Calif., on Sept. 7, 2023. (Mei Lee/The Epoch Times)
In January, the majority voted to fire its longtime superintendent, Gunn Marie Hansen, and place Assistant Superintendent Cathleen Corella on leave pending an academic audit.
And in June, it adopted a “parent’s bill of rights
,” which grants district parents and guardians the right to know what their children are being taught and the right to be heard by district leaders.
The same month, it also adopted a policy allowing only the U.S. and state flags to be flown on district and school flag poles—which critics called homophobic, saying it was a move to ban LGBT Pride flags from being displayed in classrooms.
In September, the school board also passed a parent notification policy
that will require schools to notify parents if their child identifies as transgender, amid a statewide debate over the issue.
A supporter of a school district policy to notify parents when their child wishes to identify as transgender speaks during public comment at an Orange Unified School Board meeting in Orange, Calif., on Sept. 7, 2023. (Mei Lee/The Epoch Times)
Despite these moves, Ms. Miner told The Epoch Times she believed there was more work to be done within the district.
“While these are significant strides made during my tenure, our work to restore Orange Unified to its former glory and potential is not yet complete,” she said. “That’s why I pledge to focus my efforts on fixing our curriculum in the upcoming months and ensuring that our students receive a valuable education marked by quality and excellence.
Ms. Miner also said she believed the recall effort is spearheaded by the local teachers’ union, the Orange Unified Education Association, in a “quest for power” over the district.
“It’s essential to note that protecting students is my sole purpose, and the radical recall movement has made it clear that their quest for power over the children is nothing more than a strong political maneuver to influence and shape the children of [Orange Unified],” she said. “This has nothing to do with protecting or educating children.”
The Orange Unified Education Association was not immediately available for comment.
Orange Unified School Board President Rick Ledesma speaks at a board meeting in Orange, Calif., on Sept. 7, 2023. (Mei Lee/The Epoch Times)
Ms. Miner also warned that a special election could cost the district up to $1.2 million.
“Make no mistake, this recall will cause a financial burden in Orange Unified,” she said. “The election will be funded with [Orange Unified] money. The individuals leading this recall have redirected money from multiple school districts to achieve this significant upheaval within our district.”
Mr. Ledesma—along with Trustees Kris Erickson, Ana Page, Andrea Yamasaki, Angie Rumsey, and John Ortega—were not immediately available for comment.