Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Pronunciation: \ˈgrē-vən(t)s\
Function: noun
Date: 14th century
2: a cause of distress (as an unsatisfactory working condition) felt to afford reason for complaint or resistance
3: the formal expression of a grievance : COMPLAINT

synonyms see INJUSTICE


The following letter was read aloud at the OUSD Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday May 28. Each board member received a copy.

May 28, 2009

I have a number of grievances I wish to bring to the Board:

#1: The board voted to close Silverado Elementary due to budget cuts. However, the actual savings by closing the school are about zero, with the loss of around 40 students to other districts or home schooling. In other words, the district has just thrown away about 200k by treating Silverado children poorly, and their actions have not saved one penny, but instead have tremendously displace scores of children and tremendously inconvenienced families in the canyon community.

#2: Our pronouncements about children as young as kindergarten being asked to ride the bus for 1 1/2 to 2 hours to get to Chapman Hills were scoffed at by some on the board. However, the district’s recently released bus schedule will have children in Modjeska canyon board the bus at 6:30 am in order to get to Chapman hills by 8 am, a 1 ½ hour ride. A staff person in the superintendent’s office remarked they are shocked (or some similar term) at such a long ride.

#3: Furthermore, part of that 1 ½ hour ride will combine high schoolers and elementary schoolers on the same bus, a situation usually avoided due to the potential exposure of elementary schoolers to the more offensive talk and behavior of high schoolers.

#4: A board member told us that, following their vote to close Silverado they suddenly realized that the elementary kids would be on the bus for long rides, on dangerous roads, potentially exposing them to significant danger, and that was a big concern - alas too late to do anything about it. It appears that concern is expressed only when nothing is going to be done about it.

#5: As a group, a number of parents have for months been working hard to find a good solution to reducing the costs of operating Silverado, including cutting costs, and setting up a Charter Environmental Science School to relieve Orange district from financial responsibility for the school. However the majority of the board have not worked with us, and several in fact will not respond to our requests to meet or discuss options. May I remind you that the school board is an elected body put in place to carry out the education of the community’s children. The majority of the board’s lack of willingness to work with us is, frankly, far beneath the dignity of your positions.

#6: The canyon community are the only children in OUSD now being asked to travel as much as 19 miles to get to the nearest school, Chapman Hills. Orange Unified is willing to include us in their tax base, and is willing to take our state money for each student in their district, but the majority of the board is unwilling to provide a school within a reasonable distance from our homes. No other child in the district – NOT ONE - has a school more than a mile or two from their home.

#7: Property values in our canyon community will be negatively affected by having no school within reasonable proximity. No other community in the Orange district will be left without a school close by. Families with children will not want to move into our canyons because of this.

And it goes on and on…

Therefore, I am formally requesting a response to each of the above complaints about the failure of the board to responsibly carry out their elected duties. I wish to know how those who voted to close Silverado elementary can justify the above actions and consider yourselves to be in compliance with your elected duties as board members. I will e-mail a copy of this letter to each on the board who voted for closure, including the superintendent, and I respectfully request not to be ignored – rather, I expect the issues to be “researched and responded to” by each of you, as stated by President Ledesma.


Jeffrey Wilson, father of two children from Silverado elementary



  1. I wonder if we can get someone to take a leadership role outside the district - especially in terms of the long bus ride issue. It's a public safety issue as well as a one that effectively denies services to a single community - or only allows them to access services by risking the well-being of their children.

    I believe some states have laws regarding the length of bus rides for young children.

    When an accident happens (and sadly it will), these board members and the super will be held responsible - in not in a court of law, then in the court of public opinion.

    We won't let the way they treated our children be forgotten.

  2. West Virginia has a state law restricting the length of time young children can be bussed - mostly the result of pressure from rural communities. But that took YEARS.

    Others have sued because of the conditions their children face on long bus rides, especially young children and special ed students - but this is usually after something awful happens.

  3. OUSD should have scaled back or cancelled summer school to avoid this disaster - that's what lots of districts are doing. They could still do it.

  4. Please note that the OUSD form requesting an out-of-district transfer doesn't have any option for those of us who object to the long dangerous commute - they are therefore coercing parents to put their children in harm's way in order to get $$$.

    You either need an employment-related request or a special progam need or a childcare excuse.

    You can't object to the fact they want to put your child on a bus for 3 hours a day!

  5. Add to the danger of the long bus rides, the danger of the canyon bus stops themselves. There are no benches or sidewalks where the children can wait in safety.

    My high schooler is picked up at the Silverado Cafe - one of the 'safer' stops. If he is not standing in the road when the bus is APPROACHING the stop, the driver will not stop for him. (when there is only a thin painted line on the pavement separating him from the traffic lane, I call that "IN" the road) And, yes, during the winter months it is still dark out when he is standing in the road to make sure she will stop for him.

    It is bad enough that a high schooler has to do this - I cannot imagine a small child standing in the road, in the dark and then spending 3 hours of their day on the bus.

  6. Like someone said, the super and the trustees and the district will be liable when something awful happens -and it will.

    It's too bad that it will have to come to that.

    These people never did their homework on the viability of this plan - they just threw it together and they're making it up as they go along.

    And that kind of irresponsibility will only increase their liability.

  7. Yes, and the opinion of the staff person in the super's office is further evidence of the district's irresponsible willingness to risk our children's safety!

  8. Yes, the only way your children can opt out of the hellish bus ride is either with a work-related cause, a special program cause, a child care cause or a home school option. You can't object to the danger the bus ride presents. You can't say that you want to take them to a school that is geographically closer to your home. There is no space on the form that says that.

    Of course, they tell us we can drive our children to Orange if we feel so strongly - but they don't realize that we have jobs and other obligations that prevent that.

    Too bad we don't have a real newspaper that tells people what's going on.