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Two OUSD face recall efforts after supporting controversial policies

Conservative OUSD board members face recall election after controversial gender policies
Conservative OUSD board members face recall election after controversial gender policies 04:02

Some Orange County voters will decide whether two conservative school board members should be recalled this upcoming election. 

These recall efforts are being led by a group of parents, teachers and community members after culture war issues took center stage at the Orange Unified School District. 

Schoo board meetings, like at many other districts, have become heated and violent as the governing body mulled over controversial policies. In the past year, the district has approved a policy require school staff to notify parents if their child wants to change their pronouns, a ban on the pride flag flying at schools and temporarily suspended their digital library over alleged age-inappropriate books. 

These policies are some of the reason this group of parents, teachers and community members are now leading a recall against two of the district's board members Rick Ledesma and Madison Miner. 

"These culture wars are not going to be something that resonates with people here," Darshan Smaaladan, who has two children in the district said. 

Smaaladan helped organize the recall group after the board abruptly fired its superintendent and passed the controversial policies. 

"They keep telling us that we're giving you rights," Smaaladan said. "But every single right that they have given me wasn't something  I didn't have already ... It was a distraction in that they didn't want everyone to notice how much money they were wasting."

Lawn signs both in support of the recall and against it have popped up around the city. In fact, a group called No Recall Protect OUSD Kids, has shown up to board meetings many times. They have also raised more than $100,000 in support of the board members. 

On their website, they say they are defending parental rights and fighting for issues such as curriculum transparency, student safety and school improvements. KCAL News reached out to the group, but they did not respond to requests for an interview. 

Ledesma and Miner consider themselves a part of the parental-rights movement. In the past, they have called the recall attempt a thinly-veiled assault on parents rights. 

Trustee Ledesma has served 24 years on the board and did not return our requests for comment. However, Trustee Miner, who is serving her first term, sent KCAL News a statement claiming that the recall attempt is a power grab by "union bosses and Sacramento bureaucrats."

"We passed a groundbreaking parents' bill of rights for curriculum transparency, attempted to remove sexually explicit materials from schools, and instituted parental notification policies to protect the health and safety of our children," she wrote. "The recall is nothing more than a power grab by the same union bosses and Sacramento bureaucrats who have failed our kids for years."

If those two trustees were to be recalled, three things could happen. The board could appoint two people to fill those vacancies until the November election. Second, a special election could be held, but it would costly. Finally, the public could wait until two new board members are elected. 

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