A Orange Unified School District board meeting in Orange, Calif., on Aug. 17, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
With several weeks to go until a recall election, two targeted trustees from Orange Unified School District in Southern California are doubling down on their commitment to parents’ rights.
Orange Unified voters will decide whether Board President Rick Ledesma and Trustee Madison Miner—whose elections in November 2022 flipped the board’s majority conservative—will remain in their seats on March 5.
In a statement to The Epoch Times, Ms. Miner reiterated her commitment to parents’ rights and “advocating for traditional, foundational education.”
“Our board majority remains resolute in our commitment to improve the school district despite facing a recall effort,” she said. “I believe this shows our dedication to positive change. We want to better our schools and will hopefully help garner support and demonstrate our steadfast commitment to our district’s improvements.”
Mr. Ledesma claimed the recall was a part of a wider assault on parents’ rights over their child’s education.
Orange Unified School Board President Rick Ledesma speaks at a board meeting in Orange, Calif., on Sept. 7, 2023. (Mei Lee/The Epoch Times)
“Since being elected, we proudly fought for important issues like parental notification, curriculum transparency, and the removal of sexually explicit materials from schools—which explains the targets on our backs,” he said in a statement to The Epoch Times. “Despite the intimidation, harassment, and threats we have received throughout this process, we will never back down in our fight to protect children, involve parents, and improve our education system.”
Orange County Registrar Bob Page certified both petitions to recall the two in October and set the election date for soon after.
While each petition required 13,046 valid signatures to move forward, recall leaders said they submitted more than 18,000 signatures each for both Mr. Ledesma and Ms. Miner.
Mr. Ledesma has been elected to the OUSD board three times since 2014 and was reelected to a four-year term in 2022 along with Ms. Miner, who is serving her first four-year term.
The recall campaign cites the trustees’ abrupt firing of its superintendent last January—as well as several subsequent controversial decisions—as reason for the recall.
Orange Unified School Board Trustee Madison Miner speaks at a board meeting in Orange, Calif., on Sept. 7, 2023. (Mei Lee/The Epoch Times)
It claims that the board brought forth “shocking proposals to every board meeting in 2023,” including attempts to “censor libraries,” and “discriminate against special needs and LGBTQ students.”
In January, the board majority voted to fire its longtime superintendent, Gunn Marie Hansen, and place Assistant Supt. Cathleen Corella on leave pending an academic audit.
Additionally, in June, the board 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.
Finally, 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.